I have been sort of silently and sort of not silently complaining about something all year (school year, not just the last thirty-two days). I have been complaining about our new afternoon schedule and how it requires getting in the car right in the middle of someone’s nap time, no matter what.
I have been complaining about the lack of uniformity between the elementary school pick up times, and the pre-school pick up times, and the thought that next year I’ll be making the drive to drop off or pick up kids at school not twice a day, but three times, and some days with only a two hour gap in between. (What with the time it takes from our house to the car line, and then to get through the carline, it almost isn’t worth it to go home. But what exactly does one do for an hour and forty-five minutes on the corner of Peace Haven and Country Club, with a four year old and a one-year old who should be napping?)
This complaint has only grown in my head since the birth of the perfect child, and his one fatal flaw: an inability to ride contentedly in the car. Doesn’t matter if he’s just been fed, changed, and woken up from a decent nap. The kid screams through at least one leg of every car ride. (This is actually a recent improvement.)
My first child, who did nothing but scream when she wasn’t eating or sleeping, was actually so content in her carseat that she slept in it (in her crib, in her room, through the night) for the first four months of her life. I actually looked for excuses to drive places when I was home on maternity leave with her, just for some peace of mind.
I realize that I really can’t complain. The kid has been sleeping from eight at night to eight in the morning since he was four weeks old, and shows no signs of stopping. He takes the boob and the bottle almost interchangeably, and even puts up with his six year old sister feeding him, most often from the Governor’s seat of La-La Land. He could make do with or without mama, meaning, I can leave him with a a babysitter, but he still manages to let the world know at the right moments that I’m definitely his favorite.
He’s relatively predictable, relatively chill, and in every other way, exactly the boy I’ve been waiting for since I was about thirteen years old.
Except in the car.
(For those who have experienced this, or colic, stories of women putting babies in freezers don’t sound quite as crazy as they once did.)
Right now, at least, I’m only making one trip a day to school; John is covering the drop off on his way to work, and Eliott can be released at noon on the days her sister has preschool.
But next year is a totally different story. No such thing as half-day first grade in this state. Not even at a Baptist school.
I just keep thinking, “If only there was a bus that would just drop her off in the afternoons, I’d do it. It would make my life so much easier.”
But then, today, I was reminded of this:
- Last December, a sixth grader was killed after being struck by an SUV while crossing the road to get on the school bus.
- Two weeks ago a little girl was hit by a car as she crossed the road to board the school bus and was still taken to school. No one was notified of the accident until her teacher noticed her at her desk and asked why she was bleeding.
- Last week, a six year old in High Point was struck by a car before boarding her school bus. Get this. The driver of the car? Her cousin. This accident marked the fifth kid hit by a car at a school bus stop in five weeks–in the area covered by my local news.
- And, right now, there’s a boy in Alabama who was kidnapped and is being held hostage in a tornado bunker. He was taken from his school bus, after the driver was shot, and the little boy fainted.
The list goes on.
And sadly, most of the statistics here are not even national. They are limited to my relatively small town. A friend who lives down the road said that just yesterday, while waiting with her children at a bus stop that isn’t but one hundred feet from her house, she watched as a distracted driver in the oncoming lane of traffic (the lane her children would have to cross in order to board the bus) flew past a bus with it’s red lights on, arm extended, and stop sign glaring.
What the heck people?!
I mean, there are some traffic laws that drive me nuts. And yes, I’ll be the first person to curse inside my brain when I get stuck behind a school bus on Peace Haven (especially the one that unloads the entirety of its contents at Peace Haven Estates, mobile home park). But I can promise you I’ve never knowingly sped through a school zone, nor had the actual inclination to pass a school bus while kids were getting on and off.
This year I’m supposed to be focusing on blessings. Perhaps I’ve been completely overlooking the blessing of driving my kids to and from school every day. I should take a moment to appreciate the feeling of my heart warming when Eliott recognizes the music to Marketplace on NPR.
Obviously I’ve forgotten the importance of “car time” and the fact that at least two of my most significant relationships in life developed almost entirely while riding together in a car, not to mention two entire years of reading I was able to catch up on via audio books.
So. Enough complaining.
And pass it on. Stop for school buses, people.