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If I had to go back to school, I’d probably be tardy.
For one thing, I’d probably miss the bus, assuming I’d be returning to elementary school.
These days, Brunswick County students in grades K-through-5 literally have to rise before the chickens in order to catch the bus. This means their devoted parents have to awaken even earlier if they hope to raise up those kids right and get them dressed and fed before the big yellow bus swings by well before sunrise o’clock.
I now know about this from personal experience. I’m now an expert on the early schedule parents, students and entire schools must keep after the Buckley family so kindly allowed me to document their getting ready for school one early morning last week.
I deem the day a wonderful learning experience that I hope I never have to repeat anytime soon, since it required a nap afterward.
In order not to be tardy with the Buckleys, I got the bright idea and unusual motivation to get up at 4 a.m. This was to give myself plenty of time to bathe, dress, dry my hair, paint on a happy face, feed the cats, swill caffeine and complain to no one in particular about the pre-dawn hour, since no one else in the world was awake yet.
This way, I’d be conscious, my eyes almost fully open and my countenance slightly cheerful upon my arrival at the Buckleys’ house about 20 miles away.
Well, Benjamin Franklin was right. Rising early really does pay off.
Fortified with Folger’s in my cup, I reached the Buckleys’ house outside Shallotte at precisely 6:10 a.m.—just a tad tardy since I’d said I’d try to get there around 6. The only morning lights emanating thus far were the welcoming ones from in and outside the Buckleys’ cozy abode.
Old Sol was still sleeping in. The Buckleys’ dogs, however, were already up and barking in the dark from behind a fence, even though they don’t drink coffee.
Nine-year-old Abbigail was at the breakfast table with a bowl of Frosted Flakes. Her mom, Kim, was busy fixing coffee and lunches in the kitchen. She wore her server uniform for the job she’d be going to at a North Myrtle Beach, S.C., restaurant after seeing her little girls off to school.
Six-year-old Hayley sleepily entered the room, then ran to get dressed in her flowered dress and cowgirl boots she’d chosen to wear for the day. Mom Kim packed the girls’ lunches while they tended to their book bags.
Around 6:30 a.m., Kim and Frank Buckley headed with their daughters down the unpaved lane leading from their house to wait for the school bus.
By now, the Buckleys’ rooster was awake, too. His crows echoed down the path from somewhere behind their house as they strode toward the paved road. They and the dogs must’ve finally stirred him awake.
One of the girls pointed out a big star still in the sky as the four stood at the end of their road in the morning darkness, with only a single streetlamp to light their path.
Kim sprayed the girls’ legs with Off! to keep the morning skeeters away. It’s a mixed-bag time of year in Brunswick County.
By 6:40 a.m., the lighted bus driven by “Mr. Andy” pulled up, flashed its lights and lowered its arm for the little girls to cross and board.
The Buckleys bid their daughters goodbye and headed back home to get ready for their own day.
I got back in my car and headed to Union Elementary School to catch up with more early risers there.
It felt good to get an edge on the school day.
Nobody there could say I was tardy.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.