My own kids started school today, in kindergarten and first grade.
Because they are at the same school this year, they get to do something they’ve been wanting to do for quite a while: They get to ride the bus home.
They headed to school this morning each with a note in their pocket with the bus number. We talked about where their bus stop was, reviewed the bus number over and over, and they were excited, and – I thought – ready.
This afternoon I finished work and was in the kitchen at home at the time school got out. I baked cookies; I started dinner; I anxiously listened for the sound of the bus going by.
I know from my years as a teacher that the first day of school is always a bit chaotic, and that bus schedules often take a few days to run smoothly, so when 45 minutes went by with no bus, I wasn’t yet ready to panic. Close, but not quite.
Ten minutes later I heard it. The bus! I ran out front, and, sure enough, it was the right bus number. I headed down toward their stop. Several kids got off the bus, but mine did not.
So I ran down the street to the next stop, trying to peak in the bus windows to flag down my kids. You’re supposed to get off the bus! That was your stop!
But my kids weren’t there.
Okay. Not yet in full panic, but getting closer.
I tried to call the school, but – ironically – couldn’t find the school number online on my phone and finally had to run inside to call. At this point it was well over an hour after school had gotten out, so I expected to get a recorded message, but a real person answered the phone.
As it turns out, there were six buses that were supposed to stop at my kids’ school this afternoon to pick up students, but there was some mistake in the directions they were given, and those six buses just drove right by the school without stopping. So there were kids from six buses at the school while the staff was apparently trying frantically to get the buses to come back and to eventually deal with the phone calls of parents trying to find their kids.
I was put on hold while they looked for mine. Thankfully, they were there, waiting in the cafeteria.
So I drove over and picked them up – more than an hour and a half after school had gotten out.
I know stuff like this happens, and since I knew they were safe and that it hadn’t been the kids’ fault, I was just very glad to get to the school and see them. And I was feeling pretty proud of myself after I got a nice compliment from one of the teachers who was waiting there with the students: “You’re a lot more calm than the last mom who was here!”
I just laughed. I was a teacher. I understand.