Something…strange happened yesterday morning. Strange and unusual and frankly, pretty disorienting.
The boys were all eating their breakfast when Noah looked at the clock and informed me it was time to get to the bus stop. I poured some coffee into a travel mug and gave the official starting signal. Jason didn’t have to be at work yet, so he took over feeding Ike his cereal. The rest of us hurried to the door for shoes and coats. Noah put on his backpack — I’d already hung it on the doorknob like always, with the lunch I packed the night before tucked inside — and we headed out.
As we walked down to the corner and turned, I froze. The bus stop was empty. Nobody was waiting. I glanced up and down the street and realized it was empty too. There should be at least half a dozen kids and a handful of parents staggering out of houses and lurching zombie-like towards the bus stop by now. I panicked.
“Oh, buddy, did we miss the bus? Already?”
No, we couldn’t have! I dug around for my phone to check the time but realized I’d left it back at the house. I mentally went back over the coats-and-shoes process, which hadn’t felt like it was taking any longer than usual. I calculated the odds that I had forgotten about a random in-service day or missed a weather-related closing announcement? On a bright sunny spring-like Thursday? Probably not, right?
Right. That left only one possibility: We had missed the dang bus.
I stood there and fumed. It must have come early, right? I have things so DOWN in the morning now, so much calmer and more streamlined than they used to be. I have a process, a plan, a timeline and a freezer full of homemade oatmeal-and-cinnamon pancakes we make every Sunday for easy weekday toasting. Good lord, I have a kindergartner who watches the clock and tells me when it’s time to leave and a preschooler who understands what happens when the big hand touches the three! Two children who are my morning allies, rather than children who actively work against me in the Battle Of Getting Out The Stupid Door on time!
FOR GOD’S SAKE I HANG BACKPACKS ON THE FRONT DOORKNOB NOW SO NOTHING IS EVER LOST OR LEFT UNPACKED AT THE LAST MINUTE, WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME, UNIVERSE?
Noah thought we should keep walking.
So we did, but I couldn’t stop jerking my head this way and that, scanning the neighborhood for signs of other families. I wondered if anybody was maybe watching us from their houses, having already seen the bus come and go, and if they’d take pity on us and come out to deliver the news that yeah, you better go get in your car, because you’re on your own. Or maybe they were just laughing at us.
(No, I don’t know why the default imaginary versions of my neighbors are all such jerks either.)
And then it happened: Doors opened, and the morning shuffle of kids and parents began. We hadn’t missed the bus. At all. We’d actually just been…exactly on time. Early, even. Without even breaking a sweat.
…unlike another mother who has always, ALWAYS been ready and present at the bus stop with her kindergartner by the time we arrived, ever since the very first day of school. She was sweating, because they were a good block away when the bus pulled up and had to sprint the rest of the way in winter coats, because she didn’t have time to check the weather report.
“Just one of those mornings, I guess,” she sighed and panted, as we waved goodbye to our children as the bus rolled away.
“Tell me about it,” I nodded.
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