There is probably little more excruciating for a parent than putting the safety of your child into the hands of a total stranger only to have them not show up at the appointed time.
Bash is doing summer school this year and for the first time he gets to ride the bus to and from school. He's so thrilled at the prospect of ditching his booster seat he's pretty much forgiven us the fact he has to do summer school.
The bus takes him from our home school, which is four blocks from our house, to the summer school, and then in the afternoon brings him back to our home school. Wednesday was the first day and Michael and I met the bus driver, Grove (no, I don't know how he got his name...Grover? Mangrove?), who seemed perfectly trustworthy and told us to be waiting in front of our home school no later than 1:30, although he may be as late as 2:00 due to the fact that first days are often a cauldron of chaos and confusion.
Michael and I were a bit early for pick-up which turned out to be unnecessary. We waited...and waited...and waited. Finally, at 2:20, I could see my husband was beginning to split at the seams. Now, there is nothing subtle about Michael in a state of duress. When he's worried the entire world damn well knows it. The poor guy can't help but gnaw on every possible horrible scenario, and I see it as my job not to get sucked into his vortex of doom.
There's nothing I can do in moments like these. If I babble on and on, trying to distract him, he gets POed. If I remain silent, letting him sort out his own shit, he resents that as well. The only saving grace, and I realize how selfish this will sound, is that I deliberately focused my attentions on Michael and his irrationalities, thus was spared any pangs of distress I may have had for our son, who was over an hour late.
Finally, while maintaining a modulated calm any television therapist would envy, I offered to go back home, find the number for the bus company, call them up and see what the fuck's going on. Michael agreed that would be best.
Once home, it didn't take me long to find the Notification of Student Transportation Schedule Summer 2011. Immediately, I called the bus company and after following the prompts if this is an emergency, press one now I was unceremoniously put on hold. And anyone whose called any hot line in any American city knows the word emergency is a hoax. It felt as if I was on hold longer than it's taken Congress to figure out what to do with our debt ceiling. I waited...and waited...and waited. It was a horrible sense of deja vu, only this time indoors and with Muzak.
Michael texted me, then he called me, then he called the school and found out why Bash's bus left late, then he called me back to tell me the reason which turned out to be a missing kid (that certainly doesn't instill confidence in LAUSD), all the while I remained in that purgatory called on hold. At this point it was 2:55 and I had been holding for twenty-six minutes. After a couple more calls back and forth Michael demanded, "Go to the school, now!" Which was then followed by, "Hold on, I think I see him." Click.
About a minute after Michael hung up...you all must see where this is going...a male human from the bus service finally got on the line. And even though I knew Michael was collecting Sebastian as I spoke, I felt I had every right to say my piece and scatter a little buckshot, if for no other reason, for having to endure mind numbing Muzak for thirty-three minutes. But as I was explaining the situation, I heard the key turn in the lock and any fire and brimstone I may have had had diminished to a smouldering ash. The resounding shame on you! I had planned to say turned into a feeble never mind, thank you.
Sebastian was beaming. The bus riding experience surpassed all his expectations. Turns out the missing boy was in the bus the entire time. For whatever reason, he decided not to answer to his name when roll was taken. (I hope the kid was subjected to hours of Sarah Palin's speaking voice.)
It finally made sense why kids today have cell phones. Bash could have called us quashing any Sturm und Drang we were manifesting. Then it hit me. "What am I thinking? Sebastian couldn't have called us. He doesn't even know our phone numbers or our address."
I'm ashamed to admit, I haven't sat down with my eight year old to teach him the basic information I knew when I was five because of his learning disability.
I interrupted his chronicling of the day's events, forget about your first day of summer school, buddy. I'm going to teach you something really cool, my phone number. It's much easier than our home phone, my cell has repeated numbers and it's an easy shape to memorize on the phone's keypad. Well, guess what, learning disability be damned, that little bugger learned my number in a snap...and he hasn't stopped calling me since. My slight irritation of the constant ring tone (Janelle Monae's Tightrope) is quelled by the fact that the more he calls, the more certain I am he'll remember the number.
This proves to me that I am guilty of dumbing down my son over the years, giving in to but I can't do it, letting him basically get away with murder. So, tomorrow I'm going to teach him something else. Maybe his social.