Friday, April 25, 2008

Revising my life...

I go through this thing every time my life goes through major change. I try to reinvent myself.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes I just fall back to the same patterns of behavior I was trying to banish. Sometimes it has unexpected benefits.

My current reworking is trying to reforge my anger button. Yes, I use forge deliberately because it's a hot topic. And it definitely takes pressure to bring it to a workable state. Often a few blows to my ego are needed as well - so forge is a very appropriate wording...

Last December I started training to drive school buses. Ironically enough, I had always felt as a student that busing was for those who couldn't do 'real' work. Hah - I bet God is having a good laugh at me now! The training wasn't too bad, the job seemed easy enough and the big plus - I can bring my kids.

I wasn't 'on the bench' more than a few days when I was given a route I would be taking over. A driver was getting a full time office job and leaving the busing world. I spent the next two weeks driving with her and learning her students and her route.

And listening to her yell. 'Sit down' 'Shut up' 'Quiet down' 'Knock it off' 'Do you want a write up?' 'That's it, I'm writing you up!' Not that she ever did...

It was a flashback to childhood, to my Dad yelling. It seemed like he lived in his own world - and whatever infringed on that world triggered the anger button. My shoulders are tensing and my heartbeat accelerating just thinking about it.

Did I mention, this route had a reputation as the worst route in the system? The students acted up and out for every sub that came through. Not that it wasn't their usual behavior for the driver anyway...

It cemented my desire to be different. To live out Christ the bus driver to the best of my ability. 'Please' 'Thank you' became my beginning and end. 'Good morning' 'good afternoon' 'have a good day' 'see you later' 'be careful' 'enjoy the sunshine' and anything else I could think of to care for my students as people. Not peons. Not subordinates. Not scum of the earth...

Let's face it. Public servants like cops, firemen, crossing guards, sales people in stores, the check out clerk - anyone who has to deal with people as part of their job seems to be low on the job hierarchy. Apparently, the people who keep everyone else's lives running smoothly aren't the important ones. But, I am making a bigger difference here than I have made at any of my important office jobs.

I have 110 - 120 students that I transport each day to school. I am the first school representative to greet them and the last to see them each day. I know each of their names because for the first two weeks I practiced every time I saw them. (The last bus driver didn't know all their names) Now, I greet them by name with a smile each morning and kindness. I don't yell at them - mostly. I do ask them nicely with a please and thank you. And if the phase of the moon - alignment of the planets - the itch hits - for whatever reason they're having trouble behaving safely, I pull over, cross my arms and wait. They're big kids, they know what's wrong and they know how to fix it. Besides, they all just really want to get home...

Which is not to say that it's been a bed of roses by any stretch. I've been threatened (the 'Mom look' ended that one), a kid got beat on in the back of the bus while we were loading (can't see through people), I can't even find appropriate words to describe too much of the nonsense. Mostly, it's just kids pushing the limits as far as they can. And weirdly, I'd label them all good kids - with normal problems - they aren't 'the worst' anymore. And oddly enough, I love them.

It isn't me evangelizing the world for Christ. My mission field isn't Mongolia like I dreamed. It's loving the world for Christ in Country Hills, Raintree, on Candleberry Court, along Kingsmill. It's driving a big yellow bus as the kids in the back sing 'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.' Yeah, that was Friday and I was a bit weirded out - even if it was in a good way.

Will I keep doing this? I don't know. But it's shaping me in ways I never knew I needed. It isn't always easier to be patient with my kids - but I am learning ways to shape behavior that aren't on the punish/reward spectrum. I am trying to operate outside the power structure - to not get my way because I am the authority figure. More often than not, I am receiving cooperation and not because I threaten retribution. Is the Kingdom coming to hand on a bus? Maybe it's a little closer...

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4 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

Hi Char! Hey, I wanted to say good post on CGGC blog. This one was pretty good too.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Charlotte Wyncoop said...

Hi Brian,
Long time no talk!

Thanks...

10:44 PM  
Blogger wilsford said...

Great article. And I bet you're glad it's summertime :-)

4:25 AM  
Blogger Dominica said...

Enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing!

2:42 AM  

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