- BC Games
Taking a (bus) ride in the Slow Lane
I sit with Karen Hughes, bus driver extraordinaire, in a big yellow school bus waiting for children. They are in the earlier grades and I watch Mary assemble them in the BICS schoolyard. Some pass us on their way to the bus of Andy Durant or Andy James.
Karen’s Kids arrive and as they do she informs me that there is no mood so bad that it cannot be lifted by these children. They’re fun and sweet and are forever a tonic. Orderly and talkative, they joyfully make their way onto the bus.
First up are the twins, Will and Charlie. These guys are balls of awesome energy — this I know from previous meetings.
Today, Charlie opts to go way waaaaaaay back to the very absolute back of the bus while his brother sits across from me at the very front. Will and I are amused by how far away Charlie is.
Will says their older brother, Fin, who is really good at helping care for them, stayed home with a cold today.
It’s possible that Will has a bit of a cold, too, but he says he feels OK. Charlie calls out something but it’s a very long bus so not sure what.
I do not have the tools of my trade, and as more kids settle in I tell ‘em I’m writing about our journey but lack a pen and paper. Various solutions are offered. Sam and Ryan each give me a piece of paper while Natalia lends me her green pen.
Jonah is — how to describe him — quietly cheerful and steadfastly affable. He sits in the seat next to me. He and Isabella and Georgia and all the others, don’t seem the least fazed that an extra fellow, and an unshaven one, is aboard for the trip.
They are a welcoming group, Karen’s Kids.
An earnest storyteller, Jonah tells me funny things. Suddenly there’s a high-pitched scream in front of us. It has come from Hazel and is one of the best screams I have ever heard, which I tell her. Jonah, Will and Ryan also seem impressed by it. Hazel was simply letting her sister know that it’s time to get on the bus.
This is Karen’s first of two daily afternoon BICS trips. She also does two in the morning and takes high school students to and from the ferry.
We’re off now and there is no end to the awesomeness of these kids. We take some to Tir-na-nOg for a theatre class and the rest are dropped off at driveways where parents wait.
Already it’s time for the second load. This one is much smaller than it normally is, with many older kids away camping. McKenna gets on and appears to be crying a little.
Karen asks why and McKenna says she doesn’t know.
She perks up and sits next to me, while her sister, Sawyer, is nearby.
Sarah, Teagan, Kaia, Trey, Ewen, Eliana (who sticks her tongue out at me), Nicole and, I believe, Lindsay, bound up the stairs. Here’s Geoff McKay, a friend of my family, and Karen says there is no better behaved bus passenger than he.
“Anyone who creates trouble, I sit them with Geoff for a spell,” she says, noting she’s driven him for years. “That gives them an idea of how to conduct themselves.”
McKenna and Sawyer are telling me wonderful tales. They have a dog, Shamus and I gather Shamus moved here from England. He did not make the trip alone, it seems their parents maybe went and fetched him, though the details are sketchy. They also tell me about their brother Saxon, who I know to be a great fellow.
I find a notice left by Jonah about division 11 making stone soup. I shall give his mom details now: “Each child is asked to contribute one sliced/chopped vegetable...these might include onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, etc.” I wonder aloud if stone soup is made with lots of stones but McKenna and Sawyer tell me it’s made with just one big rock.
Such is done, I am assured, for flavouring.
Kids are getting off into the waiting arms of parents.
Eliana again sticks out her tongue. I have known her since she was one and I’m chuffed to receive the attention.
Two brothers and their neighbour get off and soon after so do McKenna and Sawyer. Two sisters leap off and head off into nature. They may, I’m told, build a fort on the way.
Soon only Tara is left. She’s also a great storyteller and talks about her puppy, Monty. When she’s dropped off, Monty is there and, as he apparently does each day, he excitedly tries — and fails — to get up the stairs and onto the bus.
It has been a fine trip and I sit thinking of the responsibility the bus drivers have and how they adore the kids and Karen, Andy and Andy are my new heroes.
We can doubtless all agree that it is a special job and that children are the most special people ever in this whole wide world.
In the view of the Lane, our kids on Bowen are at the very top of the class.