The Wheels on the Bus
His name was Pete and for most of my childhood years, he was the first person I saw as I stepped out of my house early in the morning and often the last person I would see before walking into my house at the end of the day. He had a twinkle in his eye and a sweet, gentle smile as he greeted me first thing in the morning and as he bid me goodbye at the end of the day. He knew my real name but often referred to me as “Doll”. He was a quiet, gentle spirit of a man who had a way of making me feel safe and special with a wink of an eye and a welcoming smile on his aged face. He was my bus driver.
At the end of my 3rd grade year, my family moved to a very small town twelve miles away from my school. And so began my life as a “bus kid”. For the remainder of my school years, Pete drove bus #10 to and from school each day. Through rain, snow, or sun … he safely delivered “his kids” to school and then made sure we made it home safe and sound. But he was more than a bus driver. He was a source of comfort at the end of a bad school day and an encouraging friend when junior high years were not so kind. He knew when to tease and joke just as he knew when no words were needed or wanted. He put up with and accepted without complaint children who could be a little bit bratty, ornery, and less than kind. He endured loud, excited voices as the school year came to a close for holiday and summer breaks just as he endured sad, weepy, anxious children on the first day school. And when needed, he would stop the bus in order to deal with less than ideal behaviors and attitudes. He grinned with delight when we would shout at him from the back of the bus on those cold, wintry mornings to turn up the heat! ("Hey Pete, turn up the heat!") He was a saint, that man. And he was my friend.
After all these years, I can still recall his friendly face and his quiet voice as he greeted me … “Hey there, doll” and “Have a good night.” As the new school year begins, say a little prayer (ok … a big prayer) for the “Pete” in your child’s life. And encourage your children to tell him “Thanks for the ride, Pete!” We need more of you in our lives.
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Staci J. Allen has more than 15 years of experience teaching and working with preschoolers. She currently serves as the Director of Caring Ministries at The Summit Church. Staci and her husband Rick live in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and enjoy spending time with their adult children and grandchildren.