Oops, I missed the bus. Not! (Wrestling with what other people think)
My older two actually do not want me anywhere near their bus stop, unless I am dropping them off at it in the case of when our long and slightly sloped driveway is a sheet of ice and to walk to the bus with their multiple accoutrements (backpacks, gym bags, instrument) would be ridiculously treacherous. Plus their stops (different places morning and afternoon) are possibly a half mile from the house.
My youngest, who is in elementary school, doesn’t care whether or not I am at his bus stop either, or even if I am there when I pick him up.
So, why do I go?
Because all the other parents do.
The above was part of a draft post I started in February. This morning I had yet another checkpoint chat with my youngest son about the bus stop.
“Hon, does it bother you that I don’t come to meet you at the bus stop in the afternoon?”
“No, I don’t care at all, mom. I’ve told you this before.”
“Okay, well, I am just asking because all the other parents are there.”
“I know how to cross the street, mom.”
“Of course you do. But what about in the morning when I say, ‘you go ahead’ and I don’t always vet out there in time?” This was the case this morning, actually.
“Mom, it’s okay!”
This morning, I made it to the mail box, which is close to where I was when I took the above pic in February, when the bus sped past me. I waved at the driver, and then I celled “Bye!” to my son and waved. He waved back. I know we’re good. There have been mornings, though, that I do not get out there in time to see him get on the bus. And I know the school would call me if he didn’t show up.
I actually did carry on to the bus stop before I started my morning walk, so I could catch up with one of the other moms whose son is on the same baseball team as mine, to check in about our game tonight.
Often times, while I do like to be friendly with my neighbors, I don’t have time to interrupt what I am doing, especially in the afternoon, to go stand around for 10 minutes.
I do not think my son will get lost, or hit by a car (we have sidewalks), or abducted (especially with all those other parents around!).
I am more concerned about what people think than I want to be. There was a time many years ago when I stopped in at CVS with two sleeping toddlers in the car. I just wanted to drop off a couple of rolls of film to be developed (this was before the days of Smart Phones and Shutterfly — or before I was using those devices/services anyway). I went into the store to get the envelope. I left the kids sleeping in the car, as I had parked right in front of the door and it literally took 10 steps to get inside. Yes, I shut the car off, locked it, and took the keys with me. I came back out and noticed a woman in a van pulling out, giving me a dirty look and shaking her head. I couldn’t imagine what I did wrong. Was I parked in a handicapped spot? Was I parked on the white line, instead of within it? (I checked.) I got back in the car and filled out the envelope, and then went back inside a second time to drop it in the bin for developing. The boys were still asleep, in the car. Yes, I locked the car again and took the keys with me. When I came back out, the kids were still asleep. Then I went home. I carried the boys in one by one and laid them on the L-shaped couch to finish their naps.
Not long after that, a policeman showed up at our house. He told me I had been reported (by the scornful woman in the van) and it was his duty to follow up. It was also his obligation to report the whole incident to his chief who would decide whether or not social services would be called. This policeman is someone I had known at that time for more than 10 years. I told him I thought that was ridiculous, that the kids were asleep, the doors were locked, what was the harm? He told me the woman was a known busybody and the chief would likely do nothing. But still, my stomach fell to my feet.
I felt ashamed. I worried that I would lose custody. I wondered what kind of awful parent I really was. I spent a good deal of time awfulizing, but no call from Social Services ever came.
Later that week when I went to the bank, I pulled in next to a van. There were at least three little kids sitting in the van talking and laughing and no grown up in sight. They waved at me. I waved back and smiled. I felt relieved to know I was not the only one.
I had no inclination to call the police whatsoever.
It still took me a while to get over my shame. I know I am not a bad parent, but I am still sensitive to what other people perceive, given the fact that one of these people took it upon herself to tattle on me to the police. But if anyone should be ashamed, I don’t think it’s me.