July 8, 2008 by Marj Hatzell
Bugaboo went back to school yesterday and the planets were aligned and choirs of angels sang and I found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No, not really. But, gosh darn, I was happy. And relieved. And tired…oh, so tired. I love my boy, really. It’s just that it takes so much energy to deal with him for twenty-four hours times three-plus weeks of school break. He barely slept, he barely ate and he was a tad grumpy. And by a tad grumpy I mean he was biting holes in his arm and the arms of anyone who dared to walk within a four-foot perimeter of his little mouth. And by mouth, I mean fangs. Like, it’s got teeth! POINTY TEETH! It huuuuurts. I have the bruises to prove it. Poor boy was mighty frustrated by the time school was back in session yesterday.
Bugaboo’s program moved to a new building to start the summer session. His old building was, well, old and dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. Since his county program leases buildings, they obviously weren’t going to put any money into fixing anything the last few months there were there. The power went out more than once, the air stopped working on the hottest day of the year (so far) and the toilets backed up a few times, causing early dismissals. I, for one, am happy with the move to the new(er) building. The program now resides in a building that was an elementary school for twenty-five years, until the town grew too large and a new school was built directly behind the old one. The cool thing is that the new(er) building has a PLAYGROUND with SWINGS and a CAFETERIA and a GYMNASIUM and a LIBRARY which is currently being used as a therapy room, but still. It’s quite an improvement.
I found out Bugaboo’s bus schedule (very important) and was pleased to see that he’d be picked up a full forty minutes later than his old schedule, even though his old school was twenty minutes away and his new(er) school is forty-five minutes away. He used to get picked up first and was on the bus for nearly two hours while they picked up for several programs. It made me insane but I never complained, since he’s all into buses (like, have you seen the buses in my house? Just sayin’.). Yesterday morning I had his bags on the curb ready to go and Bugaboo and I walked around while we waited for his bus. It was a few minutes late and we noticed the neighbor’s daughter (Little Miss) waiting at the corner for “summer reading camp” and chatted with her. Just then, a full-sized bus rounded the corner and stopped to pick up Little Miss. I kept looking for Bugaboo’s short bus. That’s when the aide on the “regular” bus stepped off and asked me if that was “Bugaboo” and indicated that he’d be riding with the “regular” kids. I nearly fainted, I tells ya. I never in my wildest dreams thought this kid would ride a bus with “regular” kids to school. I mean, he’s ridden a short bus for two-and-a-half years. And you know who rides the short buses, right? I mean, they might as well have flashing neon signs on them, saying, “SPECIAL KIDS ON THIS BUS RIGHT HERE! LOOK!” because whenever Bugaboo’s bus stops at home to drop him off, people all stare like they’ve seen a ghost. I feel like they are wondering why the short bus stops at my house. You know, because the signs outside my house that say, “DISABLED CHILD AREA” aren’t enough of an indication and the handicapped parking placard apparently doesn’t given them enough of an idea.
He’s riding a full-sized bus to school! I’m having mixed feelings about this. I mean, I know the goal is for him to be around “typical” kids as much as humanly possibly. He’s a part of society and he will be for the rest of his life. At some point he has to learn to function. It’s just that kids are kids and they can sometimes be cruel, sometimes without realizing it. I’ve heard the teasing that Bug Boy has endured on his bus (the reason we chose to drive for the last few weeks of school) and I am worried. Although, I have to tell you, Bugaboo will just continue to smile and stare out the window. Kids usually give up trying to interact with him after a while because they get absolutely no return on their investment. It’s just not fun. Bug Boy, on the other hand, freaks out if his arm hairs blow in the wind. They know they are getting their money’s worth there.
What really warmed my heart, however, is that Little Miss and another kid who knows Bugaboo actually had a spat over who got to sit next to Bugaboo. Perhaps I just need to chill and it will all be fine. I guess I just worry that Bugaboo will get antsy from the noise or the wait and will do his cockatiel routine and freak the other kids out. Or that he’ll pinch or bite one of them for getting too close. Or that he’ll start his siren wail and they’ll all stare at him like he has two heads. Not that he’ll notice, see. He’ll be too busy enjoying that ride on that humongous bus, which is no doubt his life-long dream. Riding a bus that ain’t short.