Friday, June 26, 2009


Well, my first year driving school bus has come and gone. It ended on Wednesday morning. I was unable to drive the final after school run because it conflicted with my niece's graduation. Hannah was particularly sentimental. She got up and carefully planned what she was wearing on her last morning of riding the bus. She has grown rather fond of a few of the kids and wanted to say goodbye to them. To Seth, however, it was good riddance. He couldn't wait to be done.

I began my morning bus run but noticed after I picked up the kids at my first stop that the next couple of stops had no kids waiting at all. It was only when a parent came out at a stop to inform me that a bus had already gone by and picked up the kids that I realized that there was a misunderstanding at the office and that they had scheduled me off the entire day instead of just the afternoon. A quick call to the office confirmed this.

When my soft-hearted girl realized this, she promptly burst into tears. This was her last chance to say goodbye to some of the kids. So, I managed to meet up with the other bus driver at the first school (I had the kids from my first stop to drop off anyway) and explained to him the mix-up. I told him that he could go on home and that I would finish the rest of my bus run. This was only a slight consolation to Hannah, however, because she really wanted to say goodbye to some of the kids at the first school that were on the "other" bus. Unfortunately, she had to be satisfied with seeing some of them in the school yard when I pulled up to the school.

Here are some pictures of my favorite kids. The ones who pulled at my heart strings. The ones who were the best behaved.

This is Tyarah. One of the girls from foster care. Very polite and generally very well behaved.

Here is Jaycene, from the same foster home as Tyarah. I don't know if they are related or not. Jaycene was generally very well behaved, but definitely seemed to have a lot more anger issues than Tyarah. Some days I would find out she had been sent home from school earlier, so she would not be on the bus on the way home.

This is the impish Tyrell, also in the same foster home as Tyarah and Jaycene. He has a glint in his eye and sports a huge grin. He always wanted to be the first one on the bus and sit in the first seat directly behind me. One day a week before school was over, I noticed as I was pulling up to their stop that he had pushed in front of Tyarah, who was first in line. When I pulled up, I opened the door and informed Tyrell that he had to get on the bus last because of his pushing. He took off running, stopped, and contemplated not getting on the bus at all. Deciding it was in his best interest to get on the bus, he came past me and informed me that "he was done riding this bus". I amiably told him "alright" and went on my way. When he got on the bus the next morning, I couldn't help but remind him of what he had said about "being done riding the bus", to which he replied, "Nah. I was just kidding." I really, really love this boy.

This is Tristan. Hannah's particular friend. They would have the most interesting conversations. He too, is in foster care, although not the same one as the kids above. Every Thursday Tristan did not get on the bus because that was his day to visit his mom. A few months ago, I noticed that Tristan's behaviour had changed significantly. He was being uncharacteristically rude to me. He made a huge mess on the bus by dumping tons of fine sand on the seats and floor - a mess which took me quite a while to clean up. His behaviour changed so drastically that I had to call his foster mom just to let her know that I was a bit concerned.

Then it dawned on me. I realized that he had been getting on the bus on the Thursdays instead of going on his regular visitation with his mom. And I realized that I had a very angry, hurt boy who was just acting out. And, although I was never unreasonably stern with him, I did become more kind and gentle after that. Every child needs to be loved, especially by their mommy.

Nicholas was one of the nicest boys I've ever met. He quite often had a hard time sitting still and I often reminded him to sit down. I realized early on, however, that he never meant it defiantly. He just kept forgetting. He was always kind to me. He engaged me in conversation, asked me about myself, said thank you on a regular basis. A wonderful boy.

Riley is my pre-kindergartner that is also a great kid. He is so cute with really long eyelashes. Quite often he would sit with Hannah, especially if I suspected he might fall asleep. My sweet girlie would keep an eye on him to make sure that he wouldn't fall off of the seat.

Tristan and Kaden were two of the best behaved boys of all time. Wonderful, polite kids with a great mom, who was always waiting for them at their stop, always polite to me, always waved goodbye. They obviously learned their good manners from her.

And perhaps my favourite kid of all is Austin (pictured below). I really can't help myself. He's in grade six and lives with his grandma. After riding the entire year with him, I have realized how many issues he has. I've seen his anger displayed - not directed at me - where I actually had to call the vice principal to come and help me get him to sit in a seat because he was just standing on the steps, not moving, staring into space. This only happened once this severe, but on most days he was a truly remarkable kid. He chatted with me, told me about his life. Spoke so kindly and highly of his wonderful grandma. Cried when a bully said something nasty about his beloved grandma - which sealed his endearment in my heart. I see him as having so much potential if he can work through his anger issues.

He also was special to both of my kids. He took time for them. It became a little game that when Austin was leaving the bus, Seth would try to scare Austin, and Austin would pretend that he was scared by falling in a seat behind Seth. Seth would laugh hysterically every time, and Austin would leave the bus with a smile on his face.

Yep. I think Austin is the "Diamond in the Rough".

The reason I'm a little emotional about all of this is because I just found out a couple of weeks ago that I will not be doing this bus run next year. I thought all along that I would be back and would get to see some of these kids again. However, I was given first choice of doing the run right around my house, which cuts my bus time in one-third (for the same pay). For the sake of time, and the fact that I will be starting to homeschool Seth next year, I really couldn't turn it down. Instead of being on the bus an hour and a quarter in the morning and again in the afternoon, I'll be on 20-30 minutes each time. I also realized that I couldn't make a decision based on how much I would miss some of the kids because I have no idea how many would even still be going to that school. In the course of my run last year, I must have lost 50 kids because they moved away.

Perhaps, if I'm fortunate enough, some of these kids might move into the school district that I am now in and again end up on my bus. One can always pray.

So, I leave with emotion. These kids meant a lot to me. I've shared some of their stories and their ups and downs. But, I can always still pray for them. After all, they belong to the Master, who loves them more than I ever could.

And so, farewell.

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