Two minutes later I get a frantic call from #1. She's out of breath and I couldn't understand anything except "train" and "bus left with (#4)" ... Slow down! What? They had gotten to the train tracks they have to cross to get to the bus stop, and there was a train coming. Despite being told never to run across in front of a train (EVER, even if it means missing the bus), they decided to make a run for it. I will be talking to them when they get home from school about this. They made it across the tracks, but #4 was about 20 feet ahead of them and as the bus pulled up, she got on. The driver didn't see the other kids running to close the gap, and left without them.
I called the transportation office, and much to my surprise, without identifying myself, my location, or my student's names, they knew exactly who I was and immediately radio'd the bus driver. I suspect he's a substitute for the normal driver. He seemed confused, and said he'd made a wrong turn, picked up the one kid and left the rest, then missed the next stop, and picked up the one after that and was now trying to backtrack. Just a combination of factors here. The driver was having a bad day, the train was either early or late (usually already gone or comes after kids are on the bus), and the kids weren't at the stop waiting like they normally are. Anyway, the guy at the bus garage said he'd send someone with a car to personally bring them to school if I didn't have another way to get them there. I said I'd call a relative and get back to him.
I called my mom, who was headed this way this morning anyway, and explained the situation. She said she'd be able to give them a ride, but they'd be late to school as she was just heading out and we are 30-45 minutes from her house.
At this point I'm wondering why the kids have not come back inside. It's cold out, and I'm sure they're not out there playing. So I called #1's cell phone to tell her to come in and that grandma will come get them when she gets out this way.
A reminder here, we are a family with Asperger's (high functioning autism), so sudden change is not well accepted. Poor #1 is in full blown meltdown, sobbing in the cold because she can't feel her legs anymore, she's freezing, and the train that they crossed in front of - has stopped on the tracks, blocking their ability to get back to the house.
But then, just as I was trying to figure out how in the world to calm my child over the phone with no real way to help her... Behold! "The bus came back! The bus is here! Bye Mom!" and that was it. The transportation folks worked miracles. It was 15-20 minutes after they missed the bus, but they got on the bus and I didn't have to work out alternate travel arrangements.
Let me be the first to say - that would never have happened at our old house. I can't help but feel completely blessed here. I was going to call the transportation office again, but then I realized, this could set back this route 15 minutes or more, and possibly more buses down the line since they have to meet up to swap kids to other buses. I didn't want to clog up their phone line when I'm sure other parents are probably calling to ask where the bus was. So instead I pulled up the district on Facebook. I've messaged with them before when we wanted information about the school here before we put in an offer on the house (seriously, I did a lot of research). Anyway, I explained the whole story (above) and thanked them for getting it all sorted out. They promptly replied that they'd get the message to the right people. :D So, thank you bus driver, for coming back to get the other kids. And thank you transportation team for getting that all fixed, and offering to personally chauffeur the kids to school this morning. And thank you to the office staff who took the Facebook message and will take the time to forward it to the bus people. What an amazing team they have working at this school district!