I turned the corner and activated the loading lights as I do every day. This morning something was different. I opened the door as the student approached. I got the sense I was seeing something I shouldn’t be seeing.
Her face! I had never seen her face below her eyes before. I said, “Where is your mask?”
She looked up at me, waiting for me to check her temperature. I started to repeat myself but thought better of it. She can’t hear me talking through a three layer cotton mask and a plastic face shield. I lifted the shield and pointed to my own mask. She had a moment of shock and embarrassment as she patted her pockets.
I raised a finger in a “Wait a second” gesture. I pulled a box of masks from my PPE kit and handed one to her with gloved hand. She put the mask on. Her temperature was fine. She boarded the bus and all was well.
That moment of seeing something I shouldn’t see sparked a memory from several years ago.
I had just left the school in the afternoon with a busload of middle school students. We were stopped at a red light next to a minivan. I looked up at the mirror when I heard a ruckus in the bus. The boys were hootin’ and hollerin’ and getting out of their seats to get a good look at something outside the bus. I looked out the window to see what captured their attention. In the back seat of the minivan was a girl of about 11 or 12, apparently one of their schoolmates, taking off her shirt to change into her soccer uniform. I turned my attention back to the boys, trying in vain to get them to sit down. They were too busy giving themselves whiplash as they worked at getting a better look at the topless girl before she pulled her jersey on.
The girl got dressed, the boys settled back into their seats, and the light turned green. We drove on. For the next mile or two I could hear them saying, “Did you see that?!”
Stay safe and healthy this holiday season so we can celebrate together next year.