Warning: If you make a promise to a child, you better plan to keep it.
While prepping Mara for her first day of kindergarten, I told her we would take her to the bus stop and she would ride the bus to school.
“Will you be on the bus with me?” she asked.
“No, but I’ll be at the school when the bus drops you off,” I assured her.
“Of course,” I said, not really thinking this through.
The full weight of my promise didn’t hit me until I watched the bus pull away from the curb on the first day of school.
All at once, I realized:
* I had no idea when her bus would get to the school.
* I didn’t know where her bus would park when it got to the school.
* I still needed to get in my car and fight traffic to get to the school.
My stomach twisted at the thought of Mara getting off the bus and not seeing me.
I promised. So I had to be there.
As I got behind the wheel of my SUV, I broke into a cold sweat.
“What if I didn’t make it?” I thought as I drove.
I hit one traffic light. Then another. But I made it to the school in record time.
No buses were there.
Had they dropped the children off already and left? If not, when would they get there? Where should I park? What was Mara’s bus number again?
These questions flew through my head as I cruised around the school, waiting and hoping and searching and wondering why I had made such a silly promise.
Then I saw one. A bright yellow bus rounded the corner and parked. It was No. 20. Not Mara’s.
I was in an upper parking area, which doesn’t connect to the lower lot where the buses were stopping.
As I sat in my vehicle, thinking of my next move, I saw Mara’s bus, No. 16, come down the road and park.
I couldn’t see the bus doors and didn’t know how quickly the children would get off.
I ran for it.
I got out of the car so fast I almost forgot to turn it off and grab the keys. I wasn’t thinking straight. I just knew I needed to get to that bus.
I bounded over the new grass and fresh landscaping behind the elementary school. I hit the sidewalk and picked up the pace. I almost ran into another mother headed in the same direction.
“I think we’re going to miss it,” she said.
I looked at her, smiled and kept running.
I rounded the corner and saw Mara’s bus. The doors were still closed. She was still on it.
When I reached the bus, I stopped and searched for my baby girl.
In seconds, I saw her, peeking out the window, looking for me. Her eyes lit up. She waved.
I made it.
Mara barely even looked at me as she skipped off with the other children toward her first day of school.
And I was left standing on the sidewalk by myself, overwhelmed with the miracle of fulfilling my silly, well-meaning promise.
But, that’s what we do as parents.
We make miracles happen every day.
Dirty clothes magically clean and fold themselves, ready to be worn again.
Toys always find their way back to their shelves and bins.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner appear, as if out of thin air.
Our children count on these tiny miracles.
And they trust that we will keep our promises.
Kara Eberle is editor of Smart. Sign up for a free subscription to the magazine at www.smartmamapa.com/subscribe.