Thursday, February 14, 2008

Conversations from the School Bus

I think driving school buses is training me to parent in those unusual situations you can't fully anticipate. At least I hope there's some transference from one situation to the other. With my primary responsibility being to get these kids safely home in a timely manner, It's often challenging to respond to some of their concerns as quickly as I need to but still be sensitive and fair. I can imagine that parenting, especially with multiple children, will demand similarly expedient, on-the-ball responses.

Everyday the younger kids say things like, "Billy said the B-word!" or "Katrina stuck her tongue out at me." I'm getting better at quickly defusing these standard situations but I still get thrown for a loop on a regular basis with more bizarre comments and situations.

A few weeks ago, a scrawny 11-year-old decked in camouflage was riddling me with adultish clich├ęs like, "It's been really rainy this week, huh?" and "The flu bug is really gettin' around these days." Then, he was quiet for a while--perhaps he ran out of stereotypical small-talk topics. Finally, out of the blue, he says:

"I have huge tonsils."

Yesterday, most of the kids were loaded on the bus already and we were just waiting for our departure time when the sweetest little kindergarten girl walks up to me and says, "Bus driver, Julie is sad."

Me: "Why is she sad?"

Little Girl: "Here." She grabs my hand. "Come with me."

We walk down the aisle hand in hand.

Little Girl: "Tina told Julie she wasn't her friend any more."

How do you deal with this!? I would not make a good kindergarten teacher.

Later, mid-drive with the same wee ones, amidst the uproar of 3 o'clock juveniles, I hear what sounds like tiny English-speaking kittens. Some of them, because there's a placard up front inscribed with their previous driver's name, are calling me "Jim." The others are just saying "bus driver." I look in my rearview mirror and single out one of the smallest kittens who looks like she's about to cry.

Me: What's wrong?

Teary-eyed Kitten: Megan says she won't let me look at her imaginary guinea pig.

I am dead serious. She said this.

Me: Her imaginary guinea pig??

TEK: Yeah, she won't let me look at it.

Completely baffled that someone would shed real tears over an imaginary guinea pig and seeing what I thought was a fairly simple solution I told her that she should have an imaginary guinea pig too. I couldn't hear her response. I hope I didn't add to her sorrow.


Anonymous said...

Ha! You should have told her that you just ran over an imaginary guinea pig. Heh heh.

Great post Jim!

lalbe said...

I'm really curious as to how you counseled Julie & Tina. Was Tina an imaginary guinea pig, per chance?

Brian said...

Josh, you are hilarious. And cruel.

Leah, shhhh, I didn't include that part on purpose. My response was so clumsy and inadequate. I think I basically told them that Tina was allowed to choose who her friends were but that it wasn't a very nice thing to say. How's that for lack of tact?

Any ideas how I should have handled it (quickly)?

The Hornes'es said...

no way...thats really funny!

Jodi said...

That was really funny. It made up for the disappointment I feel every time I come here and DON'T see a picture of your daughter.

Anonymous said...

I think I would have told the Teary Eyed Kitten that if Megan wouldn't let her see her imaginary guinea pig, then the TEK to not let Megan see her imaginary parakeet. But that's just off the top of my head. :)

This is too funny. I think you ought to start a "collection" for a book. Or at least a set of fun greeting cards.