The Kindergarten BusPrint
It seems like just the other day …
By Brian Doyle
The kindergarten bus rumbled past our house the other morning, at 8:33 on the dot, and by odd chance I was staring out the window at that exact moment, having finished checking the baseball box scores, and I watched as the bus creaked to a halt at the corner, where all the kids and their moms and dogs and backpacks were standing and chatting, and the bus driver lit his flashing lights, and the little kids climbed aboard, and the dogs yearned to climb aboard also, and the mothers hauled the dogs around and walked together back down the street, and I was crying tears of such startling copiosity that one of them fell right on Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, who had gone 3-for-5 with a run scored and run batted in and a stolen base, bringing his league-leading total of thefts to 50, even as he led the league in triples, and was again flirting with .300.
My lovely bride, a subtle woman, walked on stage just at that moment, with her steaming coffee, and she knew why I was weeping, because she too had heard and seen the kindergarten bus trundle past, and she too had felt a surge of love and pain and loss and nostalgia and amazement that time passeth faster than the speed of light, and not one of us can slow or retard it one bit, no matter how much we write or record or recount the sweet shivering pleasure of standing at the bus stop with your kids and all the other neighborhood kids, all of whom you know by name and some of whom make you grin just by the way they run like drunken turtles with their shocking bright packpacks filled with lunches and snacks and sneakers and secret stuffed animals and notes from mom and the cool pen-and-pencil set from grandma.
It seems like all of 11 minutes ago that we stood there, my lovely bride laughing with the other mothers and me barking at our sons and the other neighborhood ruffians to get out of the middle of the street right now! or I will shave your heads! and you will have to play college football in the South! But now our sons are college men, and our daughter is a college woman, and they no longer wait for the bus, which means neither do we, but instead I stand in the window, weeping onto Jacoby Ellsbury, and thinking that I loved every minute of being a dad, yes I did, even the hard and angry and terrifying minutes, and that I would do it all over again in an instant with our children, given the miraculous chance to do so, even though sleep was at a roaring premium there for a number of the opening years, and miniature people threw up on my best shirts, and later there was a lot of yelling. But I would say yes to it again in less than an instant, with more joy and inarticulate love in my heart than I can ever explain, if that was somehow possible. Yes, I would. And so would you.
Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland, and the author most recently of the novel Mink River. He writes the weekly Epiphanies column at theamericanscholar.org.
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