Boundbytheword Blog

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A Brilliant Or Bad Parent? June 8, 2011

My kids missed the bus for the third time this week.


It comes at the same time every day, and we have the same routine every day. I wake them up. I get clothes out for them. I get breakfast ready. I pack the lunches. I hustle them to get moving. I slather them in sunscreen. I strap the backpacks on and push them out the door. They stall. They complain. They whine about another day, and another bus ride, and another rushed morning. But we normally make it in time. Some days the bus driver (bless his thoughtfulness) waits at the end of the driveway a moment to see if the kids are barreling down in a mad rush. Some days the kids get to saunter down the driveway with ample time to pick buttercups or pet the horses next door. But most days they squeak out of the house with just enough time to walk quickly down the drive, and wait for under a minute for the bus to pick them up.


Maalik and I go for our walk right after the kids get on the bus, spend about an hour pounding the pavement and getting in our morning exercise. So when the kids miss that darn bus and I have to drive them, I often postpone the walk. Since I’m already out in the car, I run my errands and do any business I have to do in town. That means my pooch is seriously bummed out that he’s waiting until I return in order for his favourite time of the day, walk time. Yesterday, the second time this week the kids missed the bus, Maalik actually sat whining at the door as I got my keys because he knew what my chauffeuring the kids to school meant to him. Waiting.


So today when we heard the bus approaching from down the road and knew they’d never make it, I was steamed. They were up almost 90 minutes before bus time…how is it possible that they could miss it?


Its days like today that the little light in my head blazes like a beacon, telling me my kids have it way too good. I still lay their clothes out and pour their cereal for goodness sakes. I essentially hand them to the school day on a silver platter. But today, missing that bus the third time in as many days, I lost it. I’d already been threatening punishments as they lumbered away putting on their shoes. I hadn’t said what the punishment would be, just “If you guys miss that bus again, you’re getting punished.” Still, they dilly-dallied until we heard the roar of that big engine coming up the line.


In a state of panic I barked, “If you miss that bus, you guys are walking to school!”


Of course, it might have been better to give them that threat when they still had a fighting chance to run fast and make it. But there it was. I’d made the threat, and the bus barrelled on by. But before you think I was regretting the comment, I need to remind you that I was still mad, with a whining non-walked dog beside me, so I didn’t stop there. No.  As they kids are running down the 400-yard driveway, yelling “Wait!” at the top of their lungs, I yelled out after them. “Better start walking!”


So now I had a dilemma. I’d yelled a threat out of frustration. But I didn’t really expect the kids would miss the bus and have to walk the 3 km to school. But there it was. I had threatened it, they had missed it, and now I was stuck. I couldn’t have said “no snack after school” or “no computer”?  Nope. My threat of punishment was far worse – the threat of physical exertion. Feel the burn of what it was like back in the old days, like me, walking miles in the snow, the rain, the scorching heat. That’s what I’m talking about.


Oh, curse my idle threats!


But now, here we were. They walked back up the driveway and into the house with heads hung low. Well, actually, only my son did that. My daughter stayed outside looking for caterpillars, that’s how scared she was. Hmm.


The few minutes it took them to get back up to the house gave me enough time to consider my options. I could renege on my threat and just guilt them, which is totally what my husband would have done. (you know you would have, Will) Or I could stay true to my word and my ridiculous threat and make them walk. I choose the latter.


I did drive the van behind them though, because I may have been acting the tyrant, but I’m not heartless. I did make them carry their backpacks (which now, after the tension has lifted and I’ve had time to reflect, that may have been unnecessary…lol).


My son, who is twelve, was shocked. He kept looking back behind him, anticipating the moment when I said, “Okay, just kidding, get in the van”. But I didn’t. My daughter, who is eight, trucked along indifferent to the penalty, humming as she went. My dog, who I thought would at least get a walk out of it to enjoy, was a complete mess. He kept sitting in front of the van, parking himself right in the middle of the road and whining. As if to say – this isn’t how we do walks, what the hell is going on here? Somehow it was more of a reprimand for him than it was the kids.


By the time we got to the school, I figured my kids would never want to miss that bus again. I really showed them. Proud of myself for sticking to my guns and giving them a good lesson that they wouldn’t soon forget, I got out to sign them into class since we were now 15 minutes past the bell. I wondered if the kids might pout about being worn out, complain that it wasn’t fair.

“Did I miss language?” Lainey asked.

“Fifteen minutes of it.” I told her.

“What? That’s it? Darn.”

Sam gave me a kiss goodbye. “Can we walk to school again tomorrow?” He asked.

“Yeah, that was really fun. Let’s do it tomorrow.” Lainey piped in.


My rotten little kids have a cunning way of taking all the fun out of dictatorship.


30 Responses to “A Brilliant Or Bad Parent?”

  1. Rhonda Says:

    I was proud of you for sticking to your guns, laughed at the image of you following them in the van and I never would have predicted that ending!

    What can you do?! Parenting is the toughest job there is!

  2. Phil Dwyer Says:

    I did a similar thing when I found my son (now 28 and a father himself) throwing stones at a British Telecom phone box, with a bunch of his friends. There was little danger he would break the glass – those old boxes had glass panes that must have been a quarter of an inch thick, and the stones were little more than pebbles – but I expected better of him and I let him know it by a) losing my temper and b) telling him he was going to bed without his tea. Not a well-thought-through decision as it turns out.
    My wife, who was not angry, and therefore capable of making much more sensible decisions, over-ruled my sanction and gave him his tea (children have to eat, and food should not be used as punishment, unless you’re making them eat their veggies, in which case all bets are off). You can imagine how I felt about that, especially since I was still fuming about the initial incident. In the end it was me that ended up going without my tea, but only because of was too steamed to eat. We had a huge row, even though I drove around a bit to calm down (that didn’t work).
    Moral of story – don’t impose sanctions from the red interior of rage (and if possible, agree sanctions with spouse first).
    Killer ending by the way. Didn’t see that coming, and yet it was obvious all along – the best kind of ending.

    • My kids always give me unpredictible endings. What joy.

      I love that in the end, you went to bed without your tea…lol. I don’t know how my story ends in terms of the homefront, because my dear hubby will have heard about it only if he was good enough to read my blog post today (like every good spouse should!). He’s the softy in this house, so I can assume if he reads it, he’ll dish out extra scoops of ice cream after supper to ease their pain. I may not get any though.

  3. deepamwadds Says:

    How great is that. Really truly great work… now they will want to get going a little earlier to enjoy the glorious walk. Sweet

    • Time will tell. Not sure if it was a good line to get under my skin, if they were hoping for time away from school each morning, or if they really did enjoy the sunshine! We’ll see…

  4. Dale Long Says:

    Our driveway was a mile long and we rarely missed the bus. Mom doesn’t drive and it was over 10k to school. We did a lot of running though. Snowmobiling in the winter… well actually being dragged behind the snowmobile on toboggans.

    Good for you! My eldest likes to transform into a snarling bear in the morning and the redhead just daudles.

    Isn’t it terrible when they turn the tables on you like that? I tell my kids they used to have a brother. 😉

    • Hmmm…snowmobiles sounds like too much fun, my kids may want to miss the bus all winter.

      Love the implication of the missing brother…you made me snort my tea!

  5. goforwords Says:

    I laughed out loud when I got to the end! James had an interesting reaction when I read it to him out loud, however, (I wanted to enjoy it’s deliciousness one more time!). He said, Maybe they’re getting bullied on the bus. Interesting suggestion. It would explain the complaining in the morning and their perpetual dawdling, as well as their delight in an alternate way of getting to school.

    Hope Maalik has recovered. 🙂

    • Oh that dear heart James. Is it wrong that I wish my kids were getting bullied instead of just being lazy, whining complainers?

      With only 250 kids at the school, and being the offical “hot dog lady”, I get a lot of inside information from other kids, other mom’s and the staff about the going’s on. One good part about lots of busy-bodies in a small town. All joking aside though, it would be awful if the kids were being bullied in any way, becuase it does happen everywhere.

      But my kids fit in the average middle ground, not really the top or bottom of the food chain, and they are very comfortable there. I’m embarrased to say my kids are just generally lazy, and would rather stay home and have me do everything for them than work, or run, or even play. I hope they grow out of it by the time they’re 30.

      PS – Maalik has slept all day.

  6. Kevin Says:

    “Noelle Bickle, you’re my hero!” ~ in my best Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s voice. Seriously…what I would not have given to do that to my creatures. Alas, they probably would have had the same reaction. Great post!

  7. LOL. I hate enforcing impromptu threats. I’m usually able to catch the more horrendous impulses, but occasionally one slips out. Nice to know I’m not the only one who feels oblliged to see it through to the bitter end.

  8. Emily Says:

    Oh Noelle. You make me giggle like a little schoolgirl. Your blogs are always a pleasure to read.

  9. Brenda Nailor Says:

    Good for you! The morning routine is hell on earth and those kids should be thankful it is summer and not raining! Give us an update tomorrow, I want to know if they learned their lesson. Hahaha, I am laughing at the image…next time you MUST do a mobile upload!

    • I think I got punked. In the end, they really didn’t care that I cracked the whip and made them walk. You are so right…I should have caught it on my phone. At least it would have given Will and I something to laugh at over dinner!

  10. Susanne Says:

    Way to go! I baby my children in the morning as well and it goes without saying that it’s a thankless job. Recently I have taken to just leaving them sleep and scramble in the mornings as I go out the door….and I love it! It took all of 3 days for them to whip themselves into shape and get their routines under control so they wouldn’t miss their ride. I’ve recently acquired another trick for getting things done on their lists of things to do; when a task isn’t completed I remind them as soon as they ask me for something, a ride, movie money etc. (you know it doesn’t’ take long before they need or want something), that if I can’t ask them to do things for me then they can no longer ask me to do things for them….haha this one has worked wonders for me! We’re not bad parents we’re good negotiators!!

    • Ohhhh…I like that approach. I think I may have to steal that one. Both ideas in fact. It can’t be worse than it already is, so why not? I’ve realized it’s actually me who needs to be retrained, then they’ll just follow suit. I think I may have gotten us into this mess of mom does everything. Why do we do that?

  11. Lisa Says:

    Hahaha. That is so funny. I probably would have done the same thing. In fact, just yesterday I threatened to pull over and make them walk. I might have to actually do it one of these days. Good for you for sticking to your guns.

    • Easy to stick to your guns when you’re steaming mad…it’s only later when things cool down that I started to re-think it. And yes, make your girls walk too so I don’t feel so alone…lol

  12. Great! Just a great story!
    Thanks. I’m smiling.

  13. Deb Rankine Says:

    Noelle, this so puts me in mind of when my kids were little. The idle threaths. Holding to them when they called by bluff.

    Now I know what the saying “this is going to hurt me more than you” really means.

    What a great entertaining post. Really brought me back down memory lane.

    Believe it or not, you are going to miss these days.



  14. Hi Deb,

    Kevin and Alison just talked to me about that very thing after Monday’s books and bevvies event. Kids growing up too fast…it’s just another way they get us back!

  15. Natalie Says:

    You crack me up..we are so much alike it’s not even funny!
    The kids know how to give it back to us don’t they lol I suppose we deserve it just ask our moms LOLOLOL
    Your post made my day
    Thanks for the laugh

  16. God, I hope my kids don’t give me what I gave my parents!!! LOL…that way we are definitely the same!!

  17. Reminds me of the time my son wouldn’t eat his dinner…okay, my son NEVER ate his dinner, and it was one of those situations that built and built and built into a war between my wife any my three-year-old. I kept saying, “Yes, it’s a pain that he won’t eat, but the kid’s obviously not starving. And he’s three. How much logic can you throw at a three-year-old?” So, kind of my own get ready for the bus situation. And, like you, my wife threw out a punishment without thinking it through. She knew he wasn’t crazy about the dark.

    “If you don’t eat, you’re going to have to go live somewhere else. And you’ll have to go tonight. In the DARK!”

    I looked at her with that “think it through, hon…” look. And she immediately caught what I was sending. But, with a self-satisfied shrug, she felt she had the upper hand.

    Until he looked at her and said, “okay.” Totally called her bluff.

    She took him upstairs to pack. I stayed downstairs and calmed his older sister down. “Don’t worry, Mommy’s just trying to teach him a lesson.”

    “But what if he really goes away?” she asked, tears dribbling down her face.

    “Then I guess Hunter will have taught your Mommy a lesson, won’t he?” I couldn’t help but smile.

    Long story short, he got packed up and she sent him outside and shut the light off. And then glued herself to a window and positioned me by the door to let him back in after the inevitable panic. Yeah…right.

    He was fine. Hung out, checked out the passing cars, picked up rocks, generally entertained himself. Still smiling, I turned to my wife and said, “He’s not freaking out. What now, genius?”

    She knew she was beat. She stuck her head out the door. “You not going to leave?” she said, voice stern.


    “You coming back inside?”

    “I guess. If you want me to.” At which point, I ran to the bathroom, howling. The kid had turned the tables on her. SHE basically asked HIM to come back in.

    Kids, huh?

    • OMG! That is so funny! Kids know how to get you. Sounds like your daughter got the worst of it, poor duck. She sounds like my son, and your son sounds like my daughter. The universe gives you one kindhearted, sensitive one, and the other with spunk so you don’t get cocky about being a good parent. lol.

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