Monday, September 07, 2009


Last week, at Barak's kindergarten orientation, I heard--or at least I thought I heard--an announcement that on half-days there would be no busing for the kindergartners. This made perfect sense, since many of the bus drivers are not Jewish, half-days are mostly legal holidays, and of course the non-Jewish bus drivers are not going to be driving schoolbuses on Thanksgiving etc. So I told Barak last night that there would be no bus today, and this morning we all set out on foot on our way to his school--it's not far, much closer than where he was last year.

On the way, though, we saw--what's this? mothers and kids at bus stops. Hmm. I saw someone I knew. "Is there busing for [name of other school] today?" I asked, thinking her boys went there. It transpired that no, her boys (older than Barak) go to Barak's school, and there was his bus pulling up the street now. Um. Okay. Barak was perfectly happy about this and climbed on. I felt a little disconcerted but it was clearly his bus and his bus driver, so... okay. Off they went.

We were only a block away from home and it seemed silly to go straight back--nice day and all--so we went to the Other Produce Market, which is significantly farther away than our Usual Produce Market but has much, much better produce, and lower prices on some things as well. Unfortunately, the big drawback, much more than the distance, is its extreme unfriendliness to double strollers. The aisles are so narrow that if there is anyone else there with a cart you are stuck; more problematic, no one can pass you, and everyone who does want to pass you expects you to get out of the way for them, immediately, which I guess is not totally unreasonable but does make it extremely hard to shop--since you are always having to move away from the produce you are attempting to buy, you see.

At some point, after the third or fourth time relocating self and stroller, I had finally gotten myself within range of the black plums when the Mexican stock guy came past sweeping up fallen produce from the floor. I moved my stroller out of the way so he could go by, thereby putting the produce bins momentarily within reach of small hands, and then suddenly realized that Avtalyon had seized his opportunity. What's that in his mouth? A green... toy... no, not a toy... DEADLY GREEN JALAPENO PEPPER. Ack ack ack! I snatched it away from him at the same moment that the Mexican stock guy spotted it. I think he was at least as horrified as I was. Eyes wide, he shook his head at Avtalyon. "Bad idea, my friend." Avtalyon, of course, not having broken the skin of the pepper, was indignant. I eat peppers all the time! It's a great idea! What's up with this snatching away my pepper? It was right there in reach...

Anyway. I paid for my produce, we went home, I put Avtalyon down for a nap and Iyyar and I made pesto, cleaned up the kitchen, made lunch for Abba (for the record, white rice, sauteed-into-oblivion red peppers and onions, mushrooms, and a Trader Joe's fake Italian sausage--quite delicious if I do say so, and oddly reminiscent of paella) and folded some laundry. All the time, I was feeling uncomfortable about the bus. Would there be a bus in the afternoon? Maybe the announcement had just been "no afternoon busing?" That wouldn't make much sense, but... nightmare visions of Barak abandoned at school persisted. I decided to be on the safe side and called the office. "Is there afternoon busing today for the boys?" "Yes." "Okay. Thanks. Just wanted to be sure." So at ten to twelve, I woke up Avtalyon, stuck him in the stroller, got Iyyar into shoes and off we went to the bus stop.

Which seemed... strangely deserted. Why is no one else here? I sat there knitting at 12, 12:05, 12:10. Dismissal is at 12 and Barak is the very first stop, so he should really be here by now. 12:15. 12:20. I knocked on the door of a friend on that block. "Isn't there busing this afternoon?"

"There's busing."

"Why aren't you outside?"

"Dismissal isn't until 1:15."

"No, it's at 12. I looked at the calendar. Legal holiday, dismissal at 12:00." She frowned and went to get the calendar. I started to feel a sense of impending panic. "Huh. You're right. Legal holiday 12:00... for kindergarten. First through fourth is 1:15."

Oh. No.

She already had the phone. "Hi, this is... and Mrs. Uberimma is here and wondering about busing and... oh, he's sitting outside the office? Okay, I'll give her the phone." She handed me the phone, which Avtalyon promptly grabbed and pressed the "stop" button on, disconnecting her. She called again. Guess what: no busing for kindergarten in the afternoon. Barak is sitting on the bench outside her office, not having been picked up. I apologize, promise I'll be right there, and walk as fast as I possibly can the six or seven blocks to school, where Barak is sitting alone and morose on the bench, sweatshirt hood pulled up over his head. I apologize to the office lady, who is extremely nice about it and assures me that it was just a miscommunication and I wasn't the only one. I apologize to Barak. I explain to him what happened, but he doesn't really get it.

Barak was clearly upset, but not saying much about it, until we got across the main street and he decided to sit down on the sidewalk and refuse to move. Then, after the rational approach had failed and I started walking without him, he only came to me by rolling and crawling along the (extremely dirty) sidewalk, while screaming. Sigh. Home again, and I made lunch, and decided to let Barak have macaroni and cheese without spinach. I let him grate the cheese. I apologized again. I did screw up, but it wasn't for any want of trying to get it right; I should have specified kindergarten when I called, but didn't know I needed to, and the person at the office didn't know I was talking about kindergarten when I just said "boys."

Barak wanted to know why I hadn't just come to get him when the bus didn't come. I explained to him that I'd thought he was on the bus, I thought the bus might just be late, and I was afraid that if I went to the yeshiva, he might then get dropped off at the street corner and I wouldn't be there, and that would have been worse than him sitting in front of the office. I reminded him that we'd thought there were no buses, but then there were buses; I explained that I'd called the office and they'd told me that there was going to be a bus that afternoon and then there wasn't. "Someone made a mistake," I said again.

"Yeah," said Barak, accusingly. "YOU did."

What could I say? He was right.


miriamp said...

Seems to me that more than one person made a mistake. There really should have been a notice for the Kindergärtners explaining everything more clearly, not just an announcement that you could not have heard and/or misremembered.

At least the school isn't the 2 miles it is here, or even the 1 mile it was when we lived in Worcester and Aaron took the only car to work with him.

miriamp said...

subtext was, don't beat yourself up about it.

LC said...

What miriamp said: besides, Barak has already covered that one. :-)

But wouldn't be nice if the schools all had folders of "things to do better next year" and *referred back to them*?

I dropped off the forgotten lunch bag mid-morning today, and I've been sitting at work wondering whether I should call the office and confirm that it got to him (as opposed to the staff expecting he'll come looking, which he wouldn't know to do) . . .

persephone said...

Clearly this was not all your mistake, or even mostly yours!

I'm sorry this happened to Barak. At the same time, I figure it's important for kids to learn that parents make mistakes sometimes, too. And he was safe and supervised, even if he wasn't happy; so this was a relatively harmless way for him to find out.

It was not a fun time trying to explain to Aleph that *doctors* sometimes make mistakes, though. Somehow I came up with "yes, your allergy doctor was wrong, but then you went to the er and THOSE doctors took great care of you," and at least so far he's not afraid of doctors. Holding my breath.

Yasmin said...

Definitely better to have him sitting morosely on a bench outside the office than left alone at the streetcorner, though I'd like to think the driver wouldn't have let him get off without you there.

And given that it's the first half day for all the new kids, I would have expected a clarification/reminder from the school about it. AND a phone call from the office to parents of children not picked up. I'm sure this happens every year, to multiple kindergartners who feel abandoned, and their parents who feel panicky.

Tsk tsk. But not at you.

Anonymous said...

what does uberimma mean?