Since moving to Angelborough, I haven’t dreaded the school bus stop.
The school bus stop in Angeltown was its own little drama. My neighbor, who was my exact opposite, started by being furious that the bus stop was inconveniently located and called the superintendent every day to get it moved to right in front of her house. Eventually we ended up with a “sweetheart” stop (ie, the bus driver stopped, but she shouldn’t have) and I would bring her cookies whenever I baked some. My neighbor never came out of her house and sometimes watched from the window; this was fine by me.
When Kiddo1 entered second grade, Neighbor’s Friend was also bringing her kids to the bus stop. First day: she left her gianormous SUV idling in the driveway (it was 75 degrees out, not a concern that the car needed to stay warm) while the kids played around it and both Neighbor and Neighbor’s Friend griped about their kids’ asthma problems.
…while the kids played in the exhaust fumes from her idling SUV for 20 minutes.
Before my brain had a chance to explode (there was a chance it might) they changed the subject to which was more necessary: a hot tub or a swimming pool.
By the time the bus came, I was dreading the year, but I didn’t need to. Both Neighbor and Neighbor’s Friend spent the rest of the year dumping their first and second graders in the driveway and then going off to do their own thing.
I’ll jump over the time Neighbor’s bully kid started harassing my son (well, no, I won’t: I cleared it with the teachers, the school counselor and my son’s karate instructor that after my son blocked three times, he could feel free to hit his aggressor in self-defense. “And if you punch him,” I said, “put him flat on the ground. Make him remember for at least thirty minutes why he isn’t going to hit you again.” My Patient Husband was horrified; I didn’t care. I also told my son that when he blocked, do it hard enough that the bully’s arm would go numb to the shoulder. In the end, all my son had to do was fall into a defensive horse-stance and Neighbor called out the window to her son to back off. She’d been watching all along! So there you have it: bullying is fine until it looks like your son is going to get his clock cleaned.)
By the time we moved, I’d been forbidden to speak to the Neighbor Kids because I was Satan Incarnate (I kid you not) but they were supposed to play in my yard because it was right next to the bus stop. Oy.
In Angelborough, however… I showed up cautious on the first day, guarded for the backstabbing, the gossip and the chill. Instead, the bus stop is peaceful. There’s chit-chat and low blood pressure. The mothers (and father) stay with their children. The bus drivers still receive cookies, but not because I’m bribing them.
It’s all just so much more low-pressure than before. I kept waiting for the Real Evil of the Bus Stop to show up, but I’ve finally realized my ex-Neighbor and her ex-Friend (yes, they had a split) had toxified my bus stop expectations. This is the way it should be.