Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back to School

It's the Verbalist's inaugeral academic year. The kindergarteners don't actually start class until Friday but the week is full of orientations. Classroom, teacher, schoolbus half hour segments of introduction spread over three days all designed to ease seperation of mothers from their little darlings. The Verbalist is happy to attend these functions though a tinge of impatience crept into his voice at the conclusion of this last trip: "Is that all?"

We had shown up 2 minutes early to the bus orientation and there was precisely two other parents looking around with the same look of confused expectation. I am not sure what I expected but with about 80 kindergarteners beginning school Friday, I thought there would be more parents wanting to know when and where and how they were going to chuck 'em on the bus.

We wait. The Verbalist is bouncing around and literally kicking up his heels in excitement. One little boy is boasting to his two-ish sister about his grand school bus (but declining to stand on the steps I noted) and one toeheaded kid has a death grip on his mom's hand but is looking all around. I take pictures and decide I am tired of waiting so I wrangle the Verbalist and we get up into the bus. That got someone out there.

"Did someone," her emphasis suggesting that someone would catch h-e-double toothpicks, "tell you that you could get on the bus?" inquired the school bus lady, looking exactly like my stereotype of a kindergarten school bus lady down to the big hair and carrying voice with the hint of a rasp.

"No," say I, raising my own eyebrows, not to be intimidated. "I took initiative." (At this point in my first retelling my father in law laughs and adds, "No taking initiative in this school!")

"Well," she humfphs lightly," no one, not even parents, are allowed on the bus unless someone is sitting in the driver's seat. Now you know." She added the last in the let's-have-no-more-of-that tone that all people who spend copious amounts of time with small children develop.

The other parents climbed on board and the bus lady began laying out all the rules and regulations of the bus. At last we got around to question and answer and i asked the most pressing question. "What is the bus route and how do we find the approximate time that they will load and unload my child?"

She told me and pausing she remarked, "Where are all the rest of the parents? I expected 40." she directed this comment at me. Apparently, I have the look of someone who might keep track of other kid's parents' thought patterns. Either that or she thought I hid them somewhere.

"I don't know. I was informed that I could come today or tomorrow and this orientation was optional. Perhaps everyone will come tomorrow," I offered in as innocent voice as I could muster.

"Tomorrow's orientation is supposed to be for afternoon kindergarteners. You are," she shot me an appraising look," a morning kindergartener?"

"My son is," I returned aimiably.

Approval crossed her face for the first time.

"So's mine," said the dad with the brother and sister in tow.

"I'm afternoon," said toehead's mother meekly, "do I have to leave?"

"Don't bother," said bus lady, "this isn't the way we used to do it though." the questions petered out and we stood. "One more thing. No," here she pinned a hard stare on the Verbalist sizing him up accurately, "animals on the bus. No dogs, bunnies, rodents or even crickets." The Verbalist nodded solemnly.

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