Friday, January 11, 2013

The bus is late! Oh my!

It happens to everyone who has a kid that rides the bus. At some point, the bus will be late. It's just one of those things.

Monkey can be a worry wart. He becomes very concerned when the bus is late and I try to reassure him that it's okay and he won't get in trouble at school. When the bus finally does show up, he will make comments to the driver just to make sure that they know they're late and that he will be late to school because of it.

I always smile to the driver and wave.

Well, today we had icy weather to wake up to. It was in the mid-to-high 20's outside. While Prince Charming was snug and warm inside on the couch under a blanket, Monkey and I were huddled together in the dark, waiting for the bus outside. It wasn't helping that I had just come down with another cold right after I had gotten over my Christmas/New Years cold.

Time passed. No bus.

More time passes. Still no bus.

Monkey is starting to pace a little bit, and he's walking further out to get a better view of whether or not he can see if the bus is coming. Each time, nothing.

I check the time again and the bus is now more than 15 minutes late. I have a good relationship with the driver since Monkey is the only one on this particular special transportation route. Usually she texts me or calls me, and I've heard nothing from her or from the transportation department at the district about the status of the bus. I wonder if she's out sick today. Monkey had a substitute driver yesterday afternoon... It's probably why I hadn't heard anything.

I pull out the ice scraper and come up with a plan. I tell Monkey that I'm going to go ahead and start prepping the car in the event that I need to take him to school, but we are going to give it a little bit more time and see what happens.

The ice is layered in such a way that it doesn't do me much good to scrape the windows, so I go inside and get my car keys and start up the car to start the thawing out process.

I check the time again. The bus is now over 20 minutes late. Okay, it's time to call the transportation department! I get on the phone and tell them that the bus is very late and we've been standing outside in the cold while I am sick. I am promptly put on hold with dispatch while they look into the status of his bus.

Monkey and I watch the exhaust billowing from the car in the frosty air. The windshield wipers finally come free from their icy position and begin to work. We listen to the rubbery scrape while the car idles. It seems we are the only ones awake and moving in the chilly dark of the morning.

"Yes, hello? Well, it appears that there is a problem with the bus and it is not operating. I can try to get another bus dispatched to him for you but I would need to find out exactly how long that would take."

Bitter, ugly thoughts jump around in my head, but I do not utter them out loud.

"Ummm, I don't think that's necessary. While I've been on hold with you, I've been de-icing my car. I'll go ahead and take him to school myself. Next time I would appreciate a call to let me know if the bus is not coming. Thank you." I coughed loudly for effect before I hung up. I'm a teeny bit passive-agressive that way.

I go back into the house and tell Prince Charming he needs to get his coat and shoes on because we have to take his brother to school. He complains bitterly, but complies.

I wouldn't want to get out from under the blanket either. And, it's a change in his routine. I understand why it's hard for him. But, I don't have much patience. I feel like crap, I'm cold, I'm irritated, and Monkey is already late for school.

It occurs to me to call the teacher to let him know what's happening. By doing so, I was able to reassure Monkey that his teacher knows he'll be late and that he said it would be fine. Monkey liked hearing that his teacher said, "I'll see him when he gets here!"

I go back outside and quickly discover that my car doors are frozen shut. Like completely. Not moving a millimeter. Frozen.


I head back inside and see Prince Charming is ready to go, thank God. I run the faucet until I get really hot water while I search the cabinets for a pitcher. Prince Charming comes outside with me and both the boys watch while I pour the hot water over the doors. They watch the steam rising from the car and the ice melting off. The doors magically open. Voila! They pile into the car, and we are off! Monkey is now over 30 minutes past when his bus should have arrived and he is most definitely late for school.

We head down the road, and I quickly run over the events of the morning in my head. I realize something pretty significant.

Monkey didn't get upset. He wasn't excessively worried. The most intense thing he did was pace a little and watch for the bus quietly.

I was amazed. I was proud.  Maybe my reassurances all of these years are finally soaking in. Who knows?

"Hey, kid. I wanna tell you that I'm really proud of the way you handled the bus situation this morning. I know it's hard for you to be late and I'm happy that you didn't worry too much about the bus. Like I told you before, you'll get to school no matter what, because if the bus can't take you, I will. You can count on that. Hey...I have an idea!"


"Well, since you did such a good job this morning by being flexible and not feeling upset about the bus, I was thinking about a possible surprise. But, if we do the surprise, it means you're going to be another 5 minutes late to school. You can choose what you want to do. If you want to go straight to school, then that's what we'll do. If you're okay being a few more minutes later than we already are, then I'll tell you my idea."

He paused for a moment, assessing his options. "I'll be okay if we are 5 more minutes late. What's the surprise?"

"How about we get some hot chocolate on the way to school because you did such a good job?"

"I knew it!"

"Yeah, I figured you did, kiddo."

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And with that, Monkey and Prince Charming got to enjoy a very rare treat while in the car on an icy morning on the way to Monkey's school all because the bus was late.

When we got to the school, Monkey was very calm. He got his attendance slip from the office and walked down the hall to his class while Prince Charming and I told him goodbye. He did such a good job. It was well worth a little treat.

One thing I've learned with my boys is to celebrate the small wins. It's not often that you get a huge win, so recognize the little steps that are gained and make sure your child knows that you see them happening. Sometimes a little hot chocolate on the way to school can be a very good thing.
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