We have a new rule in our house – if you’re not ready to leave when it’s time to go, you take the bus. Unless you’re 7 years old. Then you just get to school late. But for the 10.5 and 12 year old? Hop on the bus, Gus.
So far, we haven’t had to put said plan into action for the older boys. But that all changed last week when my middle guy could. not. get. out. of. bed. Just couldn’t. So I left him behind. When he called me at 8:28AM and told me he was ready to take the bus, I tried my best to be casual – and find him another lift to school. But no, he was ready, he said. He knew the way, he said. He’d be taking the bus.
So we went thought the route, step-by-step.
- Right at the end of our street to the bus stop.
- Ask driver for the stop by name.
- Look out the window for the school building.
- Call from the office when you get to school.
Simple, right? And, just in case, I emailed the school asking them to let me know when he arrived.
About 45 minutes of radio silence later I called my husband to see if he’d been home and seen our kid. He hadn’t. I was getting a bit worried. He wasn’t. I called the school. They too weren’t worried and presumed B had called me on his own. I explained that he didn’t have a cel phone. Ummmm….I was getting a little clammy… They reassured me that he must be at school since he hadn’t been marked absent. I asked them for visual confirmation and to call me back.
I was now sweating.
My phone rang from an unknown number a few minutes later. Sure enough, it was my boy, sobbing hysterically.
“Mommy!!! I’m lost” he wailed.
“Lost?? Where are you? Whose phone is this?” I demanded.
“I’m at a Starbucks. At Yonge and Lawrence”.
“Mommy’s coming!”I yelled, turning into Wonder Woman in my mind and hopping into my invisible plane/visible SUV.
For those local, let me explain:he was supposed to go a handful of stops down Bathurst. But was calling me from Yonge and Lawrence. This was not on the route. Not even close.
I sped over to pick him up, heart racing nearly as fast as my wheels. I parked illegally and ran into Starbucks. There he was, drinking a glass of water. He told me the baristas had been so nice – offering him cake pops and hot chocolate. When I went over to thank them, however, they glared at me as though I was the worst parent on the planet. “Guess that experiment didn’t work?” I joked, lamely. They were having none of it. Just judgey McJudging me and my parenting. I grabbed my child and slunk away under their icy stares.
As we drove back to school, B explained that he did, indeed get on the bus. And when he asked the driver for his stop, the man told him he’d “never heard of it”. And it all went south – and east – from there. You see, we’d forgotten that there was more than one bus! And the driver didn’t think to mention that to this 10 year old either. So as the bus turned left unexpectedly (for him), my son figured they were on a detour. And when they passed a local hockey arena, he figured he wasn’t that far off. But as it continued to chug along (down Chaplin, locals), he knew something was very, very wrong.
The bus pulled into the final stop: Davisville subway station. B piled off with the rest of the passengers. Most headed into the depths of the subway. Luckily, B did not. He spotted the Yonge Street sign and started started walking. And walking. And walking. Walking north, on the longest street in the world.
Rather than ask a stranger to use their phone (“they all looked like robbers”), he figured he’d find a safe place. Like a bank. And when he couldn’t find our bank, he went for second best: Starbucks. Not noticing the handful of Starbucks on the opposite side of the street, my boy walked from 2.1km. From Yonge and Davisville to Yonge and Craighurst. That’s the one across from Sporting Life, friends. A long, long walk away.
Every time I retell the story I get a little sweaty, share a bit of nervous laughter. But mostly I am grateful for what we all learned:
- No, he didn’t need a cel phone (or cash) because he figured it out.
- He’ll never be late again.
- He was way more resilient and street smart than we had pegged him.
- My guy really found himself by getting lost….