Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bus driver saga conclusion (I hope)

Last week was bad. I made several phone calls to the transportation office, including about the incident last Monday. Both Chris and I tweeted to the school corporation, asking if there was anything we could do short of just giving up and driving our son to school.

Wednesday the school district tweeted back with information on who to call to go a step further. So I did.

I talked to the Director of School and Community Services, who listened to our issue and seemed to understand what the actual problem was. She was going to pass all the information to the Director of Transportation, who was supposed to call me back.

The Director of Transportation resigned Thursday. I was not feeling hopeful at that point. Chris came home a little early Thursday to do the after school pick-up (he had to come home to get the car anyway, just timing it for around 4).

The reduction in stress Thursday compared to every other day that week was incredible. I wasn't exhausted and blue at bedtime. I knew the bus hassle was causing me stress but to see it so starkly.....

Friday morning dawned. Eight o'clock, just before bus time, the phone rang. Now, I probably would have ignored it (since it wasn't either of our parents), but I recognized a school district phone number (yeah, it's bad when you've called so much you know their phone numbers).

The Director of Building Operations, who the Transportation Director reports to, was calling. We spoke for a few minutes. He told me he had talked to the driver and agreed that she had no grounds to tell parents what to do with their children. I reiterated my main issues: that she wasn't respecting my authority as the parent, that her claims of being worried about safety were bogus (my kids were safe), and that I felt she was specifically targeting us (she has always seemed paranoid, but I point to a single incident in September where Sam was chasing in the yard, not in the street, and she yelled at him and me but not at the other kid involved or his mother).

I was at TEDxBloomington all day Friday, so I found out when I got home that evening that she changed the route slightly, coming down the other street and actually stopping at the intersection rather than at our neighbors' driveway (about 20' from the intersection). And then Monday the new pattern repeated both in the morning and afternoon. And again today.

I'm pretty sure the change is because of my phone calls. I'm kind of glad. The other mom at the bus stop and I had tried earlier in the year to wait at the stop sign, but the driver insisted on stopping at the driveway. Now we aren't bothering the neighbors by being on their driveway. They've always been very nice about it, but there's no reason to inconvenience them.

Also, if the driver was so concerned about safety, the littlest kids no longer have to cross the street. In fact, instead of 5 kids needing to cross a street with extremely little traffic, only 1 kid does, and she is a 6th grader.

I haven't had to talk to the driver. She hasn't yelled or made comments. She pulls up, stops, lets the kids on or off, continues on her way. This is what it should have been like all along.

I feel so much better this week, not dreading every afternoon. I hope this is the conclusion.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The bus driver saga continues

Our troubles with the school bus driver continue to plague us. I wrote about an incident earlier in the year. I've tweeted about this topic a lot.

Things cooled down over the winter when Sam mostly didn't want to come to the bus stop. But now the weather is improving. He wants to come with me on a sunny day. He runs laps up and down the neighbor's driveway (where our bus stop is). When the bus comes, he stops running and stands with me, eager to see Wil.

And the bus driver can't handle it.

"Hold his hand!"
"He's fine. He's standing right here."
"You hold his hand or I'm calling the police."
"Why? He's not running in the street."
"I'm not leaving while he's there. You take those boys home."

So I left the bus stop with the boys. And immediately called the transportation office. A threat to call the police was uncalled for. She stepped over the line. Frankly, I should have insisted she call them and let them laugh at her.

I know the bus driver is in charge of the kids on her bus. But 1) Sam wasn't on her bus, 2) he was with his parent, and 3) he was on the driveway, not in the street.

Today, Sam came to the bus stop again. When we heard the bus, he came and stood right next to me. She stopped the bus before the driveway, urging the kids off with the admonition to "go right to your mommies." Because they don't know this already?

Wil had a good day at school and wanted to tell me about it. So I leaned over to listen to him, Sam still standing slightly behind me.

Honk honk!

Yep, she honked the horn and insisted that she wouldn't leave until we did. So we left. And I called the transportation office again.

I spoke to the same woman I had talked to yesterday. She said she spoke to the driver and told her she couldn't insist he hold my hand if he was on the driveway. Apparently that hasn't done much to help.

So now we are stuck with seeing if things improve or driving Wil every day. Driving him is a huge inconvenience and adds to the traffic at the school. I really don't want to have to do that. We get bus service and should be able to use it.

I did find out that drivers might get new routes next year. I'm not sure how that works - if they choose or are assigned - but it's possible we might get a new driver. Our current one has been on this route for 6 years.

The situation is rapidly becoming untenable. Something needs to change. I won't treat my kids like infants to assuage the driver's paranoia. Last fall I tried having Sam stand very still on a line farther back from the street, but the look on his face, wondering what he was being punished for, is enough to remind me that he did nothing wrong and that she needs to respect my parental authority.

In the meantime, the next two months are likely to be hell every afternoon as we enact this same drama every day.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Please stop knocking

Six and a half years ago, when I was about seven month pregnant with my first son, I spent a night in insomnia hell. As any woman who has been pregnant knows, at that point sleep is not easy to begin with. Add a song that just won't stop playing in your head.... Well, here's the story.

September 2006
10 weeks until baby
I wake after a (very) few hours of sleep with "Knock Three Times" stuck in my head.
I can't fall back to sleep because it just keeps playing: "Knock three times on the ceiling if you wanna dance. Twice on the pipe means the answer is no."
Hours later... The song is finally out of my head. Unfortunately, it has been replaced by "Tie a Yellow Ribbon." Damn you Tony Orlando and Dawn.
I did eventually fall back to sleep, but I was exhausted.

Every time I hear those songs, I remember that sleepless night.