The words “you kids have no idea how lucky you are” came out of my mouth this week after my children complained about taking the school bus. Somewhere along the way, I turned into my father. Example 1: Not so long ago, I was in the bank in our small town and three people walked through the door while I was doing my banking. And I knew every single one of them. As a child, any trip into town with my father guaranteed at least three separate 5 minute conversations with people about the weather, or the latest gossip or what have you. Add that to the whole school bus conversation?
I’m turning into my dad. A little creepy, all things considered.
Let me explain. My boys got off the bus complaining about how long their day was and how it sucks that they are the last kids off the bus. Momma had to school her children, people.
You see, for the first five years of my school career, I got on the bus and took a meandering route to the school that was about 10 kilometres away. From grade 5 on, I attended a French Immersion program in the next town over. This changed my 10 kilometre road trip to a 25 kilometre trip. It also added a whole new definition to the word meandering.
The bus would come chugging along at about 7:05am every morning. And because farm driveways are brutally long, it wasn’t like I could wait in the house for it to come around the corner. Nope, my butt was at the end of that driveway no later than 7:00am. The one exception being the one time I pissed my sister off and she cranked the clocks ahead by thirty minutes so that I was down there waiting at 6:30. I still haven’t repaid that favor. If I wasn’t at the end of the driveway and I missed that bus? I would have to call my grandmother to come and drive me to school.
And bless her heart, she never drove faster than 60km/hour. Ever.
So on the bus I climb. For the first 10 minutes, I would stare out the window and consider how this is what became of my life. Being the shy and wallflower type, I spoke to few people. Then my friend would climb aboard the bus and sit down beside me for the remaining 50 minutes.
Yes, you read that right, fifty. And we weren’t the longest route in the area. We would chat about one thing or another while she pulled out her make up, because putting it on while riding the bus was more palatable than getting up 10 minutes earlier. I didn’t blame her one bit. To this day am in awe of her ability to put on eyeliner while touring the back roads on the way to school. I can’t even do that in the comfort of my bathroom with decent lighting and no potholes.
For my part, I got really good at holding her coffee mug and not spilling any. Before you all get upset at the nerve of her for asking me to do such a thing every morning, know this: it kept my hands warm. And my hands were rarely warm. Still aren’t, really.
We would get to school around 8:15 or so, if memory serves. Come 3:15, it was back on the bus for the return trip home. This hour was often spent reading, as I was never comfortable sleeping on the bus. Too many people watching. So I read. A lot. Thankfully, this girl has never had motion sickness in her life.
Another hour and fifteen minutes or so and I would get dropped off at the end of my driveway. I would proceed to drag my exhausted butt up and into my house around 5:00. This assumes that the weather was decent and that there were no issues on the way. I do recall one particularly adventurous trip where we were met by my uncle Bob who drove us, by tractor, up Pine Grove hill to meet my dad. The bus didn’t have the traction to get up the hill. And I can think of another handful of times that the bus slid down a back road hill to a pick up. Only once did we end up in the ditch. At least, that I can recall.
If you compare this to my children’s current commute you have to understand why I have little sympathy for their “plight”. I’ll give you that they are one of the first on the bus and the last off it. Even then, they have just 25 minutes to school, and 25 minutes home. And our driveway? About 50 steps from drop off to inside of the house,
I’m one step away from my dad’s whole “walk to school uphill both ways in 5 feet of snow” spiel. I’ll try to restrain myself. Bad enough I seem to know everyone in town.
See you at the rink,