In my previous entry, I wrote about the prank I played on some unsuspecting 7th grade band members. I had the same group two days later and had about five of them ask, "Where's the frog?" It got me thinking about the influence each of us has on children. Sometimes, if I'm facing a particular behavior problem, I have to take a step back and be the bigger person in the situation.
It may be that the child's life may NOT be the best thing ever. They may have to go home and be responsible for their little siblings - at 6-9 years old! Mom or dad may not be existent in the home. They may be in jail, selling drugs, or any other number of things. I drove a certain bus once and jokingly told the kids they'd better be good or I'd call their mommas and daddies. The overwhelming response I got from the kids was, "My (parent of choice) is in jail/prison - They're getting out in XX months/years." It completely threw me off guard and made me realize that some of these kids have a hard life.
Many of our children go home hungry and don't eat anything until the next day at school. Many communities are implementing summer lunch programs because these children would go hungry if there was nothing available. Many children bring their younger siblings and make sure that they get enough to eat before they eat.
Their school life might not be the best thing either. Their teacher might be awful. Their teacher might yell, scream, keep them in for recess, send them to the principal's office. They might face numerous discipline consequences through the school. Sure their behavior sometimes warrants these consequences, but to add a bus conduct offense on top of it probably gets discouraging.
Most behavior problems I can manage on the bus without school intervention. Often these kids are just starved for attention. I've had several kids come up to me to give me a hug and receive one in return even if I'm not driving their bus that day. They're quick to show me their accomplishments. I praise them and they soak it up. I high five the kids or fist bump the teens. I sing silly songs with the pre-k kids and also some of the older ones who are embarrassed at first, but then get into the fun. Sometimes I pull tricks out of my proverbial hat with items on hand.
I was faced with the scary prospect of entertaining/controlling 8 pre-k kids on one bus one afternoon. Our pre-k is located across town and while all the buses transport their kids there in the morning, in the afternoon those same kids board 1 of 2 buses, marked with a red or green dot and go to their respective elementary schools to meet their buses. They label the kids with white name/bus number labels and a red or green dot sticker on the label. I peeled off the sticker on one of the tags and stuck it on my nose and waited for the kids to notice. They howled in laughter when they saw I was being silly, then they all begged me to have a "nose" like mine. Ever since then, whenever I'm on that bus, they want a "nose".
If its one thing I keep in mind it is that we all have an impact on the lives of children no matter how old they are. So, for that 10-45 minutes they are on MY bus, if I can bring just a little happiness to their lives, then I've done my job.
Spreading happiness everywhere!
The Bus Driver