Obligatory First Day of School Photo. I feel these facial expressions aptly foretold coming events.
When my older daughter was in early elementary school, I drove her to and from school each day as opposed to putting her on the bus. By the time the younger one was entering kindergarten, the older one -- then in second grade -- was chaffing for the tiny shred of independence provided by riding the bus to school. So I acquiesced, and packed them off to school on that gargantuan piece of yellow machinery.
Little Hadley came home that afternoon flushed and furious.
"That was TERRIFYING. The bus driver is a BUMPY AND TERRIBLE DRIVER! There were NO SEATBELTS!! She was RUNNING STOP SIGNS AND DRIVING SO FAST I COULD BARELY STAY IN MY SEAT!!! I will not ride the bus again. EVER."
Though Callie assured me it had not been quite the roller coaster ride dramatically described by her sister, Hadley's decision was final. Any attempts to put her back on that bus would end in child abuse allegations and hundreds of hours of therapy. I graciously accepted that her tender sensibilities were in direct opposition to the hardships she would face while riding group transportation, and queued back up in the carpool line for the remaining 6 years.
But folks, middle school would be different. She'd been toughened up by school trips (on chartered buses replete with air conditioning and facilities, but still), hardened by wandering the Atlanta airport (busiest in the U.S., natch) parking lot with her dad searching for a lost car for about an hour, and battered by a variety of illnesses, stitches and broken bones. Plus, her sister had been riding the bus to middle school for 2 years and threatened to disassemble anyone bothering her little sister.
So last Monday, we arrive at the bus stop 10 minutes early per Fulton County instructions. And I swear to you, right as we pull up, there's the bus ... lights flashing, stop sign out and doors open. As the girls ran toward the bus I hollered "make sure that's actually your bus!!!"
Yeah, apparently they didn't hear that suggestion, because about 5 minutes later I get a phone call. Before I even say hello I hear Callie say to someone "actually this is kinda funny" then to me "Uh, Mom. We accidentally got on the high school bus."
Let's recap: My 11 and 13 year old daughters were in the very back seat of a bus FULL OF HIGH SCHOOLERS and they were en route to the HIGH SCHOOL.
Sweet Mary in the heavens.
Then Callie says that while the bus driver spoke very little English (awesome), he kept repeating that he would be going to the middle school. Which he did indeed do, but only after taking a very circuitous route to the school, thereby prompting Callie to threaten to call the cops if he didn't PULL THIS BUS OVER SO MY MOM CAN GET US.
I only found out later that Hadley was already preparing to dial 911 if he didn't meet Callie's demands immediately. Thank goodness he stopped and picked up some kids they knew, otherwise I am pretty sure you'd have heard about us on the national news and how some kid in Atlanta caused an Amber Alert because she didn't like the route the bus driver took to her suburban school.
In the end, they arrived safely at school, on time and with a pretty funny story to tell.
That night at dinner I asked if they wanted me to just drive them in the morning.
Callie said "Seriously? Are you seriously asking that question?" Hadley just shot her eyebrows up to meet her hairline.
So if you're looking for me around 8:15 in the mornings, you know where I'll be. And it won't be at the bus stop.