We had to wake her up. She was still sleeping when 6:30am rolled around. We opened the door to her room and in the three of us traipsed. The boy climbed up beside her into her bed and called her name. Where is she going today? we asked him while we tried hard to wake her. School! he said.
Dressed and finished eating breakfast, we all headed out the door. Her new shoes were on her feet. Her new backpack was on her back. I made her stand on the front porch and took picture after picture. She even let her brother stand beside her. Some of the time.
We were at the bus stop early, so afraid were we of being late. She watched for the bus while trying to keep warm. It is cold at 7:30am on a September morning. It is only going to get colder.
Before the bus arrived our neighbours showed up. An older girl, a Third Grader!, said she would look after my girl. They would sit beside each other on the bus. She would show my girl where to go once they got to the school. The youngest of three, I couldn't help but notice a slightly smug smile on the face of the third grader. She was the one with all the experience now.
Finally the bus arrived. The girl walked straight for the open door of the long yellow bus. I called to the bus driver and introduced the girl. The husband called too, mentioning the grade and school the girl was going to. Just in case. Just to make sure the girl was expected.
I quickly called the girl to me for a kiss and then she was up the stairs, no looking back. I waited for the door to close and the bus to pull away. Instead it sat there. I could see the girl standing in the aisle, looking around. The husband and I resisted the urge to rush in and find out what was wrong. We stood watching. When our third grade friend had finally managed to move kids around enough so that she and the girl could have a seat to themselves, the door closed and they were gone.
No tears from me. I felt pride. I felt awe. I wondered what she would do and who she would be with. But no tears. At least not from me.
The boy cried. He cried and cried. Tears streaked his face. He howled after the bus left, so overcome with sorrow that he wasn't on it. Me bus! he yelled. Into the house we went, me still clutching a crying child. Distractions were found. Snacks were supplied. He calmed down.
Until I uploaded and watched the video I took of her getting on the bus. Then the tears were back. Bus! he wailed. When you are four, I said. When you are four you can take the bus. Those words are cold comfort to a two year old.
And so the morning passed.
It was a strange morning. Strange for it to be just the two of us again after the girl was home from preschool all summer. Strange not to have her with me as we walked the aisles of the grocery store. Strange that the boy fell asleep on our walk to the park and spent the next hour sleeping in his stroller while I sat beside him in a coffee shop staring off into space.
I was early for the school bus drop off. The boy and I sat for a long time waiting for the bus. It caused some halfhearted howls from him, but they were weaker then the ones earlier that morning. I think he was anxious to see his sister.
When a small school bus, a bus I had earlier seen drive down the street at the end of the road where I was waiting, stopped at the corner I panicked and ran towards it. I almost left the boy where he sat, but remembered to grab the stroller at the last minute. The driver had some words for me but I am new to this I said and didn't realize that the bus had a different drop off and pick up spot. And really, it didn't matter. Because here she was walking off the bus.