The Commute

We live in the suburbs and Alex commutes to work in DC every day. This is kind of a notorious commute because of traffic, crazy roads, and general fuckery. My morning get-the-kids-to-school commute is now officially longer than his.

It is possible, just maybe, that you have noticed me whining about this before. Did I mention that I have kids going to two separate schools and that they both have the EXACT SAME 20-MINUTE DROP OFF WINDOW in the morning?

Oh, by the way, the schools are twenty-THREE minutes apart.

Basically I drop Sam off early and I drop Quinn and Jack off late. No one has yelled at me yet, but I’m waiting for the day that I get it at both schools. I’m kind of hoping that if I look pathetic enough and whine loudly and often enough about how hard I’m trying my damnedest, then they’ll let me slide.

I feel palpable relief as Jack and Quinn get out of the car, especially if I’m not the very, very last vehicle at drop off or if the school patrol is still outside when we pull up. That means we’re not EGREGIOUSLY late.

It makes me miss the days last year, when we walked out of the house at 8:25 to catch the bus and I was back home by 8:45 at the latest. Those were the days. There is a bus option this year as well, but t would mean Sam is on the bus for a looooong time, and I just can’t do that to him.

After school is a little bit less of a clusterfuck because I determined that I couldn’t possible be in more than one place at one time, so I put all three kids on their different buses and it is my job to collect them all at the end of the day.

Jack is on the same bus with the same driver that he has had since kindergarten, and I LOVE her. She is exactly the right mix of protective and flexible. Seriously, I’d buy her a puppy if puppies weren’t so horrible. He gets home first and then he and I sit at the bus stop and watch ants.

They’re so interesting! Maybe an ant farm is in order!

I do enjoy the first part of the year when Jack’s bus confuses the hell out of everyone else at the stop. I often have a lot of conversations about (1) what school Jack goes to (2) is he not in class with everyone else? (3) well, then why is he on a different bus? (4) wait, why didn’t my kid get off that bus? (5) oh, then your kid goes to a different school?

They all catch on in a couple of days. It doesn’t help many of this conversations happen with me and my conversation partner speaking different languages. I really should learn the words and phrases “autism” and “special education” and “this is not your child’s bus” in Spanish. It would solve a whole lot of bus stop issues.

But there we are, spreading special education awareness everywhere we go.

Eventually the regular bus arrives and Quinn gets off. Except for one day last week when he didn’t get off and I was all, huh, that’s weird, he’s not at home, so he should be here, and I called the school and they were all “but we put him on the bus” and in my head I was all “I assure you, you did not,” but it worked out completely fine.

He ended up on the wrong bus, but says he figured it out when the bus didn’t take him home. By the time I got to the school five minutes after he didn’t get off his bus, he was already there. He was briefly upset and then forgot all about it. Honestly, I feel worse for the adults at the school who probably suffered terrible heart palpitations when they thought he might be lost. Their mental scars will last far longer than Quinn’s.

Even me, who is usually like MY CHILDREN! MY PRECIOUS CHILDREN! I WILL DESTROY YOU IF YOU MESS WITH MY CHILDREN! was kinda meh about the whole thing. I had a few minutes when I was worried because I know several people (myself included) who have had scarring experiences with children being left alone at bus stops, but as soon as I heard that they knew where he was, I was fine.

It’s nice to have a kid who will speak up if something is wrong. Of my three kids, I’m glad it happened to him.

It’s actually kind of funny that Quinn got on a bus and ended up back at the school because that is what happens to him and Jack every day. They spend all this time getting home on the bus only to be scooped up and carted back to the school a half hour after they get home, because Sam’s bus drops him off at Jack and Quinn’s school.

We don’t look at ants there though. There is a playground that we play on sometimes.

And if it rains, we draw zombies.

I actually kinda really enjoy our afternoon arrangement. I think I mentioned before that the half hour we have before we go get Sam is a perfect time for Jack to play the video games he can earn at school. The other day, he had to finish his homework to earn his video game time, which means Sam saw it happen and he was all kinds of irate. It’s better if he’s just not involved in that at all.

I don’t have any photos of Sam because it is too early in the morning and too late at night to take photos in the dark. I kid…mostly.

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