The Bus…


Nothing yet has made me feel as much ownership of this city as riding the bus.

Perhaps I deceive myself when I adopt the kind of gusto that presumes to bring three children, two bags, and one semi-collapsible stroller onto public transportation.

There are a few places we go on the bus. Mostly we use the 1-line. Yesterday, since Daddy had the car, we took the 29 down to Golden Gate Park to meet some friends. And due to the early onset of lunchtime and a sudden heavy downpour of whining we ended up taking the 5 back to the 29 home.

It’s fun. The kids very much still enjoy the novelty of standing up while moving. At this point, there are no more questions about the lack of seatbelts. And I enjoy that I don’t have to worry about parking, setting the timer on my phone for two hours, and leaving halfway through events to move my car.

The bus drivers’ facial expressions fall somewhere on the continuum between admiration and the “souls unuttered groans” at the sight of my little brood, depending, of course, on the fullness of the bus.

Most of the time I’m prepared, with my clipper card bus pass in my pocket, a baby in arm, two bags slung over my shoulder, stroller collapsed, and other kids at the ready. My eldest son is responsible for his own fare of 75 cents.

But sometimes the bus comes right up on us, just as we arrive at the stop and I am a dervish of bags and kids and baby gets tipped precariously forward as I lug him up on the bus still attached to his stroller. In these situations I make bold use of the space in front of the yellow line as I dig out my wallet and locate my clipper card because I’m not so new that I have to use cash, but I’m new enough that I don’t have a fancy clear lanyard that are all the rage on the San Francisco Muni.

Must get a lanyard!

Riding public transportation with three kids, I’ve also noticed, is an excellent opportunity for the people of San Francisco to practice grace. You’re welcome, San Francisco.

Mostly, I’ve been very impressed by the kindness showed us. Adults give up their seats for my kids, despite their protestations that they want to stand. They make room for my paraphernalia. They coo at the baby. They offer my kids candy (!). Last week, a kind man heading out to the VA on a very full bus even held my stroller in his lap for the whole bus ride.

There have been hiccoughs, of course. Yesterday, the stroller suddenly un-collapsed and slammed into the person across the aisle. My baby made an Asian adolescent who was watching anime on his phone very uncomfortable by yelling at him over my shoulder. Occasionally, I forget to bring the second bag, the sweatshirt bag, and then there are four sweatshirts that are being tossed from lap to lap and cajoled into children’s arms as we disembark, which takes quite a bit of polish off the shine of our operation. And one ride I discovered my daughter was making faces out the back window. Luckily, the driver of the bus behind us was making faces back.

Who knew that all this would actually make me feel more capable, another example of the odd math of motherhood. Holy unanticipated occurrences!

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