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Adventures In Bus Riding:

7 Sep

Of course in our family it wouldn’t be the first day of school without a little adventure. From the time Bill and I got married we’ve had travel drama and it would seem that our oldest son has inherited that too. 

For starters, the bus was over a half an hour late to pick Cameron up. Ok, it’s the first day of school, I get that…No biggie. When I walked Cameron across the street to the bus the bus driver looked REALLY frazzled, kind of like a deer in headlights. She was almost unable to speak. My first thought was, “Uh oh, this isn’t good.” I walked back across the street and saw that Cameron was having a hard time figuring out where to sit. Um, weren’t there supposed to be aids on the buses to help the little people navigate their way? Let it go mama.

I wasn’t feeling too confident that Cameron would make it to his final destination, and Bill was down right pissed off, so I made a call to the district’s transportation department to get some clarification and let them know there was a potential problem. Little did I know at 9:15 yesterday morning just how big of a problem we would have on our hands.

Let’s back track a second…Our school district is fortunate enough to have full day kindergarten, and even better, they have a Kindergarten Center where every kindergartener in the district goes and that’s the only grade there. Awesome right? Well, there’s a catch and it comes in the busing. Cameron gets picked up in the morning and rides the bus to where he will go for first through fifth grades, he gets off the bus there and is placed in a holding area. From there, he is placed on a second transfer bus that takes him across town to the Kindergarten Center. Yes, my son has a layover…Everyday, twice a day. The Kindergarten Center is new this year, and this busing system is brand new too. I’d be pretty naive to think it would go smoothly from day one.

It didn’t…

The major problems came in the return trip. I waited at the bus stop for over an hour, and the time came that I needed Bill to relieve me since I had to head out to work. It’s now 4:30 and my son is not home (he was dismissed form the center at 3:05). At 4:35 Bill calls up to the house that the bus had sped passed without stopping and he was in hot pursuit. He saw Cameron on the bus, he also saw all the other kids standing and jumping around…Real safe right?

Bill jumps out at the next stop and tells the driver that she missed our stop and Cameron was still on the bus. She won’t let him off the bus dispute the fact that she remembers seeing Bill at the bus stop that morning. She also tells Bill that our house is not on her list for the afternoon. Really you twit? You picked him up, he’s on the bus now, where the hell did you think he was going? The bus driver tells Bill she’d double back and drop Cameron off at the house.

We wait….And we wait…And we wait some more. Finally at 4:50pm I call the district’s transportation department to find out what the hell is going on and DEMAND they return my child to me IMMEDIATELY! No answer! You’ve got to be f’ing kidding me! I keep trying and it keeps going to voicemail. I left a message telling them to call me back NOW that my son is being held hostage by his bus driver and I want him returned to me.

Now mom is mad, shaking and seeing red mad. How does this happen?

I call the bus company, explain my situation and in the most calm way I can manage at this point, demand answers. It’s now 5pm and they assure me my son will be home in 15 minutes, and if he’s not to call back.

In an effort to shorten the story, he wasn’t home in 15 minutes, or even 20 or 30. I am beside myself that Cameron has been gone so long and I don’t know if he’s scared or upset. I need to make this better for my little boy on his first day of school. I also have to get to work, which I am already dreadfully late for.

Cameron finally got home at around 6pm. His nearly three hour bus ride included getting lost. Getting stuck in the mud on the side of the road…in the pouring rain. Having a new bus driver and aid get on the bus to take over. And having to give directions back to his own house. Thankfully he took it all in stride and thought it was super cool that he got to ride the bus so long. The only negative thing he said was that he wished he had gotten home a little earlier so he had more time to hangout before bed.

This could have been catastrophic. Let’s set aside the fact that he was being dragged around town with an inexperienced driver in piss poor weather. He could have been traumatized by the whole experience. This could have made him afraid of the bus and killed his love for school. I’m thanking my lucky stars that he picked yesterday afternoon to be the laid-back, easy going Cameron.

As parents of school age children we are forced to put a lot of trust in the school, the district and most importantly the buses (and those who drive them). For someone like me, who is totally new to this and not used to handing over my kid in so many different way, it’s not an easy task to trust. Thanks to the Bus Fiasco of 2011, I have no trust in the bus company or it’s drivers, but at the same time Cameron LOVES the bus and would be devastated if I pulled him off.

So what’s a mother to do? I’ll give them one week to get their shit together. If this crap continues into next week someone is going to get my foot on their throat…Or at least a bus driver will get fired. Yeah, I said it and I don’t care. If you can’t get my kid safely where he needs to be, when he needs to be there then maybe you should find a new profession.

The one positive thing I can say out of all this mess is that everyone within the school district has been pretty great. They’ve been friendly and helpful and they are just as interested in fixing this issue as I am. I got a personal phone call from the district’s Director of Business Administration (the second in command under the Superintendent) apologizing for everything and thanking me for my patience and for keeping them informed on the situation. The school and the district have been quick to respond and made an effort to make it all right. Now, we’ll see later today how right they can make it when we see what time Cameron gets home.

If I have to jump in the road in front of that damn bus, then that’t what I’m going to do!

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He’s not my little baby anymore….He’s my dude!

1 Aug

Back in March I wrote about how fast the time has gone with Cameron. The little baby who I held just yesterday is about to embark on a new journey in life…Kindergarten.

But before we make it to school buses, lunch lines, and full school days we’ve got summer camp. A few months back we decided that Cameron should go to a couple of weeks of day camp. We thought it would be a good way to get him used to a full day (something completely new to him) and to gage how he would be after that full day of activity. Remember, up until this point he’s only gone to school for two and three hour starches and he STILL takes an afternoon nap on occasion.

Today was the first day of camp. I was both nervous and excited for him. Nervous because I worry about him making friends and listening to his counselors, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in worrying about my child fitting in socially. I was excited for him to have a whole day out of the house (away from mean mom) doing fun things like tennis, golf, swimming, crafts and games.

As it turns out, the little guy was excited too. Up at 6:30 this morning, you would have thought he was headed to Disney World or something. Of course being the sappy mother I am, as soon as I saw just how excited he was, I started to cry. It really feels like just yesterday he was this tiny little baby who depended on me for everything, and today he left me to have some fun at camp. As fast as the past five years have gone, he’ll be leaving me for college in the blink of an eye ((sigh)).

When we got there, he jumped right out of the car and talked excitedly all the way in to check in. As we waited in line he chatted with one of the counselors while holding his little bag of camp stuff. When it was our turn and he got his super cool camp shirt he was ready for me to go. I went to put his bag down for him and when I turned to give him a hug goodbye, he was gone. As I scanned the room, I saw him sitting with a group of kids playing with the counselor, so I quietly left. Of course I proceeded to get in the car and cry…Again! I stopped by at my parent’s house and burst into tears a third time telling them how excited he was and how well he did going in.

Talk about a long day. Sure, I’ve spent days away from the kids before, but knowing I needed to pick him up from camp, the day dragged on. I missed him and wondered what he was doing, and hoped he was having fun.

FINALLY it was time to pick him up. I was so excited to hear how his day went and a little nervous that he would be miserable because he would be so tired.

This is where the teenage/adult Cameron is going to hate me for writing this…

I walked into the pickup room and he wasn’t there. I went up to one of the counselors to ask where he was and she said he was up in the bathroom with the other counselor. OK, now the red flags are kind of shooting off thanks to the child sexual abuse training I had to take for my new job at the YMCA. I was uncomfortable, but figure this guy is probably pretty well screened so I didn’t go flying up the stairs after them. A few seconds later the counselor comes down the stairs, with Cameron behind him, he has a trash bag in his hand and Cameron is wearing his swimsuit…Highly unexpected and very odd.

He proceeds to tell me that Cameron had a little accident and his clothes are in the bag. At first I think, “This kid hasn’t wet his pants in ages, why would he do it now?” But oh, it was MUCH worse than that. Poor Cameron had an unexpected bout of diarrhea which ended up ALL OVER everything he was wearing, including his shoes. I was so stunned I don’t think I properly apologized (which I plan to do first thing tomorrow).

Cameron saw me and got embarrassed, so he ran back up the stairs. Of course I went after him and found him near tears sitting at the top of the steps. The poor kid was mortified, and if I’m being honest, probably terrified he was going to get in trouble with me. By the time I convinced him to get down the stairs, the counselor was gone.

I was mortified! Mortified for Cameron’s sake and mortified that my kid is now that kid. Cameron is such a cool dude, and I don’t want pooping in his pants to ruin his camp cred.

The ride home, while trying not to vomit from the stench of his clothes, I tried to find out what happened and why he would poop in his pants. It wasn’t until we got home that he told his father he didn’t realize he had to go, that it just came out. The poor kid sharted. When we did get home, Bill had the shower already going for him and I ran down to the basement to cry again. This time I wasn’t crying because I didn’t want my baby to grow up, I cried because now I worry that if this EVER happens again he’ll be made fun of and won’t have friends. Let’s face it, kids are mean.

He seemed to get over it, and is looking forward to more fun at camp…Thank God!!! But he did tell me at bedtime that he was the only kid in the group who didn’t pass the swim test to go down the slide and when he took the test the lifeguard had to go in and get him. He continued to tell me not to worry, the lifeguard was just doing his job. He wasn’t at all concerned about any of it, but I’m mom, so now I worry. I’m not worried that he’ll drown, there are lifeguards for that. I’m worried that he might get picked on for not being able to swim well enough to go down the slide.

I now feel like the world’s worst mother, I’m sending my child out into the world without the tools he needs. My worry has become shear terror that he’ll be labeled as an outcast and will miss out on some of the fun stuff in life because of my shortcomings as a mother.  Cameron is such an amazing little guy; he’s smart, funny, caring, friendly, he has an amazing heart and he’s pretty cute (if I don’t saw so myself). He deserves to have everything life has to offer and I don’t want to see him suffer because of things I did or didn’t do.

Great, now I’m crying again…This parenting thing really sucks sometimes.

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