By Gary Lloyd
Our son was born in 2020, and for the first eighteen months of his life, we lived off the beaten path in Trussville – does that actually still exist here? – where he saw more deer than people.
So, when we moved over the summer of 2021 to a Trussville subdivision full of families, he looked like one of those deer caught in the headlights. Middle-aged folks watered their pink flowers. Children rode Razor scooters and Schwinn bicycles. Fellow toddlers waved from their Graco strollers on the sidewalks. In September, American flags adorned porches and lined the streets. In October, plastic skeletons rested on porch swings and larger-than-life spiders sat on front lawns. Little of these new aspects of life, even bedsheet ghosts, fazed our toddler. He just reacted, well, uninterestedly.
One thing has gripped his attention almost daily: the yellow Trussville City Schools bus that picks up a dozen youngsters every weekday at 7:22 a.m. and slowly curves onto our street and passes directly in front of our house, which sits on a corner lot at the crest of our street. You should see the pure enthusiasm radiating in his face. His cheeks nearly touch his ear lobes, and sometimes he shrieks with excitement. I’d react similarly to Freddie Freeman hoisting the World Series trophy at Truist Park in Atlanta, or buying a winning lottery ticket from a Shell station in Douglasville, Georgia. The kid lights up, and I can’t get enough of that. We stand on the driveway each morning and wave as that bus creeps by. The bus driver always waves back.
I hope that time passes as slowly as that bus, but I know that it will not. It is already going by like a left-lane Camaro on I-459 North. Not only can I tell visually, but physically it is also obvious. Each morning, it seems the toddler has gained another couple pounds, leaving me to dip into the Ibuprofen bottle again.
Soon, his weight, combined with his moving-too-fast age and fierce independence, will leave me standing beside him, his hand in mine as we wave to the bus. As he reaches three, four and five years old, maybe he will stand there with me before I go off to work, waving to the bus driver and kids off to Paine Elementary School. I hope he does. If not, I’ll understand. Kids’ attention spans are like trying to keep those deer in the backyard – at a moment’s notice, they are ready to bolt.
Soon enough, though, he will be one of those kids standing at the bus stop on the street adjacent to ours, some hundred feet from our driveway, waiting on that school bus with his friends.
He will watch the bus approach, hopefully with the same enthusiasm he does now, and he will climb the steps to find his seat. He will place his backpack and lunchbox by his feet, and the bus will make the turn onto our street.
I’ll stand on our driveway, and I’ll wave.
Gary Lloyd is the author of six books and is a contributing writer to the Cahaba Sun.