1st Grade: Wheels on the bus.

We have come a long way from the Car Lobby Pick Up Lane. It was only a year ago this time but it seems like eons. You can read about that little adventure here: First rule of Car Lobby Pick Up Lane. A week into last year I had smashed the van up on the sidewalk at the pick up lane, vowed never to return to Car Lobby Pick Up, and talked/bribed/threatened Frank into riding the bus home at least. Riding it to school seemed a bridge too far at that time.

Well I’m here to say that bridge has come and we have crossed it. I’d love to tell you my powers of persuasion saved the day but that would be a falsehood, a prevarication, a lie even. The kid came to it all on his own. Riding by the bus stop on day 1 of First Grade he says, “Daddy can I ride the bus to school this year?”

I was immediately ecstatic. Then I was a little more analytical and insulted. He said that like I had been keeping him from riding the bus last year when in fact I was begging him. But Frank’s supplication, “Daddy, can I ride the bus to school this year?” fell somewhere between Oliver asking for more lunch at the orphanage and the Roman solider asking Jesus to cure his dying kid from long distance. I was getting a little salty about his tone I don’t mind saying. Then I snapped back to reality. The kid wants to ride the bus. Victory at last. At least it seems that way.

A boy and his stop. A dad one step closer to all day pajamas.

A boy and his stop. A dad one step closer to all day pajamas.

I mean I don’t have to drive him to school, which ultimately means I don’t have to get dressed. I can just about roll out of bed, get him dressed, jam a pop-tart in his pie hole, make his lunch and walk him to the bust stop. The only negative to the whole thing is the time I have to get him up. It’s a little crazy, the time of morning he has to get out of bed.

I know the political crazies in this country rail and wail about the US becoming more like Europe. But let me tell you something folks, those people do society right in a lot of ways. In this case they are dead on about school. In most European countries the younger the kid, the later in the day they start school. Here it’s the other way around. In most European countries Frank would be starting school around 8:45. Here I’m dragging him from the bed between 6:30 – 6:45am so he can make his 7:05 bus that takes him 1.8 miles to school. He’s 6 years old. This seems out of whack to me.

Ok, I’m done with that rant lest this become a political site. And God help us we don’t want that. Next thing you know Trump will buy me out so he can build a casino and Hillary will be wiping my server. With a cloth people, with a cloth.

The was one small incident with the bus. And it was entirely my fault. He took the bus home for the whole of kindergarten, save that apocalyptic first week. But this year he was taking the bus home from the jump so I drilled his bus number into his memory. It was a different number for some reason but on the ride to school his first day I made him repeat it so much he had it down pat in no time.

The problem, I made him memorize the wrong number. I even wrote the wrong number on his bus form. So, my phone started ringing almost the exact moment when the doors to Frank’s bus closed, drove away, and I had no Frank to walk home with.

His new teacher called to say she had Frank. His bus number didn’t match to any bus in the fleet. Several kids recognized Frank and told her what his real bus number was. His real bus number was the same as last year. Don’t know what I was looking at. Rightly being skeptical and not wanting to go on the word of other first graders, she walked him to the bus but the driver didn’t remember him or his neighborhood. So using her better judgement she kept him and called me. I like this lady already.

When I got there she explained the deal with the driver. I said his driver last year was a crotchety old guy who might actually be the long lost cousin of Moses from the Ten Commandments. She didn’t blink but responded quickly with, “Yeah that’s him.” I do like this lady. No idea why he didn’t remember Frank or the neighborhood. But minor crisis averted. New/old bus number memorized and we’re back on track.

The walk to the bus stop has become a lot of fun. The neighbors may not think so. The moment we step from the garage on our two block walk we are talking. And by we I mean him, and by talk I mean non-stop narration of everything he sees along the way. He was born here, he has grown up on this street. Nothing he sees is new to him. But for some reason in the early morning hour he feels the need to loudly describe and point out sprinklers, cars, trashcans, birds, etc… It is fun though. We eventually get to talking about stuff.

He has made three new friends in school. All girls. They take turns helping him open various lunch items he buys, like his juice or chips. I decided I had heard enough and stopped asking questions on the walk to the bus stop. On the third trip to the bus stop he asked me one. Again it was more a desperate request than a question. “Daddy can I buy my lunch at school?” Yet again he says this like I’ve been depriving him of it instead of begging him to do it. But I decided to be the bigger person, look past that and realize the victory.

No more making lunches. Awesome! Added bonus, by not taking a lunch his back pack just became light enough for me to lift it. In the end it was all two small steps for Frank and his independence and one giant leap for me and my goal of a responsibility free day.

It only gets less busy as they get older?