It dawned on me Monday after glimpsing a school bus driving down Versailles Road that, thanks to COVID-19, it’s been a while since I have noticed public school transportation in motion. Seeing that bus flashed me back 10 years ago to the day when our two elementary-age sons took their shortest-ever bus ride and I came to the realization that perhaps mothers aren’t always right.
That winter morning began like any other with the usual gripes about having to wake up while it was still dark outside, a few elbow shoves while they brushed their teeth together and one too many “I don’t want to wear that shirt!”
By the time I got them to the breakfast table and plunked down a pair of strawberry pancakes in front of the the younger of the two, who was 6 at the time, was complaining about having to go to school — telling me he didn’t feel good.
Having heard that story one time too many, I broke out the thermometer. There’s a reason the instrument has the word “mom” directly in the middle of it.
“No fever. You are going to school. Nice try,” I told him while tightly bundling him in so many layers. He looked like Ralphie’s brother, Randy, in “A Christmas Story.”
At the bus stop, we played a game of Follow the Leader to keep warm and after they boarded the school bus I went back inside to brew a cup of coffee and get ready for the day. Unbeknownst to me, the wild morning was just getting started.
Before the coffeepot even percolated, I received the call from the bus driver telling me that our son had just gotten sick. I instantly felt terrible for sending him to school, especially after the driver informed me that his aim was less than impeccable — he had vomited all over his brother.
So, the bus comes trundling back down the street to deliver two smelly, soggy little boys covered in undigested strawberries, sawdust and tears. After profusely apologizing to the bus driver, I hustled them into the house and began to undo their many layers of soiled clothing.
Our then-8-year-old, who received the unexpected upchuck in his lap, frantically stripped out of his coat, shoes, gloves and clothes at breakneck speed and hopped in the shower while I cleaned up his not-so-sick-anymore brother, who was now laughing about it, and drew him a bath.
In the meantime, our daughter, who was 3 at the time, had woken up with a case of the whys. Why does it smell bad? Why are my brothers naked? Why aren’t you answering me?
After getting all three of them cleaned up and buckled into their car seats, we dropped the oldest off at school. The other two — one who was milking my guilt for all it was worth even though he was markedly better and his sister, who still hadn’t let up with the incessant whys — got to take the day off.
I finally got a sip of coffee and have since banned strawberry pancakes from the breakfast menu.
Chanda Veno is managing editor at The State Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com