Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Well, they said it was going to happen, but I really hoped it would pass me by. We were told at the beginning of the school year that at some point someone would ride along with all of the first year bus drivers. They would be evaluated on their driving skills, on student management and on safety enforcement. I got the call last night that it was my turn this afternoon.

It was recommended that since I take my kids with me on the bus that it would be best to bring them along during the evaluation because they wanted to see my skills in a "real-life" setting. (I was already planning a call to grandma to see if she was busy but that thought quickly went out the window).

Great. I was thrilled.

Before my afternoon run, I laid out The Rules to the kids:

1) No talking.
2) No laughing.
3) No burping or other such like noises.
4) No moving.
5) There must be at least 12 inches between each other.
6) No wrestling, pinching, spitting or hitting.
7) Blinking and breathing were allowed.

Seriously, I told them in no uncertain terms that they had better listen the first time if I made a request, to which my smart-mouth daughter (my sweet princess has disappeared in the last couple of weeks, replaced by my almost 7-going-on-13-year-old MOUTH piece) replied:

"But mom, I thought they wanted to evaluate it the way it really is."

That, folks, says it all.

I explained very seriously to them that unless they wanted to live without a computer or candy for three years, they had better listen. For all of the positive-reinforcement moms out there (I know that I say that with sarcasm, but really - I am in total awe of anyone who can use positive reinforcement most of the time. I'm working on it but I'm just not there yet) I did tell them that if they did listen to me they would receive nightly DQ treats for a year. Sort of.

My first school is my easy run. I only have 12 kids that are registered to ride bus, but usually only 4-6 ride per day on average. Only one girl gives me fits, typically. However, because Murphy's Law rules, today was the day of several firsts:

1) A rousing game of hide-and-seek, with *Jaylynn hiding under the seat waiting for *Tyler to find her;
2) *Jaylynn using the bus seats as a trampoline - jumping back and forth, back and forth;
3) Having to physically pick up *Jaylynn from the back of the bus to move her up to the front of the bus where she is supposed to sit. This was also attempted by *Tara, but she managed to figure out that her legs worked on their own and moved herself up to the front;
4) While removing *Jaylynn out of her hiding spot under the seat, *Tara walked up to the front and shut the bus door. This is a NO NO.

I had told myself before this run that if anything atypical happened I would NOT try to defend myself to the evaluater by saying, "this does not usually happen". Guess what I did? Twice.

As each of these incidents were happening - all in the EIGHT minutes that I waited at the school prior to leaving - I was wondering what Pollyanna would do. Pollyanna was the evaluater, or who I thought of her as. You can always spot a Pollyanna a mile away by the way they interact with the kids. I was in trouble. In my mind, I was certain that Pollyanna would get on her hands and knees and gently coax little darling *Jaylynn to get out from under the seat. I did NOT...gently...coax.

During the transit of these kids, I was already compiling a list in my mind of the 25 recommendations I would be handed at the end of my "test". Fortunately, during the transit, the kids actually.....sat. But my son, who was listening to his beloved Jungle Jam on the earphones, gave wonderful monkey impersonations and an entire concert in between them. Seriously, he has never sang the entire time on the bus before. He did today. I should have listed that under the firsts. But because he was at least sitting and obeying my Rules 1 though 6, I let him complete his concert.

On to school number two. Usually my tougher one. I couldn't wait to see what would go wrong here.

My daughter, meanwhile, yapped the ear off of Pollyanna. Chit chat is fine, but she more than chit-chatted. She informed her that "preschoolers probably shouldn't go to school that young", and "some preschoolers are TWO YEARS OLD!", and "I can read a whole Mandie book in two days!", as well as "I've been reading for two years! Some kids aren't even reading yet." I was a tad bit embarrassed. I could also see that Pollyanna was trying to complete an evaluation form and was being constantly interrupted by my darling, so, I made my request known that I wanted her to stop chatting and read.

"But mom, I don't want to read. I want to talk." As you can see, she's bursting with compliance.

I reminded her of our little talk before the bus. I asked her if she remembered it.

"Yes. But mom, YOU'RE TALKING, TOO!" And she continued using her lips.

As I drove, I mentally planned her demise. DQ was definitely out, which was a good thing because I wasn't sure how I could work it in our budget anyway. (See, that's Pollyannish - isn't it?)

We reached the school, and soon *Brennan, the mouth, entered. He's the bully, for anyone not familiar with him.

"Who is that lady on the bus? What, is she seeing if you are doing your job?"

The goober.

Besides firmly informing a girl that she would be moving up to the front if she didn't sit IN her seat and not IN the aisle, things didn't go too bad for the rest of that run. When *Brennan got off the bus, he said,

"How come you were so nice to me today, Darla?"

The twerp. I actually thought it was funny, though, and I did laugh. I was nicer to him because he was actually gooder than usual.

On my way back to drop off my bus, driving to my doom, the bus was quiet except for the serenading from my son. My daughter had actually ceased moving her lips. I was pondering my fate.

I put the kids in the van and stood outside waiting for Pollyanna to hand me her list of reasons that I am not suited to drive a bus. She surprised me. This is what she said,

"I have nothing but praise for you. I watched how difficult the situations were. I watched how you handled them. You handled them exactly how I would (What?). You drive expertly. You maneuver the bus very well down narrow streets. You can multitask. You have a very difficult run, and for the type of run and the type of kids you have on your bus, you could do no better than you do. There is nothing I can recommend that you do differently."

I could not have been more shocked. I asked her at least three times if she was "serious" because I really thought she was joking. Truthfully, I kind of had to hold back the tears (and contemplated falling at her feet......).

But then I remembered: I shouldn't be surprised - she is Pollyanna after all. Thank goodness. It really is nice to be on the receiving end of Pollyanna.

And I'm still smiling. :)


Laura said...

You are surprised? Did I not tell you you had more patience than I did? Futhermore, when you are smack dab in the middle of the will of God, He makes a way. She probably sees your heart, too!

Good job, schoolbus driver.

Anonymous said...

;) way to go !!
love ya

Darla said...

Thanks Laura & Mindy....

Rachel Peterson said...

LOL I think I can expect to have similar experiences as you if I ever have children. My cadets performed like this. Lets just say the power of my voice increased rapidly over 7 weeks, and I was able to yell quite loudly.

Situation one: Kid turns off hot water to girls bathroom.
Situation two: Kid complains about sexual harrassment but is lying.
Situation three: Staff cadet smacks kid upside the head in a form of a "love tap". Kid complains.
Situation four: Kid running around with gel deodorant, cotton batting and tape on his face in a form of a beard.

It was basically a 7 week survival course on parenting. I think I failed.

Congrats on your passing

Darla said...

Fortunately most of my kids are younger, Rach. I'm not sure how I'll be with teens - yet.