Today was the school orientation day for my rising seventh grader. He will be attending middle school for the first time. Actually he will be attending a “secondary school”. This four-thousand student beheamouth of an educational institution houses seventh through twelfth grades. Seventh and eighth graders are considered middle schoolers. My son and his neighborhood friend were going to ride the bus. It was pouring down rain as Ernesto’s remnants eased through Virginia. I sat in the minivan with them at the bus stop, waiting and waiting. When we could wait no longer without risking their being late I drove them into school. I chalked it up to a new school year transportation snafu.
The boys were going to ride the bus home. The orientation was over at 11:20 this morning so around noon with the rain still beating down I drove back to the bus stop to give them a lift home. I waited and I waited. By about 12:30 I was beginning to get a little concerned. I called the school. Whoever answered the phone in the main office asked me to call back in ten minutes while she tried to find someone who knew something about buses. When there was still no sign of the bus ten minutes later I called back. This time the woman who answered the phone became very quiet when I told her that my son had not arrived home from orientation. She then assumed that forced calm voice people use when they are trying not to induce a panic.
“Oh, the buses have all come and gone. Do you think he went to a friend’s house?” I assured her that he had not gone to a friend’s house and I had been sitting at the bus stop for forty-five minutes and no bus had dropped off any children. “Well, perhaps your son is just lost here in our hallways. I am going to page him overhead and see if he finds his way to the office.”
Okay, I had been telling myself that this was just a late bus. Now the secretary has me thinking I really do have a missing child. I am picturing my son huddled in some corner looking like he’s doing a duck-and-cover drill. Instantaneous Hail Mary’s and Guardian Angel prayers ensue. Fortunately, the secretary also gave me the number for the transportation office. A quick call reveals that this special bus route for orientation day has so many stops it is taking longer than anticipated. Panic abates. Silent prayers of gratitude are said.
Ten minutes later my son and his neighborhood pal step off the bus, smiling broadly when they see they have a ride home through the rain. I have another well-earned gray hair. Another motherly mission accomplished.