It was the last day of my work week, and I found myself driving into the town of Woodstock, VA at the time I normally wake up. I had paperwork to give to my health insurance guy, who opened his office an hour and a half early to help me sort out some last minute paperwork with the Health Insurance Marketplace.
I was grateful for his willingness to see me before my work day (and even his) started. I was also still in the “waking up” process and wanted to be back in bed. Now that February had reverted back to somewhat normal winter mode, I’m content to be indoors under blankets all day.
Early into my drive, though, I found myself behind a school bus.
I have a special place in my heart for all things public school related. My mom is a 2nd grade teacher, and from 2nd to 5th grade, I attended the same school at which she taught. This meant I never had to take a school bus until I was in middle school. I rode in with my mom, hung out in her classroom before the school day started, went to my class, then returned to her room as the student aides called the buses over the intercom. After her students left, I’d work on my homework, watch TV in her classroom, or wander the halls in my socks or bare feet chatting with teachers and staff.
So finding myself behind a school bus, I found myself reminiscing about my old school days, the conversations I had with those teachers which stayed with me all this time, the feeling of bare floors beneath my tiny feet, the smells of pencils, recess equipment, and paper, and the feeling of being surrounded by knowledge and love. Funny enough, being stuck behind this school bus brought upon feelings of joy instead of the typical feelings of frustration at the possibility of being late for an important appointment.
I sat in my car behind the bus as I watched parents waiting on porches and in cars to see their kids safely aboard. In the absence of parents, older children kept an eye on the younger ones. When the bus stopped, its lights flashing and STOP sign extended, bundled-up kids ran across the street at full speed to climb aboard. A teenager in skinny jeans and a hoodie untangled their iPod earbuds while walking across the street at a much slower, more grudging pace than the younger ones.
The bus gave me time to pause, to breathe, and to be thankful. These every day actions of school buses and children and parents remind me so much is changing in this world, and yet so little does.
These students may go to school and be bored out of their minds, or they may go in excited and ready to learn, or some combination of both. They could find home in the school like I did, or it could be a place of fear, trepidation, and lonesomeness. They may encounter dear friends, crushing apathy, terrifying bullies, and understanding teachers. Despite what they tell their parents at the end of the day, they might end up learning something, even if it’s not something found on a Scantron exam.
I continued my journey behind the school bus until I reached the entrance to the town of Woodstock, where multiple lanes finally separated us. I turned in my health insurance paperwork, which my insurance guy sent off, then drove into work to continue my final day of the work week.