Parenthood’s secret shame even worse at end of a long year

There’s a secret shame of parenthood that nobody ever talks about. It’s when you drive your kids to the school bus instead of walking, even though the bus stop is only 500 yards away.

Yes, 500 yards is an easy distance. Add in the return trip, and it could count as your daily exercise regime.

It would be healthier to walk instead of drive, better for the environment, cost effective, and blah, blah, blah. Who cares? At 7:14 a.m. these arguments seem to mean nothing.

During the past few weeks of school, they mean even less.

At this point in the year, everyone’s hanging on by a thread. Your kids are so fried from standardized testing that they’re about to sizzle.

Ask them a question and they say, “Smarter Balanced? MSP? What? Did you say something?” They’ve got five projects to finish for school and one of them involves dressing up like Abraham Lincoln.

Parents aren’t faring much better. That’s why mornings are so terrible.

You know you’re supposed to pack lunches the night before. You had good intentions. But if you have to make one more peanut butter and jelly sandwich you’re going to stab the butter knife someplace it shouldn’t go.

You lick the knife maliciously and pack crackers instead.

Then you look up at the calendar and calculate snow days. Is there one make-up day or two? Gosh darn it, you can’t remember. You’ll have to look it up online. This feels like the school year that never ends.

You holler at the kids to brush their teeth and scramble to the car. No way are you going to walk.

When you finally arrive at the bus stop you don’t get out of your car. Turning off the ignition is good enough. You just wave goodbye to your progeny.

Of course, it would be horrible if for some reason you left your kids at the bus stop, drove off and then the bus didn’t come. So you hover in your commandeered parking spot until you see yellow.

The kids line up in their little duck row. From a distance they look innocent, but you know better.

You say a silent prayer for the school bus driver. He must be a special type of saint.

Knowing how your own kids squabble in the back seat, you can’t imagine driving 40 of them — especially that imp who jumps on the bench and sings Gangnam style in the middle of an intersection.

The school bus pulls away, and you take a deep breath. Birds are chirping. Sunshine pours in through the windows. Your fingers lose their vice grip on the steering wheel.

That’s when you finally see the light.

“Hunh,” you think. “It’s a gorgeous day outside. Maybe I should have walked.”

Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at http://teachingmybabytoread.com.

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