At the start of the school year, our school system sent out repeated messages encouraging parents to utilize the services of the school buses. According to them, it saves parents and the schools time and money by making the start and finish of the school day easier for students and staff. I’m all about easy–especially if it saves time and money.
And so, I figured we would do just that. The decision to register my daughter as a bus rider, however, wasn’t without reservation. She’s in kindergarten. She’s fearless. She’s small for her age. I imagined her attracting all sorts of unwanted attention from bullies and her willingly taking them on as the bus driver looked the other way or joined in the harassment. You hear those horror stories, don’t you? A kid who is duct-taped to the seat by older kids? The child whose lunch money and sneakers are routinely stolen? The bus driver who breaks a child’s arm while forcefully “helping” him off the bus? Or worse?
I had to remind myself that these stories make it into the news because they are the exception to the rule and not the rule. Yes, what would the news be like if they reported on every child who made it to and from school safely—and for that matter, every plane that didn’t crash and every embassy that wasn’t bombed? More often than not, I’m reading about horrific events because they are BAD news. The normal stuff, the average stuff, the mundane, and the what-you-expect-to-happen never makes headlines.
And as it turned out, my daughter loves her bus commute and her bus driver and all the other students who ride the bus. In fact, if you ask her if she knows another student at her school, she will likely ask you, “Well, which bus does she ride? I’m on 104.” Yeah, not “Who’s her teacher?” or “What grade is she in?” The defining question is about which bus this other student rides. If this other kid is on 104, she knows her!
Frequently, when I ask her about the best part of her school day, she will tell me what happened on the bus. So, the bus has been a happy-good surprise!
And yet, we have the hardest time making it to the bus stop in the morning.
Since returning from a two week Christmas break and a snow day, we’ve managed to be at the bus stop in time for the morning commute only twice. All those other days, I’ve dropped her off at the school as a car-rider. And frankly, I prefer that she be a car-rider because it is less stressful for me.
You see, in order to catch the bus, we have to be at the stop at 8:25. To make it to the bus stop by that time, I have to yell, “Hurry, hurry! Get dressed! Get dressed! Eat your breakfast! Brush your teeth! Why aren’t you dressed yet? Put on your coat! I told you to brush your teeth!” It’s stressful, and it’s even more so on the days my mother-in-law’s care-giver comes because she arrives around 8 am, and I feel I should have the kitchen clean before we leave for the bus, AND I should have myself and my son dressed, fed and ready to leave for the day, too. Sometimes, I don’t even know where he and I are going, but I feel compelled to leave—otherwise it defeats some of the reason I pay the care-giver to be there.
The school is less than a mile from my house and the bus-stop is a little more than a fourth of a mile into that commute. So, if I have to get her to the bus stop—and we are almost always running late and so I drive her—I might as well keep driving her until we are at school. And yeah, I know—elsewhere, if you live this close to the school, you aren’t a bus-rider or a car-rider, you are a walker, but where we live, that would be dangerous as there are no sidewalks and people drive too fast down these winding country roads.
Besides, drop-off can happen any time between 8:45 and 8:59. That extra 20 to 34 minutes creates a much more relaxed atmosphere. In other words, I’m not yelling. I like me better when I am not yelling. Who wants to be the yelling mom?
Now, I know there are plenty of parents who manage to get their kids dressed, fed, and out the door a lot earlier than 8:25, and do so without yelling. If you are one of them, good for you. And no, I am not interested in your “Tips for an Easier Morning.” Honestly, every now and then, I foolishly read parenting blogs that offer advice and more often than not, I’m already doing all the things being recommended—like making lunches ahead of time, getting to bed early, and laying out clothes for the next day. Yeah, nothing original there and certainly nothing that doesn’t fall into the category of common sense. It’s kind of like the blogger who offers suggestions on saving money at the grocery store: 1) Shop sales. 2) Make a list. 3) Clip coupons, but only for the products you need… Really? You think you are saying anything that we aren’t already doing or have never heard before? Really?
No, I am certain that I am as prepared for the morning rush as a person can be, and if I really need to change the way I do anything, it’s the way I view the situation and how I react to being late. So, that’s what I am doing. I am adopting a more relaxed idea of what our mornings should be like. For example, it should be my ideal to make it to the bus stop by 8:25, but in the event we are running a little late, it’s okay–my daughter can be a car-rider instead of a bus-rider. If that’s a problem for the school, they need to send me a morning helper who can make my family breakfast while I am in the shower. Really, I’m very open to that!
And I need to stop caring about cleaning the kitchen before my mother-in-law’s care-giver arrives. You see, I think I need the breakfast dishes to be cleared from the table, rinsed, and in the dishwasher because I want her to have a clean working space. I hate walking into a mess and having to work around it, and so I assume other people do to. Actually, I’m pretty sure a messy work-place, especially when it’s not your mess, is something that bothers everyone to some degree, but that’s just too bad in this case. I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances and dare I say, I do much better than most people would! So, I’m going to cut myself some slack there.
Also, I am keeping in mind that the worst case scenario here is…my child is late to school and my kitchen is a mess and I feel like I am paying a care-giver for no real reason since our time in my home overlaps. Hmmm…that’s it? When I think about it in those terms, gee, I just don’t see anything to yell about.
And for the record, we met the bus today–without any yelling. It felt good. I’m not used to that, but I would like to be.