First Day of School Woes

Today Ms. Artistic stepped out of our house and into a whole new world. She entered the world of high school. Today she will meet new friends, experience new situations, and will slowly begin the cycle of leaving her nest. I watched her walk out the door, late, to her bus stop and remembered with some trepidation her first day of kindergarten only nine years ago.

I decided I was going to take Ms. Artistic to school her first day of Kindergarten. I wanted to meet the woman who would be caring for my precious little girl. I have serious trust issues, and I was being forced to trust a complete stranger with the care of my sweet child. I wasn’t ready.

I dropped her off, met the teacher who I immediately didn’t like much. She was one of those bossy, know it all types. She gave me five seconds to explain that Ms. Artistic is a special child and very sensitive to others, to keep a close eye on her. During the 5 seconds I don’t think the teacher even was paying attention.

I asked specifically about her coming home and the bus ride. At that time, we lived in the middle of road, and there was bus stops on either side. From my home I couldn’t see either bus stop. The teacher had no idea which stop Ms. A would be getting off at, and told me to ask the office.

I went into the office which was filled with parents. I waited in a long line. I just wanted to know where to wait so my little girl would see me and know that is where she is supposed to get off the bus. I finally spoke to someone who was about 75% sure Ms. A would be getting off the bus at the stop to the left of my house at the end of the street.

The time came for the bus to drop Ms. A off. I walked to the stop the office told me to go to and I waited. I waited, and I waited. This was before the land of cell phones, so one of the parents went into her house to find out what the hold up was, and was told the buses were just late.

I waited some more. I had this ball of knotted nerves that made me want to puke, imagining they put my little girl on the other bus, the one that dropped off at the other end of the street, and with me not there, she wouldn’t know to get off…but I put it out of my head. Ms. A would be on this bus and see me.

Finally the bus pulled up and a bunch of kids got off. The whole time I am looking for my baby girl… SHE WASN’T ON THE BUS!!!! The bus driver was about to close her door, and I stuck my foot in the door… I asked her if Ms. A was on her bus. She said this was her last stop and there were no other kids on the bus.

I asked her if this was her bus stop. The bus driver got my address and said that in fact, the bus stop for her was at the other end of the street. I asked her to call that bus and see if Ms. A was on that bus. She did, but that bus driver had already reported in for the day, no kids on that bus either. The bus driver started calling all the buses in the area, in search of my little 5 year old daughter. Not a single one had her on their bus.

By this time, it is getting to be about 5pm. Ms. A was supposed to be dropped off at 4:15, but the bus didn’t arrive until 4:45. With my heart in my chest, thinking the worst possible scenarios I ran home to call the school. The teachers had all gone home for the day. No one had seen my child.

Now I didn’t live in a large town, but it was a desert town with a lot of spaces between houses. All I could think of was my little 5 yr old getting off at a wrong bus stop and trying to walk home and getting lost. My next call was to the Sheriff’s department. They went on a search for my daughter.  Her dad came home from work early and took me to the school. As I am walking up to the office, here comes a janitor holding Ms. A’s hand.

Even as I write this know I have tears streaming down my face remembering how happy I was to see her. I guess that the Kindergarten teacher put all the kids in a line by alphabetical order. Ms. A has a last name which starts with a V. She was at the end. The teacher counted the students before she left and started putting them on the buses when she reached the buses. Somewhere on the march between the classroom and the buses Ms. A decided to use the restroom and not tell her teacher. When she was done she went back to the classroom and no one was there. She got scared and remembered I told her that if she ever gets lost to stay in the place she last was. She ran back to the restroom and shut herself in the stalls. She also remembered that I told her not to talk to people she didn’t know, so when the office staff went searching around the school, she didn’t answer them when they called her name.

It wasn’t until the janitor went in to clean the bathroom that he found Ms. A with tears running down her face and was taking her to the office. I have always made a point to be off work on Ms. A’s first day of school since then. Especially when she makes transitions. I want her to know that I am here, and available if anything should go wrong.

I have to say I am still tempted to put a name tag with an address on her whenever she starts a new school like today. You can believe that I would be standing at her bus stop today when she gets off the bus, except that it would cause the other kids to make fun of her. I will however be watching out my window at 2:45 and watch to make sure she gets off the bus.

That day was one of the scariest I had experienced up to that point. I know someone will read this who is about to send their child to kindergarten. If I can give you a tip to avoid what I went through, make sure your child has their NAME, ADDRESS, and PHONE NUMBER pinned on a laminated card to THEIR CLOTHES, not their backpack!!!! Also, be sure to tell your kids to ALWAYS tell the teacher when they have to use the restroom.

I didn’t press charges against the school, or more specifically the teacher. I know I could have, but I was grateful to have my daughter home and safe. I did give them an earful and worked with them on better procedures for the upcoming years which they still use today.

Yes, Ms. A is finally all grown up and off to highschool. And I am still scared about her coming home to me.