Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How Do We Teach Resilience to Our Children?





Teaching resilience is an important life lesson for children.  It is hard to know when or how to best impart this knowledge.  I suppose some things just happen by accident and I guess that is as good enough a way as any other.  
My oldest son entered the second grade this fall and changed to a new school.  He had the option to ride the bus or have me drop him off and he chose the more independent route, the school bus.  We received a call letting us know the bus stop location and a rough 8:20am pick up time.  Transportation was unable to give us a driver’s name or bus number yet, which was alright, how hard could this bus-riding thing be after all? 

On the first day, my 1st and 2nd graders were awake at 4:15am asking how long it was until they could leave for school.  I promptly escorted them back to bed letting them know it was not yet time.  At 7am, my oldest was dressed, with his lunch packed, school shoes and jacket on, begging to go wait at the bus stop more than an hour ahead of time.  We finally arrived at the bus stop at 8:15am and one bus #79 drove right on by.  We started wondering if that was ours as we stood waiting because no other bus drove up until 8:30am.  When it stopped, my husband and I did not doubt for a second this was the right bus.  My son eagerly ran across the street, got on the bus, and it drove down the hill. 

Unbeknownst to me, he arrived at the wrong school that morning and knew it when they pulled up to the front of Brownsville Elementary School in Bremerton, WA.  He let Glenda, the bus driver; know he was supposed to be at a different location.  She radioed for permission to take him to his proper elementary school in Silverdale, which is the one he intended to reach that day. 

According to my son, he and the driver got off the bus to hand out some information packets to teachers; they divided and conquered.  He covered three classrooms and she covered three classrooms.  After their work was complete, they boarded the bus to head to the correct location.  It was probably a 15 minute drive and during that time my son was just as observant as he always is.  He told me all about the things that went wrong with transportation that morning in the school district.  He said, “Mom can you believe one bus driver forgot half of her route this morning?”  He started laughing as he continued on, “some kids were running down the street chasing after the buses they missed, can you imagine if that happened to me?”  Well, no.  I don’t want to imagine that right now, thank you very much. 

Indeed, he arrived at the school around 9:30am (start time 9:10am) so altogether, not a total disaster.  Here is the interesting part.  I heard this whole story at 4pm after I picked up my son from school.  The last thing I knew, he was on the bus and attended a full school day.  Transportation was not aware of what happened.  The Elementary school did not know this happened either just assuming the bus was running behind.  His teacher knew his arrival time which is how I traced his movements that day roughly backward from there after the fact.  A librarian friend of mine did see him at the wrong school, but I did not hear about him looking lost until much later. 

I did speak with transportation and was given the proper bus drivers’ name and bus number later that evening, which in hindsight, would have been two helpful pieces of information to have.  His second day was uneventful as he boarded the proper bus and arrived at the correct destination.  Either way, thinking back on this past week helped me appreciate how resilient my oldest son has become.  In reality, he thoroughly enjoyed his exciting adventure regardless. We pass Glenda and her bus driving home from school every once in a while and each time, he enthusiastically waves at her with a big smile on his face. 

There are fewer opportunities today when our children are left to their own devices to problem solve; so while he did have some help from a wonderful bus driver named Glenda, his own resiliency played a large part in getting him to where he needed to be.  After the surprise wore off, I ended up proud of him and his growing resourcefulness.  Also, I am truly grateful to Glenda, the bus driver who, literally and figuratively, went the extra mile for my darling son. 

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