My card reader is breaking down. So, instead of cute pictures of kids frolicking in autumn leaves, you get a story about what I see at the school bus stop. I feel kind of like Jane Goodall most mornings.
Where I live there is no high school close by. So, in addition to little kids like Charlotte who bus to the French Immersion schools, all of the teenagers in the area get bussed off to the various high schools scattered across the other side of town. (This also puts me in the enviable position of getting a choice in what High School my kids go to.)
I have been enjoying my walks to school with Charlotte and have been having fun eavesdropping on all of the conversations that happen around me.
There is one girl who gets on the bus who seems quite troubled. She slouches, usually has a sullen look on her face and hides behind a protective veneer of thick black eyeliner and long, crayon-coloured hair. Her conversation is punctuated with curse words and always revolves around how unfair her mother is to her. She "hates" the preppy girls and has to drive her boyfriend around when he drinks too much. One day I heard all about her grounding and learned all of the things a mother must take away from a teenager in order to lock her down. (The clincher? In addition to the predictable car keys and cell phone, the debit card should also be confiscated.) Today, this girl was sitting curled up tightly on the floor of the school vestibule with her hoody pulled so tight around her face you could only make out her angry, kohl-rimmed eyes. My heart went out to her.
The fresh-faced popular girls cluster in their own group. They are characterized by their inappropriately short skirts and hot pants, even on the mornings when the temperature is barely hovering above Freezing. Their hair is long, shiny and their conversation runs the gamut from boys to homework to what is playing on their ipods. Very predictable, really.
The boys hang back, they don't talk much. They just stare ahead, waiting for the bus. Some of them have football gear with them in the colours of the Big High School on the other edge of town. A couple carry band instruments. They all have big black zippered binders and earphones plugged in their ears.
There is one girl that stands away from the packs. She is very quiet, wears glasses, and only has one or two friends who stand with her. She keeps her phone close at all times. She shyly glances at my Charlotte while we wait and quietly snickers at the funny things she says from time to time.
Over my weeks of quiet observation I found myself drawn to her. One day I managed to walk past her house as she was leaving for the bus stop. She lives a block from me. I started to plan my attack.
I made sure to stand by her when waiting with Charlotte but I didn't engage her in conversation. Just a quick glance and a smile. She smiled back.
Yesterday when I noticed her noticing Charlotte playing around I made a small offhand comment, then turned away from her.
Today I made my approach. I mentioned that I just moved here and told her where we live. Her eyes brightened up and she indicated she lived one street over. I asked her if she babysits. I asked her to text me her phone number since I left my phone at home.
I caught myself a babysitter!