This morning, I drove the kids to the bus stop and waited in the car for the bus to show.  I do this every day I go to the office, because once the bus does come, I'm all ready and in the car and then I can just keep driving on to work.  If I don't have myself ready by the time the bus shows, I'm tempted to watch TV for another hour or eight before work and then I miss the sweet, sweet D.C. traffic window where if you leave fifteen minutes earlier or fifteen minutes later, there would be an additional forty-five minutes added onto your commuting time.  Shut up; it's true.  I know it probably doesn't make sense to those of you who don't live here, but ask anyone who does and they'll nod their head in rabid agreement.  That's the worst thing everyone will tell you about living in the Washington area: the traffic.  Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to get to work; sometimes it takes me an hour and ten to go to the same place. It depends on the weather and the day of the week and accidents on the road and if school is in session and whether Jupiter is aligned with Mars.  It's all about planning.


The girls like to get out of the car and play around with their friends at the bus stop and I kind of cramp their style so I stay in the car.  But I don't dare leave before the bus gets there because there are some days when the bus just doesn't show.  I worry what would happen if I were gone in this situation.  I'm sure the school would eventually figure it out and send another bus but I'm also pretty confident that by the time that happened, The Shortlings would have wandered off and then they'd probably just meander around the neighborhood all day, setting fires and trying to sell trash they picked up on the street for Slurpee money, and next thing you know, the truancy officer is at my door, tapping his foot and demanding an explanation. 

Do they even HAVE truant officers anymore?


I was sitting in my car a few feet away from the bus stop when I happened to look up in the rear view mirror to see The Caterpillar running back up the street in my direction, red-faced and with giant, pooling tears streaming down her face.  I got out of the car, thinking basically that some older kid had hurt her and I needed to host a smack down meeting.  I grabbed her to check for injuries while she sobbed and sobbed. 

When I finally got her to calm down I said, "What's wrong?"

"I *sob* FORGOT *sob* TO WEAR *sob* GREEEEEEEN!"


Apparently there was a St. Patrick's Day celebration planned in the Kindergarten classroom today and her teacher had told them all to wear green today since St. Patrick's Day falls on a weekend this year. 

"How about you just tell them you're part Scottish and you're morally opposed to wearing green on St. Patrick's Day," I offered.

"*sob* WHAT?? *sob*"

"Actually, you're more Polish than any one thing anyway, you know, so you don't even HAVE to participate."

Sarcasm and facetiousness didn't seem to be helping, so I checked the clock - no time to go back home - my own wardrobe - I haven't worn anything green since 1972 - and then frantically glanced around the car, where I saw a flyer printed on a neon green piece of paper some kid had thrust in my face at dance class last night.  I rummaged through the glove box and located a Swiss Army Knife that had a set of tiny, tiny scissors in it and cut this shape out:

Then I found a Band-aid at the bottom of my purse from a first aid kit that had long ago fallen apart and used the adhesive from the Band-aid to stick the green heart to her shirt.

"There you go," I said, "problem solved," and looked up to see the bus lumbering down the street. 

And you know what?  The problem WAS solved.  She went off to board the bus happy as a clam, while I sat back down in the car and wondered how this possibly could have been so easy.

She's five.  This was the biggest tragedy she could imagine in her life.  

I'm well aware that someday soon, her problems aren't going to be so easily solved. She'll have her heart broken, get her ego bruised, have her friends disappoint her.  The tragedies of her life will eventually become real, adult tragedies where there won't be an easy solution - maybe there won't be even a solution at all.  I won't be able to change her mood so drastically with some trash on the floorboards of the car and a Band-aid.

But man, right now, while I can, it sure feels good to win one for a change.