|Photo from first day of school...remember wearing shorts? Me neither. Scott the friendly bus driver...|
One of the reasons that I most wanted to move my kids to the US was giving them the chance to attend public school. Not because I didn't like their private school in Brazil--loved it--but because I am a product of the public school system and I've appreciated the greater diversity of many of these schools. Now of course when I mention that I attended New Canaan CT public schools, most folks roll their eyes. In order to attend public school in New Canaan, you must be able to afford to live there, which not everyone can. Frankly, Weston MA is much the same. But this educational diversity conundrum is for another day. Today I want to talk about the big yellow bus.
I love the big yellow bus. Instead of having to drive my kids to school each day, they get to take the big yellow bus. The BYB if you will. In our case, we live in a neighborhood of two dead-end streets, one of which I live on, and one of which I don't. No, that's not my point--the second dead-end street is the one that comes from the main road and has only 5 Weston houses on it--after that you drive into Lincoln (or walk into their lovely conservation trails). So the Weston public school bus goes up the street four houses, stops twice (why we need two bus stops in 20 feet, I really don't know, but I'm not walking any further than I have to) and returns to the main road where it still has about half of its stops to do. We walk about two houses down to the other road to catch the bus in our neighbor's driveway.
In addition to the main BYB for Weston, there are two other features to the dead-end road bus route. One: a minibus that comes by with all the kindergartners and a mix of kids from places that the BYB can't get down the street. There are about 10 kids on the mini-bus, and apparently in the depths of winter, kids at our stop used to get on it to stay warm waiting for the big bus. But now that has been ruled uncool by our first through fifth graders and they all hang out at the neighbor's driveway waiting for the bus. The minibus pulls up across the street and waits, engine running, for the BYB.
There are routinely six kids at our bus stop--for a while they lined up with one kid always getting to be on the bus first on a given day of the week. Now they just run for it, slipping on ice and shoving other kids out of the way to get into the warmth. The minibus kids troop nicely off the minibus, pause and watch our six kids like you would unclean zoo animals, and then nicely get on the big bus. Twice one of my kids has almost impaled himself on the little metal bar that comes out in front of the big bus (put there to get kids to walk farther out around the bus? Dunn). He can learn fractions, but he can't seem to remember the bar of doom.
The second feature which you have probably forgotten that I even mentioned, is the Lincoln school bus, aka Nutball on Wheels. There is a curve and a downhill right before our stop and he seems to like to see exactly how close he can come to rear-ending the minibus so that it will fly into the big bus. I keep telling myself that I have to call the Lincoln bus barn and complain about this lunatic but somehow I keep forgetting. I have priorities on my complaint list and right now Lincoln is safe.
Okay so now you know the buses. And I love the bus. But this was not the point of this blog but since when have I written one without digressing? More than the bus, I love the bus stop. If you are so so lucky as I am to have a cool neighborhood bus stop, you will know what I mean. The kids all get along or well enough to not throw each other into the deepest snowdrifts. I love seeing which kids are exhausted and yawning, which forgot their backpacks and the parents have to fly home (oh, oops, usually that's me and mine), which kids want to show me what they're bringing to school.
But the best part are the adults. The sleepy adults/neighbors/friends who wander out with coffee cups, wet hair (yes, even in winter, but with a pom-pom hat on top), pajama bottoms some days, dogs on leashes, dogs not on leashes, work trousers tucked into Bogs boots, it's hilarious. And we talk about the weather, or after school plans or the latest babysitter traumas or nothing at all. I love the five-minute conversations of the bus stops that go until someone has to run off to get ready for work, and also the 40-minute ones like this morning where it wound up with me eating birthday cake at my friend's house because we weren't done yet with our conversation. The same friend who baked birthday muffins for my kids back in November and sang to them at the bus stop.
Then there are the dogs. The dogs play and jump and annoy each other and play again, and retrieve and knock down kids and avoid the Lincoln bus (so far). Coal the overgrown puppy and Finley the wonder dog leap through the three-foot snowbanks, dive into the snow in search of tennis balls, and run around like crazy while Haifa the 12 year old lab sits with her big ol tush in the snow and watches from cataract-blinded eyes.
And eventually we notice the time and rush off one by one back to our daily lives and stresses and shoveling (maybe that's just me). Life is better with the big yellow bus.