Need A New Perspective?


If this first four day week of school is any indication of what the school year is going to be like, I am desperately in need of a new perspective.  Otherwise I may not make it to the end in one piece.

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courtesy of the Seattle Times

The beginning of the school year used to terrify me when I was a student.  I did not, do not, deal well with new things.  I like routine.

The beginning of the school year was exciting to me when I was a teacher, hopeful that I would succeed in imparting at least some knowledge to my students.

The beginning of the school year was a relief to me as a single parent.  At last some of my time would be my own, to think, to pray, to catch up on household tasks.  Labor Day was a family time, often spent with other families at our church camp.  The next day was a brand new beginning for me, a time of less stress.

There were years in between when the beginning of the school year had no relevance in my life.  Years after my nest emptied.  I was neither student nor teacher.  And then one day in 2008 that all changed.  I became a school bus driver.

The beginning of the school year is again a stressful time with new faces and names to learn, new routes to learn, a new schedule to get used to.  Lots of new things.  Some years more than others.  This year the city did redistricting.  That means that some children go to different schools.  One school closed.  Bus routes became longer.  Some schools asked for more buses.  Children go on different buses from the same neighborhood.

The first day I prayed that God would not let me lose any students.  All of my public school students are four years to fifth grade.  Many of them are in kindergarten.  They don’t know where their stop is.  Sometimes they get off without seeing if their parent is standing there to meet them.  The driver is supposed to know who each student is, what their stop is, and whether or not they know where they are going.  I don’t yet.

The driver is also supposed to help the students practice safe bus behavior at all times.  Most of the time the students either can’t hear me, or just don’t pay any attention unless I pull the bus over and stop.  And then there are the parents who walk their children directly in front of the bus to cross the street, rather than waiting for the bus to pass so that other drivers can see them and not run them over.

Lots of opportunities to be frustrated on the part of the driver.  Basically the first day is just praying I don’t get lost and have to backtrack and take forever getting to all the stops.  The second and third days are more concerned with preventing people from getting killed or injured.  Catching sight (out of the corner of my eye) of a four year old standing in the aisle of a moving 78 passenger flat-nose bus is a scary thing to this driver.

The beginning of the school year is over.  We will be in week two after this weekend.  Yippee!  No more wondering how different things will be.  No more wondering how many students will not listen to me.  No more wondering if I will be able to remember the routes.  I haven’t gotten lost (yet).  I haven’t missed any stops (yet).  The first day I got to a stop where a kindergarten mom was waiting and her child was not on my bus as he ought to have been.  He was found on another bus.

Yesterday about halfway through my route I realized this four year old didn’t belong on my bus.  We got him to another driver who delivered him to his mom.  And one student did not connect with her parent who was not at the stop when we arrived there.  One day I let a kindergartener off without a parent at the stop.  He had to get buzzed in to his apartment.  We had a chat about that yesterday.  And one day an eight-year old was telling me what to do, which just about ‘unglues’ me.  Where do children learn these things?!!

Do you get the picture yet?  I was pretty stressed by the end of the fourth day.  Couldn’t put a finger on just why.  Prayed and asked God to guide my thinking, which He of course did, and this is what I came up with.  The difference this year, beside a change of schools and students, is that I am driving much more in the city, on the south side, and not at all on the north side.  Much more unlovely neighborhoods, much more congested traffic, more pedestrians, noisier, more traffic lights, covering more ground, just not as enjoyable to drive in as on the north side.

Hopefully that little piece of information will change my perspective.  Possibly I might realize that the students who live in this neighborhood also have a different perspective due to their physical surroundings.  And possibly I might allow the Grace of God to be seen in me, rather than the rather ugly alternative, my impatience.

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Courtesy of Life at the speed of my shutter

Along with this realization came this photo {via Life at the Speed of my Shutter} which was on my tumblr page yesterday.  Didn’t think too much of it when I first saw it, but after having these thoughts that photo kept returning to my mind.  It portrays what I was thinking about the beginning of the school year stress.  It’s all in the perspective.

On Friday when I went to work, I tried to keep in mind that this particular shift was only a tiny drop in the big ocean of time, which in itself is only a drop in the immeasurable span of eternity.  God is Sovereign over all time and space, and when I submit my will to His, He will take care of even the tiniest concern.

Not that these circumstances will disappear magically.  But that He will give the Grace I need for the moment, to live through it.  He goes with me.  He has promised to give strength, His strength.  He cannot fail.

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