THE BUS!

We’re getting the hang of the new routine, despite a few family-wide panic attacks.

We’ve lived in our home, at the corner of a four way stop, for four years and I’ve known all along that the school bus drives by many many times.

I just didn’t know how many. Six times in the morning and six times in the afternoon. If you think I’m exaggerating, there’s actually a chance I’m under reporting.

Until this year it was a special treat if we saw it go by, but it didn’t affect my life one way or another. Now the distinctive braking of the school bus is enough to send my entire household into a frenzy.

7 a.m.: I’m enjoying my precious one on one time with my coffee. The bus brakes and adrenaline shoots through my body. I talk myself off the ledge. BB’s bus comes at 8:07 a.m.

7:07 a.m.: BB is snuggling with me on the couch. THE BUS! BB is on the verge of a meltdown. I talk her off the ledge.

7:30 a.m.: Captain is in the middle of making breakfast. THE BUS! He looks at me panic stricken. I talk him back.

7:37 a.m.: RB is spooning some cereal into her mouth and the rest into her lap. THE BUS! She yells,

“BUS!”

I remind everyone,

“BB’s bus comes at 8:07 a.m.”

8:00 a.m.: THE BUS! My stomach lurches, Captain braces himself, RB squeals and BB screams,

“Is that my bus?!”

“Technically yes, but remember it loops around the neighborhood and picks you up on the way back?”

“I want to go outside.”

“Ok, but you have time.”

“I want to go outside NOW!”

ME TOO.

After an hour of panicking, I remind everyone, including myself,

“Even if we do miss the bus, we have a car and it’s a 5 minute drive to school.”

Then the whole thing repeats in the afternoon. The bus driver won’t let a kindergartener off of the bus without an adult there to meet them, so it feels even more important to not miss the afternoon bus. BB gets home at 3:25 p.m.

2:30 p.m.: I’m enjoying the quiet when… THE BUS!

Captain is still working from home, so he gets to shout things from the library/office/gym/room-off-of-the-kitchen-where-it’s-a-terrible-place-to-work-with-small-children-around,-but-I-didn’t-pick-it. He yells,

“THE BUS!”

“I know!! It’s not BB’s!”

BB loves the bus. She tells me,

“It’s not like when you were a kid, the seats are really nice.”

Of all the millions of things that are not like when I was a kid, the school bus seats look very similar. And I have had the chance to see them go by many many times.

My first day of kindergarten 1987! And I may be in the market for a pair of these high tops.

Magically I’ve got a kindergartener! It’s long, but sweet

Kindergarten check! BB is on cloud nine. Fishy Wishy is ready to repeat pre-k and I’m looking for my sanity. It’s gotta be around here somewhere.

Back in June when Flippy first came home, before we even had time to rename him, I was already thinking to myself,

‘It would be amazing if I manage to keep him alive. Then at the end of the summer I could send the text message, “When’s Flippy’s first day of school?”‘

A week ago I got to send that message. It felt as good as I imagined. I got a message back reassuring me that if we’d grown attached, we could keep him.

No. No. And no. At that point BB was running around in RB’s diapers and I just couldn’t handle wondering if Flippy was depressed or if this was the morning I’d find him belly up.

At the Cape there was talk of setting him free, never mind that he’s a fresh water fish. My beach buddy pointed out,

“Oh no, you can’t do that, he’d be like ‘Where are my flakes?'”

If Flippy doesn’t make it through his second year of pre-k, it won’t be on my watch. I’ve had about all I can do to keep track of the kindergarten schedule.

First there was the playground playdate and practice bus ride. There were 80 kids on the playground and BB went to the swings 100 feet away, all by herself.

I had promised myself ahead of time that I’d follow BB’s lead and not push too hard on the being around other people thing.

Then lo and behold, BB returned from her solitary swinging and suggested we go find some kids in her class. I spotted one standing with her parents. Worth a shot.

There must’ve been some magical, unicorn, fairy, kindergarten dust in the air. The girls took off around the playground. A little while later we lined up for the practice bus ride. BB’s new friend asked,

“Do you want to sit together?”

At which point BB held out her hand. They boarded arm in arm and while I had expected to get teary eyed when BB left for her official first day, I did NOT expect to cry for the PRACTICE bus ride. But I did.

BB had an amazing time. The behavior at home continued to deteriorate. Captain was at a loss. He kept saying,

“What is going on?”

“Kindergarten is starting soon.”

“Right but-“

“No that’s it. I guarantee it.”

I mean I didn’t know for sure sure, but it sure seemed unlikely she’d go to school in her baby sister’s diapers. We just had to get through 5 more days of reverse potty training.

BB threw multiple tantrums because she wanted to pee in the diaper, but couldn’t. And not that I said she couldn’t, just that she’s so used to going in a toilet, or outside, that she couldn’t relax enough to go in the diaper. It took her a few days, but by T-minus 3 days until kindergarten she was peeing in diapers again.

BB went for a school tour joined at the hip with her new friend. Then there was a 2-hour, drop-off, practice day. The class was divided in half by the alphabet. There must’ve been more of that magical kindergarten dust, because BB and her new friend’s last names fell into the same group.

Getting emotional over the practice bus ride should’ve been a warning to me, but I approached the practice day as if I’m not someone who can cry over a Budweiser commercial. BB’s kindergarten teacher held out her hand to introduce herself and I started to cry.

I made sure BB didn’t see. She waved goodbye and trotted off.

She may be a clone of Captain, but the one expression of my genetics might be BB’s adventuresomeness.

Two hours later I return and learn that not only did BB have a wonderful time, but she used the bathroom. And for someone who spent a large part of the summer refusing to use public restrooms, peeing outside and most recently returning to diapers. This was a very, very good sign.

Then the real deal. The first day of kindergarten. The only day I thought I’d actually cry. BB was super excited, then a little quiet. I was so focused on the logistics, and taking photos, that the tears barely came.

8:10am. How is it possible that I won’t know anything until she gets off the bus at 3:30pm?

Preschool would’ve texted a photo by 8:12am. I check my phone. I remind myself that if BB decides not to talk, she has all of her identifying info pinned to the front of her dress.

I check my phone again. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, but I check my phone again. And again. The next 7 hours would’ve been a variation of this same theme if it weren’t for my amazing neighbor throwing a “First Day of School, MOMosa brunch.”

It saved my sanity. And magically, however many mimosas later, it was time to welcome home my kindergartener.

Captain and I hovered on the corner. I obsessively refreshed the bus tracking app. It was making very slow progress. At least ten minutes late. As it appeared on the horizon, I stood camera ready, then the bus knocked over a neighbor’s basketball pole.

Keep driving! Where’s my baby? The driver stops, gets out, assesses the damage, decides to drive the remaining block to us.

BB bounces off the bus. She couldn’t be in a better mood. She’s full of stories and tales of eating vegetables at lunch. A unicorn of a day.

What a relief. I offer her help with something, I can’t even remember what and she rolls her eyes at me,

“Mom, I’m not a baby.”