Parents PLEASE read!!

My five year old daughter rode the bus home yesterday.  The problem?  I didn’t know it.

She wasn’t *quite* this happy when I got home last night 😦

Now, this post is not at ALL about HOW that happened.  I know the sequence of events that led up to it, and I am confident it will not happen again.  I am comfortable with the procedures in place to keep this from happening.  It was just a fluke.  There is no blame, no anger.  That is not what this is about so please don’t try to take it there.

What I want to talk to you about it what happened after she got off the bus.

She pulled her key out of her backpack and went inside to wait.  She watched some tv.  She had a snack.

Thank God- praise God- that we had conversations about this.  Thank God I had given her a key!  She doesn’t ride the bus home often, but a little over a month ago I decided she should have a key just in case.  When we talked about it I told her that, while it would never be planned for her to be home by herself, it could happen… I told her that I could have a flat tire or something.  Nothing scary.  Then we joked about her having the run of the house- and tv!  No brothers there to demand Mighty Machines or He-Man.  Plus no one to dictate her choice of snack (though she would probably choose an apple over raiding the freezer for ice cream.  Not sure how she is my kid sometimes).  Fortunately we talked about it a few times, but always in a light and fun way.

I know she was scared last night.  She was obviously very upset when we finally made it home… about 2 hours after she made it home AND about 15min after it got pretty dark.  I thought she was at her school, so we had gone there to pick her up!  The drive home from the school was the longest of my life, but because I knew we had these talks and had plans in place, I was not freaking out.  I was just anxious to get there and hug my baby.

She sobbed a pretty good relieved cry when we got home, but she was fine in just a few short minutes.  Of course we talked about it most of the evening.  She was pretty sick of hearing how proud we were of her by night’s end!  After she had ample time to calm down, we went over a few more instructions in case it were to ever happen again (praying it doesn’t!).  Those may have included doing some laundry and sweeping the floor to help her pass the time… What?  Keeping her busy will surely make her less anxious!  In the end though, she was relaxed enough about it all to joke, even last night.

I am not a big “what if” scenario kind of person.  I really just don’t see the point.  But I would have died to think that my baby girl sat out in the cold all by herself for almost two hours with no clue what was happening.  I think that knowing it was something we had covered made all of the difference for both of us.  Even though I never thought it would happen, it did.  The best laid plans…

Now, all of that said, I know I can never cover every what-if with my kids.  Nor would I want to!  Talk about a way to pave your kid’s path to zoloft!  But empowering kids so they can handle unexpected situations is an awesome thing.

This, by the way, is not at all me patting myself on the back.  I really hope that I am the idiot parent for waiting a month into the school year to have this conversation with my child.  I pray that every person that reads this has already gone over all of this with their wee ones.  If not, I hope our little fiasco will change that.

The other thing I learned- don’t judge.  Nothing wrong with a 5yo having a cell phone!  Only kinda kidding.

No, I am not buying my daughter a cell phone!  I am going to actually plug a phone into our landline that we have never, ever used.  Oh, and teach her what a regular phone looks like and how to use one!

*Also please know the administration has contacted me, is following up on exactly how this happened and what additional procedures can be put into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  Good things will come of this!

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