Yesterday was supposed to be the first time I put my baby on a school bus. There have been countless times I wished I could put her on a school bus, but I digress.
I signed up H to attend Horizons Camp, which is for rising sixth graders who want to meet other students or get used to middle school before the first day. Or it’s for mothers who are really excited that a school bus will pick up and drop off their rambunctious children and let them have a little peace for four hours.
Except that H wasn’t on the bus list. No problem, emailed the principal. Just drive her in Monday morning, and we’ll send her home on the bus.
So that’s what I did. I took H and her buddy B to the high school just down the road past the middle school. The middle school is under construction for the summer, and the sign-up letter listed the high school as the location.
At the high school, I met a group of other moms–and one dad–and their rising 6th graders. A very nice but very confused secretary assured us that Horizons Camp was not being held at the high school.
After a quick phone call, everyone caravaned down the street back to the middle school. Voila. Camp Horizons was being held in part of the middle school not under construction. A very apologetic principal assured us that all would be okay.
Except that it wasn’t. B and H did not ride the bus home at 12:15. The bus driver did not have either of their names on the manifest–yes, just like an airplane manifest–and his assistant explained that my little girl refused to ride the bus.
That’s when the principal pulled up to the bus stop with B and H in tow. B’s mom and I had both missed her phone calls since we were walking to the bus stop, so she drove them herself. H’s explanation?
“Mom, it smelled like cigarette smoke on the bus. I cannot ride a bus that smells like cigarette.”
I thanked the principal, who seemed fairly mortified by the day’s misadventures. She promised to get both girls on the manifest as soon as she returned to school.
That’s when we started the walk back home, and that’s when the next part of the adventure began. You see, in order to reach the bus stop, we had to cut through someone’s property and literally walk by No Trespassing signs. But B is a rule follower and would have nothing to do with our return route. Given that our other two choices were to walk along a two-lane highway with no sidewalk or follow a trail, we chose the trail.
B’s mom tried to make conversation. “So…tell me what you did. Was it fun?”
Yes, it was fun. H said that they played a game called Me, Too.
I gave my friend a look that showed my horror–and naivete. “Laura, it’s not that kind of Me, Too.”
“Yeah, Mom, like when someone said, ‘I play soccer,’ I said, ‘Me, too!'”
Then the girls explained that they had had math and reading blocks, played soccer, and created a tower out of balloons. But no snack. H thinks it’s cruel not to feed children, and she reminded me that I had said there would be snack provided.
Yes, I had told her that. Because that’s what the information sheet said. Then again, we hadn’t been doing well with the information sheet so far.
By now we had reached the trail. The girls chattered about seeing a copperhead yesterday. “You saw a copperhead and didn’t tell me?” I said. “How do you know it was a copperhead?”
B explained that it had a diamond pattern on its back. Then she started shrieking hysterically. In the trail ahead of us was an actual snake that looked a lot like this.
That’s an eastern ribbon snake, and it’s very tiny and harmless. That didn’t deter B from hysterics though, and I can’t really blame her. If you’re scared of snakes, then there’s no differentiating between good and bad snakes.
As we slowly walked home–keeping an eye out for more snakes the whole time–H told me the real reason she wouldn’t ride the bus. Since her name wasn’t on the passenger list, she was supposed to sit next to the assistant–the one who smelled like cigarette smoke–and she didn’t know him. I’m sure I’ve mentioned H’s general suspicion of any adult male she hasn’t previously vetted. I sighed.
Later that afternoon the principal emailed that she couldn’t find H in the computer system. Had I forgotten to register her for sixth grade?
Are you kidding me?
We skipped the bus adventure this morning, and we’ve decided not to try the bus again until the “real” bus arrives in August. I also decided to visit the office after I dropped off B and H. It turns out that all of H’s information is safely in the system. It’s just that the system doesn’t roll over to the next school year until July 16.
Of course it doesn’t.
I promise I’m trying. It’s not every day that a mom who’s been homeschooling her children for 11 years decides to turn control over to someone else. And it’s clearly going to be a learning process for all of us–me especially.