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The Orange Bus

March 27, 2011

I decided to introduce the topic of school.

Because of a virus we shared, the two-year-old and I had been sitting in the living room watching television for what seemed like days on end, because it actually was days on end. We pretty much never watch TV, or rather, we didn’t. But here, I was buying feature-length films and more off of AppleTV. Cars, Toy Story, Lion King, Electric Company, and our guilty pleasure, Glee. (Well, my guilty pleasure, Glee.)

Should the quarantine lift, Henry is going to start preschool in April — a short session from April through June. We hadn’t talked about it yet, though I worry about this transition for many of my waking hours, and a few of my sleeping ones. I thought it was time to bring it up. I had no idea what I was getting into.

“So, do you know what school is?”

Henry’s eyes flash and he and nods fast, though he still has a high fever. This is the most animated I’ve seen him in 72 hours. Through a wide, smiling mouth, he yells “BUS!”

Ah, right. I have talked about school before in that context—the context of transportation.

What makes little boys love anything that will take you anywhere so, so much? No one will ever know. Or maybe they do know; someone recently told me that even baby monkeys who are boys love trucks, whereas baby monkeys who are girls love fake baby girl monkeys. They like to wheel them around.

“Right,” I said. “Some people take a bus to school,” not mentioning that he’d be lucky to take the subway; we’ll probably just take the stroller.

I continued. “Soon, you get to start school. School is a place where Mom-mom or Daddy will bring you, and you can do lots of painting, and projects, and toys. There will be lots of other kids there, and some other grown ups, but Mom-mom or Daddy won’t be there with you.”

I fear the worst, but he’s still listening raptly with a giant grin. Wow, this might be easier than I thought. Perhaps I’ve been worrying for nothing.

So I continue. “And after a little while, Mom-mom will pick you up, in time to have lunch.”

“N0 NOOOO NOOOOO!!!!!” Suddenly he’s shrieking and shaking his head violently back and forth, objecting to . . . lunch?

“You don’t want lunch?” I idiotically ask.


I see. He didn’t like the idea of me picking him up; he wants to take an orange bus home. Or not even come home, just ride around forever on the orj bus. Who cares about home? Even within the exciting realm of transportation, the subset of buses holds a special place in his heart.

Every once in a while for the rest of the day, his whole expression would light up and he’d appear to be in some happy reverie and when I questioned it he’d yell:




Then for dinner, I gave him some polenta on a blue plate, and he yelled:


in apparent solidarity for the (wrong) color of the school bus.

We still don’t know yellow; what can I say?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Gabrielle Schuerman permalink
    March 28, 2011 6:42 am

    Maybe Claire is crossing the gender barrier here, or maybe its a Schuerman thing but Claire also is enchanted with buses. Nothing will get her out of a tantrum faster than seeing one and as soon as she does (regardless of the color) she starts her hand twirling in “wheels on the bus” fashion. She’s been known to do this at the sight of a truck too which I know Henry would NEVER do, knowing full well the difference between a truck and a bus!

  2. A Loyal Reader permalink
    March 28, 2011 10:52 am

    Great piece.
    Grandpa Bob

  3. Karen permalink
    March 28, 2011 12:42 pm

    Oh excellent. I hope Mia responds as well when she goes to school in Sept!!

    Just a note on the colors: our nanny swears Mia knows her colors, but, sadly, she does not. What is even sadder, by our nanny’s lights, is that we are not really fussed about it.

    I found it quite hilarious when, last night,while looking at Mia’s “colors-numbers-shapes-words” set of four books, I asked the color of about 4 out of 7 things across the four books….and Mia’s answer every time was “PINK!”

    As you might have predicted from the baby monkeys study, she is unaccountably fond of pink. So— everything is now pink. When it’s awesome, it’s awesome.

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