The most wonderful thing came into our lives recently. Yellow and long, with chunky wheels, squeaky brakes and snotty noses pressed against the window.
It is, of course, the school bus and it saves us two hours a day through no longer trotting backwards and forwards on the school run.
We were on the waiting list for a year and, even now, BB’s ride home is only on ‘stand-by’, but so far there’s been space every day.And, though only five years old, it makes him seem so grown up, so independent, all of a sudden. On hearing the bus come trundling down the hill, he bolts outside in a flash.
The doors clap shut and that’s it, he’s gone – his toast left half eaten on the sofa and cartoons still blaring from the TV. The first day I felt quite bereft.
Until I realised I could actually go back to bed for a bit.
Of course, I’ve worried about the ‘what ifs?’ – what mother wouldn’t? – especially as Dubai drivers tend to behave as though they’re riding the dodgems at the fairground and the highways here have at least eight lanes.
But he’s so excited by the bus buddies he’s made – and has fallen in love.
Buses in Dubai for primary school children have bus nannies on board. Ours is a sweet-natured lady from India with a kind smile and beautiful eyes. Her name is Shabina and, most likely, she has kids of her own back home, living with grandparents so she can earn money for their keep in Dubai.
Her days are dedicated to riding EK1 to school, waiting while the children are in lessons, then travelling back to our compound in the afternoon.
It’s not as easy as it sounds – she’s tasked with maintaining order on board and making sure all the kids keep their seat belts – and clothes – on (yes, really, last year someone stripped apparently).
Early this morning, I found BB writing a love note to Shabina on a card he’d made for her. “Muuum-mee, can you help me?” he asked, somewhat sheepishly. “I want to put ‘I love you bus nanny'”
Then he wrapped up a scented candle that was sitting on our bedside table (not a car or a train, like he usually chooses, but a candle! Surprisingly thoughtful!)
He’s adamant he’d rather we didn’t pick him up from school, like we did the other day to surprise him, because he’d prefer to ride home with his beloved bus nanny, who is so sweet she apparently even gives him a good-bye kiss.
So my big boy has his first school-boy crush and thinks he’s going to marry Shabina. When he’s 18 and reading this, he’s going to kill me for spilling the beans!
And if, like many of the Indian, Sri Lankan and Filipino workers over here, she does have her own children, I really hope she gets to go home to see them as often as possible.