Saturday, April 16, 2016

Childhood

Benjamin enjoys waiting for the girls' bus after school. Sometimes we play outside together while we wait, sometimes we sit at the corner to wait, sometimes I let him play in the yard by himself while I watch from the window. Regardless of whatever we're doing while we wait, he always runs to the corner yelling, "GIRLS!" when their school bus drives up.

Yesterday their bus took forever to bring them home. We started out waiting outside together but their bus kept on not coming and I had so much to do to get ready. I had to have something ready for the kids to eat, I had to do my hair and makeup, I had to double check our costume bags, I had to change and feed the baby...

Eventually I decided to let Benjamin wait by himself while I got some dinner ready for the kids. He asked if he could wait at the corner by himself and I told him that he could because I can see him through the kitchen window.

He plopped down on his belly—probably about eight to ten feet away from the curb—and started picking clover, kicking his legs gaily (and probably singing a made up song).

I heard a bus rumble down the street, slow down for the speed bump, and then start honking as it pulled into view.

I sighed heavily and ran outside to wave at the bus.

Rachel's old enough now that she's allowed to get off the bus without a parent being present at the bus stop and Miriam's allowed to get off with her, but sometimes if they have a substitute driver (which was seemingly likely considering how late their bus was running) the driver won't let the girls off until they see me, which means I have to stop doing whatever I'm doing to go wave at the bus so they know a parent is home.

But Benjamin was sitting right there, so surely that's a good sign that a parent is at home...

Benjamin sat up (still eight to ten feet away from the curb), in awe of this hulking machine parked beside him, honking and honking and honking and honking and honking...

I stood on the driveway and waved at the bus driver, quite confused about why my girls weren't running off the bus until I realized that...this wasn't their bus...

Eventually the doors to the bus opened and the bus driver shouted, "Get back in your yard, kid!" before addressing me. "You gotta keep your kids away from the street!" she yelled and then slammed her doors shut and puttered off.

"You have got to be kidding me!" I fumed at the back of her bus.

I was livid.


Benjamin had been sitting in the grass, picking flowers, well away from the curb, and in full view of my kitchen window. He wasn't running around. He wasn't even walking around. He wasn't even close to being in the street and hadn't done anything to spook the driver.

I know he's a bit of a live wire so we've had many, many conversations about not running into the road while he's playing in the yard and about reigning in his silliness (by walking in a calm, straight line) when we're out walking and there are cars approaching. He often breaks the rule of "no crossing the street alone" when he's in our cul-de-sac...but we live in a cul-de-sac! We don't exactly see a lot of (or any) through traffic. And, like I said, he was sitting at the corner, not running around!

"What was that all about?" the father of one of my neighbour's piano students popped out of his truck to ask me.

"The bus driver didn't want my son to sit there, I guess," I answered.

Then my neighbour Addi came out to talk to me about it, too.

"Did the driver not let the girls off the bus?!" she asked.

"That wasn't their bus," I said.

"What? Then why did she stop and honk?" she asked.

I'm sure half the neighbourhood heard the commotion!

"She didn't like what Benjamin was doing," I said.

"What?!" she asked. "I looked out the window when I heard the honking because I saw Benjamin cross the street to play with some of Melissa's piano students and was worried he'd run out in the street again..."

"I know," I said. "He already got in trouble for that, but he was seriously just sitting exactly where he is now..."

"I know!" she said. "He wasn't even doing anything!"

Ugh. I was so angry. I told Benjamin to go ahead and stay where he was until the girls came home, so he did. And I watched him. He continued to pick in the grass until he saw their bus (finally, finally) pull up and then he stood up and jumped and waved a couple of times and then stood still and expectantly until the bus stopped and let out his sisters.

As suspected, they had a substitute driver who was running hopelessly behind schedule. They didn't get off the bus until 4:40. We have to leave around 5:00 to make it to the stake center by 6:00 for call time (thanks to rush hour traffic; otherwise it only takes around a half hour to get there) so I was feeling pressed for time and completely frazzled due to the bus being late and for the incident with bus 042.

*grumble*

I suppose I was feeling extra sensitive about my "free range" parenting (you know, because I let my kids play in the yard while I'm in the house) because on Wednesday I had another run-in with our neighbour Willy Moss (not his real name). He was driving down our street (he runs a contracting business of sorts and works quite a bit with one of our neighbours) and actually called Benjamin over to his truck in order to tell him to keep out of the street while he plays. At the time Benjamin was playing on our lawn...not on the street at all!

This neighbour makes so many comments to me about parenting that his name is a verb in our house.

"I just got Willy Mossed again," I texted Andrew (with a frowny emoticon).

I'd love to spend 100% of my time watching my children, but sometimes I have to do other things like actually take care of them by preparing food and washing clothes and changing diapers and so forth. And sometimes that means they play on their own while I'm putting clothes into the washer (oh, the humanity!) and sometimes (horror of horrors!) this playing happens in the front yard (which, for the record, I can keep an eye on through these transparent rectangular holes in my walls).

It's called childhood (also: windows).

Sometimes I feel like I just can't do anything right as a mother.

But on the flip side, a PSNC Energy van drove by while we were playing in the yard on Thursday and backtracked to pull into our cul-de-sac. Benjamin happened to be wearing a Superman shirt that day.

"I just had to say hello to Superman!" the driver gushed. "I've always wanted to meet him! Do you mind if I give him a toy?" she asked. "I keep a little box of things to hand out to kids that I see. Would you like a colouring book or..."

Benjamin spotted something he'd much prefer.

"Well," he said shyly, "We ran out of bubbles."*

"Bubbles it is!" the driver said, and handed him a bottle of bubble solution. "Have a great day!"

And that really did help us have a great day.

*I should add that the bubbles we ran out of were a spontaneous gift from one of our cul-de-sac neighbours and that most of our immediate neighbours seem to really enjoy seeing our children play (because so many kids in our neighbourhood are practically invisible; they're never seen outside) and seem to think they're great!

I think they're pretty okay, too.

4 comments:

  1. Weirdo! Why would she feel the need to say anything if he wasn't in the street. I mean if he was in the street that would have been one thing but since he wasn't...well that is just weird. So Cheetah is always wandering around outside. Mostly by herself and I talked to my neighbor Barb about it one time. Turns out she doesn't mind one bit which I really appreciate. Wish you had a Barb and George instead of Willy Moss.

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    1. We do have a few Barbs and Georges on our street, thank goodness! :)

      They make up for the Willy Mosses of the world!

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  2. Ugh - I am all for free range kids. It's how I remember growing up.

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    1. Haha! YES! And it's a great way to grow up!

      My earliest memory of Phillip (indulge me):

      I was out sledding at Oak Canyon with Andrew and some of your siblings and other friends and then Phillip comes running up to us saying, "Mom said I could come, too!"

      He was wearing mittens, boots, and bib snow pants. AND THAT'S ALL.

      No coat.

      No SHIRT.

      I laugh whenever I think about that. :)

      He would have been, like...five?

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