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?”
Me: Did you hear my announcement about eating sunflower seeds?
Me: And then you ate those sunflower seeds?
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!!!