A bus stop thought

Since moving to Angelborough, I haven’t dreaded the school bus stop.

The school bus stop in Angeltown was its own little drama. My neighbor, who was my exact opposite, started by being furious that the bus stop was inconveniently located and called the superintendent every day to get it moved to right in front of her house. Eventually we ended up with a “sweetheart” stop (ie, the bus driver stopped, but she shouldn’t have) and I would bring her cookies whenever I baked some. My neighbor never came out of her house and sometimes watched from the window; this was fine by me.

When Kiddo1 entered second grade, Neighbor’s Friend was also bringing her kids to the bus stop. First day: she left her gianormous SUV idling in the driveway (it was 75 degrees out, not a concern that the car needed to stay warm) while the kids played around it and both Neighbor and Neighbor’s Friend griped about their kids’ asthma problems.

…while the kids played in the exhaust fumes from her idling SUV for 20 minutes.

Before my brain had a chance to explode (there was a chance it might) they changed the subject to which was more necessary: a hot tub or a swimming pool.

By the time the bus came, I was dreading the year, but I didn’t need to. Both Neighbor and Neighbor’s Friend spent the rest of the year dumping their first and second graders in the driveway and then going off to do their own thing.

I’ll jump over the time Neighbor’s bully kid started harassing my son (well, no, I won’t: I cleared it with the teachers, the school counselor and my son’s karate instructor that after my son blocked three times, he could feel free to hit his aggressor in self-defense. “And if you punch him,” I said, “put him flat on the ground. Make him remember for at least thirty minutes why he isn’t going to hit you again.” My Patient Husband was horrified; I didn’t care. I also told my son that when he blocked, do it hard enough that the bully’s arm would go numb to the shoulder. In the end, all my son had to do was fall into a defensive horse-stance and Neighbor called out the window to her son to back off. She’d been watching all along! So there you have it: bullying is fine until it looks like your son is going to get his clock cleaned.)

By the time we moved, I’d been forbidden to speak to the Neighbor Kids because I was Satan Incarnate (I kid you not) but they were supposed to play in my yard because it was right next to the bus stop. Oy.

In Angelborough, however… I showed up cautious on the first day, guarded for the backstabbing, the gossip and the chill. Instead, the bus stop is peaceful. There’s chit-chat and low blood pressure. The mothers (and father) stay with their children. The bus drivers still receive cookies, but not because I’m bribing them.

It’s all just so much more low-pressure than before. I kept waiting for the Real Evil of the Bus Stop to show up, but I’ve finally realized my ex-Neighbor and her ex-Friend (yes, they had a split) had toxified my bus stop expectations. This is the way it should be.


  1. Deb

    How nice. And what a blessing that you had such a negative experience before, so you can fully appreciate the peace and serenity of an untroubled bus stop.

  2. philangelus

    I hadn’t thought about that, Deb, but you’re right. If I’d always had good neighbor-relations, I wouldn’t realize what gems the folks in Angelborough are!

  3. cricketB

    I loved the bus stop moms at the old house. We actually learned each others’ names rather than being “Joe’s Mommy”. By Christmas, we signed the papers so any of us could “receive” any kid, if the right Mom was running late.

    There’s a group at the new school who walk their grade 5 kids, and have been together since kindergarten. They approached me, en masse, to introduce themselves our first day there. Teachers know us by name (and know to call us when they need volunteers). Yes, there are sub-groups. Some go jogging after, others go walking, others shopping. Half, I’d never spend time with otherwise, but we all keep an eye out for all the kids, and know their personalities. I tend to over-control my kids, so I can turn my back and the other parents will watch.

    The moms for other classes, though, tended to go right home after dropping the kids off, so never got to know each other.

    So, yeah, I hear you. A good bus stop crowd is awesome!

  4. Ken Rolph

    In Australia we have walking buses. A small number of parents walk along a fixed route before and after school. Kids join the “bus” along the way and get walked safely there and back. The actual number and regularity of parents varies from place to place.

    You might think you get beyond this when they get to be upper teenagers and older. We live just across the road from a train station. Older kids who went to events in other places would return and wait at our places to be picked up. If they got back very late we often had a front room full of sleeping bags and such with kids waiting until the morning to go home.

    One night our daughter was being provocative and throwing slices of pizza to a group of boys. They were at that lumpy age, 15-16, where their bodies have outgrown their brains. A couple of them leap at each other to get the same slice of pizza, and went backwards through the louvre window. I’d meant to get those windows replaced for some years. I spent the evening driving kids to hospital and dropping others off while explaining to the other parents how their children were really safe at our place.

    We don’t have any of this stuff anymore, now that the kids are grown up and moved out. Funnily enough, I’m not sure I’m enjoying the peace and quiet as much as I thought I would.

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