Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dear School Bus

Dear School Bus,

Have you any idea how daunting it is to hand off my children to you each and every school day?  You are a moving vehicle mode of transportation operated by a single person bus driver that we are forced to must trust entirely.  Maybe 'daunting' doesn't even come close to how I feel on the first days of school. 

Past bus mishaps already make me freak out weary about surviving the day to see my kids back home without any bus-related incidents.  When my Dear Daughter began kindergarten, she was both nervous and excited to take the bus.  I saw other moms drive behind the school bus to follow it to school, but I talked myself out of doing that.  However, when she got home on the first day of school, she cried and said that she didn't want to take the bus anymore.  She sobbed and told me that when she got off the bus at school, she followed the wrong line and went to a different playground than the one she was supposed to go to and got lost.  Luckily, an adult found my terrified and crying DD.  Since she knew her kindergarten teacher's name, she was successfully redirected back to her playground.  But that lost and scared feeling is tremendous for a 5-year-old, so who can blame her for not wanting to ride the bus anymore?  It all eventually worked out, as her teacher stood by the curb and waited for her to get off the bus personally the very next day.  The rest of that school year was thankfully without incident.

On the first day of First Grade, we assumed that DD would be fine since she knew the school grounds well and would not get lost, but she still got off the bus to come home sobbing like it was The End of the World.  Apparently she had forgotten that the bus makes a loop in our community to drop her off right in front of our driveway.  She thought the bus driver had forgotten her stop all together.  DD panicked, and was just as frightened as she was when she got lost the year before.  (Insert deep breath here).  So now that we had gotten the bus thing down to a routine, and Second Grade started without a hitch, I thought I was done with bus mishaps.  Not so.

One of the scariest things that can happen to a parent is to not see your child get off the bus.  One day, the bus came, stopped, and no one got off the bus.  The bus door closed and drove off.  My Dear Husband was at home that particular day, so I screamed at him to run after the bus hoping to Dear God that DD just forgot to get off at the bus stop.  No such luck.  DH came back and said her classmates said she wasn't on the bus.  Now is the time to PANIC.  I immediately called the school, and as I was talking to the office staff, I remembered that DD was to have a play date at a friends house exactly a week from that day.  Maybe she went to her friends house?  Hang up.  Frantically look for friend's number.  Call friend's house.  Sure enough, she was there.  PHEW.  So first I had to apologize profusely for my DD showing up at their house uninvited.  Then I had to call the office to bitch clarify that I DID NOT write a note to the teacher nor to the bus driver LIKE I WOULD HAVE HAD TO in order for DD to take another bus with a friend home.  (Insert another deep breath here).  It turned out to be an honest mistake from DD, and she felt terribly afterwards to have made us worry.  But safe and sound is all I ask.

At the end of last school year in June, my Dear Son decided he wanted to take the bus to school this year, too, since he watched his sister go off to school on the school bus everyday with envy.  His preschool is only half-day, and at a different location, so the kids would not be on the same bus.  Hesitantly, I signed him up.  He was excited since he rode it once on a field trip and thought it was so much fun.  First day of school came (dun, dun, dun, DUN...), and I was ready with my purse and keys already planted in the car in preparation to follow the bus to school (I was taking no chances this time around).  DS went on the bus eagerly with a big smile, and kissed me goodbye (I was floored because I half expected him to break down at the last moment).  As I drove behind the bus, I mentally noted that the nice lady driver turned on her signals at every turn, and made complete stops at stop signs.  (She definitely scored brownie points in my book).  I hid behind the buses to watch DS get off his (received by his teacher assistant), walk inside the school, and line up in the hallway, all in great spirits!  All I could think of was, wow.  I guess when they are ready, they are ready.  DS' past school experiences were nowhere near this smooth.  I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor to see this all happen with my very own eyes.

Later that afternoon, I went outside to the driveway to wait for the bus to bring DS home.  Of course, there had to be a line of trees in my view to see the bus turn the corner.  So there I was, bending over and sticking my arse in the air every 30 seconds to look under the row of trees for the bus.  After a good 10 minutes of waiting and bending over, it arrived, and delivered my still-smiling DS into my arms.  Ten minutes later, a bigger bus delivered my new third grader DD safely home.  It was a really good day for me.

This is not to say that there will be no more bus incidents in the future, and I must brace myself for those to come (knock on wood).  But in the meantime, as my kids get used to the entire routine, I think I can breathe a little bit better now knowing that they have both found riding the bus a normal part of school life.  So thank you, Dear School Bus, for taking the well-being of my kids into your hands, and being this amazing link between home and school.  I'll still worry, that's for sure, but that's just a freakish normal mother's mind at work.  So long as DD and DS are happy on their short ride to and from school, I will grin and bear whatever comes my way.


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