So my first-grader comes home from school on Thursday afternoon and announces gleefully, “I am the Bus Captain!” Since I have no clue what this means or what it entails (must I immediately bake eight dozen cookies for the Riders Of The Bus?), I try my best to gauge his level of excitement (pretty close to 10). “Yay, Tall! How cool is that! Uh, what does Bus Captain, uh, you know, DO, exactly?”
He looks at me like I’m stupid (it’s okay, I’ve seen this look before….. he’s a teen-ager in 7-year-old’s skin). “Mooooommmmmmm. Bus. Captain.” He says it slowly, with emphasis on the “Captain” part. “I’m in charge of the bus. If a kid, for example, sticks his head out of his seat,” this is accompanied by a physical demonstration of him craning his neck far to the side, “then I would say their name, like, ‘Hey, Morgan! Put your head back in your seating area!’ Or, if someone would stand up before we stopped? Then I would tell them to sit down. Understand, Mom? I have, like, a job.”
He smiles now, a broad smile, proud of himself.
“A job!” I play along, “So how much are they paying you, then? $5?”
Big exasperated sigh. Eye roll. “No. I don’t get paid paid, it’s enough pay to just be Bus Captain.” His face lights up again as he relishes his new title, the way others might relish their titles of “CEO of Coca-Cola” or “Winner of Oscar Award, Category: Best Actor” or “President of the United States of America”.
“Cool. When did you get this, uh” (for lack of a better word), “promotion from bus rider to Bus Captain?” I ask, truly interested.
“Today. The driver, her name is Miss Lori, said that I could be the Bus Captain starting this week.” Smug.
Now I’m realizing that this is, in fact, not a voted-for position nor even a well-maybe-you-could-be-qualified position. No. This is a rotating let’s-be-fair-to-all-first-graders position. Tall will be demoted next week. I wonder if he’s aware of that.
“For how long?” I inquire.
“Forever.” He beams.
“No.” I correct.
“Yes!” Angry now.
“Mom. Why do I even bother to tell you things? I! Am! Bus! Captain!”
Geesh, MOV, why does he even bother to tell you things? I need to let him bask in his special moment. The brilliant bus driver has obviously found a (legal?) way to harness the tattle-tale tendencies of 7-year-olds. More power to her. She found a job that she no longer wanted to do, and gave it to a small child, and now he is (clearly) savoring it. I should figure out how to do the same.
“Tall?” I begin, tentatively, “How would you like to be Captain Of The Laundry?”