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.