Have you ever felt compelled to speak up about something that was really bothering you? Something that might not seem like a big deal for others, but for your family could make or break an entire day?

I had a moment like that a few weeks ago.

You see, our local bus company is constantly calling to change Christian’s pick-up/drop-off time. Usually they were calling at 7:30pm the night before the change was to happen. And usually this wasn’t that big of a deal as the times were almost always changing by just a minute or two. Not that big of a deal.

And then one morning Christian’s bus was running late. Over twenty minutes late. Our bus driver, Robin, who is AWESOME, was NEVER late. She was always a couple of minutes early, knowing that Christian would normally not get completely dressed until he saw the bus sitting in the driveway. Did I mention that she rocks? She just gets Christian and Christian trusts her. I can just see that in him. It is amazing beyond words. Anyway, back to the bus being super late. I figured that could only mean one thing. There must be a substitute driver. I kept my eyes peeled on the road as my nervous Christian was trying to self-calm by repeating the words, “And Robin will be here soon. And Robin will be here soon.”

After twenty-five minutes, I called the bus company to make sure that the bus hadn’t given up on us. (As that would open a whole new set of issues.) I was assured by the dispatcher that the bus was still coming, but that the driver couldn’t find our house. Sigh.

A few more minutes passed and I was scanning the horizon for Christian’s bus and noticed that there was a small bus sitting at our NEIGHBOR’S house. (across a large field from ours) I called the dispatcher back and told her that I thought that my son’s bus was at the neighbor’s and asked her to please send it over to ours as Christian was slipping into panic mode. (It was already 35 minutes late at this time and Christian is the first to be picked-up!)

I watched as the bus left our neighbor’s and slowly crawled to our driveway. Thank goodness, it pulled in.

As I walked Christian out to the bus (he was repeating his mantra only now he was saying, “And Robin is here now”), I could clearly see that this was a different driver. A much older driver (who had been unable to find our house). My body tensed with nervousness.

New driver opened the door and the smell of smoke wafted down the bus steps. There was no music playing. She didn’t get out of her seat. This was SO different!

I mustered up a nervous smile and said, “Oh, Robin must be sick today, huh?”

She looked at me and said, “No. The routes have changed. I’m the new driver.” [punch to the gut]

I asked her name, so that I could adjust Christian’s morning mantra, as my hands were nearly shaking as I buckled Christian’s harness into the seat.

I was in shock. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. Don’t they (the bus company) understand that this is part of my heart that rides this bus for over an hour every morning?!? I was so, I don’t know, hurt??? How could they do this to my son? Why didn’t they tell me THIS part of the change when they called with the change in time at 8pm the night before?!?

I was baffled. I prayed and prayed that this would not throw Christian’s entire day off. I prayed that this would not induce Christian’s self-imposed anti-bus-riding-campaign that we went through last spring. I prayed that Christian would get to school safely. (I didn’t know or trust this new driver.)

As I stood in the driveway and watched as my heart was driven away by a stranger, something inside of my told me that I needed to DO something about this. It was NOT right to keep these special kids (and their parents) in the dark about bus driver changes. This could make or break a day for many of our kids.

I emailed Christian’s principal and filed a grievance. I figured if he wasn’t the right person to talk to, he would point me in the right direction.

Within a half-hour of sending the email, Mr. G called me to talk it over. He told me that the first thing he did when he received my email was to walk down to Christian’s classroom and see how his day was going. (I also love Christian’s principal. He’s awesome!) Mr. G found that Mrs. J (Christian’s teacher) was also SHOCKED by the change in drivers this morning and had already developed a social story for Christian about having a new driver in the morning and Robin in the afternoon. (I was relieved to hear that we hadn’t lost Robin completely!) Mr. G also found that Christian was having a good day inspite of the change to his morning routine. Mrs. J just told Mr. G that this is a testament to how far Christian had come in the past year – Christian wouldn’t have been able to handle a change like this last year (or even at the beginning of this school year).

Mr. G listened carefully to my concerns. He repeated them to make sure that he understood them completely. Then he called the bus company and had a LONG chat with the bus manager. Especially about making changes to how the families were informed of changes in routes/drivers/etc.

The next morning, Mr. G called me back to let me know how the chat had gone. It sounded like it had gone well and that the company would help us prepare for changes by giving us a couple of days head’s up.

It all sounded fine and dandy. I just hoped that the bus company would actually follow through.

In the past couple of weeks, we have had a few time changes. I’m happy to report that the company is calling me at least three days ahead of time to inform me of the change. I hope that they are doing this for all of the parents (and not just for me, because I’m the noisy Mama Bear who got fed up enough to complain about it).

I hope that the company will continue to keep all of us parents informed about these changes. The company may not find them significant, but I know that we, parents, do. Our hearts ride those buses everyday. We need to know that they will be safe.

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