So whether it is justified or not (probably not), I lied a lot as a kid and especially as a teenager. I was still a very good kid - we all were - and I never chose to drink or canoodle beneath bleachers or anything (as in, drugs were so far off the radar that I didn't even think to initially list that in this sentence) but I lied through my teeth day in and day out. Lied about who was picking us up, whether a parent would be somewhere, who I was with, where we were going. Lies on top of lies. I sort of created what I thought were my own reasonable rules and operated within that context and lied just enough to make that work. Maybe my mom knew the extent of my lying but probably not.
As I type this, I just remembered one elaborate lie that is kind of funny but kind of sad. So I was dating a 15 year old boy when I was 16. North Dakota is insane and you can get your license at 14 years and 9 months (and your permit at 13 years and 9 months!) It's an old farming rule that makes zero sense when you apply to a decent sized city like Fargo (yes - decent enough - over 100,000 people these days). Anyway, my HS boyfriend got his license at 15. I wanted him to be able to drive us on dates rather than have our parents drop us off at the movies because DUH. So I pretended he was 16 to my mom for the next two months. Then when he actually turned 16 that April, I acted to my mom like I had just found that out and that I was so grossed out and horrified that he had been 15 the whole time! Ew! Gross! I did this knowing my mom would think I was being a shithead to my poor young boyfriend and therefore chose to focus on me being so judgey over age rather than focusing on the fact I had been riding with an inexperienced 15 year old driver. And thus my master plan worked. Lying for the win.
I'm wondering if I'm a sociopath right now...
Eh, teenage brains are crazytown and all teens behave sociopathic to some degree. I would also like to add that I think my mom was justified and smart in having a rule about not being driven around by 15 year olds. That does seem like a common sense safety move. But - and here's the but that the teenager in me still wants to rebel against - my mom was one of the only parents putting up a stink about that and it felt like just one more rule I had that no other kid had. Plus her rule was that a kid had to be 16 PLUS driving for several months before we could ride anywhere with them. Again, still reasonable in the bigger picture but it all just felt like so. many. rules. (And in case you are wondering, the boyfriend got grandfathered in and I was able to continue getting rides from him. Ha! Sorry, mom.)
Which brings me to the present day and to the fact that my life now involves parenting a school-aged child. Suddenly there is a lot about her life that I don't get to watch or be present for first hand anymore, for better or worse. I have always hoped that having a husband who grew up under a (perhaps inappropriately) very free-range style of parenting would help to counter my own overprotected upbringing. I hope that we can meet in the middle and keep each other from (1) overcompensating for our youths and (2) wanting to fall back to how we were raised. Like it seems like we will have a good set of checks and balances when it comes to parenting decisions. We won't provide alcohol to teens but we also won't say no to parties.
But some of this came to a head on a mini level once school started. I was down with Bella going to school but the bus? Nuh uh. Too scary. Too unknown. I wasn't going to be there with her. NOPE. She's too little. Plus the bus ride to school is over 30 minutes in the morning - way too long when I could drop her off in 10 minutes. And she is the only kid on our street to be elementary aged - that doesn't seem good to have her be the only one getting on the bus even if I am waiting at the stop with her. Plus, let us not forget the biggest reason of all - every summer there are people waving signs on street corners that say "Bus drivers needed! No experience necessary!" I DO NOT FEEL GOOD ABOUT THAT. I will do all pick-ups and drop-offs and that's that.
Two weeks in and I realize I was being an idiot. I'm juggling a lot of kids these days and I think there is a reason that I'm not seeing anyone else with two kids show up to drop-off and pick-up at the school. Plus I have a time conflict with Oliver's preschool on Fridays and unless I include the bus in the equation, Oliver was going to be late every single Friday. And so I had to go into the school office yesterday with my tail between my legs and ask them to show me where the kids get dropped off in the morning so I could show Bella how to get to her classroom. Had I just sent her on the bus to begin with she would have gotten PLENTY of practice with that (her teacher was meeting the bus kids each morning for the first several days) but nope. Mama messed up. Ooh, I hate feeling dumb and embarrassed but it seemed better just to admit my mistake right now.
So Bella took the bus this morning. Here is how she felt about that:
Once she was on the bus and I watched it drive away I felt fine, although a thought of "my baby is on that bus" hit my brain 10 minutes later and tears came to my eyes because I don't know. I love her? I don't sleep much these days? Letting go is hard? That bus driver dude is a random stranger and had no experience necessary and holy crap?
But of course I have been underestimating Bella's ability to handle something like riding the bus - even taking away from her by not letting her experience the fun of the bus - and I hated that my mom consistently underestimated my own abilities to function in the real world. I wasn't allowed to go to parties because alcohol might have been involved (unlikely seeing as I hung with the theater kids and dance kids for the most part). And if there had been alcohol, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have partaken (at least in high school). Kids need practice at life situations before they are adults. Parents need to let their kids practice even though it takes them out of their protective bubbles.
Kids growing up means that we are forced as parents to change and grow up some more ourselves. The constant re-molding and re-shaping and re-configuring of myself as a parent and as a person surprises me. Like I'm being forced to work towards self-actualization at a time when I don't have time for trying to be a better person! I have diapers to change and lunches to make and all the rest. But no matter, right now is about me learning to let go and learning how to relax my brain when it seems hard.
So I think the new plan is for her to ride the bus 1-3 mornings a week (I'm not crazy about her spending all that extra time in the morning just riding but if she likes it then that's fine) and I will drop her the other days on the way to preschool. Then I think I will have her ride the bus home every day since she will be one of the very first to be dropped off (so she will be home at the same time as if I were picking her up myself) and it means I'm not schlepping 2 little ones into and out of the school through the winter.
Look at me go! Look at her go! The whirr of the helicopter blades are a little less loud, for today at least.
And now two super super cute stories from the week.
- Bella got hurt on the playground. She bumped her head after one too many twirls around a bar so the recess teacher wanted her to visit the nurse's office. Somehow it was decided that she would be walked to the office by two of her new friends - Justin and Preston. The idea of Bella being walked by two little kindergarten boys to the nurses office is almost too adorable to handle. (And she then loooooved the attention from the nurse and laid on the cot for 20 minutes with an ice pack until no red mark remained.)
- Oliver had a poo-on-the-potty success yesterday and he was so happy and proud that he shouted it to Bella at pick-up. So we are standing in a crowd of people and Oliver is yelling "Bella! I pooped on the potty!" and Bella, knowing how hard we have been working at that, says "Oh Bubba! I'm so proud of you! That's great! Give me a hug!" and they embraced and I was giggling-snorting all by myself. Oh kids. They are awesome.