Especially for StudentsNIE and You

By Janet N. Palm and Brian Tichensky

"Michael! The bus will be here soon!" Mike was still tying his sneakers when Mom called to him. He hurried because he did not want to miss the school bus. It was the day of the class field trip. Mike was wearing his new clothes and had a brand new backpack to carry his lunch and his new camera.

Mike finished getting ready and hurried to the door to watch for the bus. Mom gave him his backpack filled with his lunch, new camera and some money for the gift store. Pretty soon the bus pulled up in front of his house. IT WAS A BRAND NEW YELLOW SCHOOL BUS! Mike went out to the road, obeyed the bus driver´s signals, crossed the road and got on the bus. He found a seat near the front of the bus. Mike had been asked to sit near the front because he had been disruptive on the bus at times.

The bus pulled away and drove to the next house where another student got on. Mike was excited about the trip he was going to enjoy that day. More students got on the bus. Mike started to "jabber" about the trip. The other students were interested in what Mike had to say...but then...he wouldn´t shut up! They got annoyed with Mike. They didn´t listen to him anymore and Mike got upset. "Hey, kids! Don´t you want to know what else we will be doing?" The other kids all said, "NO!"

Mike felt sad and alone. Nobody was interested anymore. Mike started poking the boy next to him in the seat, annoying him. "Ow! Stop it!" the boy said. So Mike did it again. "Stop it, I said!" was the boy´s reply. "Why should I?" answered Mike. He really didn´t want an answer, he was getting annoyed, himself! Then he thought, "Why don´t I just grab this kid´s lunch and throw it out the window?" So that´s what Mike did! The boy yelled, "That was my lunch! Bus Driver! Mike just threw my lunch out the window!"

The bus driver turned around to say something to Mike about his conduct. Just as he turned his head, a pickup truck came out of another street, right in the path of the brand new yellow school bus! As the bus driver put his attention back to the road he saw the truck and swerved! But, it was too late! The truck crossed in front of the bus and the bus hit the back of the truck. Then the bus swerved toward the ditch. The bus driver put on the brakes as the bus went off the edge of the road. The ditch was deep enough that the bus rolled onto its side into the ditch. The kids on the bus were screaming. The backpacks went flying...and so did the kids. Kids landed on kids. Kids landed on the seats. Kids landed on the windows. The boy next to Mike fell so that his leg went out the open window and was pinned under the bus.

The bus driver had his seat belt on, which is why he only hit his head on the mirror. Some of the kindergarten children had seat belts on, and they were hanging from their seats, but they were not hurt. In the back of the bus there was a tangle of legs, arms, and backpacks. Immediately the bus driver called for help on his phone.

Then he was able to get out of his seat belt and begin to help the others. He handed the unhurt children through his window and to some people who had stopped to help. Slowly he worked his way back through the bus. A few children were crying, mostly because they were scared, but some of them were hurt a little. He was able to untangle the older kids who had been seated in the back of the bus, and they also helped remove some of the children who were able to get out. Finally the bus driver got to Mike and his seat-mate.

Mike was crying. He was not hurt much, but he was crying hard! His seat-mate was not crying. He looked like he was sleeping, but his leg was bleeding and it was going the "wrong" way. The bus driver knew that he should not move the boy. Mike wanted to DO something! He wanted to help! He wanted to take back the teasing. He wanted to take back his anger. He wanted to turn back the clock fifteen minutes! He wanted the accident to NOT happen! But it was too late.

Carefully the bus driver helped Mike to stand. Mike was crying very hard. The bus driver put his arm around Mike to comfort him. He helped Mike out of the bus. Mike´s seat-mate had to stay where he was until medical help could arrive.

Soon the sirens could be heard. The Ambulances, the Fire Truck and the Rescue Truck came...and the Police. Then the children were put into the ambulances. One ambulance waited just for the boy who was pinned by the bus. Mike wanted to stay to see his seat-mate safely into the ambulance, but he had to go with the other children.

The Ambulances all went to different hospitals, since there were so many children to be checked to make sure they were not hurt where it didn´t show. Mike cried all the way to the hospital. It was not his body that was hurt, but something inside was hurt VERY BADLY! He knew that if he had been doing the right thing on the bus, the accident would not have happened. He was feeling like it was HIS fault that his seat-mate was...WHAT! Was he sleeping, or was he...dead! Mike didn´t know! Mike was scared!

It was a long day. Mike did not go on his field trip. The trip was called off because of the accident. Mike did not even go to school that day. At the hospital they found that his body was OK. They sent him home with his Mom. He cried...and cried...and cried. He did not eat his lunch. He did not want any supper. He just sat and cried.

Mom was worried about Mike. She did not know Mike had distracted the bus driver. She did not know he had thrown the boy´s lunch out the window. She did not know Mike´s seat-mate was the boy pinned under the bus. She only knew that Mike cried and cried.

Finally Mike told his Mom why he was crying. Mom hugged him. Then she went to the telephone. She called the hospitals until she found the one where Mike´s seat-mate had been taken. They let Mike´s Mom talk to the boy´s Mom. The boy´s Mom told Mike´s Mom she wanted to talk to Mike. Mike took the phone. He was scared. He didn´t know what he was going to hear. He didn´t want the boy to be dead. He didn´t want the boy to be HURT! But he knew it was one or the other. The boy´s Mom talked to Mike. "Mike, I don´t want you to feel bad. Matthew (that was Mike´s seat-mate´s name) has a broken leg, but otherwise he is doing fine. He will miss quite a bit of school, but he will catch up, I´m sure. I´m very glad you cared enough to find out how Matthew is. Please don´t cry anymore. Maybe tomorrow your Mom can bring you to see Matthew."

That was two months ago. Mike learned a lesson the hard way! The bus driver did not report Mike´s bad conduct on the bus the morning of the accident. He knew that Mike finally knew WHY you should always behave on the bus. Matthew got better, slowly. He and Mike became good friends. Mike helped Matthew to keep up with his school work. The brand new yellow school bus was repaired. Now, Mike is the first one on the bus to tell the other kids to behave. He reminds them that he knows from experience what can happen from fooling around on the bus. The other kids listen to Mike. Mike wishes, even now, that he did not have this experience, and he hopes no one else does, but he has learned from it. He wishes that ALL children would behave on the school bus. The bus Mike takes to school is one of the best-behaved bus-full of kids in the whole school. But they are all learning, because Mike has told so many kids how important it is to BEHAVE ON THE SCHOOL BUS!!!