Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What It's Like When Kids Miss the School Bus... Again

I startle awake in my room. The clock says 7:17 AM. I hear the steady drip, drip of the faucet in my bathroom sink; there's a Pillow Pet soaking in there because someone woke up last night with a bloody nose.

Wait, it's Wednesday. And it's 7:17.

The school bus arrives in 10 minutes.

I lie frozen in my bed, listening for signs of life outside the door that tell me that my three oldest have somehow awoken on their own and are at this very moment putting their lunches in their backpacks and heading out to the bus stop.

No such luck.

Everyone is sound asleep, except for the 3-year-old who I can hear singing in the bathroom as I pass into their room.

My foggy brain can hardly handle the mental calculations: what time does school start? How long will it take us to drive there? What time do we need to leave? How many minutes is that again?

My older daughter rolls out of bed more confused than I am. "So... we need to leave at 6:40?"

"No, we need to be pulling out of the driveway at 7:45. Let's move!"

We condense the routine. They eat boxed cereal. I check my email. I hear the baby start to cry in his crib.

The killer is that my 7-year-old son is in a different school with a later start time, but not late enough that I can drive his sisters to school and be back in time for his bus. So if they miss their bus, he misses his bus, too.

But wait! There's a silver lining  Grandma is here. Still asleep as all reasonable people are on vacation at this hour, but she's here. So I don't need to take him with me. Theoretically, I could leave him here to get ready while I'm taking the girls to school.

This might just be crazy enough to work.

Like I'm imparting my last words before he heads off to war, I take my son firmly by the shoulders and look him straight in the eye.

"I want you to finish your morning routine," I say slowly, "and at 8:00 get your shoes on and put your lunch in your backpack. At 8:05 go out to the bus stop. Got it?"

He nods, but I eye his pajamas and bleary expression, and I have less than a 30% expectation that he will even remember my instructions after I go out the door.

"Grandma is downstairs if you need anything, okay?"

I retrieve the baby, who's sporting snowman pajamas and an extremely soggy diaper, pop the pacifier in his mouth, and head out to the car. The preschooler is delighted to be barefoot and wearing her nightgown in public, and is in the front seat pretending to drive.

I run in to retrieve my flip-flops, and of course I can only find one (the preschooler likes to wear them around the house for fun, so I'll probably find it in either the dollhouse or the toilet later). I mentally go through the scenarios in my head: I could go without shoes, but what if I crash or get stranded on the road and need to walk? I settle for slipping my bare feet into tennis shoes and grab my keys.

"She told me to shut up!" My 9-year-old accuses as soon as I show my face in the garage.

"Is this true?" I ask the preschooler.

"No," she solemnly swears. "I never did not."

I think I muttered a vague moralistic statement such as "In this family we don't say 'shut up,'" but I don't really remember. It's 7:48 and we were supposed to be driving out of the driveway three minutes ago.

It's no accident, by the way, that I haven't mentioned brushing my teeth or getting dressed. Today, I'll be the pajamaed mom in the drop-off line with a sloppy ponytail and dragon breath.

Glancing in the rearview mirror at the girls buckling up in the backseat, I offer a silent prayer of thanks that they're not yet old enough to be embarrassed of me.

After much speeding and clock-watching and toe-tapping and line-waiting, I pull up to our house at 8:04 and see my son  fully dressed and wearing a backpack  waiting at the bus stop on the corner.

He did it!

I sprint into the kitchen to see if his lunch is still in the refrigerator.

He remembered it!

I wave to him at the bus stop, hoping that it communicates how proud I am of him and how much I really do love him and hope he has a great day today.

Exhaling deeply, I retrieve the baby and 3-year-old from the car and sit them down to breakfast. We did it. We made it! As I slice bananas on the baby's tray, the phone rings.

"Mom?" my daughter's voice on the other end says, "I forgot it's Wednesday. Can you bring me my flute?"

There is a cataclysmic event  that causes complete chaos on weekday mornings: it's called 'missing the school bus.'  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Obviously not today.

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Sharon said...

will there be early morning seminary eventually as well? sweet sweet sleep.

Jenny Evans said...

I'm trying not to think about it yet, thank you very much!

Stacey said...

School is a fear of mine! We run late at least once a week lately. I drop my husband off and then the kids off, instead of the other way around, making me late to work and thus having to stay late to make up (like today).

Queen Mom Jen said...

I always feel like a tornado came and sucked everything out of me after I get the kids off to school every morning. I think you and I both know why, huh? We have one more year until early morning seminary.....

So-So Mom said...

This was me every day last year because I drive my kids 12 miles to school. Now I have a licensed driver who takes them most of the time. It helps dramatically to not have to dress myself or throw half asleep toddler and baby into the car. This is still often the scene when I realize 2:30 has snuck up on me and I throw the preschooler in the car in his underwear and snatch a nicely napping baby from her crib to go pick them up from school.