Sunday, September 07, 2014

The bus stops for thee

“I can’t talk about it right now,” my wife Kara said, and just like that, the list of verboten topics in our household grew by one.  I already knew that I’d never convince her that the toilet paper roll should pull from the front, or that we could burn less oil in the wintertime by wearing thermal underwear in the house, or that mouse-trap-emptying duties can be gender-neutral.  I’ve learned better than to talk about these things. 

But the newest addition to the list would be much tougher not to discuss, since it was going to change all of our lives very soon, and in a big way.  In just a few short days, a big, rectangular door will fold in half and slide to one side, our oldest son will step through it, and he and his childhood, along with the very fabric of our family, will be swallowed up inside. 

“Munch, munch, munch.  This childhood tastes delicious!” the school bus will say, and then it will rumble away, leaving us with our pictures, our tears and a cloud of diesel fumes. 

“Brother!” our youngest son Zack will yell when the cloud clears and he realizes that Evan has left him behind.

Then we’ll drive to daycare in silence, except for Zack, who will scream at us for letting this happen.  I’ll make mental notes of the tiniest details of that day, so that Zack can relate them in greater detail, forty years later, to his therapist.  I’ll glance into the rearview mirror to see Evan’s empty car seat, and regret all the times I yelled, “You’ll have to wait until a stoplight!” when he dropped his sippy cup on the floorboard for the seventh time, wailing as if he’d just seen an episode where Dora the Explorer catches Ebola. 

“It’s okay, buddy,” we’ll tell Zack as we drop him off at daycare, alone, for the first time in his life.   
“You and Evan will be in the same school again in three years, which is really not that long, even though it’s longer than you’ve been alive,” we’ll say, which won’t help.  Meanwhile, a bully will be dumping out the contents of Evan’s new Avengers backpack and stealing his chocolate chip bunny-shaped snacks.

This is the scenario that Kara fears, so kindergarten is a topic upon which we’ve been treading lightly.  Of course, I share these fears, but I’m a guy, which allows me to express my emotions by reading do-it-yourself articles on improving our attic insulation. 

Almost five years ago, when Evan started daycare, and we paid the first monthly bill that, at first glance, looked like we’d mistakenly assumed the mortgage on another house, I couldn’t have imagined anything other than elation at his graduation to public school.  The reality, though, has been decidedly more of a mixed bag, as we gradually come to understand that change for our kids is scary for us, too.

“You’re growing up.  It’s nothing to be afraid of.  You’ll have fun!  You’ll make new friends!” Evan will say as he pats us on the head.

I’ve heard it said that the best two days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.  Perhaps a similar saying applies to daycare: The worst two days of daycare are the day you start and the day you finish.  (Oh, and also the day you catch pinkeye.) 

We’ll get a chance to find out about the last day very soon, when Evan cleans out his cubby for the last time, and his parents pretend like they’re holding themselves together.

But really, we’re excited for Evan and his new adventures.  Just don’t talk to us about it quite yet.

You can wait with Mike Todd at the bus stop at


  1. Doing some blog catching-up today. I'm happy you are still writing and your family is just lovely! Hope all is well with you. :)

    1. SHERI!! Great to hear from you! Been too long. All is well here -- hope you and your family are doing well, too.