As I have already written, my 10-year-old, Virginia, is learning to fly out on her own as she enters middle school this year. I did ride the city bus with her twice in preparation for her daily travels from school to my office each day. The first time I was a little apprehensive about the situation. The second time was on the first day of school. The first day of school was a half day, so I joined her after school and boarded the city bus that is at the school strictly to transport students from school to the downtown bus station. There were about 30 kids on the bus with is. Even though it was the first day of school, that did not provide a deterrent to keep some of these adolescent riders from acting up and irritating the bus driver. I was ashamed for their behavior and lack of respect for the driver. As any parent would do, I instructed Virginia to stay away from such kids on the bus, because their behavior could get them kicked off of the city bus for the year and if that happened to her, we would be in a bind after school.
Once we arrived at the downtown bus station, the scene was a repeat of the week before when I rode with Virginia. While there were dozens of kids at the bus station, both middle school and high school age, we were the only ones waiting for her bus. Eventually three girls from Virginia’s school joined us; however, they were older and when I asked Virginia if she wanted to meet them, she shied away. I probably should have introduced her to them anyway, but I didn’t want to be “that” mom and put her into a position to be teased by these older girls once I wasn’t with her. So I let it be. We continued on our route, and I let her instruct me on how to get to my office. She completed the task flawlessly. I have no need to worry about her competency.
On to the first full day of school. The first true day that will resemble the rest of the school year. I did pair up with another family for carpooling in the morning. So this morning, on top of my apprehension about the city buses, I added to my anxiety. I had to put my child into a car with a complete stranger. Terrifying thoughts flurried around in my head. As I watched them drive away, I scrambled for a piece of paper and a pen. I couldn’t find one. The next best thing? My phone. I sent my husband a text message…three numbers and three letters. “What?” was his reply. The license plate number of my new acquaintance’s vehicle. Just in case. But for extra peace of mind I didn’t send her off completely alone. She has her new cell phone with her. A cell phone I have equipped with “Family Locator”. A parent’s best friend. It is programmed to send me a text message when she arrives at or leaves school, the bus station and my office.
So I boarded the train and continued on my usual path to work. When I arrived downtown at 7:30 am, I anxiously held the phone in the palm of my hand waiting for a text message to tell me that my baby was at school. The minutes ticked by. Of course I know the train would arrive downtown faster than she would, but I couldn’t help but wonder what was taking them so long. One minute, two minutes, three minutes…..finally at 7:39 I received my text message that she had arrived in the vicinity of the school. A sigh of relief. But, as any over-protective mom would do, I also instructed Virginia to call me the minute she got out of our acquaintance’s car. So I wait, and wait, my bus approaching my office. No call. I am off the bus. No Call. Entering the building. No Call. Arriving at my desk. Maybe she forgot to call. It feels like an hour since the text message, but silly me, it has only been 10 minutes. At 7:49 my phone rings. I let out a major sigh of relief. She is at school, safe and sound. Immediately after getting off the phone with her, her morning escort calls me as well to let me know they have arrived safely and the girls have been dropped off. He’s an understanding parent, of course. Why shouldn’t he be? I presume he will feel the same way when I am responsible for his child’s safe delivery to school when it’s my turn to drive.
I can relax for the day. At least until school lets out and Virginia’s journey continues this afternoon on the city buses.
To be continued….