It was my 10-year-old son’s first day of ski school on a cold, blustery day in Minnesota. I wasn’t sure if I was going to send him that day because they were headed to a ski hill that was about an hour away, and we were scheduled to get a bunch of snow so I was worried about the drive home. But after finding out that a few of his buddies were going, my son decided that he really wanted to go. So, we hurriedly layered him up, packed his ski bag, threw together a quick brown bag lunch, and headed out to catch the bus.
Pulling into the designated pick-up spot—a parking lot at a nearby shopping mall—I saw no sign of the bus nor any other cars waiting for a bus. I frantically called another mom who told me that her husband had taken their son and that she thought the bus was on the west side of the mall. I was on the east side. It was 8:01 a.m. The bus was scheduled to depart promptly at 8:00. I drove like a madwoman to the other side of the mall and caught sight of a school bus pulling a trailer behind it (presumably containing ski equipment) exiting the mall parking lot and heading toward the freeway. “SHHHIIITTTT!!!!!” I said in my very outside, non-mommy voice. “Mom,” my son whispered. “Did I miss the bus?” “NO,” I retorted as I screeched out of the parking lot, hell-bent on catching that bus.
“Mom,” said my sweet son, who could sense that I was about to do something crazy, “It’s okay, we can just go home.” “No honey, you are going skiing today,"I said. "You want to go with your friends, we've paid for it, and you are going.” “Are you going to drive me all the way to the ski hill,” he asked tentatively. “Nope, you are taking the bus there,” I said trying to not let him know that my heart was just about to jump outside of my body as I prepared myself for the bus chase. “But, mom….” “Honey, I got this, just sit tight.” And we were off! I raced out of the parking lot and got onto the highway on-ramp. The bus was in sight. Trying not to kill my son and myself, I accelerated a lot but resisted pushing the pedal completely to the metal. I maneuvered my car into the lane directly to the left of the bus. My son sat motionless and speechless with the oh-no-she-is-not-possibly-doing-what-I-think-she-might-be-doing look on his face.
There was no way that I was going to drive an hour and a half each way to get this kid to ski school today, but there was also no way that he was not going to go. One small problem, what to do about the bus that I needed to get my kid on but was traveling at 55 miles an hour on the freeway? As I cozied up right along side the bus, I had a direct view of the bus driver. I honked. I honked again. And a third time. She finally glanced over and I caught her eyes. She looked at me with a puzzled look as I pointed frantically to my son in the back seat. She looked at me again with the same perplexed look. I motioned for her to pull over with my right hand. She looked at me in a different way, a way that said, “Are you out of your frick’n mind?” I nodded and mouthed the word, “Please?”
Next thing I knew, the bus was exiting the highway. I quickly followed suit and pulled up behind the bus where it was slowing to a stop on the right hand shoulder of a frontage road. “Mom,” squeaked my son from the back seat, “I can’t get on that bus. This is the most embarrassing thing ever!” “Oh, but you can, honey. I’m sure your buddies are thinking how cool it is that the bus pulled over for you!” He slowly got out of my car with a terrified look on his face. Quickly grabbing my son's ski stuff from the trunk, my son and I approached the bus driver. “M’am, that was not very safe,” she said to me with an agitated . “I know but I can’t thank you enough for stopping,” I said quickly so she wouldn't change her mind, as I gently pushed my mortifed son forward so he would climb the stairs to the bus. Briskly walking back to my car, I saw his buddies stand up to greet him and give him high-fives.
It took me several hours and countless deep breaths before I could even tell this story to my husband who just shook his head in disbelief. And it took me more that a year to write it down.
The absolutely insane, unimaginable, outlandish things we do for our kids...