Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A triple ooops kind of day

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Junior will be starting kindergarten this fall. I also mentioned that I went to a Mulletville Lite Kindergarten Q&A session and that I thought some of the questions parents posed were absurd.

Questions like, "“Can I meet the bus driver before the first day of school? How do I know he/she will like my kid?" and "Can I follow the bus to school to make sure my child gets out all right and/or gets home okay?”

As I listened to the parents ask those questions, an image came to mind: one of a convoy of moms and dads tailgating a school bus, hissing "Left! Turn left!" at each other, and peering at the bus through binoculars; it made me laugh out loud, in a sad kind of way.

It also made me wonder about the message it sends to our children. What does a kindergartner's thought process sound like as he/she looks out the bus window? Why does Mommy need to follow the bus? Am I not safe? Is this separation a bad thing? Should I be worried about going to school? Yes! I should be! Get me out of here!  

The whole scenario unnerves me.

School systems employ professionals who are trained to make sure a child gets from Point A to Point B, right? The worried parents at the Q&A session struck me as paranoid—Helicopter Parents at their worst.

I said as much to a mother I met at the library yesterday. I poked fun of, and laughed about, the moronic insecurity of parents who clearly can't let go of their children. Superior? Who, me?

After I was done, she smiled tersely and said, "I'm one of those mothers." She looked at me as if to say Anything else? I didn't know what to do so I smiled back—so sheepishly you could have sheared me—and shrugged my shoulders.


Later that day I took the kids for a haircut. As I was waiting, I relayed my library experience to the hairdresser. The story included my bountiful judgment of neurotic parents, the library mother's response and, subsequently, my oops moment.

"It happened to me," she said. "The bus driver let my kindergartner get off at a daycare two stops before my house. It took me hours to find him. I wanted to die."


Still later that day, I ran into one of Junior's friends and his grandmother in the grocery store. We parked our carts by the yogurt and shot the shit for awhile. (I don't remember talking this much when I was on maternity leave. Suddenly everyone wants to talk.) I relayed the library experience and the hairdresser experience. Again, the story included my bountiful judgment of neurotic parents, the library mother's response, the hairdresser's response and, subsequently, my oops moment(s).

I stood back and waited for her to tell me that the world has gone crazy. That us parents have turned into freakish worrywarts who can't let our kids reach the end of the driveway without popping a blood vessel. I wanted her to tell me it was unnecessary. I wanted her to tell me my disbelief was justified.

Instead she said, "It happened to me. My kid was meek. She sat in the back of the bus and missed her stop. The bus driver didn't realize it until they got back to the bus yard. She was so scared she couldn't speak. It was a nightmare."

At that point I didn't think oooooooops. I thought, what the fuck? Either bus-related incidents are criminally common or I had happened upon all two incidences in one day. And if those instances really are rare, we parents have done each other an injustice in over-hyping them, much like we do when sharing our labor stories with expectant mothers.

"My doctor had to stand on my chest and pull my baby out with a chair...and that was after I had 50 epidurals."

Damn tall tales.  I bet Johnny Appleseed's mom didn't follow his bus. Course, he did leave that big ass trail of trees. Maybe we should send off our children with seed packets?

Maybe not.


NHGirl said...

I'd be thinking "WTF", too. My mom put me on the bus for kindergarten and didn't follow it. My brother and sister did just fine, as did all my friends. In fact, I don't know a single person with a bad bus experience.

I think these parents are not trustful of their kids. They really don't think their children can do anything successful on their own, so they micromanage their lives as much as they can so they retain as much control as they can. It's also possible that these parents are being hyper-vigilant about coming across as a caring parent than a lackadaisical one, and it's not about the kids as much as it is about their image.

jo said...

I dont get it. If you can follow a bus why is your kid on the bus? Why not just take them to school/kinder yourself?? Kindergartners in Australia dont have an option to use a bus so its drop off & pick up from inside the centre where an authorised adult signs you out.

Patty Woodland said...

I'm with you. I don't get all the hovering either

Gina said...

Obviously, these things happen, but I am still anti-hovering. I couldn't have followed the bus because I'm far away at work, but even if I were home (or on the days when I was off and WAS able to), it simple y would not happen. That's an extra half hour of reading a book or watching tv or god help me - POOPING - without someone needing to be right on top of me.

MaryBT said...

Let's say on a kindergarten/elementary bus run, there are 50 kids on the bus. And they do it 5 days a week for let's say 8 months. 8x5x50 = 2000 rides. One kid is too shy to say she's still on the bus. 1 in 2000 seems like pretty good odds. And that's just one bus. There's probably 10 buses at my small town elementary school. So that's 20,000 and then you have 2 kids - one who was scared to say she missed her stop and one who didn't know he wasn't supposed to go to day care. 1 mistake in 10,000 seems pretty miniscule to me. Now, obviously, if your kid is the one, then it's infinite. But, in the big picture, it's miniscule. And remember, the one kid was dropped off at a day care center accidentally. It's not like the driver ditched him on a random street corner full of drug dealers. Perspective, people, perspective.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Shit does happen (I'll spare you both of my bus stories, you're welcome)but I'm still not a paranoid, neurotic hoverer. I don't think it's healthy for anyone.

Frogs in my formula said...

I feel so, so much better knowing I am not alone in not being paranoid (yes, I know I used a double negative). And I even got someone to do math!

Leanne said...

I don't have the option of a bus with my kids, but boy, would I like one! It's a whole step out into the big world of independence for kids, they NEED it and yep, many Mom's today are CRAZY... Sigh.

Sparkling said...

I am right with Jo on this: why follow the bus and not just drive the kid yourself? I did a post a while back about parents who stand at the bus stop with their kids. For us, it's like a max of 5 miles to get to a school from a stop, so just get in the car and drive those suckers yourself! That drives me INSANE.

Sara said...

LMAO! I am in agreement with you. But I have to add, they lost my kid three times. And he is like your Junior, always talking, always telling people stories, not a shy bone in him. I swear when I stood there waiting at the bus stop, with the cars lining up, wondering why my kid wasn't getting off and the bus driver is furiously talking in his walkie talkie, I stayed calm. After the second time, I was pissed and after the third, the bus driver was never seen again. Loud noises from momma to the superintendent and threats of going to the school board, and all that.

These things happen. But yeah, I can't stand helicopter parenting. It wouldn't have made a difference if I had followed the bus.

Man! There are a lot of holes in my neighborhood

Our young neighbors Bob and Claire are wonderful —which is a fricken relief because we basically share a yard. A flat, treeless yard. When ...