Words

Life

Category: omnischoolbus

Clarification

by Andrea Elizabeth

I didn’t mean to sound like I didn’t like the ash tray in my last post, so I edited the last sentence.

My tone has more to do with not wanting to be patronizing. I’m thinking that sentimental pity towards others or myself doesn’t do anyone any good. Love is hopefully deeper, stronger, and more effective than that.

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Two more bus boys

by Andrea Elizabeth

There’s one more bus boy that I’d like to mention. Well two counting the very nice band kid who never got in trouble and always said thank you as he carried his instrument down the steps and through the folding door. I remember the girls too in my jr. high bus route that I ended up with, but they were usually quieter than the boys, sat in the middle to back of the bus, and were not as intense. The time I got in trouble for letting two of them off at the convenience store on the edge of their neighborhood, which I didn’t know wasn’t allowed, isn’t really a big deal. This other boy was blind and always sat in the first row opposite my children. I could romanticize about how noble and long suffering he was, but after a while that wore off and I quit feeling sorry for him. Sometimes his mother would wait with him at his curb, but sometimes not. It was interesting to think of the sounds a bus makes that told him we were there. He would talk to me about I don’t remember what and was very personable. Sometimes he would also talk to my son. It was nice having polite conversation instead of shocking ones. After school I would see him accompanied by a teacher or two who would guide him toward the bus. The kids pretty much left him alone. I still have an ash tray that he had made in art class and given to me. I think it’s the only tangible thing I have left from those days, and I am grateful for it and for his kindness.

More bussing bright spots

by Andrea Elizabeth

I also mentioned elsewhere that I enjoyed driving rural routes. My route had a couple of nice views, but it was mainly when I subbed for other people that I got to go to the outlying areas. One was an outcropping of trailer homes on stilts by the banks of the Brazos River (the 10th largest river in the US), and another was on the opposite ridge, miles away. There were always scary kids on each bus, but there were nice ones two. One time after a particularly long afternoon in which I subbed on another bus, a little girl at her stop approached me from the last row, behind the tall kids, beaming. It took me a few seconds to recognize her. “Crystal! Ben (my 7 year old son), do you recognize Crystal?” I met her and her mother through an acquaintance three years earlier when I worked in downtown Ft. Worth as a utilization review nurse for an insurance company. The acquaintance was a Mormon lady who had a daughter with a different granddaughter who wanted to start a little homeschool preschool coop with a pretty non-religious Mormon curriculum called Joy School. Crystal’s mom was the other mom. The two little girls and my son Ben met at each others homes once a week for lessons, crafts, snacks and playtime. And there was Crystal 3 years later in my bus. That left a lasting warm spot. By the way by strange coincidence, Crystal’s dad is the Mormon gentleman I mentioned earlier who works with George and advises people to stock up on emergency supplies. Small world.

The Up-side of Schoolbus driving

by Andrea Elizabeth

I believe it was Tolkien in The Hobbit who said that a good story needs for bad things to happen. In my last three bus-tales I focused on the bad things. Though I related a few of these things, lesser similar things and the constant threat of such things pervaded my year as a single parent. I have written elsewhere of some of the perks of school-bus driving such as taking sweet little elementary kids, their teachers, and my three year old to field trips such as to a dairy, a theatre production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, accompanying free lunches at restaurants to bus-drivers,  and an Easter Egg hunt at a local wildlife preserve. It was at the latter that a driver-acquaintance gave me the web address that led me to my husband, George. So if it weren’t for wanting to take my kids to work with me and the aich, eee, double toothpicks of constant verbal and sometimes physical spiritual warfare, I wouldn’t have my lovely husband, five of my lovely children (counting Isaac), the ability to stay home and homeschool them and my two original children, my lovely house, two sweet orange pets and one low-maintenance scaled pet, and plenty of food and flowers on the table. I hesitate to presumably say “Glory to God for all things”, but it is my opinion that He has blessed me with these.

My last route

by Andrea Elizabeth

In some ways I wish I’d kept my original route. I’d sort of proven myself to the rough neighborhood kids. When I changed routes, I had to start all over. The “better” neighborhood was a newer subdivision closer to the DFW Metroplex. The more expensive houses required many people to have two incomes to pay for them, thus their children rode the school bus and were home alone in the afternoons. It was very saddening to hear how the unsupervised teenagers spent their time on the internet and reading Marilyn Manson’s at the time new book, The Long Hard Road out of Hell. One boy was particularly profane and insisted on sitting behind my kids. On his worst day, instead of dropping him at his curb, which I did for most of the kids, I dropped him off at his stop which was a few blocks away. He couldn’t believe I would refuse to drive until he got off. I stuck with these kids though through the rest of the year, and I was a little sad at the end to say goodbye to them. If my kids hadn’t been on the bus I wouldn’t have been as uptight, but the reason I drove the bus was because I could take them to work with me. I saw a few of them over the next couple of years working as cashiers at Walgreens and Wendy’s. I was glad to see how they were doing.

My first regular route

by Andrea Elizabeth

When my city’s school started, I was assigned a route in a sort of rough area. There were a lot of siblings who rode the bus and it was interesting to see how they were used to looking out after each other, or how they knowingly looked on when one of them acted out. My main way to discipline was to move students up to the front of the bus to sit. That was pretty effective, but it put the worst language and behavior close to my kids. My little ones learned the seriously bad words on the bus, but thankfully do not repeat them. These kids were all ages. About a month into the year I let out one of the verbally annoying, but not deviant, jr. high boys and another taller, quieter boy at the same stop. They went up a street not on my route, but for some reason I turned and looked after them. About a block away, the annoying boy was on the ground being kicked in the head and stomach by the taller boy. I turned the bus and drove along side where I saw the tall boy’s calm, grey face as he continued to dig into the smaller one. I yelled something at him, my adrenaline guiding me. He stopped and the other kid got up and ran off. I firmly commanded the grey boy to get in the bus now, and sit down on the step. I was surprised when he did. I told him to keep quiet while I made a call. I called the bus barn and asked what I should do. The dispatcher asked if the victim had gotten away and I said yes. They said let the other kid go. When I got back to the bus barn, the victim’s mother was on the phone and asked to talk to me. She thanked me and said she took her son to the hospital and found he had a concussion and that I had probably saved his life. She had also called the police on the other kid. He ended up being taken to a juvenal delinquent (not that they call them that) school in Ft. Worth for a while. I changed routes after that to a “better” neighborhood. For some reason the bully got on my bus one other time later in the year and neither of us said a word. Oh and I also ended up driving the victim another time and he smiled at me and thanked me and was much more quiet in his seat.

My first week as a busdriver

by Andrea Elizabeth

One time there was a boy with multi-colored painted fingernails who put his hands on the back of my children’s seat so that I could see them through my inside-the-bus mirror. For those kinds of “display only” behaviors, I just kept nervous vigil. That route was in another city. After our summer training a bunch of us were sent to this city because they started school a week before our city did and didn’t have enough drivers yet. My at the time three and seven year olds enjoyed the hotel, and didn’t seem to mind too much getting up early to watch a bunch of kids ascend above their eye level to make their way to the seats behind them. That city was a lot more suburban than our city is. This was the time when “Goths” were popular, and our eyes widened at some of the black trench-coats, emo hair, and black eye-liner, which was even on some of the teen boys. But it was only for a week and you can stand anything for a week.