The Last Few Days Are the Longest

We just made it through the penultimate week of the school year with only three days next week before summer vacation.

Earlier this week I discovered a mess of sunflower seed shells on the floor near the back of the bus. I swept them up, making a mental note to find out who had been eating the seeds. The problem with my mental notes is that they self destruct after a few minutes. By the next day that mental note was a puff of smoke on a distant breeze.

The next day I swept up another pile of sunflower seed husks. I made another mental note. I forgot the mental note until after I drove away from the school with a passel of elementary school kids. I picked up the microphone and said to the group, “Hey people! This is a reminder that you are not allowed to eat in the bus. Especially sunflower seeds! Absolutely no sunflower seeds allowed!!!”

At a bus stop a boy told me that there was a huge mess of sunflower seeds on the floor near the back of the bus.

I secured the bus and marched back to the fifth grader with the purple mohawk. I’ll call him Gus.

Gus had a large open bag of sunflower seeds on the seat next to him. He was playing a game on his ipad.

 

I said, “Gus, is that your mess?”

Gus: Yeah

Me: Did you hear my announcement about eating sunflower seeds?

Gus: Yeah

Me: And then you ate those sunflower seeds?

Gus: Yeah

Me: And dumped the shells on the floor?

Gus: They fell

I looked at him a moment longer. His attention never wavered from the ipad.

I think I breathed a little fire when I said, “START PICKING THEM UP!” He looked up at me for the first time.

“NOW!!!!” I shouted.

It had never occurred to this child that he might have some responsibility in this mess.

Gus said, “You mean the shells?”

“YES!!! YOU MADE THE MESS, YOU CLEAN IT UP!!!!”

I was surprised when Gus bent over and started picking up shells. By the time I got to his stop he had piled them up on his ipad. On his way out he dumped them on the street. One small victory!

 

It’s Thursday, the last school day this week. It was a long day. I had my last field trip of the year but it wasn’t the fun kind where I visit animals in the zoo or play songs with the kids in the park. It was the kind where I drop off the kids and drive back to the base along with thirty seven other buses and wait for the call to return. Then we drive back and wait some more.

It was also early release day for the high school. They have early release the last four days of school. It sounds good on the surface but the reality is not so great.

In my daily route I pick up the elementary kids first. They’re a lot of fun in the afternoon but they’re also a lot of work. They don’t want to sit down and they take off their seat belts seconds after you get them to fasten them. And they’re loud. Very LOUD!

Next up is middle school. I just fight to keep my sanity.

By the time I get to the high school my nerves are frayed and I need a break. I get that break from my high school kids. I never have trouble with them. They’re quiet and respectful. I can feel my blood pressure go back to normal. It’s a breath of fresh air at the end of the day.

 

Then there’s early release. We clock in two hours early to pick up high school first. I’ve blown my breath of fresh air before the madness even starts! I end my day dropping off middle-schoolers! Echhkg!

Today I got an unexpected break. Most of the middle school kids stayed for the carnival. I only had nine students to drive home, about a quarter of my usual load. Traffic wasn’t even that bad. I was getting off easy.

I was getting close to the end of the line when a boy came up to the front with a liter container of coconut water. He said that someone left it on the floor with no cap and it was just spilling all over the place.

So much for smooth sailing and getting done early. It’s not easy getting a mop under all those seats.

Three more days!!!

 

 

Spring is in the Air (What are the Odds?)

Spring is in the air, the kids are out of control and the school year is winding down. That also means that the Kerrville Folk Festival is right around the corner. Kerrville is an eighteen day festival that starts the Thursday before Memorial Day. It overlaps with the school year by a week or two but in the good old days (5 or 6 years ago) Kerrville started the day after the last day of school. I would drop off the kids, clean out the bus, race home, pack tent, guitar and cooler, and head for the hills.
Every year is like a family reunion with my adopted musical family. We live for the late night song circles and jams in the campgrounds that often go until dawn.

One spring, around the turn of the century, I drove out to the ranch to kick off my summer vacation with some ’round the clock pickin’ and grinnin’. I pulled into the campground to set up camp when I saw two boys from my elementary route with their dad. Shane and Wyatt (names have been changed, not to protect the innocent, but because it was a long time ago and I don’t remember them) were excited to show me their camp. We all walked to their site. They had one of those big stand up tents with two or three rooms. A Suite. We talked for a bit and I went back to set up my own camp.

That night I grabbed my guitar and strolled from camp to camp. If I liked what I heard I sat down and joined the circle for a while. I stopped and played at several camps until I made my way up the hill to Camp Crow’s Nest.
It was around 3am and the vibe had mellowed out considerably. I may have been dozing when a man stumbled into the camp, breathing hard from the trek up the hill. He said, “Excuse me, sorry to bother y’all. I just got here and I’ve never been here before. I know it’s a long shot but I’m trying to find my brother. He’s camping with his two boys.”
Suddenly I was wide awake.
I said, “What are the boys’ names?”
He said, “Shane and Wyatt.”
I stood up and said, “Come with me. You just happened to find their school bus driver and I know exactly where they’re camped!”
I led him down the hill, into the meadow, through a sea of tents until we arrived at the “suite.”
He called his brother’s name and he emerged from the tent. He did a double take when he saw me. I think we were all equally amazed at the serendipity.
What are the odds?