I ride the buses and subways of New York City all the time. Next to walking, it’s the best way to get around town. As a frequent rider, I’ve seen, and been, my share of harried parents shepherding their children on public transit. I’ve held my tongue through many a verbal abuse by a parent toward a child for fear of making things worse for the child. I’ve held my tongue through many a child’s wailing knowing from experience that whatever I may have to offer would not be helpful at that moment.
On a recent bus ride uptown, at the corner of W 137th Street and Riverside Drive, a young woman got on the bus with her five young children: the two older ones had little backpacks and seemed to be kindergarten/first grade age. She had one little one in a pack on her chest, and two in diapers (not twins) in a stroller. They got on the bus, sat where Mom directed them to sit. There was no stress, no strain, no disagreeableness: it was a normal afternoon out. Everyone was well-behaved and moderately quiet. They got off at W 145th Street, apparently to catch a transfer to the Bronx. Everyone got off the bus quickly and orderly.
“I don’t know how she does it!” I commented to the bus driver as I left behind her. He smiled and nodded.