Before school started this year, I had to spend several days convincing nervous Dova to take the bus on the first day of school. She insisted that someone drive her to school and walk her to her classroom because she wouldn't know where to go. Second grade is now her third year at our elementary school, and I was confident that taking the bus would not be a problem. Maybe she was concerned that it was the first time she would be taking the bus without older brother Adam, although she would never admit it. She couldn't understand that every kid starts out not knowing where their classrooms is and that the teachers magically escort each and every one of them. No students wander the halls lost all day! Anyway, all my energy was spent of calming her down, that I completely dropped the ball with Adam, who was going to middle school for the first time.
Starting middle school in fifth grade at the age of ten is definitely innocence lost in my book. But I can't change the school system so into the pool he went. Since the earlier school start time matched well with my morning commute, I left a message at the bus service over the summer to let them know that he would be driven in the morning and would take the bus home. I never heard back from the bus company and when I checked online the week before school, they had not yet published the bus schedule for our town.
The morning of the first day went pretty smoothly. I finally got the "first day of school" action shots to come out clearly in the early morning light (put the camera in sport mode, dummy). I drove Adam to school in my car, listening to NPR podcasts as we used to do. I was a bit nervous about doing the drop-off line for the first time, but it was very clear where to go. When I pulled up to the curb, I suddenly realized that I didn't find out which bus Adam should take home. I said, "Oh no, Adam, we don't know what bus you need to take home. Will you be able to figure it out?"
Adam responded with his usual, "Yeah, Mom." At the end of the day, Doug went to the bus stop to pick up Adam. A good hour after school dismissed, he called me from his cell phone to let me know that there was no sign of a bus. I assured him that it was late because it was the first day of school. We chatted a bit longer, as I checked online for voicemail on the home number (thanks to Ooma). Finally the bus arrived and he was home safe. I heard from Doug later that he actually had gotten on the wrong bus, got driven back to school, and then our old bus driver saw him standing there with blood all over his shirt from a bloody nose, took pity on him and drove him home. OMG, what a nightmare!!!
When I got home, I felt so bad for Adam that I wanted to cheer him up and calm him down if he was all shaken up. Apparently none of that was necessary, he was unbelievably calm like nothing happened. This is the rough transcription of our conversation.
Me: Did you freak out when you realized that you were on the wrong bus?Adam kept shaking his head like I was the crazy one. It may sound like incredibly zen-like calmness and acceptance of his circumstances, but most likely it is Adam's brand of total obliviousness. He can be incredibly unaware of his surroundings and so involved in whatever he is doing that nothing can break his concentration. Still, to have those events transpire and not be perturbed in the least is quite remarkable. I did explain to him that he should feel free to actually ask the bus driver whether they went to his street instead of just taking one that "looked right". He managed just fine the next day. I guess he'll manage fine in everything he does.
Me: Did you realize it was not going the right way?
Me: What were you doing, reading your book?
Me: How would you know when the bus got to our street if you were reading your book?
Adam: I don't know.
Me: Did you stop reading and look out the window once in a while?
Adam: No... well I stopped reading when my nose started bleeding.
Me: Did you freak out when your nose started to bleed?
Me: When did you finally realize you were on the wrong bus?
Adam: When I was the last person on it.
Me: Did you feel embarrassed?
Me: You didn't freak out at all?
Adam: No, why should I?
Me: OMG, I would've been freaking out if I realized I was on the wrong bus and my nose started bleeding!
Adam: Why, Mom?
Me: Because! I would've been looking out the window, thinking is this going to my street? OMG, am I on the wrong bus? OMG, my nose is bleeding everywhere!!! No, it's good that you didn't freak out, that you're so calm, I need to learn that from you. Dova needs to learn that from you. We all need to!
Adam: I still don't understand why you would freak out.
Me: Good, just keep being like you are.