While we have taken city buses, trolley cars and light rapid transit trains in various cities in New York, San Diego, and Chicago, Reid and I have never taken a city bus in Ottawa. Ken had to be at a training course by 8:00 in the far west end of the city. I take a bus to work at least 4 days a week and so adding one small girl into the mix should’ve been easy. There are other parents at daycare who bring their kids by bus on a daily basis. There is even a set of twins in Reid’s class whose parents have brought them on the bus for years. I can only imagine that repetition reduces the stress.
We hustled Reid through her morning routine, which included a switch of tights after the first pair was already on Reid’s body and the requirement to get all of her outdoor gear on. Most days Reid wears only a coat, which may or may not be zipped, and boots. Many days we are late. Reid and I managed to get out the door at the target time and then walked quickly to the bus station. I have to say that I was impressed with Reid’s speed on the walk. When we were nearly to the bus station, Reid told me that she was starting to get tired but she didn’t slow her pace or ask to be carried. We took time to notice that the streetlights around us were turning off as we walked and also that the fat, round moon hadn’t remembered to go to bed. We made it to the bus stop with 5 or maybe 10 minutes to spare – my Blackberry’s clock seems to be running fast.
We waited in an enclosed shelter, that Reid dubbed an “outside-inside room”, for a while. In the midst of many questions of the type: “Where is our bus?” and “Is that our bus?” we moved outside to watch for our bus. There were many #2 buses, a #123, a #124 and even a #129 that passed us before our #127 finally arrived. The moment that I’d told Reid that we would be taking a #127, she had declared the “one-two-seven daycare bus” to be her “favourite-ist” bus.
Reid boarded the bus as confidently as if she took public transit daily. I tried to shepherd her toward a seat in the priority seating section in order to see where we were along the route but Reid continued toward the back of the bus. I plopped her in a seat opposite the rear door but she protested as she pointed up the steps to the far back of the bus. Of course, Reid needed to climb the steps herself and then up onto a seat in the very last row. I didn’t notice the standard transit notices to encourage people to move to the back but Reid knew what to do. The signs on the windows read, in order, ”Move back”, “A little further” and “Thanks”. Reid earned the thanks.
Our ride lasted only 15 minutes or so before we disembarked at the side of a 4-lane road with traffic whizzing past. We were lucky, though, and made it across the first 2 lanes and into the turning lane relatively easily. I had to carry Reid across the last couple of lanes in order for us to complete our journey. Reid was encouraging me to hurry even when doing so would have put us into the side of the cars passing us. The traffic made her nervous, I think. It made me nervous, too. As we walked up the driveway to daycare, Reid was smiling and saying that she was going to tell her daycare friends about her bus ride. It wasn’t even 8:00 am and already she’d had an adventure!
After getting Reid settled with her class, I walked down to the bus stop in front of daycare and called to check when the next bus would be passing. My heart sank when I heard the recorded voice say “The next bus will pass in 27 minutes.” It was a frigid morning and even with my windbreaker pants, winter coat and toque I knew I would be cold. I decided that I’d have time to walk to the Transitway to catch a more frequent bus and started off. The paved shoulder that I was walking on turned into a right turning lane at one point, though, and I wasn’t brave enough to continue or hardy enough to take to the snow and so I turned around and walked to the last bus stop I’d seen. I killed about 12 minutes while walking at least.
In the final analysis, I’m glad Reid and I took the bus together this morning as she had an adventure. It was also good to have a chance to Reid a couple of books while we were riding the bus. I’m also glad that we don’t have to do it often. Crossing all of those lanes of traffic worried me and having to meet someone else’s schedule would be tough. I would have to rush more during drop-off to catch the earlier downtown bus and also hurry Reid more when I picked her up for us to catch a bus back toward our house. I’ll avoid adding to our stress levels as much as I’m able.