Another school year is upon us! Whether the year has just started or is fast approaching, the time has come to reacquaint yourself with the bus stop parents you're sure to encounter throughout the year. It's a ragtag crew who often have little in common, aside from proximity and children in the same school.
Parenting school-aged kids can be tricky, mostly because school-aged kids are wily and constantly presenting us with a slew of challenges we never dreamed of. ("How am I supposed to do this math?") But another aspect baby and toddler parents don't really think about is the fact that you also have to navigate the parents you encounter, and carefully. Because unless you move you're going to be dealing with these folks for the next 12 years or more. They say the years fly, and I'm sure they do, but time has a habit of going slower when you're walking on eggshells.
Fortunately, I can tell you from experience, that most parents are really just doing their best and trying to get through. Even the ones you aren't super-fans of will usually understand you and what you're going through pretty well. And the situational friendships that form through things like bus stops and pick ups and Little League games can actually be really pleasant if you allow yourself to be open to the experience! So with that in mind, here are just some of the wacky characters you'll encounter:
Pajama mom knew she only had time to do two of the following: get dressed, get her kids dressed, and make coffee. Something had to give and the choice was clear. So she rolled out of bed, threw on her partner's hoodie, tossed the hair up in a messy bun, and called it a morning.
Pajama Mom sometimes wishes she could be the kind of mom who gets it all together before 8 a.m., but she's a pragmatist and she knows it's just not going to happen. Plus, pajamas are so cozy.
The Chatty Charlie
I know the term is "Chatty Cathy," but Charlie is more alliterative and gender-neutral.
This is the person who is just way too perky in the morning. They want to talk about everything. Does the bus coming to pick up the kids stop them? No. They want to continue the conversation even after the kids are off for the day. It's not that you necessarily dislike this parent, but you have things to do.
Gym Gear Mom
She's no necessarily going to the gym after this (or she might be), but gym gear mom has learned that wearing gym clothes at all times is not only comfortable as hell but it makes you look ambitious and busy. Like, "Oh, sorry Chatty Charlie, can't stick around! I've got a spin class!"
The Parent Who Knows *Everything*
This is the parent who inexplicably has the entire school district calendar memorized. Do they even put out this information, or do they just tell this one person who then spreads the word to everyone else?! Because you check your kid's backpack for announcements! You carefully go through your emails to make sure you're getting all the information from the school! You even go to the school website! You think you're informed, until The All-Knowing Parent at the bus stop is like, "What are you doing for Crazy Hair Day? Oh it's this Friday. Don't you read the announcements?"
I try so hard. Where are these announcements and how do you get all of them always?!
The Mom With A Ton Of Other Kids
This mom rolls deep. She travels with a gaggle of kids, some going on the bus, some toddling behind her, not quite old enough to go to school yet, others being worn or pushed in a stroller. She is frequently pregnant. She has answers to all your parenting queries because she has experienced everything at some point. That's just statistics.
Impossibly Stylish Mom
Amazing hair. Casually perfect outfit. Shoes with an actual heel. Coordinated jacket and scarf. Makeup? Flawless. Does this mom wake up at 5 a.m. or something? How does she do this? And even if she somehow created the time to put together this look, how did she manage to keep it nice in the course of getting her kid(s) out the door? How is it not smeared with jelly or something? Surely this woman is a witch. What other powers does she have, we all wonder?
The One Quiet Dad
Let's be honest: most of the folks at the bus stop are probably moms. So when you do get a dad in the mix, he may often feel self-conscious being the only one and, therefore, keep to himself. No one has anything against the one quiet dad... but they don't always know how to approach and so quiet he remains.
The One Loud Dad
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the dad who revels in being the one dad at the bus stop. He friendly, he's boisterous, he makes people laugh. Yeah, he's never going to be "one of the moms" but he's leaning into that and that's fun.
Incidentally, Quiet Dad and Loud Dad cannot coexist. Either Loud Dad would coax Quiet Dad out of his shell or Quiet Dad and Loud Dad would form an insular Bro-Duo.
The Parent Who Immediately Jets As Soon As The Bus Leaves
I'm not saying everyone sticks around dawdling all day (despite what Chatty Charlie would have us all do), but generally there are some pleasantries exchanged before everyone heads back home or to work or whatever. But not for that one parent who, before the bus even pulls away, books it.
Hey: zero judgment you guys. Days are busy. Maybe they have to get to work and have no time to spare. Maybe they have a morning conference call that starts promptly at 8:05 a.m. and it's 8:01 a.m. already. Maybe they have an appointment. Or maybe they just don't want to run the risk of standing around talking too long. Let this parent live their life!
The Mom Who's Always Complaining
About the school. About their kid's teacher. About their partner. About the bus driver. About another kid. And if it were just that they were complaining, whatever, it's fine, but they try to get you in on it. It's like they're constantly trying to start a low-stakes rebellion.
Your Bus Stop BFF
This person is awesome. You don't hang out as much as you wish you did, because life gets so busy and work and school schedules are chaotic, but OMG they're really cool and seeing them every weekday morning is a great way to start your day.
The Lone Country Road Mom
You don't actually meet her. She lives in the middle of nowhere and doesn't have a community bus stop. You might wave to her as you pass her kid's bus stop. Please do, because she's so lonely.
The Parent Whose Name You Still Don't Know
You knew it at one point, you think, but you definitely forgot it within minutes. Every day you pray someone is going to say it to remind you but it never happens. You definitely can't ask. It's been two years.