Nothing magic about this school bus – except to Big Guy
His dreams were destroyed before he got a chance to enjoy the thrill of legs sticking to vinyl on a hot day. "Sorry, babes," I said after I scanned the list posted in the office. "The bus doesn't come to our street."
He had to settle for a few stolen moments on field trips - just enough of a taste to leave him hungry for more.
Fast-forward to a new year at a new school. The second question out of Big Guy's mouth, right after he asked if he could see the playground: Can I ride the bus?
Yes, you can. But there's a paper I have to fill out first, I said. It'll be a week or so.
The paper itself was not that burdensome - just a few questions I could have knocked off quickly if I hadn't had a ream of other more pressing papers. Not to mention another ream of reservations.
What if he got off at the wrong bus stop and never found his way home? What if he wandered into a barracks and decided he liked it better than home? He already thinks he's a drill sergeant - what if he started ordering the wrong soldier to drop and give him 50? The situation had "bad outcome" written all over it.
Within days, though, taking him to school devolved into constant "bad outcome."
The guys start school only five minutes apart. Big Guy can be dropped off 20 minutes earlier than Boots, so we'd park at Boots' school and walk to drop Big Guy off. Boots and I then would walk back to his school.
The mornings were relatively peaceful. The afternoons, when pickup time always collided with Boots' nap, took ugly to whole new levels.
Thursday was the capper. Boots wailed from the parking lot to the corner. He stopped for a sip of water and started wailing again. "He's not an afternoon person," I said apologetically to the MP and crossing guard at the corner. I wandered what decibel level triggers a disturbing the peace citation on post.
Three blocks later, another MP and another crossing guard. "We knew it was you," the crossing guard said.
"Please tell me he'll outgrow this by the time he's 30."
"I don't know," she said. "My husband hasn't yet."
Faced with that dire prediction and no hope in sight, I filled out the paper as soon as we got home. The next morning, we walked mere yards from our back door to the bus stop to wait for Big Guy to board.
"Do you really have to stay?" Big Guy asked, looking around, embarrassed. "The other mommies aren't."
Yes, I really have to stay, in case you wander off to that barracks.
And I'm glad I did, because I wouldn't have missed his smile for the world. It was the kind that's so wide you fear his face is going to break, a grin that says "I am king of the world."
And for 40 minutes every day, on the rides to school and back home, he is king of the world. He's talking with his friends - not too loudly or the driver has to turn off the air conditioning until everyone's quiet - and being a boy in a world with no mommies.
So far, I'm happy to report, he hasn't wandering into any barracks.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.