Before we have pancakes

By Mir
September 29, 2007

Wow, I knew I was weird, but I had no idea that yesterday’s post would be so confusing to so many people. Sorry about that. I just tossed it up there as a little random thing (it was on my mind because we’d just done vocab quizzing before the kids left for school) and came back later to a nearly-unanimous chorus of “Huh??”s. Whoops!

[The point of The Puppy Test is that if the target word in your sentence can easily be replaced by any number of other—unrelated—words, that means it’s not a good sentence to show that you know what it means. We like puppies, so we use that as our test word, often, but all it means is that you should construct your sentence in such a way that ONLY the target word or one of its synonyms will make sense. That’s all. Sorry to have geeked out on y’all.]

Anyhoo, I’m off to eat pancakes and go to soccer and do whatever it is we’re gonna do today after THAT, but first! A story:

Yesterday Otto and I met for a late lunch, which was lovely because our “going out to breakfast once a week” routine came to an end shortly after this, in a related-but-not kind of way, because poor Otto has spent SO MUCH TIME trying to get his car fixed (we’re up to his car having been in the shop for a total of 18 days AND COUNTING, all for a DENT, which is a whole ‘nother story I’ll leave to Otto because it’s so cute when that little vein above his eye starts to pulse) that we just haven’t had time during the week to squander on a little date.

After lunch I had to make a quick run to the grocery store, because I am finding that my reluctance to buy any real food at Kroger when faced with swarms of fruit flies in produce or grey-looking meat in the chilled cases means that instead of shopping for a week, I grumble and purchase just enough food to get us through a couple of days and then hope that a return trip will yield better choices. (This is a stupid strategy, because the selection is rarely improved, but at least I’m going to the store three times as often!)

I zipped through the store as quickly as I could, and checked my watch as I was leaving. I should juuuuuust make it home before the bus. Perhaps the kids would beat me home if the bus came a little early, but hopefully I’d get there first.

(We have a protocol in place for the kids if they ever get home to an empty house. Not that they’ve ever had to use it, but theoretically they know what to do if it happens.)

Back home, there was no sign of the kids. Phew! I brought the groceries in and unpacked them. I whipped up a marinade for a piece of fish I’d bought, and put away some laundry. And then I checked the time again.

Huh. The kids should’ve been home by now.

At this point, I started peering out the windows, looking for the bus. I also craned my neck to check the neighbors’ houses, because it suddenly occurred to me that there was a SLIGHT possibility that they’d beaten me home and gone to a neighbor’s. That’s not part of our protocol, but kids will be kids, so who knows.

I saw no sign of my children, or the bus.

By the time they were 25 minutes late, I IMed Otto to tell him I was getting nervous. He suggested I call the school.

I called the school and they gave me the number for the bus garage. I went back to my computer and told Otto that I’d give it another 10 minutes, and then I was going to call.

10 minutes passed. I called the bus garage. I got bounced around through automated menus and put into someone’s voice mail. I hung up. I called again, tried a different combination of numbers, got put into someone else’s voice mail.

I stewed for another 10 minutes.

I called again, and this time hit 0 until I got a human.

“Well, ma’am, you see, the driver, she’s new. And um, she’s doing a double route today. But see, the thing is, her radio isn’t transmitting, so we’ve been trying to reach her and we haven’t gotten a response.”

There was a very. long. pause.

“I see,” I said, feeling very far away from the phone. “So what you are telling me is that my children have now been on the bus for—” I checked my watch “—close to an hour, with a new bus driver, and you are UNABLE TO LOCATE THEM??”

The conversation went downhill from there.

They showed up about 10 minutes later. Monkey was hysterical. Chickadee was just more world-weary than usual.

My tax dollars at work, people. I’m really starting to understand the whole homeschooling thing.


  1. Wendy

    Okay, now I get it. I didn’t want to comment and reveal my stupidity to everyone. That is a good tip to know and makes sense, now.

    Glad the kids got home, finally. I think I would have pulled that woman through the phone and asked her to go find the bus.

  2. paige

    Er. I got it. I used to use a variation of that while tutoring at the Writing Center on my college campus. And now I use it with my kids. The word varies according to what each kid’s favorite word is: teenage boy-“Halo 3”, teenage girl-“ipod”,2nd grade boy-“shark”.

    Writer geeks unite, I guess.

    Power to the word!

  3. Patricia

    You showed surprising calm — really. I’m so sorry. I hope a few thousand pancakes this morning will calm Monkey down. I always find that a little pancake batter and syrup helps amazingly in such cases.

    Please tell me that you gave the bus garage a piece of your mind — perhaps even the driver.

  4. StephLove

    My son’s very first time on a school bus (in a summer kindergarten readiness program), the bus driver got lost and he had to direct the driver to our house. Fortunately, he is not the least bit fazed by this type of situation. (Ask him to use a public toliet and then he’ll collapse into a nervous heap, but that’s another story.)

    I hope Monkey got over it quickly!

    p.s. I understood the puppy test.

  5. Daisy

    Thank goodness they’re okay.

  6. All Adither

    Are there really no other options than Kroger? Maybe I’m a rotten spoiled brat, but here in Seattle there is a grocery store every half mile. Or less.

    P.S. I didn’t understand the puppy test.

    But thank you for clarifying. I just assumed I was too hung over on Nyquil, or too dumb, to fully comprehend.

  7. LuAnn

    Ugh, I would’ve been a WRECK! Hope Monkey and Chickadee feel better now.

  8. Heather

    Homeschooling sounds great sometimes, along with making sure our kid doesn’t get his license until he’s 30, chaperoned dates, and perhaps a giant bubble! Since Gabe is almost a year old, I’ve got a bit of time to figure it out:o)

    I got the puppy test too, but then again I was homeschooled so I know how to get my geek on!

  9. Donna

    I cannot believe you stayed so calm with your kids that late from the bus! Or maybe you just seemed calm later on when you wrote this. My kids were 10 min. late once and I about had a nervous breakdown. Glad to hear the story ended happily!

    Yesterday I read the puppy test post and the comments about 3 times and never did figure it out. I feel like such a moron. Thanks for the new and improved explanation!

    I love your blog. It is the first one I read every day. My oldest daughter is 10 and she sounds soooo much like Chickadee! Scary!

  10. elswhere

    Loved the puppy test. Got it, gonna use it when MG starts having that kind of homework which appears to be not yet. Thanks.

    As for the school bus, my sympathies. Been there: the calling, the fretting, the hour late with clueless school office and bus company. More than once. MG was always fine but it has done its part towards that premature grey I’ve got going.

  11. Steff

    My son got on the wrong bus once, thankfully he knew where he lived and was able to tell the driver so he could get home. This was in second grade. Needless to say, as anyone would, I marched up to the school the very next morning, and wrote a note to his teacher, and quizzed him on how to make sure to get on the right bus. A little too much responsibility for a 1st grader, maybe, a good life lesson, definitely!

  12. elizabeth

    my high-schooler’s afternoon route gets halfway home before turning around to pick up the “little kids.” he spends a good hour and a half on the bus just in the afternoons. I really don’t understand how they can make it work out in the morning but not the afternoon.

    btw, been lurking for a while and just love the way you tell your story, raise/teach/defend/inspire your kids, and generally, think about a lot of things.

  13. Jamie

    Oh man, that happened to my son when he was in kind. After the hurricane he had to go to a different school. Even though he was going to the same after school location he didn’t recognize the route from the new school. He just never got off the bus. We got in touch with the driver and we met him at the school after he dropped everyone off. I
    was hysterical, he was like ‘whoa cool, i was on the bus alone!’.

  14. Laura

    Once when I was in second grade the bus driver took me back to the bus garage. I was sitting right behind her, and apparently she couldn’t see me. My stop was last, and I was a shy, quiet kid. She thought the bus was empty, skipped my road, and drove the bus back to the garage. I’m sure both she and my mother were horrified. As for me… I was reading a book, and didn’t even notice til we got there.

  15. carolyn

    Just recently my 7th grader was almost an hour late getting home. Same situation – new bus driver. I finally called the bus garage, too. And my only question tho them? Do you train them BEFORE you give them the keys?? of course, my son thought it was hilarious.

  16. Kimmie

    Ha! And I worried when the bus passed the house without dropping mine off…..she stopped at the end of the street when she remembered my kids were there.

  17. Kerry

    As a former homeschooling parent I have to speak up and tell you that as wonderful as homeschooling is and can be, those breakfast/lunch dates with Otto, you will NEVER again have the pleasure. And shopping for rotting meat, a FAMILY affair. A couple of kids lost for a few hours, eh, the small price you must pay. If you were homeschooling you might be willing to PAY MONEY to loose the kids for a couple of hours!

    (being funny people, just in case you don’t speak the sarcasm!)

  18. dynamitt

    hehe Laura I could have done the same. Lucky this never happen to me, could be because I live to close to the school to ever need a bus.

    Im glad you kids got back home safe Mir and enjoy your pancakes!

  19. Jo

    When I was in middle school I once fell asleep on the bus and didn’t wake up until about a mile after my 3 older sisters had been dropped off. You would think that they would have realized I hadn’t gotten off the bus with them…jeesh.

  20. Lady M

    I totally got the Puppy Test. I use it (or something like it) when we’re writing marketing literature. After coming up with all this glowing prose about how a product is going to enhance communications and improve productivity, it’s good to check whether you could have replaced the “Super High Tech Software” with “vacuum cleaner” and had the same results.

  21. Angel

    When I was like in K or 1st, I fell asleep on the bus. Missed my stop. They didn’t find me until the bus got back to school. My mom got about a few thousand grey hairs over that.

    Ah, the good thing about having to drive our kids to private school ;) Because I’m sure my son would purposely miss a stop just so he could ride on A BUS LOL

  22. Brigitte

    Our route is already on their 3rd or 4th driver since the start of the school year, because they’ve all been so awful missing stops completely, etc.

    I can’t believe there’s nothing but Kroger’s either, I must be spoiled as well. Within a 20 minute range from my house, depending what size store I need, there are at least 10 grocery stores (and even our small, in-town convenience store has a good selection of fresh butchered meat in a huge freezer).

    Of course, if I was faced with nothing but that Kroger’s, I might finally start losing weight . . so long as there were no Sonics nearby.


    Funny thing I read the previous post & got it. I’m weird like that…

    The bus situation is kinda sucky. It makes you nervous knowing they left your kids on a bus with some newbie who doesn’t know how to use a radio!!!

  24. Heather C.

    OK… having actually BEEN a bus driver…. what the hekc? Who drives without their radio on. It’s like your lifeline!

  25. etak

    I need to know what to do when there is no “more” showing on my computer screen to continue your blog for the day. This happens occasionally, and I sit here, very frustrated, because I cannot continue reading your blog. It drives me crazy, actually, when that happens. The blog prior to this one is an example. I couldn’t read more than the lead in lines, and I didn’t know what to do! ACK!!!!! Any suggestions?

  26. Cele

    I wasn’t home schooled, I didn’t homeschool my daughter – for which I believe she is eternally grateful for – but I totally got the puppy test. I believe teachers of mine used something quite similar in school (back right after the earth cooled.) As for Krogers (I shop Fred Meyers in the Pacific Northwest which is a Krogers) complain, complain loudly. Sheesh they need some pride, you need good, wholesome food.

  27. Andrea

    I would’ve pitched a huge fit over the bus thing. I get worried when people are more than a few minutes late. As for the puppy thing, I got it, but I had to read through it twice.

  28. Shiz

    Wow. Long time to be on the bus. Great!

  29. rebs

    I totally got the puppy test. BUt ask me to calculate tax on an item and i’m screwed.

    My friend’s kids spent an extra 2 hours on the bus on the first day of school this year. Apparently she got lost. And apparently the company explained that being a bus driver is hard, unappreciated work. My friend knows that; she drives 10 hour shifts for our local transit system.

  30. Ben

    Question: did the bus driver pass the puppy test?

    (BTW, I’m catching on, I might be able to out-vocabulary-test Monkey in a few short years)

  31. carrien

    Guess I’m a geek too.

    Maybe it’s ’cause I homeschool.:)

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