The Really? That Happened? Personal Aside and Back to School Nightmares, Share Yours

Heather says:

Yesterday I stood at my children’s bus stop for over an hour, eagerly waiting for their bus to drop them off. I was excited to hear about their first day.  Dripping sweat and with my phone battery dying I paced at the edge of the road, out in the sun.

Finally there was the bus.

There were a few kids, but I was confused because my children were. not. there.

The bus driver noted my obvious concern and distress and asked, “What bus are you waiting for?”

I told her.

She said, “That’s not this bus, that’s an entirely different route.” (For clarity: I had obtained the information from the school’s website.)

Controlling my panic, I asked the bus driver how I should locate my children (who have now been misplaced for well over an hour) and I immediately followed her recommendation to go to the school.

I showed up at the school, jumped out of the car, and went into the office which had the usual chaos of first day confusion (remember this is my first experience as a parent with kids in school).

My children were located, I was told to go home to wait, and that the other bus would drop them off at our house. This finally happened, a little over 2 hours after the children had been dismissed. Remember unairconditioned buses, in August, in the Lowcountry of SC?  The bus driver was kind and told me I should have gotten the information from the Open House. I let him know that I had attended and stood in the long bus line, only to be told, by a school employee, to get the information from the website. At that point he was irritated, too.

Naturally I called the bus office the moment they opened and I’m sitting here waiting on that return call. . . The bus driver who finally brought my kids home to me also let me know that I could request a more convenient stop, since the closest is more than 0.4 miles from our house. (The neighbor child’s mother and I are both quite relieved as the closest stop was on a highway that includes a walk on a busy road with no sidewalk and two blind corners. Yay rural life).

That phone better ring soon.

While I wait, and breathe, and try to remember it’s not the person I’ll be speaking to’s fault, entertain me with your back-to-school nightmares.


  1. speth11 on August 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    in high school a couple months before I was supposed to get my license we went to the “bus desk” to check the route because they had changed it on us every year, they had a hilighted section where if you lived in that section you could ride the bus, there was 1 street that was blacked out and guess which one it was? Mine, which also had 5 other kids who rode the bus. My mom pointed out that there were streets much closer that were allowed to ride the bus but the secretaries told her that no those streets were further away… Um anyone who has the gift of sight can see thats not true. Turns out they had budget cuts so they cut the street with the most kids and we all had to ride the public transportation bus. Lucky for us though it dropped off much closer than the school bus.

  2. bookchick on August 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I had a few miss communications with my mom over the years.  I stayed at the school once because it was raining (mom picked me up in bad weather) but it wasn’t raining where she was, so she got home and I wasn’t there.  Major panic.My coworker went to ‘meet the teachers’ night yesterday and discovered that her children (who start school on Monday) could not be dropped off at the daycare becasue she hadn’t filled out a form.  Which had to be turned in, in person, at the school by 4:30 today.  The school opens at 8.  We work from 7-5.  She called the principal and told her that she completed a form last year that they would be picked upat the house and dropped off at day care, and was told that the school doesn’t communicate with the transportation office.  So she got a hold of the manager at the transpo office and after some yelling and threatning, managed to get the situation straightened out.  What shocked both of us, is that her school district will let 1-12 graders off even if no one is home.  So if she hadn’t gone last night, her 6 year old twins would have been left at an empty house for about 5 hours on Monday!

  3. JoyceK on August 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve heard many school bus horror stories but have none of my own. Our school district did not provide bus service. The kids walked, rode bikes, or were dropped off by parents. Mostly the latter. Organizing car pools at the beginning of each year was a way of life.

  4. LeeH on August 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I’m so glad those days are over. One time a bus driver did not stop at my child’s stop, then at the end of his route he made everyone get off. So my daughter and a friend (5th grade) played mother hen and got all the younger kids home safe by walking them through an apartment complex and across a busy street. Yes, I was at the school in the morning to discuss it.

  5. Charlene on August 22, 2012 at 8:17 am

    How awful for you!  Another example (of far too many to list) of the complete breakdown of public education.  Whenever I hear of another catastrophe I say to myself, “What did you expect from the government?  Competence?”  Thank goodness my children are adults but even when they were young, when I looked at the possibility of sending them to public schools and researched our options I immedidately wrote off even the better/best public schools in our very-urban city.  Considering the amount we pay to educate each child we’re not getting our money’s worth.  It’s no wonder there’s such support for vouchers, home schooling, etc.   

  6. Charlene on August 22, 2012 at 8:17 am

    How awful for you!  Another example (of far too many to list) of the complete breakdown of public education.  Whenever I hear of another catastrophe I say to myself, “What did you expect from the government?  Competence?”  Thank goodness my children are adults but even when they were young, when I looked at the possibility of sending them to public schools and researched our options I immedidately wrote off even the better/best public schools in our very-urban city.  Considering the amount we pay to educate each child we’re not getting our money’s worth.  It’s no wonder there’s such support for vouchers, home schooling, etc.   

  7. Shari on August 22, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I’m so glad your kiddos are ok, Heather! What a scary start. My kids usually walk home from school unless I pick them up due to bad weather. I usually meet them on the corner near the school where there is a crossing guard and we walk the rest of the way together. Well once I was waiting with Conrad the crossing guard, who is in his late 70’s and knows every child by name. Impressive. Anyway we waited for my son and he never came. I asked Conrad to ask my son to wait for me if he showed up while I ran home to check to see if we had somehow missed him. Well there he was in the back yard playing. Apparently Conrad and I were so busy talking with a few other parents that my little guy snuck past us in a big mass of kids. I was so relieved! I called Conrad’s cell and he was relieved too. He said he was about to call the police!

  8. amyeaustin on August 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    My best friend put her oldest son on the school bus last year for Kindergarten.  When the bus arrived at her home, he wasn’t on it.  Her school handled it MUCH better than yours did – the driver got on the radio and called the school/dispatch, told them the problem, got people looking for him immediately while my friend was standing right there.  (No waiting to get to school to start the process).  Turns out that his teacher put him on the wrong bus, but he was fine.  The other driver returned him to the school, where his mom met him, and all was well.  Sounds like your school needs to update their process for informing parents of the bus schedule AND for locating lost children!I’m sure your heart was in your throat the whole time, but all’s well that ends well, right?

  9. KeterMagick on August 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Every year my son was in school, there was at least one day when he went missing, when I got the call that he wasn’t in class when he was, and a couple of times I was called to pick him up from school because he had gottn sick…but the call should have gone to someone else’s parents and that poor kid was left stuck at school, sick, while the cycle had to start over, and I had to eat a day of personal leave for no good reason.  And then there was the time he, apparently picked at random, was beaten up by four other boys and all the school did was send a note home saying the boys who did the beating had been removed from the school (from the finality of the tone, it sounded like the school knew these boys were violent and should not have been in the school to begin with).   Never mind that my son had a split lip, a loose tooth, broken glasses, and an purple egg on his forehead and should have seen a doctor immediately…he was left to finish out the day with blood on his clothes and then walk home on his own as usual.  No call was even attempted to let me know what had happened, and my son said he asked to call me and was told no.Because schools are places where education is supposedly dispensed, it makes sense for new-to-school parents to expect administrative and teaching competency.  Because schools are supposed to be safe, nurturing places for children to mature into dependable adults, it is tempting to assume that one will be dealing with mature, dependable adults who care about children.  The sad truth is that schools are government institutions, as plagued by incompetence and people who are only there marking time as any other government institution.  It really will help if you start thinking about the school as you would any other government office.  This sums it up nicely: ” If public education were subject to the
    competition of the free market, those bureaucratic rules would be
    unnecessary, because parents would hold a bad principal accountable
    by sending their kids to a different school the next year. But
    government schools never go out of business, and parents’ ability
    to change schools is sharply curtailed. So the education monopoly
    adopts paralyzing rules instead.”

  10. cherieamb on August 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    horrible horrible horrible!  I’m so sorry for your stress!My nightmare to share:  Kindergarten – first few weeks I guess?  I send my eldest in with her father [because the bus keeps forgetting to stop at my house, even when my child is ON it AND there’s a stop sign there!] who drops her off and goes to work.An hour later as I sit home with my two younger kids the school nurse calls to find out why she isn’t in class, is she sick? WHAT?!?!?!?!??!!?!Yeah – nice.  She was there – she was obviously a few minutes late and hadn’t been asked to stop for a late pass despite the attentance already having been sent down.  I lost several years of my life while they checked if she was there1

  11. carelessriver on August 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    First day of eighth grade: aside from the ginormous pair of black jeans (a “what was I thinking?!” moment in itself), I had an inconvenient attack of IBS and had to go home. Ugh. Being the kid to walk out of class on the first day is dead embarrassing.

  12. flickik on August 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Ack! How scary for you! My 3yo (now 11) rode the bus to her preschool program.  The first time there was a sub. driver, I called the bus office to make sure the driver was legit.  I thought maybe someone hijacked the bus and was going to kidnap the kids. The woman on the other end laughed hysterically, then told me everything was ok.This Spring, my 4yo son hid from the bus driver. The driver returned to school, informed the teachers and principal that a child was missing. They searched high and low for him for 10 minutes. Finally, just as they were about to call the police, the principal checked the bus one last time. They found Z hiding behind the seat at the very back of the bus.  Now he has a permanent seat in the front, where the driver can see him at all times.

  13. uscdiva on August 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    My daughter was a car rider for elementary school. She was so looking forward to riding the bus for middle school. Except that on the first day of school, they had more routes than bus drivers, which meant that bus drivers had to cover multiple routes. Which meant that many kids were late for school. But not mine because I ended up driving her to school when I realized that the bus would not arrive in time. I was assured by the school staff that things would be fine by that afternoon, so I instructed my daughter to ride the bus home. She was to get home by 3:15. School got out at 2:30. My daughter (and all the other neighborhood middle schoolers) got home at 5:30. To say that there were some livid parents is an UNDERSTATEMENT. My daughter was hot, tired, and starving by the time she got home, but no worse for the wear. She thought it was a great adventure. I never truly panicked because her father and I had decided to give her a cell phone that summer in anticipation of snafus like that. Still, I was not a happy camper. 

  14. Heather on August 21, 2012 at 11:47 am

    This is more embarrassing than frightening. When we went to meet the teacher a couple days before school started, my son who was going into kindergarten, wasn’t on the list. He was so excited to finally be going to the “big school” and was devastated. After finding a secretary who kindly looked into it (the office was closed because they were all helping with Back to School night), I realized I had forgotten to register him for school! I quickly filled in the paperwork with a bright red face. I felt so embarrassed when people asked who his teacher was and I had to admit I forgot to register him. Poor kid didn’t find out until the first day and I feel terrible for the extra work I made for the teacher.

  15. AngEngland on August 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

    This is something that happened to me as a child in second grade. My mother had to go to the hospital with my sister who had slammed (crushed) her finger in the sliding glass door so she called the school and told them to have me walk myself home and to walk with a neighbor child, Ramona, who lived a couple houses down from us. She told them to instruct me to walk with Ramona as far as I could and then go to my house. The school? The school told me “Go home with Ramona.” So I went home with Ramona. Who had moved a month and a half ago. So my mom gets home and I’m not there. Panicked phone calls ensue. It took 30 minutes of hysteria for the school to give my mom Ramona’s address….the old one. Because even though Ramona’s mom had given them the new address three – count them THREE times – in the last month and a half the school was too incompentent to actually put the new address in Ramona’s file. Finally about dinner time I figured my mom didn’t know where I was and called. My poor mom. 

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