I walked to school when I was little. Then I rode the bus to Jr. High and High School. Luckily the bus stop was close to Minute Man gas station. There was just enough time to buy a Ding D0ng, microwave it ever-so-slightly, and eat it while you ran to the bus. My bus driver was named "EZ." EZ was the craziest name I'd ever heard. Ever! (Remember, this was before rap.) Sometimes I would walk up to the church bus stop where my friends got on. That bus driver was named "Etta Bea." This did not strike me as unusual, as my mom and aunts are named Georgia, Wanda, Ila, and Glenda. And my Mom's best friend was Verna. It was just "Etta" with a "Bea."
EZ was exotic, wiry, and mean. At the time I imagined that he was from Greece or the Caribbean. Now I'm pretty sure he was Hispanic--his name was Isi Herrera. I was probably confused about ethnicity because of West Side Story where Maria and Bernardo (handsome!) are played by a Caucasian and a Greek, respectively. At any rate, the bus was kind of wild. Even I used to fake sneeze chip crumbs onto the backs of people I didn't like--and that was considered tame. But I feel that it did me no lasting damage.
When my son Sam started school he heard swearing and got pushed on the bus. So I decided to drive him. He loved being driven to school and appreciated it. But then he got used to it and didn't appreciate it. (I continue to re-learn the lesson that my kids are just like my dog Lou, now deceased--whenever we let her on the bed or the couch she got bad and demanding.) Once Maggie started school and I had baby Ben I decided they could ride the bus and just stick together and weather the storm of swearing. It was great! They did stick together and they weren't exposed to anything too bad, except Peace Man. The bus would pass "Peace Man" every day. When Peace Man changed his m. o. from flashing the peace sign to flipping off everyone who drove by, we used it as a spring board for discussion in our family about compassion. Compassion and restraining orders and public urination. No harm done.
But they still liked being driven so they had no incentive to get ready on time in the morning. This was murder. "Hurry or you'll miss the bus!" I would scream. But they didn't care at all. "So what if Mom has to get dressed and drive us? It's no skin off our nose," they retorted (in their minds). That's when I developed my policy of charging them each a dollar for driving them to school. And, I might add--it worked like a charm. They seem to appreciate services they pay for.
Now there is no bus where we live. It's like we've gone off the grid or something. They won't bus my kids anywhere! And in two years when my son is in Jr. High not only are we zoned for a school that is rumored to be somewhat crappy, I have to drive him there myself--this adds insult to injury. I feel like they should say, "Our school isn't that good so let us pick your son up." I mean, who do they think they are? Like they are doing me a favor! It makes me want to get a big mouthful of chip crumbs and fake sneeze it onto their backs. I WENT to that school after all--that's where I learned the chip crumb gag. I'm just trying to provide my kids the same mediocre, somewhat horrifying Jr. High experience I had--maybe just slightly worse. Is that so much to ask?