Remembering Helen Godfrey today, a wonderful woman and our children’s school bus driver from the early days of kindergarten through much of middle school… Written in 2006 by Melinda L. Wentzel
Our school bus driver has a secret life—according to our vastly imaginative kindergarteners anyway. Who knew?
“Where’s your regular bus driver,” I probed one afternoon as they clambered down those Godzilla-sized steps—the ones better suited for Gulliver than for my ungainly Lilliputians. (But then again, I load them up like a couple of pack mules every morning and make them wear snappy new sneakers over which they trip roughly 14 times an hour. It’s no wonder they have trouble getting on and off that big, yellow beast of a thing).
As we crossed the road and began hiking through the lawn together, I inquired again, “So where is she? Do you know what happened to her?”
“She likes to go on dates,” Child #1 whispered with a smirk and a sidelong glance at the bus.
“Oh reeeeeeeeally,” I commented, stuffing a sleeve in my mouth so as to stifle the spillage of chortles. “Dates, huh?”
“Yeah, Mommy,” Child #2 added. “She said she had an outbreak.”
“An outbreak?!” I asked completely puzzled now, but more intrigued than ever. “What sort of outbreak did she have?” (I was afraid even to think.)
“Well, maybe it was a breakout, Mommy…yeah, it was a BREAKOUT,” she explained further.
Instantly I envisioned this poor woman revisiting adolescence, giddy and pimply all rolled into one.
“A breakout you say?” I pressed further, going for that staid and genuinely concerned look I’ve been honing ever since they started sharing with me really important stuff—like which six-year-olds they intend to marry and how soon they plan to visit the moon. “Wow, a breakout, huh? Sounds serious.”
“Yep, a breakout…I think…or maybe it was a break. Yeah, she said she needed a BREAK one time when we asked her why she wasn’t our bus driver that day that Bus Driver Bob forgot to stop at our stop and all the kids screamed and screamed until he finally stopped.” (A day which will live in infamy….)
“So your bus driver needed a break?” I offered tentatively.
“Yeah,” they both chimed in. “She gets tired of just sitting and sitting. Sometimes she needs a break so she goes home and does stuff and then Bus Driver Bob brings us home.”
“Well, that explains it,” I agreed, happy to have been enlightened for the 467th time that day. Who wouldn’t need a break from my two magpies now and then? The woman deserves a medal. Or at the very least, to be sainted. In my humble opinion, she possesses more patience than six people ought to. Translation: I could never drive a school bus. Never. She tolerates all sorts of weirdness too—like my propensity to videotape and photograph nearly every Kindergarten Moment involving my children and the silly bus. Climbing on the bus. Off the bus. Walking toward the bus. Away from the bus. And most recently…SLEEPING on the bus. Couldn’t resist that one. Of course, she kindly invited me aboard to preserve the moment for posterity. Or maybe she just wanted me to hurry up and haul my drooling, sweat soaked charges and their 80 pound backpacks away. Far away.
Further, she-who-should-be-sainted also graciously accepts each and every “gift” those gregarious creatures in question bestow upon her—to include rocks, handfuls of gravel, wet leaves, twigs and to date, a plethora of drawings and indecipherable notes. Like I said, the woman’s a saint. She just smiles and quietly tucks them away in a pocket or on the dash. Always grateful. Never rushed. Mindful at all times of their feelings. Forever interested in their beloved offerings—which is more than I can say much of the time. (There are just so many wilted dandelions and speckled leaves I can take in one lifetime).
But not her. Nope. My guess is that she’ll continue to warmly receive each and every useless bit of tripe and ridiculous hootenanny that my cherries hand her till doomsday—thereby brightening their days and making a difference in their world. A world in which many have forgotten how important it is just to “be nice.” How refreshing and comforting it is to know that one such individual is out there day in and day out, delivering that invaluable message to my beloved offerings—and, no doubt, to scores of others’.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.notesfromplanetmom.com.
Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel