~"I wanted to be a bus driver when I was a kid. I look at bus driving through the eyes of a little boy. I see it as glamorous."~Jim Lehrer
For Miss K, Miss D, Mr.J, and all the others who have filled in from time to time....Thanks.
I don't think that there are many other kids who enjoy riding the school bus with as much passion and fervor as Oscar..The rest of my herd could take it or leave it..but Oscar? Oscar sees it as an important part-an essential part-a most NECESSARY part of his school day. My girls on the other hand....beg me to pick them up from school in the afternoon. "It's too hot...it's too boring...it's too loooooooong!" (They are actually the second stop from school-and they ride for maybe 15 minutes total) On rare occasions I surprise them and pick them up. But most times..well...practically all the time I insist they endure..I tell them "It builds character!".."teaches you important life lessons!".."puts hair on your chest!" The last usually distracts them enough to stop asking-because really-I cherish my last few minutes of alone time every day. (Some may say that this is selfish-but I call it self preservation.) Oscar on the other hand would be very upset if I picked him up..terribly upset..most displeased. The bus ride marks the end of his day- gives him a chance to gather his thoughts...switch off school..relax. When he gets home, he's happy..running off of the bus (not to greet me) so that he can get beat out his brother and sisters for the first turn on the computer. It wasn't always this way.
When we moved to our tiny town eight years ago, life for us was very different. I was enormously pregnant, Sam was starting first grade, Oscar pre-school and Lily was two.( I was exhausted.) I remember how scared I was on the first day of school. My boys had never ridden on a school bus-let alone ridden anywhere without me. Here I was letting them go off with a stranger! Of course, once they got on the bus-I immediately waddled to the car and drove to the school. I needed to actually see that my boys had arrived.(first and last time I ever did that) They did...and all was fine...and continued to be fine....Until Oscar started school full time. That is when our bus driver became much more than a nice person who got my kids to school safely..much more..
Oscar loved getting on the bus...it was getting off at home that could be a problem.Sometimes he simply...refused. He did not want to-and not having very many words at the time, he told EVERYONE in the only way that he could. My curly headed little boy would become a 49 pound tsunami of epic proportions...he screamed...and kicked and punched...he held on to the seat rails flailing and (did I mention) screaming.. He WAS NOT going anywhere...at least not without assistance..There I would be..trying to pry his hands off of the rails, my glasses flying..my shoes falling off. and he WOULD NOT budge...I'd get his hands loose and he would lock his legs around the bottom of another seat...I'd get his legs unlocked...and his hands would grab the seat. It was awful...although kind of funny in hindsight...I would be stuck...and then Miss K would jump in...calmly getting his hands loose-while I got his feet..and together we would carry him out of the bus and into my house. I can't tell you how many times we did this-but it was enough so that in time, we worked together like a well oiled machine. Not once did she lose her temper, complain..admonish Oscar or me..not once. Not only that-she would take the time afterwards to explain to the other kids(on the bus) that Oscar wasn't a bad kid. That he just had trouble communicating..that it was o.k....that he was o.k. I used to worry that she would call and tell me he was no longer welcome to ride...and call she did. Only it was to make sure that we were o.k...and to say yet again that Oscar was a great kid. and that she loved having him on her bus. The next day, she would greet my boys in the morning, just as she always did, just as she always does to all the kids-with open arms..
Those of us in the disability/autism community hear too many god awful tales of abusive bus drivers..of disabled children being abused or neglected. It is just horrible. Yes, we have to bring attention to these horrendous crimes...but I think it equally important to recognize the good guys too. I am blessed to live in a tiny town where the bus drivers are magnificent. From Miss K-who has seen me at my best and (a whole lot of times) at my worst..dressed in many unusual outfits (hey-I have to get four kids up at 6-I'm lucky to even be dressed at all!) and has loved and accepted all of my kids-for who they are...to Miss D. who every kid in this town loves because she is just so openly kind and loving-and she throws a great Halloween party for EVERYONE...and Mr. J-who the kids think is cool because he sometimes plays the radio, and greets every kid by name, sends a get well message when they are sick...came and shoveled my front walk when I couldn't-AND today, bought all of us (on a field trip) donuts for the ride home! And to the others that I don't know as well...but have filled in from time to time. Thank you for loving our kids...and for keeping them safe. Thank you.
Next week is "School Bus Safety week." If you are lucky like me and have a great bus driver-make sure to thank them. The good guys deserve recognition too!