Friday, January 25, 2008

School bus screws us

Being a nursing student and a mother means my child management strategy is sometimes a bit precarious. If one thing goes wrong, the whole structure collapses. I often have to be in school or at the hospital before my children leave for school. They are not babies. The youngest will be nine in February. They can, and do, get themselves off to school. Charlottesville High School has the latest start of any of the city schools, so my two teenagers are home to wait with Mr. McP at the bus stop, and to lock up the house, etc before they leave for school.

This morning, I had a skills lab at 8:00am. I was at home when my eleven year old daughter caught the bus to Walker. I left at 7:45--the same time my daughter Drama Queen takes Mr. McP to his bus stop. I saw them both waiting for the bus as I drove past on my way to school.

My lab let out for a lunch break at 12:15, and I thought I'd just run home and let the dogs out. I was expecting to come home to an empty house, so you can imagine my surprise to see Mr. McP and my two teenagers there. What happened? There was a substitute bus driver for Mr. McP's route, who drove right past my son as he waited at the same street corner he always has--the same street corner designated as the official bus stop on the form sent home by the city schools.

Not only that, there was a chipper little message on my answering machine, something like, "Hi, this is Jackson-Via school and we noticed that Mr. McP isn't in school today, and we'd really like to achieve 100% attendance, so couldn't you please, pretty please bring him to school?" The assistant principal had also stopped by the house, but my children had hidden from him because they had a vague idea they would get in trouble.

I called the school immediately and it's lucky for them, and me, that I got the answering machine because I was ready to tell them where they could put their "100% attendance." I was calmer when the principal called me, and we agreed that she would come and pick him up and take him to school. I was all for letting him stay home for the rest of the day, but it developed that today was the honor roll ceremony, and Mr. McP would miss getting his honor roll certificate if he stayed home.

Of course, it's not Jackson-Via's fault that the substitute bus driver is an idiot. I'm not sure I like the idea of the assistant principal showing up at the houses of kids who don't go to school. To me, it smacks of the attitude I hate most of all in public schools--that we parents are too stupid to make decisions about our children and that they must swoop in and rescue our kids from us. I homeschooled for two years, and I know the environment in my house is much more enriching than that at the school. That's not true for every household, of course, but the push to attend school every day, no matter what, really irritates me. Conversely, I'm irritated that my high-schoolers missed school. They get so much work that missing one day sets them up for loads of stress.

And I didn't get any lunch, in all the fuss over calling the school and being mad about the situation.


  1. hi patience. i tagged you for a meme. do you feel like listing 7 of your weirdest jobs!

  2. Why did both of your high schoolers stay home? It seems one of them could have gone while the other stayed home. I'd leave the school number for the kids so they can call the younger's school the next time. I was capable of dealing with that by ninth grade (little brother is five years younger).

  3. They both stayed home because they couldn't agree on who should get the privilege of skipping school to babysit. Teenagers. Humph.
    Zoe, I'll do your meme, although I don't think I've had seven jobs in my whole life.

  4. Ahhh, teenagers. Someday, my kiddo will be a teenager. I bet I'll drink a lot more then.

  5. Right after the winter break, our regular driver was out sick, so we had a horrible succession of subs, most of whom ran late every day. One afternoon, the driver blew right by the stop and all the adults present started yelling and waving. The final straw was when the bus showed up 13 minutes early and dumped all the children (including a kindergartener) off and left. There were no adults at the stop, although I was around the corner -- not visible to the driver but able to witness myself what happened. I called the bus supervisor twice and he never returned my calls. The other parents called and complained. The school was no help either. I was (and still am) so angry that my children have not ridden the bus since then. Not a big deal since we usually walked every morning anyway, so now I just walk over in the afternoons too.