Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Riding the Shame Train

It's been a long time since I've been on the bus. I think the last time was in college. My car had died, both my roommates were gone, Andy was in class... all my options were exercised. The thought of riding the city bus gave me the heebie jeebies so badly that I actually considered not going to class. Seriously. I've never had a frightening experience on the bus, as a matter of fact, with the exception of some foul smelling armpits, I really don't have anything to complain about. However, when Ava recently expressed her desire to ride the bus I became a bit uneasy. But, after about 750 rounds of "The Wheels on the Bus" I caved.

So, today was bus day, and I gotta tell ya, it did nothing positive for my lukewarm feelings toward mass transit. I decided we'd ride the bus to the mall. It's a straight shot from our house and Ava really loves the Disney store. So, our destination was set. I get the kids ready and step outside. It's windy, cold, blustery and altogether miserable. "Ava, it's kinda chilly, are you sure you don't just want to drive to the mall?" I say with a hint of pleading in my voice. "It's okay Mommy, I'll get my princess jacket and a blanket for Jax." She's so thoughtful. The kids are bundled, the diaper bag is packed, we begin our journey to the bus stop. Now, before I go on, I should mention that prior to our journey I checked the "bus rules" online because I was going to have a beast of a stroller with me and I wanted to make sure the stroller, the children and I all got on the bus safely and at the same time. Strollers are, of course, okay, but you have to fold them up and stick them under a seat. The thought of this made me tense, and I'm pretty sure I felt my blood pressure spike (that's okay, it's naturally really low, thanks Dad for the good genes). So, the bus pulls up and I feel my insides do a loop-de-loop. I have visions flashing through my head of Ava getting on the bus, the door closing, and my 2 1/2-year-old taking a trip down route #850 by herself. Or, I see myself collapsing as I struggle to load my 28lb daughter, 20lb son and 20lb stroller on the bus. Snap out of it. Here we go. Jax is on my hip, Ava holds tightly to my hand. I help her up first. She immediately runs to get a great seat, "Come on Mommy, I saved you a seat." In my head I'm envisioning millions of germs attacking my daughter. Good thing I have four different kinds of sanitizer in the diaper bag. I feel Jax slipping. I do that Mommy thing where you kinda hop to hoist your kid back 0n your hip, and in the meantime, I drop the stroller. My heart is pounding. Okay, I retrieve the stroller and toss it onto the bus, literally. Jax and I climb up, I push the stroller with my feet in front of our seat. Screw the transit authority, there's no way I'm shoving this sucker under the seat. Okay, we're in - all three of us and the stroller, we're seated and here we go. Ava immediately begins singing "The Wheels on the Bus" quite loudly. People giggle, but no one joins in. Ava, obviously distraught and a little disillusioned because not everyone on the bus is singing the song that, she assumes, you're supposed to sing on the bus says, "Everybody!" I join in, but no one else does. Oh well. Ava and I provide in-flight entertainment.

The trip to the mall was only about 10 minutes. But it seemed to satisfy Ava, for the time being.

Two hours later it comes time to leave. I rush to the bus stop with the kids, remember, it's still miserable outside and the wind, which obviously has a sense of humor, is blowing right against us. I feel like I'm climbing Kilamanjaro as I push my weight into the stroller trying to get it up the small hill where the bus stop sits upon it's peak. We make it, just in time according to my watch. "The bus should be here any minute, honey." I get Jax out of the stroller, throw the diaper bag on my shoulder and fold up the stroller. Any minute now... any minute. 25 MINUTES LATER... it arrives. My kids have red cheeks from the cold, Jax is starving, Ava is wet from playing in a puddle. Strike 2, Utah Transit Authority. As we get on the bus, same struggles, but we make it. I have to say, I am shocked that on both trips no one offered to help me get the stroller in. I dunno, if I saw a woman with two kids, and the one being carried is obviously breaking her back, trying to get her stroller on a bus I would offer to help. Oh well, we made it anyway. Almost home. I pull the cord before our stop. The bus driver drives right past it. That's alright, we'll walk. As we get off the bus I start going toward one door, Ava toward the other. I put the stroller out first. Ava doesn't move. She plants her little sparkly brown shoes in the middle of the bus and won't budge. "I want to go out the other door." I know she does, but, I'm already half-way out the front door. Selfish, I know, but at this point I just want to get off this moving hell hole (okay, it's not that bad... but I have a flare for the dramatic) and get into my warm house. I sense a little meltdown coming on, so Jax still on my hip, I walk on the bus pick Ava up and walk out. "Mommy," she says in her most stern voice, "that wasn't very nice. I wanted to go out the back door. That was naughty." I apologize. She forgives me. I put the stroller back up, buckle both kids in and begin the sweet walk home.

I'm not going to lie, the bus is not my favorite. However, it could have been worse. And like I said, I have pre-conceived dislike of buses which likely magnified today's issues. Regardless, I tried to put on a happy face and make it a fun experience for Ava.

When we get home I ask Ava if she had fun on the bus, "Yes, I liked it." "Good, I'm glad." Without missing a beat she asks, "Can we ride it again tomorrow?"

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