Thursday, November 6, 2008

School Bus Mission Field

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.

14 comments:

Laura said...

Darla, welcome to my world of cadets. This is the way the teenagers grab at my heart. There is nothing like it when there is a hurting child that tugs at your maternal heartstrings. Actually I stand corrected...there is something that is greater. When you know that God has put you in a place greater than yourself, for a greater purpose... to influence someone's life. Isn't it the most scary, yet exillerating feling there is on the planet? Knowing that you are clay in the Potter's hands is the greatest place to be! Let Him guide you and hang on for the ride because it will be beautiful, wait and see!

Darla said...

The funny thing is, I always thought I would more naturally have a rapport with teenagers (being a teenager in church without the support of my parents) than little kids. I'm finding out differently.

Pray for me. Please.

Laura said...

The neat thing is, you still may have a rapport with the teens, but when your kids are teens and starts hangin' with teens.

Will be praying.

In the Light Photography said...

Aunty Darla,
This is the primary reason for me becoming a Social Worker. Few people really truly understand what it is like to work with kids. Those kids are so precious. Keep being there and being a positive influence in their life, because you know you may be the only hope they have.
Love you lots
Rach

Darla said...

Rach: It's true I may be the only hope they have. I want to be what I need to be.

Love you, too.

rrgoff06 said...

Darla, Darla, welcome to the world of fostering.... Quite an eye opener, isn't it? When you see the world of hurt these kids face every day, it makes it very difficult not to hate their parents!! I know, I've been there, and had to deal with the parents one on one. Dealing with hurting children and not able to do a thing about it has got to be the most frustrating thing in the world!!

If you can get away with it and keep your job, love those kids like no one else can or will. You are the only Jesus these kids may ever see. If that means hugging them, then hug them. Let them know you care- no one else does... And we wonder why our world is so messed up...

I was working a while ago, and overheard a 7 or 8 yr old asking his daddy, "Do you love me, Daddy?? Do you like me??" Why would a child have to ask that? Makes me so MAD!!! Someone has to let these children see real love...

Just love them like only you can and the adults involved will see the difference. You are definitely in my prayers!!

Rachel

rrgoff06 said...

P.S. Great- now you have my ire up..... Thanks!!
Just teasing... kinda.....

Rachel

Darla said...

Rachel: If there is anyone who could tell me to walk to the moon for those kids, you could.

Today another amazing thing happened. A different girl opened up to me for the first time, and I found out that she is from the one reserve that our church (along with the Taylor's in Lloydminster - and actually I believe Bro. Taylor is still going there for Bible studies) went to for many years. She just moved into the city for the first time off the reserve (she's 11), but I'll be interested to find out if her family knows of our church or the Taylors from having gone there so many times.

Coincidence? I think not.

In the Light Photography said...

Aunty Darla:
I will be praying for God to give you the wisdom on how to get these kids to open up. It is incredible.
I am proud of you! A lot of adults do not see beyond their own kids, and if they do it is with an air of superiority.
Jesus always took time out for kids too.
Rach

rrgoff06 said...

It's amazing what a little love can accomplish! Just letting a child know you care makes all the difference in the world. And, if it takes a trip to the moon, then go- they're worth it! Who knows, maybe one of those precious little ones is the next Paul???

My only piece of advice (for what it's worth) is love those kids with your whole being. You and others will see the difference, and they will be amazed. We, as real Christians, shouldn't be, but are as well. God can and will work miracles if you just love....

It's truly amazing.... and a really long story.....

Love you!

Amanda said...

The world needs more bus drivers like you, Darla. ((hugs))

I'll be praying.

Darla said...

Thanks, Amanda. I felt that hug.

Laura said...

Isn't that the truth Amanda? When a bus driver has to worry about whether she is going to get into trouble for giving a hurting child a hug, where has our world gone wrong? I truly do understand all the "political" correctness in our society, but sometimes there comes a time to just lay it all aside.

Laura said...

And follow your heart. There I had to finish that thought. :-)