Sunday, January 11, 2009

Where to Begin? Part 2

When I left you the other day, I was whining about my mountain of mommy guilt re: my daughter's social skills. Aside from those particular issues, Emma's had a great year so far in her new school. I love her teacher and I know she has made significant progress. It kinda makes me wonder how well she would be doing if we'd moved her to this school right after Kindergarten. But, again, just heap that onto the guilt mountain.

Another new change is that now Emma is riding the bus to and from school everyday. This is new only that it's an actual "yellow school bus" rather than the local transportation that she took to her old school in Kindergarten. She's been really excited about this since we told her at the beginning of last summer. Her new school starts 45 minutes after her old school, and she doesn't catch the bus until 8am, which is nice for us all, because we really aren't morning people. A few months ago, the high school had their Homecoming week. Due to where we live (right across from the high school) our street was part of the Homecoming parade route. I kept waiting for a notice or call from her bus people to let me know how they were going to change the route on the day of the parade. I didn't get anything until the morning of the parade, after Emma had already left for school. So while I knew what the deal was, Emma didn't.

After getting to the new drop-off spot for that day, I waited...and waited. Fifteen minutes after her normal time to be dropped off, I saw the bus coming up behind my car, where I was sitting with the 2 other kids. I didn't have a chance to get out of the car, and the bus didn't stop. So I scurried and tried to catch up with the bus, hoping it would notice that I was following it and stop, to allow Emma to get off. It didn't. So, instead of following it around, I went to where I KNEW another stop was, got out and waited for it to show up with the other parents. The bus got there, no Emma. I was immediately freaking out.

There's a rule for the elementary schools that no child under the age of 10 can be let off a public school bus without a parent/guardian visible. So, since September, I've had to wait on my front porch every afternoon, so the bus driver can see that I'm home, and let Emma off. There's a waiver I can sign which will allow her to get off the bus without that, but Jeff & I aren't comfortable with that. It's a huge pain in the butt, but I can deal with it for another year until she's 10.

So, when Emma wasn't on the bus, I panicked. The bus driver, which was a sub, and didn't know the original route well to begin with, couldn't tell me which stop Emma had gotten off at. I was now livid as well as panicked, which doesn't go well together. Some kids on the bus told the driver and myself that Emma had gotten off at the stop previous to where I had been waiting originally. I had no idea where that was, not to mention the fact that there was a Homecoming parade going on at that moment right where Emma had gotten off the bus. I had no idea where she could have gone, nor did I know, since we'd only been at our new house for a few months, if she would know which way was home.

The bus driver was sure that she had gotten off at a stop with a ton of other kids who were going to a daycare. She gave me the address of the daycare and I went to go find her. Thankfully, another mom who'd been waiting with me volunteered to go searching for her with me. We went to the address: no daycare. No one was even home. I'm starting to hyperventilate at this point. The lady with me started walking towards the parade route and I searched all the streets in between. I went as close as I could to our street, parked and got out and started walking towards our house. That's when I saw Emma standing in our driveway, watching the parade with none other than her 3rd grade teacher. Talk about a stroke of luck.

What had happened was, since she didn't know anything was going to be different, when the sub driver told everyone who normally got off on our street to get off at a stop she wasn't familiar with, she listened and got off the bus. When she realized she wasn't in the right spot, she was super smart and started looking for our house. Ironically, after getting there and finding that I wasn't there, she saw her teacher setting up with her kids to watch the parade, and sought her out to ask for help.

What really pissed me off was the bus driver seemed to have no idea that what she'd done was simply idiotic. Firstly, she was a sub. Why the hell do you give a sub the job of dealing with an altered route when it's their first time for that route? Second, Emma is under 10, meaning legally, according to THEIR rules, she needs to have a parent/guardian visible before they let her off the bus. The sub didn't ASK the adult at the stop whether Emma was with her, she just assumed. And Emma, not knowing that there was anything different, was just doing what the bus driver told her.

This almost made me want to take her off the bus entirely. But, seeing as how I value my sanity, I decided against it. She enjoys it, it makes her feel a little more grown-up, and I don't have to drive to and from the school twice a day. We haven't had any other issues with the bus, so I suppose it was probably just bad timing.

1 comment:

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

OH MY GOSH how terrifying! I have a serious bus phobia so none of my kids will EVER ride a bus but man, I would have been SO panicked! Glad she was smart and stayed safe!