Every mother is heaving a sigh of relief. Well, OK, maybe not all mothers. Those mothers that are sending their firstborns on that big, scary school bus with the big, scary 6th graders are sobbing uncontrollably as they attempt to follow the school bus on its winding path of starts and stops on the way to school. And you know what...even those big, scary Dads might be wiping away a tear or two. One of our neighbours admits to hiding in the bushes to see his son get off the bus at school undetected.
I admit it - I also followed the school bus on Allie's first day of school - what seems like years and years ago. She excitedly hopped on the bus not caring about the strange, bearded man driving the bus. I'm sure he had a clean police check, an excellent driving record, and probably knew how to get to the school after driving the route for years but I was taking no chances. After all I'd just shelled out big bucks on the Barbie back-pack with matching lunch bag and spent many long hours (OK, really just a few minutes) labelling all those pencils, crayons and blunt-tipped scissors that can't cut a thing. I wanted to make sure my investments were safe. Luckily Allie, her back pack and all the accessories made it to school safely and I only needed one box of kleenex to wipe up my tears.
I also followed the school bus on the 2nd day of school.
After day one was such a success I trusted the bus driver (still the strange, bearded man) to get my daughter to school. Plus, with all the other mom's following the bus, the school parking lot was just a mad house! No, the reason I followed the bus was in case Allie threw up. Did I send my kid to school with a stomach virus? No! Was she nervous about school? No! My daughter simply was expressing her opinion that getting up early in the morning every once in a while was OK but expecting her to get up and catch a bus for 7:25 EVERY weekday morning was ridiculous - and I, not being a morning person, was in agreement - but the school board was expecting us to either A) send her to school or B) home school her. Although I am a SAHM and a teacher in my other life this wasn't an option. The kid would be so confused - am I in detention or is this a time-out? Why is Mommy watching Oprah during school time? My policy is to keep your job and home-life well separated. The two don't mix. Ideally, I would win the lottery and my home life would be forever separated from the job market.
So, since she did indeed have to attend school, Dan and I struggled to get her dressed. I think she may have a direct bloodline to Houdini. As fast as we put a piece of clothing on she was out of it. Finally, she had clothes on and I literally dragged her down our 2.5 mile long driveway. OK, it's really not quite that long but you just try dragging a kicking, screaming 5 year old anywhere and you'll know what I mean.
Allie is still screaming and crying when the bus pulls up...
Strange, bearded driver: Put her on.
Me: Are you sure?
Me: Will she be all right?
SBD: Lady, if you give in to her today and drive her to school later you'll end up doing that all year.
So, I put her on the bus sobbing and retching. I race to get in the car to follow the bus. Yesterday's tears were nothing compared to the sobbing of today. How could I cause such anguish to a small child? How could I go through this ordeal again tomorrow? How could afford all the kleenex, not to mention the gas? Maybe I should home school her? Then again, maybe not! Every time the bus flashed those red lights I was sure my vomit-covered child (and possibly the kids sitting within projectile-vomiting distance) would be coming off the bus. At last we reach the school and lo and behold, off the bus she comes - happy and smiling and ready for school.
Who knew bus drivers were so full of wisdom?
So, that was waaaaay back in 2004 - times they are a changin' - I won't be following anyone to school. Admittedly, since we moved I can see the school from my bedroom window so I could get the binoculars out but the neighbours across the street might report me. This year I'll drop the kids off at the bus stop and the dog and I will enjoy a leisurely stroll unhindered by children whining that we are walking too far, too fast, in the wrong direction, or, God forbid, it's too hot, cold, wet (make your choice according to the season.)
You know what I'm going to do then?
I'm going to go shopping. Now that all the rugrats are back in school us moms can take back our malls, our grocery stores, and, for those of us that pretend we can do anything, our hardware stores. No longer will we have to deal with run away carts driven by 6 year olds. We can try on bras to our hearts' content without small children in the dressing room (hopefully they are our own small children!) commenting on size (or lack there of - so NOT my problem!) We can even make it home without random items, like Depends, the expensive cereals with the "just gotta have them" prizes, or liverwurst ending up in our grocery bags.
Mothers of the world unite! Credit card companies get ready!
Disclaimer - Dan, if you are reading this please note that the above blog entry is a figment of your imagination. There will be NO shopping, I repeat...NO SHOPPING!
I am happy to report that the pictures below show my happy smiling children just minutes before boarding the bus this morning (one of them is under orders to act happy and smiley!) I am also happy to report that there were no parental tears at the bus stop. Of course, we are all seasoned parents, happy to see our children progress along the academic timeline, learning new skills and making new friends. So happy in fact that we are celebrating our children's' progress -shopping, golfing, enjoying bon bons and watching talk shows - I'm sure we each have our own way of showing how happy we are that the kids are back in school...
Erin, 6, grade 1
Allie, 8, grade 3