Friday, November 26, 2010

The Boy on the Bus

by Jan Shoop
I was coming home from getting groceries last week, pulled into our subdivision and the school bus had just stopped to unload children. I sat patiently behind the bus watching the children get off. The first child couldn’t get off the bus fast enough, like he was escaping an unknown fear. He was in about 4th or 5th grade and was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled low and over his head.
 He walked hurriedly in “red alert” hunched over as if trying to make himself disappear. We’ll call him “Josh.” The next group of children, boys and girls, got off all laughing and happy and walked in a different direction. The last boy that got off also wore a similar hooded sweatshirt, but with the hood down. He followed after the younger boy.
I sat there wondering, what caused “Josh” to behave in the way he did? Was it his day at school? Did he fail a test? Lose a friend? Was he being bullied or taunted? Was he going to an empty home? Is the older boy his brother? Will he help him overcome whatever is bothering him? Whatever the reason, I felt sad and wondered how many other children were getting off similar buses right now just like “Josh.” Shouldn’t students come home from school feeling happy, excited and ready to share their wonderful experience of the day with a parent, guardian or friend? Schools should be places of learning and thinking, they should also be places where children can grow to become happy well adjusted adults who make a difference in the world and understand their place in the world. Schools are not just in existence to generate high test scores and receive excellent ratings. Schools are here for the children, the “Josh’s” of the world who may need someone to listen to, or a word of encouragement when they fail, or a little bit of kindness. Schools are here to help children, not just survive, but thrive. Why are schools not teaching kindness and respect for everyone? My thoughts and prayers went out to “Josh” that his afternoon and evening was filled with love and laughter and that when he gets off the bus tomorrow it will be with an uplifted spirit and sense of pride.