Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Adventures with the Bus Stop Gang
School started this week, and we’re dealing with extremes in the household.
My fourth-grader can’t understand why summer break is so long, and the ninth-grader labeled Tuesday as "Day of Doom" on his wall calendar.
I’m just grateful we no longer carry the dreaded responsibility known as "bus stop house."
We were unaware of what this entailed when we bought our home back in 1999. I looked out one morning and saw half the neighborhood standing on my front lawn.
I learned there were all sorts of unspoken responsibilities, like opening the garage door on rainy days so they could wait inside and touch all my stuff. I hated rainy days.
I was working nights at the time, and my youngest had not yet started pre-school. So it was a good morning when I could send Andrew off the school without waking the little one, then crawl back into bed.
There were not many good mornings, especially after two girls known as "The Screechers" starting showing up. These pre-teen she-devils were sisters, and showed up early each morning, no doubt pushed out the door by their long-suffering parents. They were loud, annoying and loud some more.
When I was young, we pretty much stood on the corner and talked until the bus arrived. But these kids considered this time to be a second recess period, playing tag and other loud games before someone would yell "bus!!!" and they’d all rush back to the driveway and form a line.
There were several mornings when I’d go out there, round up the "Bus Stop Gang" and lay down some rules about staying off my porch during the games, usually to be taunted by the Screechers who maintained that they didn’t have to do anything I told them.
One morning stood above all others.
It was Bring a Reading Buddy to School Day, where the kids could cart a stuffed animal off to class and allegedly keep it in their lap as they read out loud.
This kept the Bus Stop Gang unusually quiet, though I noticed the younger of the Screechers kept throwing her stuffed bear into the air and catching it. I thought that was odd, but at least it was quiet.
I sent Andrew out the door and crawled back into bed, joyfully anticipating another hour or two of sleep.
Then I heard the most blood-curdling scream ever, followed by the front door banging open and Andrew yelling, "Dad! Dad! Come quick."
A million thoughts raced through my head as I ran down the stairs and toward the door. Surely something horrible happened, like one of the kids getting hit by a car.
I walked out to see the younger Screecher hysterical, with the older one attempting to console her and every other kid pointing up. There didn’t appear to be any blood.
But I walked out on the lawn and saw what they were pointing at — the stuffed bear was on the roof.
"You gotta get it!" the kids were saying as the girl sobbed.
I dragged my ladder out, and it only lifted me about eye-level with the gutter, bear well out of reach. I went back into the garage and came back with my hockey stick, and again the stinking bear was too far away.
We were only in the house a couple months at this point and had not had a reason to go on the roof. Thinking for a moment over the din of the scream-crying, I thought I might have a shot if I put the ladder on top of the picnic table on the deck in the back yard.
Sure enough, that made it pretty easy to climb up and walk up and over the peak and grab the bear as the school bus pulled into view.
The driver waited as I tossed the bear down to the girl and she ran up the steps of the bus.
That weekend I ran into one of the neighbors.
"Dave, I just have to ask. I saw you when I was leaving for work the other day. Why were you on the roof in your pajamas?"
Needless to say, we had new rules for the Bus Stop Gang.