Driving a schoolbus has not been like I imagined it to be. That doesn't mean that I don't like it, it just means my expectations were vastly different than the realities.
I guess I thought that the tales I would blog about would be lighthearted and funny. By in large, they're not. In fact, as the kids grow on me more and more, I'm finding less to laugh about all the time.
The majority of these kids come from extremely difficult home situations. Quite a few of them are vocal about it. Little Shayna tells me that she "saw her daddy hit her mommy, and now her daddy's in jail. I don't have a daddy anymore." For some reason Austin lives with his grandma and isn't quite ready to tell me why. In fact, quite a few of the kids live with aunts or grandmas, at least part time. I pick up six kids from two different foster homes. And of the ones at least living with their mom, I find that most of them are single moms.
Last week, Shayna's brother got on the bus crying. I asked him what was wrong. He told me his "mom pushed him". What in the world do I say to that? I know the home they live in. I know their dad is in jail. I know this boy is full of anger. I also know what it's like to be a mother and that children sometimes "embellish the story".
Today I picked up four of the foster kids. As I pull up, I saw one of the boys, age 12, hit another boy, age 11 and give him a nosebleed. When they got on the bus, the 12-year-old told me that, "River took my backpack". I told him that that was no reason to hit someone, sat him up front with the little kids, and got River a kleenex for his bleeding nose. I then chatted with the principal when I got to school.
After school, River gets on the bus with his hood pulled over his head so that I could barely tell who it was. It takes me a moment to see that the kid is crying his eyes out. This is the 11-year-old boy who wasn't even crying this morning after being socked in the nose, so I'm thinking this is pretty serious. As he sits down, I try to discreetly make my way to his seat (I say discreetly because I usually go up and down the aisle at least once, checking to make sure the kids are following all the rules of safety), lean over and ask him what is wrong. He doesn't answer, so I ask him if he's okay. He shakes his head yes. I leave it alone.
These are the type of situations I have to deal with. What makes it really difficult is the fact that we're taught that we have to maintain professionalism with these kids and not to get too close to them. I'm not quite sure how I can do that. It's already hard enough not to be able to hug them when they're hurt and crying, but to remain aloof and unmoved is another thing altogether. The day I'm not allowed to ask if they're okay or why they're crying is the day I quit driving bus altogether.
When I started this job I never thought of it as a mission. It was a way to make a little extra money and take my kids with me. That's it. I'm now realizing the need these kids have for attention, for love, and especially for Jesus. That perhaps I may be the only person that they come in contact with who can give them that hope. And I find it daunting, simply because I feel at least one of my hands is tied behind my back, so to speak.
I know that nobody can stop me from praying. I know that Jesus can open doors in ways I could never imagine.
And I know that I'm starting to really love these kids.