Posts about being a father, son, brother and husband.

UPDATED: Times That I Really Wish I Could Be a Superhero

by Aaron Einhorn
This past weekend, Christina went to the Type-A Moms Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, leaving me to play the role of single parent. This isn’t a big deal – it’s hardly the first time that I’ve been flying solo with the kids, and other than the fact that they probably eat too much fast food when she’s gone, nothing problematic has ever really occurred.

(Advance warning: Please read on, but despite how scared we got, everything worked out ok.)

My Mother-In-Law agreed to help out a bit so that I wouldn’t need to leave work early on Friday to pick the kids up. We had put Cosmo into “Doggie Day Care” on Thursday, and I was going to pick him up on Friday, then return home to relieve my MiL. So, I left work, went to get the dog, and while part of the way there, got a call from MiL asking “When do the kids normally get home?”

The answer is “4:30 p.m.”. It was about 5:25 when she called me.

I told her I didn’t know, and that I would call transportation. I did so, and the phone never picked up. Apparently, there’s no one there after 5:00 p.m. – at least not to answer that line.

By the time I picked the dog up around 6:00 (traffic was terrible), Christina called me from Atlanta. “Mom is calling the police.”

And she was right to do so. Because what other choice did we have? There was no one answering the phone at the school, at the school board, or at the transportation office. My MiL had been at the house since 4:00 to wait for the bus, and had the door opened. And if the bus had come by and no one was there to take the girls, the bus is supposed to keep the kids on the bus and take them to Children’s Protective Services.

So, by the time I got home around 6:30, we still didn’t know what was happening. The officer had taken a statement and was parked in his car at the end of our driveway. I was on the phone with Protective Services, trying to navigate through the automated menu. And my wife, who should have been enjoying her conference, was in her hotel room in Atlanta crying.

Finally, the officer walked up to the door saying he had reached transportation (through some access that the police have which the public does not), and was told that there had been some sort of emergency with the bus, and that it was “about 5 minutes away.” He stayed with us until the bus arrived, and finally I was able to see my daughters.

They were over two hours late. They had been on the bus for over three hours.

Never in my life have I felt more helpless.

Below is the e-mail I just sent to the school superintendent and city school board, with the personal details redacted:

Dear Interim Superintendent REDACTED and members of the Columbus Board of Education,

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure about what happened with my daughters during their bus ride home on Friday, September 27.

My daughters attend REDACTED Elementary on the north side of the city, right off REDACTED. Our home is on the south side, near the border of Grove City. Typically, their bus ride home takes roughly an hour, with their arrival sometime at or around 4:30 p.m. They are scheduled for drop-off by 4:15, but we understand that the school transportation system is currently under some strain. The bus they normally ride is REDACTED.

As much as I would prefer my daughters to have a shorter bus trip each day, I am not writing to complain about that.

I am writing because on Friday, they did not arrive home until after 6:30 p.m.

When the bus driver arrived, we were told that there was a family emergency for the regular driver, and so the regular driver’s route was added to the driver who came Friday night. I’m not unreasonable, and I acknowledge that this was the best option for the available resources. It’s not at all ideal, but I understand the solution.

What I do not understand is why no one notified my family.

At the start of the school year, information cards were collected for both of my daughters. On those information cards are our home phone number and the cell phone numbers for my wife, myself, and other families designated as alternate contacts for emergencies.

While I do not consider a “typical” delay to be an emergency, a delay of over two hours is far beyond typical. What is equally unforgivable is the fact that there is no one available to be reached at the school board offices, transportation, or the school itself after 5:00 p.m.

It was a Friday afternoon, and everyone just wanted to get home to their families, which I understand. That was what I wanted myself. But when there are still busses out for drop off, there needs to be someone who can be reached.

Instead, my two daughters, one aged six, and one aged nine who is on the Autism spectrum, were on a bus for over three hours, and we had no idea where that bus was. We didn’t worry when the bus was half an hour late. We didn’t worry when it was forty-five minutes late. After an hour, we began to worry, and when we could not reach the school, the school board, or transportation, we realized we had no choice but to call the Columbus Police department.

Because at this point, my wife and I had nightmare scenarios of my kids getting off at the wrong stop and being abducted by a stranger going through our heads. And there was no one we could reach to tell us that we were wrong.

The police did come out to our home and took a report, at which point they called some number they have access to which we do not. From this call, we were able to discover that the routes were combined, and that the bus was “about five minutes away.” The officer waited at our home until the girls arrived on their bus, and I asked why no one had called us. The driver did not have an answer – and I am sincerely hoping that you do.

I am a big supporter of Columbus City Schools. I am a product of the system myself, having attended REDACTED. Despite my wife’s frequent fears and worries, and beliefs that we should consider private schooling or moving to another district, I have always been the first to defend the City Schools. We vote for almost every tax levy to support the schools, and we absolutely adore the teachers and administrators at REDACTED School Name who have done an amazing job with helping my oldest daughter overcome the difficulties from her autism, to the point where she is now classified as doubly-exceptional.

But what happened on Friday was unacceptable. Not the delay itself, but the lack of transparency and information about it. Not only should we have been contacted, but we should have been given the option to come and pick our children up from the school if this was the only possible solution.

And I need to know that it will not happen again – either to my family or to any other family – if I am to continue to enroll my children in the Columbus City Schools and to support future tax levies to go to the school system.

Please respond to this message to let me know what steps will be taken in the future regarding making information about transportation available to concerned parents. My wife and I would be happy to schedule a meeting to discuss the situation, if that would be of interest. We can be reached either via e-mail or via our cell phones.

Thank you,

Aaron and Christina

For those hours, I would have given the world to have Superman’s flight, or Batman’s deductive skills, or the Flash’s speed. Instead, all I could do was sit and wonder and worry. I never reached the levels of fear my wife did – but that was because I was still too far into anger. I would have hit scared eventually.

I’m waiting for a response. I hope I get one soon.

UPDATE:
I received the following response from the interim Superintendent of Columbus Schools.

Hi Aaron,

You are correct! This is unacceptable. Deputy Superintendent REDACTED is investigating what happened and what didn’t happen and why. Either he or REDACTED, Transportation Director, will be in touch.

Dan

So, it’s progress.

My Date With Lois Lane

kidderby Aaron Einhorn
Well, perhaps “date” is a bit strong of a word, but I got to meet Lois Lane today, or more precisely, I got to meet Margot Kidder, who while she wasn’t the first actress to be Lois Lane, she will forever be the Lois Lane in my heart.

There have been numerous Lois Lanes through the years, from Noelle Neill and Phyllis Coates to Kate Bosworth and Amy Adams in the films, and from Phyllis Coates to Terri Hatcher to Erica Durance on television, with countless others providing voices to the intrepid reporter/love interest to the Man of Steel.

But in 1978, Margot Kidder appeared as Lois Lane in Superman: The Movie and from that point on, she has been my image of Lois.

Today, Packrat Comics hosted their second Annual “Not at Comic Con” Comic Con, and Ms. Kidder was a guest. I brought my girls out, and we stood in the rain to get inside, only to finally meet Ms. Kidder. Cordy and Mira wore their costumes from Disney, appearing as Tinkerbell and Snow White, and I wore the Superman costume that is responsible for getting me into costuming and for introducing me to the Heroes Alliance.

220px-Superman_ver1I joke that ever since my Superman suit ended up in the pool at one of the Heroes Alliance events, it attracts water, and today was no exception. We had a nice little thunderstorm while I was in line.

The store was crowded, although the atmosphere was fun, and as has become all too common with celebrity appearances, the rules about what you get with each purchase were a bit less clear than they should have been. But none of that changes the fact that meeting “my” Lois Lane was totally worth it.

I still mourn the fact that I never met Christophe Reeve. There are few celebrities who I actually cry over when they pass, and the two I can immediately think of are Jim Henson and Chris Reeve. Jim Henson taught me to believe in magic, and Chris Reeve made me believe a man could fly.

I’ll never get to shake his hand and tell him what his Superman meant to me, but today I at least got to do the same with Margot Kidder. I am extremely grateful for that.

margot