As we drive to soccer (literally, soccer, in the mini van) over the freshly paved street of Shelburbia Oliver chatters in the back, half to himself, half to me.
“Sometimes don’t you want to scream f-u-c-k?”
He is trying it out…spelling it show show he controls that powerful word, instead of it controlling him.
It’s possible that I gave him tacit permission about three minutes ago during our last ride from school.
After Leo’s rushed morning departure I was waiting to meet the 3:30 bus at 2:15, probably the last time all year that I would wish it to arrive earlier. I’m pacing in the mudroom, kicking shoes roughly into place, liking things on Facebook, flipping through bills with the new found tension of tight finances.
I hear the air, squeak brakes before I see it and I saunter outside, looking cool, but feeling like a junior high girl waiting to be asked to dance. Oliver’s head comes first. Then nothing.
The bus driver looks at me looking at him.
I hold up two fingers. He shakes his head no.
Sauntering over I rush the bus and walk the aisle, looking for his sleeping form, imagining he is just low down and hard to spot. But in fact he is not on the bus. It is an hour since school has let out.
A quick radio conversation confirms he is on bus A. Last years bus.
Oliver’s face crumples…he had gone the entire ride without noticing that Leo was missing.
So we jump in the van and start chasing bus a. Only to catch it at 4:15 when it returned to school. In a strange echo of his first ride in the front seat (right? Who puts a 4 year old in the front?) he emerges smiling, with a lollipop.
It’s the like the face page between short stories, some unplanned ride to an unplanned place, with me worrying and Leo bonding with his driver.
This time I had Oliver with me (I know I have digressed from the fucking part of the story) and he is wondering “how did this happen?” I don’t know. I had filled out the new address paperwork and even confirmed his new school bus route today over the phone with the guidance office. The fact that the boys were split and only Leo noticed is not that surprising. Oliver’s bubble of awareness is acute with a narrow diameter. Leo’s broad and diffuse.
We are all together now, driving home from school, where I could have just picked them up at 2:15 and missed this period of alternative waiting and rushing…but that wouldn’t have felt normal.
So I ask Leo what bus he rides tomorrow. Bus A he answers with an actual wink. I decide to give them a little gift. Not bus a, bus f. F as in fun, fantastic, fabulous, fuck.
What? Two little voices squeal? This is just for right now, this ride in the van…we will never speak of this again.
Bus F. Never to be forgotten again.
So a quick turn around for cleats and shin guards and water bottles and we are headed back to school. Oliver tests it out.
Do you mama, do you ever just want to yell f-u-c-k?
I do, he tells me, when I am really really frustrated and things aren’t going my way then I sometimes just want to yell out a bad word…like darn, or crud, or f-u-c-k.
I’m imaging the emotional confidence that is coming next, the story of bullying,,or the emergent realization that he is uncoordinated enough not even to be able to do jumping jacks. A fact that is about to be confirmed for me in 10 minutes.
Yeah, right now I want to yell f-u-c-k. I just can’t keep my cleat tied.
Although I’m not sure that is fuckworthy I remember it later as the fucking fitted sheet somehow becomes a square too short for Leo’s bed.
For now both boys are accounted for, and the monotony of driving back and forth feels like a pleasant lull, and the question of a Syrian invasion seems way far away from Shelburbia.
What bus do you take home Leo?
Bus A. He says with a twinkle.
Don’t worry mama, I can never forget bus F.
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