Before we had children, we had a running joke about the “short yellow bus.” It was not politically correct, but it captured the spirit of an experience with someone from time to time. If a behavior by a stranger, or even someone in our circle seemed “random” and disjointed, we would comment “Yup, he definitely rode the short yellow bus.”

Little did I know, that years later, my only living child, of four, would have a front seat on the short yellow bus. In truth, as Zachary grew older and less able to ambulate he began to ride the “wheelchair” bus to school. But at least through grade school age, Zach and I met the short yellow bus in front of our town house each morning for school.

I share this not because I am proud. It was not kind of me, to have been making jokes about young people with special needs. And there was a time in my developmental trajectory that I literally “punished” myself for having done so. I may have even considered the possibility that Zach’s special needs were a result of my insensitivity. I may have decided that was one more way I was inept as a mom, and a human. I don’t miss those days.

Because now, I don’t do that. I don’t judge myself with distain for being cruel at the expense of another. In fact, I use it as a reminder that I am imperfect. I do and say completely random things myself. I put my foot in my mouth. I am inappropriate. I sometimes behave in ways that might suggest to others that “I” myself am a graduate of the short yellow bus transportation system.

So I don’t take myself so seriously. I don’t wade in the guilt streams that keep me out of the present moment for hours at a time. I don’t tell myself I am a bad person, or that I am insensitive. Those things don’t describe me. I just don’t think sometimes, before words come out of my mouth.

Letting experiences flow, instead of becoming internalized, brings an ease to life’s energy currents. When I notice something I’d do differently next time, I say “oops, needs work” and move on. And actually do the work. And when miracles happen, I notice those too by saying “wow, incredible” and move on.

As Maya Angelou and Oprah say “When we know better, we do better.”

Awareness of why the “short yellow bus” reference is not ideal, is both an opportunity for me to be more sensitive, and an opening to be more gentle with myself. A win-win by all accounts.

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