No child left behind when bus stops here

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There are jobs in the world that I am eternally grateful I do not hold.

Leaving aside the obvious choices like bridge repair (deathly afraid of heights), and Michael Jackson’s publicist (deathly afraid of Michael Jackson), I am further glad that I am not a public school superintendent or transportation coordinator.

They’re required to peer into the (way too) early morning darkness of a sub-zero Midwestern winter and wonder if today is the day to call off school.

Decisions. On those days, you could not pay me enough to be the person charged with deciding that a little winter is no reason to stop working and start the buses rolling.

Worse yet, would be to be the person who must look out mid-day at swirling white mist and freezing rain and realize, with mounting horror, that they have made a dreadful mistake.

I imagine there is a sub code for terror warnings: code white.

Code white is felt by anyone in a region when the weather, having turned on a dime, has suddenly and inexplicably turned treacherous with little or no warning.

Flip the coin. One day last week was a day that our particular school district flipped the coin and decided to take a chance on holding school.

I don’t fault them for it. Watching a finite number of snow days slip through your fingers like sand must be nerve wracking for school administrators.

Imagine in a state where the accepted motto is “if you don’t like the weather just wait a few minutes and it will change;” having to decide before 6:00 a.m. what Mother Nature might do all day?

A big mistake. Having made the decision to be one of the few districts in the county to hold school, the day began without incident.

Unfortunately, by mid-day it became undeniably apparent that the maker of such decisions had made an understandable, yet terrible, mistake.

Freezing rain alternated with hail, then snow, then back to rain, all conspiring to turn main roads into ice rinks and render secondary roads impassable.

Now, a lot has been made of the postal service and their commitment to making deliveries despite rain, snow, sleet and hail; and I truly don’t want to take anything away from them.

Yet, honestly, if the postal service vehicle slides out of control we pray for the mail carrier alone – no one is losing much sleep over the fate of the Visa bills and junk mail in the back.

Promises kept. Now imagine, for a moment, the mindset of a school bus driver on a treacherous day.

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail can keep you from your appointed rounds.

You, however, are not transporting widgets, what-nots, produce, or paperwork. You are transporting – and at the moment solely responsible for the safety of – the most precious cargo imaginable for numerous families.

Gee, no pressure there.

It takes guts. I like to imagine that there is a special team of guardian angels watching over people who have the guts to take on the truly nerve wracking and thankless job of taking care of other people’s children.

Those who bravely take these jobs know that to do their best will be seen as just about good enough.

Any bump or misstep (or being five minutes late to a stop on even the worst day) could mean being handed their own head on a platter.

Thumbs up. On that Tuesday, despite the truly evil weather patterns, it was, in the end, a wonderfully uneventful day.

That blessed big yellow bus lumbering over the hill was a beautiful sight as it cruised, (seemingly effortlessly) to a perfect stop through swirling sleet and discharged my baby (always my “baby”) safely home.

It was just as so many buses do with countless children throughout the nation every single school day.

Flashing her a thumbs up, I realized at that moment, that I know nothing about the woman who drives my child’s bus.

Nothing, of course, other than that I was ridiculously happy to see her, and eternally grateful that she, and others like her, took a job you couldn’t pay me enough to do.

Every day. In this day and age, everyone is looking to find fault with public schools.

No child is to be left behind - who better than a bus driver knows the literal importance of this?

School budgets are thought by many to be bloated and out of control.

It probably isn’t news that school bus drivers safely delivered hundreds of children to anxious loved ones over treacherous, icy roads without incident.

Maybe, every once in a while, it should be.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt thanks all those who tackle thankless jobs daily. She welcomes comments c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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