The school bus powers up our road with the roar of diesel filling my ears, forcing me to be aware of it’s presence. Remembering the days when I was on alert for the rumbles and whines of the daily buses, makes me wistful. It’s been too long since a school bus ruled the markings of time in our days as a family.
“There she goes!” I’d warn my kids as the bus went up our long road. It would be approximately four minutes till the bus swung by our house. The countdown was on. Tim, three years younger than his sister, Jana, was usually tuned in to the bus on his own. Not so much, Jana. She was not a morning person. Probably she still isn’t.
“Two minutes!” I hollered at either the closed bedroom door of daughter or closed bathroom door of one and the same. Tim would already be out the door. Jana? I don’t know what she was doing at those frantic last minutes. Looking for papers, brushing teeth or hair? Everyday was a battle and race against clock and bus. She almost always made it.
When the kids got a little older, Jana had to leave even earlier in the morning to take the high school and middle school bus, while Tim still rode the grade school bus. In the beginning, I accommodated Jana by meeting the bus at it’s last stop. That allowed her an extra twenty to thirty minutes. However, it messed greatly with her mother’s schedule. After all, I had a job myself and had to get ready. So the gravy train of a luxurious little while of extra time ended after a few months for my eleven year old. There were times though that she did miss that 6:35am bus and would be forced to ride with her brother and the little elementary school kids. Luckily, grade and middle schools were merely separated by a field. I doubt it was a walk of shame for Jana on those rare days, but more like a small victory for scoring some extra time.
In the afternoon, the return buses were always welcomed. I usually was home from my part time job by then to greet the kids during their younger years. As they got older, they could let themselves in till Jim got home by 3:30 from his job, or I returned from my then full time employment. There were a few after school care days, but not many.
When it was warm out, I liked sitting at the picnic table reading until the kids were deposited back home by the big friendly black and yellow bus. Probably to their chagrin, I pumped Jana and Tim with silly questions such as “Did anyone get in trouble today?” “Any drama?” “Did anyone barf on the bus?” Yes, those were the days.
So now, I hear the school bus. It still marks time. Kids rushed back and forth to school and then to home, growing older day by day. One day of course, the bus no longer stops by your house. Kids have grown, but the buses keep going without them, taking new crops of fresh little faces onto the journeys of school life. It is no wonder my sentiment is that of wistfulness.