My sons put on a show when boarding the bus.
The cars idling in front and behind the bus, waiting to pass, bear witness. And if our neighbors are awake, I’m sure we’ve caused a few chuckles and raised eyebrows.
Ok I’m exaggerating. The boys are older now, and behaviors that attracted curious eyes on school mornings have decreased.
However, if you’d seen us in the morning a year ago, or on a rare day of this year, you’d wonder if our antics were orchestrated.
Those unpredictable mornings, where orderly unravels to frantic, it usually begins with my oldest. The gatekeeper. Sitting in his metal fold out chair and blocking the screen door, he prevents his younger two brothers from dashing out. After spotting the bus he either: wanders out the front door like a lost child; or sprints past me like a marathoner, banging the door open and leaping to the sidewalk.
His behaviors then swing from fun and marginally safe (spinning and giggling to the gate), to unsanitary and dangerous (licking the sidewalk and scraping his forehead on the concrete) in an instant.
And then there’s my second son. Forefinger swirling in the air as he steps outside, talking as he draws in the air about sea animals and continents, trips to the park and family outings. A dreamer. So while I check to make sure that my oldest is not licking the sidewalk; I steer my second son from tripping over cracks and walking into the gate.
Finally, my youngest, who will run and hide under the bed when I say, “The bus is here.”
Possibly I have to carry his rigid or flailing body out of the house and, possibly once outside he will run to the backyard. Hopefully before stepping outside, I’ve already patted him down for play doh. The teachers have found it in his coat and pants pockets, even his socks. He gets to mold with play doh before school, but then it’s supposed to go back in a container and stay home. If I knew he wouldn’t eat play doh I would allow him to take it as a fidget on the bus. I puzzle over my youngest’s behaviors.
Is the bus too loud? Is it too bumpy? Am I not allowing him enough playtime before he gets on the bus? Is sitting too much to require of him? Is he unhappy at school?
I decide that my youngest likes me chasing him.
And now, with all three boys at the bus door waiting to enter, I sigh. Thank-goodness for the patience of our bus aide. She’s waited when my youngest son decides he’s not going to walk up the bus steps, but crawl, and is firm with her insistence that he walk. She’s listened patiently as my second son named all the different types of frogs in the world. And she has asked for help when my oldest becomes overwhelmed.
Our bus aide knows: which child needs a book in his hands to sit still, which child needs a chew tube for oral stimulation, and which child she has to keep her eyes trained on so that he doesn’t try to flip over a seat. But even with all these precautions, possible things I may have missed rush through my head.
Did I double check to that shoes are on the right feet?
None of their pants are backwards I hope.
Please tell me I remembered their deodorant.
Did I pat down for play-doh?”
And then I walk back inside. Thankful that everyone got on the bus safely today.