My assignment: Get the kids on the bus.

How hard could it be?

On the second day of school my wife was volunteering with kindergarten orientation – leaving dad in charge of making sure our second grader and fifth grader had their breakfasts eaten; teeth brushed; mouths wiped; hair combed; water bottles filled; backpacks packed and on their backs; and directed out the door to the bus stop three houses away precisely at 8:43 a.m.

My mental checklist for the kids was checked and completed – I thought. Getting ready for work myself, I was going through my own mental get-ready-for-work checklist: breakfast eaten; dishes carried to the sink; dog taken outside – then brought back in and put in his crate; teeth brushed; mouthwash swished; face washed and shaved; deodorant rolled on (under both arms); contacts rinsed and inserted; hair combed; watch, wallet and belt placed.

Coming down the steps I thought: How hard is it getting the kids on the bus?

At 8:36 a.m. I enter the family room to see the kids practicing their newest Last Airbender moves – resulting in their freshly combed hair being displaced with every Airbender kick. They were also enjoying a post-breakfast snack that was leaving not only crumbs on the floor but also on their shirts and mouths; the dog was running back and forth between them looking nervous (I did put him outside, didn’t I?); chocolate milk that had been accidently tipped over (you guessed it – an Airbender move) was dripping off the table; and the boys’ clean white socks were becoming not so white with every moment.

At that instant everything went silent, as upon seeing dad entering the room at 8:36:25 a.m. the kids somehow stopped in mid-Airbender flight looked as nervous as the aforementioned dog (I did put him outside, didn’t I?).  In my mind, everything also grew silent as I zeroed in not on the Airbender moves, the disheveled hair, the crumbs, the pacing dog, the dripping chocolate milk, but the white socks.

My mental get-the-kids-ready-for-the-bus-stop checklist was incomplete and unchecked. I forgot about making sure the kids had their shoes on; blame it on a summer of not wearing shoes (and if they did they were crocs) and this usually isn’t dad’s gig. A loudly placed reminder of: “Get your shoes on. The bus is coming!” (Maybe I said it with two exclamation points) was enough for the fifth grader. My younger son jumped to it too, only to stop in mid flight. But this time it wasn’t an Airbender move, it was the reality that he hadn’t mastered shoe tying.
My mind was silent at 8:39 a.m. – less than four minutes from the bus pulling up to the curb three houses away.

It was my fault (not Airbender) that my youngest son stood in the middle of the family room in untied high tops. For two years he has wanted to learn to tie his shoes – not to mention learn how to ice skate and play hockey. For two years I’ve been putting off the teaching of the bunny-ears method. The bunny, along with the nervous pacing dog was coming back to bite me on the backside at 8:41 a.m. on the second day of school. On this morning I quickly tied his shoes, promising to teach him what he has patiently asked for two years to learn.

To conclude, the kids safely got on the bus – on time. I had the nerve to wonder to myself: How hard is it getting the kids on the bus? However, as I raced to my car to get to work I had to turn around to get my cell phone – and to make sure the dog was in the crate.

At this writing, I’m proud to say our second grader has mastered his shoe tying, and at least for the first weeks of school has made it to the bus stop by 8:43 a.m.

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