2006-01-12 - 1:53 p.m.
Yesterday was a bad day! It started out JUST GREAT actually, but after a strong beginning went quickly downhill. The morning was spent fully engaged with all the girls in typical PRE SCHOOL type activities. Since they are not in PRESCHOOL right now and we are taking a break, I had structured fun learning activities all morning. They colored, worked with a sticker book, practiced writing letters, read books, were read to. It was lovely!
Then it all went downhill when I announced it was time to clean up and have lunch. I also told them that after lunch we would then take the walk to the busstop for Sadie.
Now ever since we came back from vacation and school started again, the girls have BEEN DIFFICULT about those daily walks TO and FRO the busstop. For one thing THEY GET TIRED and THEY REALLY NEED NAPS. The problem with AFTERNOON KINDERGARDEN is that the pick up and drop off time is TOTALLY DISRUPTIVE of what USED TO BE THEIR NAP TIME!
So if one DOES doze off I fact the options of :
1. Leaving the child sleeping ALONE while I take the awake ones to the bus.
2. Waking the sleeping child who then GOES BALLISTIC
THEN FACING: EITHER
3. Sending the 5 year old to the bus ALONE and calling the neighbor MOM who also goes out on the phone to meet her
4.IF VERY LUCKY and PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE (as when there is Only ONE PROTESTING SIBLING AND NOT TWO GANGING UP, and WHEN I COULD ACTUALLY STILL PUSH THE STOLLER WITH THE BABY AND HANDLE THE TANTRUMER.... THEN trailing her with the kicking toddler (et al) in tow attached to me in protest then WATCHING from half way down the block with tantruming kids when the 5 year old boards the bus. (We have done this a number of times where Sadie just walks a half block ahead at a quick pace SO SHE MAKES THE BUS ON TIME and we watch from afar at our slower behavior ridden pace)
5. BEING LATE to SCHOOL as I can opt to wait out the tantrum, then get the kid who had an accident (as she refused to go potty when asked) into the bath before FINALLY once again rounding up the rest, once again DRESSING them as they had stripped down to almost nakedness in swim gear and were happily "SWIMMING" in the family room where they were "DIVING" off the back of the couch into the "POOL" since I HAD TO LEAVE THEM For a few moments to attend to the bath!
6. Becoming the authoritarian uberparent: It goes like this "You can cooperate and walk to the bus stop on time, OR WE WILL ALL WALK ALL THE WAY TO SCHOOL! I REFUSE TO TOLERATE THIS BEHAVIOR. IT IS SIMPLY NOT ACCEPTABLE"
NOw one day last week, I DID send Sadie out by herself when a sibling was in a full blown protesting mood and THERE WAS NO WAY We WOULD MAKE IT! I instructed her to go RIGHT TO HER FRIEND's house AS IT WAS EARLY ENOUGH FOR HER TO GET THERE IN AMPLE TIME, but the recently awakened RAITLIN was NO WHERE NEAR READY TO COOPERATE. I guess I just got too tired that day and hadn't the energy for the more often employed option of # 4 (trailing with tantruming toddler)
Now the past few weeks I COULD DO THIS as it has been EXCEPTIONALLY and UNUSUALLY WARM HERE!
So that is a change in our routine which really was a result of the girls NOT being in PRESCHOOL Which just threw off the whole routine we HAD fallen into. When the ARE in school in the morning they are up and eager and dressed and ready first thing. (AS they ALL LOVE SCHOOL! ANd since I had Katie and Raitlin going on alternate days they never are REALLY sure whose turn it is! So they get ready EVERY DAY in ANTICIPATION it might be THEIR DAY! Katie and Raitlin most definately MISS going to Preschool! I think Raitlin's poor behavior is indeed IN PROTEST and ANGER that she is not going to school right now.
Its really not that bad of a walk, but long enough that it IS A DETERRANT that is useful for KAtie and SADIE to know to take it seriously to get ready when I ask them. BUT I STILL HAVE RAITLIN, so its effectiveness is lessened over all.
I was glad therefore to feel like I was being efficient and proactive in FINALLY stopping right in at the TRANSPORTATION OFFICE to talk to someone about this. (AFTER having called a few times and not getting the person I needed and never getting a call back!) I went in to find the DIRECTOR out sick and the ASSISTANT in a meeting. I said "I'd like to wait if I may"
(I LOVE THAT LINE!! ITS MY MANTRA!! "I'll Wait" I find my unbelievable PATIENCE with a group of kids in tow really does seem to be an effective tool in getting someone to pay attention to my concerns!)
The lady called to speak to SOMEONE and find out when the ASSISTANT DIRECTOR of transportation would be available, and it luckily turned out to be only 10 minutes.
HE kindly met with me (while the girls WERE BEING VERY WELL BEHAVED! They sat quietly at a table where there were a few magazines and a TV had DAYS OF OUR LIVES ON -- not my choice for them, but it was harmless enough for the few minutes we were there. I wasn't pushy enough to change the channel THOUGH I HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO DO SO BEFORE-- but this was not a WAITING AREA but rather a sort of Lounge area for the drivers, so I didn't think that would be proper, unlike when in a car dealership waiting room INTENDED for customers!)
The assistant director found the route, found the map, went over it with me and explained what I expected to hear: That their PROCEDURE is to NOT STOP the BUS on the MAIN ROAD. Furthermore they won't stop at either of the close intersections as they want the bus to pull out at a light and there is none near my house. In fact there is a NO LEFT TURN sign at the intersection on the one street near me-- and of course the bus heads left, so to pull out there is problematic and would create a longer drive. (YOU CAN SEE THEY CARE ALOT ABOUT EFFICIENCY )
It was EXACTLY WHAT I EXPECTED.
So that denial at the first attempt at the first rung of the ladder of local school politics DID NOT SUPRISE NOR DAUNT ME. I figured this was just a start at the idea I had of addressing this issue of bus stops being IN REALITY NOT VERY FUNCTIONAL!
When I got home I thought about what the NEXT STEP Should be. I immediatly thought about how NYState Education LAW needs to be reviewed (and regretted that I THREW OUT my MOST COMPLETE files of such from my amazing but insanely prolific Education LAW professor! HE was the one who included SO MUCH reading material that most of the enrolled students dropped his courses once they got the syllabus and he was left with a handful of serious and equally insane students ready to really obsesss on this course of study! Those indeed WERE THE MOST INCREDIBLE SEMINARS!)
I wondered if there is AN OBLIGATION to provide transportation, then would it also extend that it is an obligation to ACTUALLY PROVIDE it in a TRULY FUNCIONAL MANNER?? I don't know if transportation is a PRIVALEDGE or if in NY it is indeed considered part of the RIGHT to education. If it is an obligation I would think that if a child can not be SAFELY SENT out to the bus WITHIN SITE of home that perhaps the obligation IS NOT BEING MET.
There are other mom's that also went to the stop at the beginning of the year. I had talked to them about the bus stop and how odd it seemed to me. I asked them how they had managed. ONe mom has a kindergardener who is the youngest of three girls. That mom told me that she used to put the yougest down for a nap or leave her in the playpen. This was at the BEGINNING OF THE YEAR so there WERE OTHER WOMEN there who met their OLDER kids those first few days! We also chatted about husband's and the ladies vented that their hubbys HAD NO CLUE HOW HARD IT REALLY WAS to do something that APPEARS as simple as take a kid to the busstop. That was initiated as when they talked about how they left kids home alone asleep or in front of TV, I had said "My husband would NEVER APPROVE of that! We in fact talked about the bus stop and he was ADAMENT that HE WILL NOT SUPPORT leaving the kids alone. He told me to drive her every day if I have to."
The ladies were in agreement that they had just either not bothered to DISCUSS this with their hubbys, or simply IGNORED their hubby's expectations after they had discussed itand never mentioned it to them again. The one lady just said "Oh I just don't tell him. He'll never think to even ask."
So when I was on the phone with the SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT I wanted her to hear THE TRUTH of HOW PARENT'S REALLY MANAGE with busstops that are a real hike from home for a little one WHEN THEY HAVE OTHER TODDLERS OR BABIES HOME.
I HONESTLY TOLD HER they are faced with ALL UNDESIRABLE and I actually think UNACCEPTABLE OPTIONS:
1. TAKE BABIES out in extreme cold
AND I POINTED OUT THAT I THOUGHT IT NOT A FAIR ASSUMPTION TO PRESUME THAT ALL PARENTS WOULD HAVE THE MEANS TO DRIVE DAILY.
I pointed out that if someone DOESN'T HAVE A CAR, that they are faced with options which appear to me TO ALL BE PRECARIOUS TO CHILDREN'S HEALTH AND SAFETY. I POINTED OUT A PARENT COULD BE ACCUSED OF CHILD ABUSE FOR EITHER SENDING A KID OUT ALONE, or LEAVING THEM HOME ALONE. I POINTED OUT ITS POSSIBLY DANGEROUS TO INFANTS TO BE EXPOSED TO EXTREME COLD WHICH SYRACUSE IS IN FACT KNOWN FOR! I POINTED OUT THAT THERE IS POTENTIAL HERE FOR A CHILD TO BE HARMED WHICH COULD POTENTIALLY BE AVOIDED BY RE-THINKING THE TRANSPORTATION POLICY.
I thought she was empathetic and listening. Then she asked something about HOW LONG the busses have been picking up kids who have to walk so far. I told her I had no idea, she asked in essense WHERE I heard of the parents who REALLY do those things. (THOUGH NOT IN THOSE WORDS) I told her there was at least another mother of a kindergartener with older children who discussed this so it has been a problem for at least the past few years.
(She acted like that was analagous)
So she too tried to see if she could change this, and I said in anticipation "But of course not because the bussed can't turn around and it would be a HUGE liability issue if they even ventured near someone's property- which is a risk on a narrow dead end"
And she proceeded to say how she realized she's just be walking to the corner and talked about how the family would just have to all get up a bit earlier and make it the family walk. (AS IF I needed that stupid bit of advice. I figured out then that since she missed the part about AFTERNOON KINDERGARTEN that she must have missed OTHER key elements)
But then I realized later that she likely GOT IT LOUD and CLEAR and likely REALLY HEARD and UNDERSTOOD The part of what I said about possible LEGAL OBLIGATIONS of the district.
But I knew that that call would be of no help to me.
Because at 3:45 when I went out to the bus I HAD THE PLEASURE OF WAVING TO THE NUMEROUS COPS WHO CIRCLED AROUND OUR CORNER.
I WAS SO ANGRY. I KEPT EXAGGGERATEDLY WAVING AT THEM FOR AS LONG AS THEY WERE IN SIGHT. I EVEN WALKED TOWARD ONE CAR AND CONTINUED TO WAVE (That would be the one that was acting like he WASN'T WATCHING ME) One actually smiled and waved back (likely the sharper of the few who came by who figured the call they received must have been some BULLSHIT and that I also figured out someone was playing a fucking game with me)
ITs called the game of HARD BALL.
And I am ready to play.
So now I have a new project.
IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE that is the case of "Mr Peabody's Apples" and one of the well meaning neighborhood MOM's doesn't know what my car looks like! (I have never driven to the stop before! EVEN in INCLEMENT WEATHER and the weather the past few weeks was NICE!) So maybe they didn't notice the car AS THEY CAN'T SEE IT from their vantage points which are both UP A HILL and DOWN THE PERPENDICULAR STREET from the intersection near which I park. (I also haven't parked RIGHT AT THE CORNER as it is a narrow street and should another car drive by I want them to have space to pass me so they have room to approach the corner in the right hand land and be able to stop at the stop sign. If I pulled and parked RIGHT AT THE CORNER I would be blocking the flow of traffic.
So the neighbors may have made a well meaning mistake. But like in the story by MADONNA, that ALSO makes me Upset as Sadie is indeed FRIENDS with the two little girls who are picked up and dropped off. I imagine she won't be getting any play date or party invitations though and think that really sad.
But if one of them indeed DID MAKE AN ASSUMPTION that WOULD EXPLAIN why when I RANG THE BELL TO THANK THE ONE MOM Who met SADIE the ONE TIME I DID SEND HER OUT AND HAD THE OTHER MOM MEET HER, SHE WOULDN't ANSWER THE DOOR! I thought it odd at the time, but thought maybe she was busy. I thought MAYBE she was upset that I sent my daughter and I didn't call her right away to confirm she was there like I had done previously.
Later on, after walking to the stop to pick up Sadie, I wanted to PERSONALALY THANK the mom who met Sadie when she went to school as when we were about to leave someone had an accident. The mom HAD OFFERED SOME TIME BACK TO SEND SADIE TO HER HOUSE to catch the bus there if I ever had a problem with the other girls not cooperating and being ready in time, but I hadn't had need to take her up on the offer except for on one other occassion long ago. Well when that happened last week I HADN"T BEEN ABLE TO FIND HER PHONE #. I had however been able to WATCH SADIE PASS BY THE ONE SPOT WHERE I HAVE A VIEW OF THE SIDEWALK ON THAT STREET FROM MY UPSTAIRS WINDOW !!! I ALSO THEN WATCHED THE BUS COME BY!
I was SO GLAD WHEN ONE DAY WHEN I DID DRIVE SADIE WHEN SHE WAS LATE THAT I JUST HAPPENED TO GO TO MY BATHROOM BEFORE LEAVING AND SAW THE BUS GO BY! I hadn't before realized that I can see the street from my window since it is at the top of the elevated hill and the trees have lost all their leaves! I HAD SHARED THIS EXCITING DISCOVERY with the MOM and told her it made ME MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE that I could SEE SADIE WALK to her house and SEE THE BUS, so that if we were ever running late I WOULD send SADIE to her house to get the bus.
After the mom didn't answer the door I then thought it a bad idea to send SADIE there again! I thought that ALTHOUGH SHE OFFERED, maybe the other mom found it to be an inconvienice for herself, or really WAS NOT COMFORTABLE and felt it not safe. Thus the LATENESS and me driving SADIE REPEATEDLY THIS WEEK AS THE TODDLER ANTICS CONTINUED.
SO after starting to address the transportation issue with the district, I am left with only ONE MORE POSSIBLE ACTION to address the problem from my end:
WELCOME UBER PARENT
I have once again entered the authoritarian realm! THE GOOD NEWS IS that the weather here is lovely! So if we have to take that long walk tommorrow of some day next week it will not be such an ordeal!
And today I visited the TOWN OFFICES to inquire if I could look at their law books. They do in fact have NY STATE law there. They looked confused and then admitted "WE've never had anyone request that before"
I said "Well now you have"
And they took my name and # for the TOWN CLERK TO CALL ME. I have some research to do! I was editing this and continued to go on about it all..but took too long and lost it! I guess my page EXPIRED as I was writing too long! TO UPDATE: NO FUzz to wave at today, Maybe they realized it was a waste of resources. SO we instead waited for SADIE a bit down the block (where I have been parking) so we were out of the site of the mom's on the perpendicular street. I just thought THEY DESERVE to be confused since they can't actually have the courage to try to communicate with me! SO WE WAVED to the bus driver like we do every day! (IS that passive aggressive?) I am just so disgusted that the world is such a mistrusting place that people seem to assume to worst rather than communicate and seek to find out the truth.