This year both boys are in school all day (Amen, and Amen), and both ride the bus. This is a new adventure, as His Highness was a walker the last two years, and the Littler One had a personal car service (me) to preschool. It has gone well overall (i.e. hiccups, but no deal breakers) except that riding the bus extends their day quite a bit. In the mornings this is actually a good deal because Montgomery schools provide breakfast for everyone, so I can
The afternoons are a bit of a different story. Their particular bus leaves later than the rest, so they don't get home until a full hour after school lets out. In our case this feels really late to me, since I could pick them up and have them home 30 minutes earlier than that. So, being a caring parent and all, my plan has been to wait until the beginning-of-school-traffic-nightmare eases up, and then start picking them up in the afternoons. Since they are SPIRITED I am sensitive to their having plenty of playtime, and I figure that even an extra half hour in the afternoons will do them some good. But I will confess that slivers of smugness have crept in, as I try to shield my precious snowflakes from the tyranny of bus riding tedium.
Last week I had a meeting with the Littler One's teacher, so I thought it the perfect opportunity to time our ride home and compare it with the bus timing. I coordinated between teachers so that His Highness met up with us and I could easily take them both home from there. I was awesome and responsible. It felt fabulous. I met with the teacher and gathered the materials I needed. I was a quality individual and a helper of mankind.
Just before we left, the school announced the boys' bus, and they went to head down the hallway to catch it. I said, "Boys, you're coming home with me today. Since I'm here, I can just drive you."
They protested. They cried. They said,"You're the worst mom ever!"
Even with the teacher meeting and school traffic, we beat the bus by a good 20 minutes. I said, "Look, you can go play now! You have extra time!" But they weren't buying it. I said, "Why would you want to ride the bus that takes so much longer?" The Littler One said, "Because it doesn't have seat belts!" (Good grief, but of course) They both said, "We like to sit with our friends!" (Ah. I get it now)
I said, "I was planning to start picking you up in the afternoons so you could get home sooner," but I reassured them that they could go back to riding the bus the next time (today). They wanted an immediate and long-term commitment that I would let them ride the bus home every day, forever. So we compromised. I assured them they could remain bus riders as long as it was working well for all parties involved and I didn't have to get them for an appointment or something. No forever-guarantees, and no assurances on the next school, because it all just depends.
But in the end I learned that sometimes my ideas of protecting them aren't all I think they are, even when I am thinking of their health and overall well-being. I thought I was protecting their need to run around and be rowdy, and have a good time with their friends, when it turns out they were having a good time with their friends all along, and that certainly counts for something.
And on the upside, it gives E and me a little more downtime in the afternoons, which anyone with a 2 year old knows isn't the truest downtime, but it's at least a quieter storm. And now I fully know that I don't have to feel guilty about enjoying it, because the boys are enjoying their mom-free time just as much.