Last Wednesday, Hubby was off completing some very important Hubby business. He needed the car and no car for me meant that I had to get Buddy to school on the bus. Hubby and I went online and figured out which bus the kids and I needed to take. The route left from a bus stop near our house, switched buses once and dropped us off near Buddy's school. The trip, which takes us five to ten minutes by car (depending on traffic), was going to take 35 minutes to complete by bus.
Wednesday morning, I rushed the kids through their breakfast because we had to walk over to a nearby convenience store to pick up some bus tickets. Getting the tickets was a must because they're $1.10 cheaper per trip than paying in cash and, more importantly, because I live mostly cash-free, I didn't have any change for the bus.
We left the house at 9:15am and trudged towards the store, while Monkey wailed, "I want DRIVE, Mommy! Drive! Whaaaaannnnn! Drive!"
I explained (very patiently, I think), "We don't have a car today. That's why we have to take the bus."
Half way to the store, Monkey said, "Mommy, I need pee!"
I told him we were almost there and picked up the pace while Monkey started to do the pee-pee dance. We arrived at the store and I asked the man behind the counter if they have a public washroom. He took one look at Monkey, who was by now doing the pee-pee tango, and he reached under the counter and pulled out a key. He started towards the back of the store and indicated that we should follow. We followed him to the back, past some drinks coolers, around a corner, and down a hallway. He unlocked a door and showed us into the nastiest little bathroom I've ever seen. It was FILTHY. I closed and locked the door and hissed to Buddy, "Don't touch ANYTHING."
I tried to hold Monkey over the toilet, but he wasn't having that: "No Mommy! No do that!" So I sat him on the seat and he peed for, like, 100 years, or so. At one point, he grabbed the toilet seat to steady himself before I could stop him. Ew!
I shushed Buddy (who was asking in his loud, loud voice, "don't they ever clean in here, Mommy?") while I debated whether it was better to risk using the sink, or if it was better to wait until we got home to wash Monkey's hands. Because Monkey touched the toilet seat (argh! argh!), I decided to err on the side of washing. We vacated the bathroom, bought our tickets and left the scene.
We arrived home at about 10:30am. We needed to leave to catch the bus at 11:20am (must hurry! Fast! Fast!). So, I got Buddy's snack ready, sanitized the boys (yucky toilet germs! Argh!) and fed them lunch. We were out the door on time but, as we were walking towards the bus stop we saw a bus go by. I said, "Shit! I hope that wasn't our bus!" (Confession time: I said "Shit!" a lot this day... Mommy gold star for me!).
At the bus stop, I checked the schedules and decided that it must have been the other bus that stops there. So, we waited... And waited... And waited... And waited. The bus didn't come for 20 minutes, which meant that we definitely missed the one we were supposed to be on; it must have been early. We rode the bus to the stop where we were supposed to switch buses. I sat the kids down on the bench and checked the schedule. I was dismayed (yes I was) to find out that this bus only comes every 30 minutes and that we'd missed it. The next one was scheduled for 12:41 - 11 minutes after Buddy's school starts for the day... "Shit!" I said, "Shit! Shit! Shit! We'll have to walk."
So, I grabbed the kids by the hands and headed off at a lively trot towards the school. The walk took 15 minutes, with Monkey and Buddy almost running to keep up with me. But we made it on time - only just on time. The kids were already lined up to go into their classroom, which meant Buddy was too late for outdoor playtime (poor Buddy!).
I gave Buddy a kiss goodbye and Monkey and I rushed toward the bus stop to catch the bus back home. As we were walking, we saw a bus go by. "Shit!" I said. "We just missed the bus... Again!"
"Again!" Monkey echoed.
At the bus stop I noticed that there was a number you can call to check the bus schedules and to find out when the next bus is due. I called the number and an automated voice informed me, "The next bus is scheduled in 25 minutes." Then, I noticed a bus go by in the other direction. I watched it longingly as it disappeared in the distance. I considered walking and I considered waiting and, looking at Monkey, who was chillaxin' gratefully on the bench, I decided to wait. Monkey wandered around the bus stop, looking at flowers and peering into the small group of trees next to the stop. He declared the trees were a "scary, scary woods!" and the flowers were a "princess garden!". Someone had written the word "Monster" on the bench. I, recognizing a photo-op, had Monkey sit next to it.
"Again!" Money echoed.
We got to the stop and I called the number, only to be told "the next bus is scheduled in 30 minutes." I decided, since it would be the same bus anyway, that we would take the bus in the other direction, rather than wait or make the kids (who were both tired and cranky) walk. We crossed the street, and I called the number to check when the next bus was scheduled. The automated voice told me, "the next bus is scheduled in one minute." "Great!" I said. "The bus will be here in a minute."
"Great!" Monkey echoed.
We boarded the bus and rode it to the end of the line. The bus driver watched us for a few minutes then told me, "M'am, we're here." I told her that we wanted to go back the other way. "Well, okay," she answered, with a slight roll of her eyes. And we headed off (vroom! vroom!). A few stops later, the bus driver looked back at us and said, "Just a warning: A million high school students are going to get on at Centennial High School." Sure enough, at the high school the bus filled with students. It was like the bus on Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I kept expecting someone to offer me some gummy bears that were "nice and warm and squishy" because they'd been in her pocket.
Only, it was more crowded than the Ferris bus because people were also standing up in every available space. We were the only non-high school students on the bus. Finally, we squeezed and pushed (kids EVERYWHERE) our way out at our stop and waited for our second bus. The kids picked clover while I threw a conniption fit every time they went too close to the road ("Stay on this side of the tree! On THIS side of the tree!"). We arrived home at 4:15pm. I made the kids another snack and we curled up on the futon upstairs to wait for Daddy to come home. We were completely exhausted.
Number of dollars spent getting Buddy to school on the bus: A full page of bus tickets - $9.00, plus tax.
Number of hours spent getting Buddy to school on the bus: 9:15am to 4:15pm - 7 hours.
Not having to take Buddy to school on the bus everyday: Priceless.