Parenting Blog

On A Bus To Baltimore

California.

England.

Mexico.

I’ve been a good distance from her, but that’s different of course.

Regardless of where I was, who I was with or how little sleep I was getting while there, I knew the kid was at home or at school. I knew that she was safe. And so I didn’t worry about a thing save for my phone’s battery life and my questionable decision to eat that chocolatey thing after 9pm.

Right now my first born child is bouncing up and down on a green vinyl seat, wearing middle school maroon, carrying a leather Vespa wallet we found in Vatican City last year, with a few dollars in cash and her rainbow flag debit card, tucked inside a black Carnival Cruise shoulder bag along with a library book and phone, as she makes a two hour trek south to Baltimore Maryland inside a sunshine yellow bus with two bold black horizontal lines running the length of its cabin.

In a reversal of fortunes, I’m at home today, safe, sound and not freaking out at all, or at least not nearly as much as I’d have guessed if I’d taken a moment years ago to envision this very morning.

But why? Why am I not crying, shaking, rushing to share wine memes as means of coping with my baby girl going off on an adventure that I am not involved with or in any control of?

It isn’t a blind trust in teachers, bus drivers, or of other cars and trucks and tractor trailers headed southbound on I-95 in the pouring rain this morning, or those that’ll make the reverse trip with them later on this afternoon. I have trust issues.

It’s certainly not a foolish belief that all people in the fine city of Baltimore today are pure of heart. I have people issues.

I think the reason I am not worried or freaked out or sharing wine memes to cope with my baby being the farthest away from me here at home that she’s ever been is that I have made peace with the reality that her being away from me, from home, some 2 hours, 6, an overnight flight, and so on are part of the arrangement. That’s how this has to work. I don’t have an issue with that. 

Children will roam.

On chaperoned school field trips to Baltimore, with friends in a beat up 1st car to the beach in summer, semester’s abroad, for a lover, for a job, to find themselves, to find happiness.

Children must roam.

Parents must let them.

On a bus to baltimore school field trip

Last night, before the field trip to Baltimore, with her cat and a book.

The kitchen was lit by just a single nightlight, the one plugged in beside the stove. It’s the last one standing from the four I’d purchased over the years featuring original artwork made at school by my two daughters when they were little.

The big kid had finally gone to bed, later than we’d have liked considering this morning’s firm drop off time to make it onto the sunshine yellow school bus destined for Baltimore. I was in the kitchen pacing from counter to cabinet, then standing on the cushioned mat meant to help with joint pain.

I looked down at the food I’d gathered, counting the hours she’d be away. I was making sure she’d have enough to eat and deciding on that perfect extra snack that would survive time spent on a warm bus, a little something more to satisfy her on the 2 hour drive back to school after a long day of walking around the aquarium and the inner harbor.

I wrote her full name in tall skinny letters, as I do, on a brown bag with sturdy handles I’d saved for this occasion from some purchase I had made recently. I knew she’d think the lettering was cool and funny. She always does.

I slide in the equally tall and skinny Fiji water bottle I picked up at the weekend, because it has been and remains her favorite kind of disposable water bottle for school field trips. I think to myself that I’m glad I remembered that when I ran into a convenience store while getting gas.

This how I cope.

I organize.

I make sure favorite water bottles are bought and chilled.

I make sure favorite socks are clean.

I write her name in way that’ll make her smile.

I remember to email her the login info to her mom’s Shutterfly account because she wants to look at old photos of herself and her sister while bouncing up and down on the bus. She’ll probably screenshot, crop and share some on her Instagram account.

It’ll be nice to watch them emerge in my feed.

I think about what I can do to make her life easier, happier. Her belly, full.

I take burdens off those I love so they might be unencumbered, more ready for new experiences to affect them with clear minds, open hearts and energized bodies.

She’s been raised right. She’s smart, kind, observant and that’s what I had some semblance of control over. The rest of it — the other cars, trucks, people — that’s just a math equation, the answer of which I know is in our favor.

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joc