“The Boy on the Bus”
I was sitting in the parking lot one morning after dropping my son off at school. It had been a rough morning and I had paused for a moment in the parking lot to let my emotions settle before I began the drive home. The sun was shining and I reveled in its warmth, trying to pull myself together. As I stared out the window, I noticed a bus pull in to let the kids off for the day. I knew it was a special needs bus because this particular entrance into the school was reserved for such students.
I sat watching the children pile out of the bus and make their way towards the entrance of the school when one young boy caught my attention. He was hysterical. Tears and sweat glistened on his brown skin as he twisted and pulled with every ounce of energy he could muster. He was in a desperate fight to get away from the many teachers that had gathered to escort him into the school. For him, it was an impossible fight. Watching this scene before me pulled at my heartstrings in a very personal and profound way. I was startled at the realization that had I viewed this angry display a few years earlier, I would have thought to myself, “what a naughty boy!” I would have naively thought him to be a spoiled child who had not been taught properly by his parents and thus suffered from a complete lack of manners.
But on this somber day, I watched with a cloak of sadness that seemed to blanket the whole earth. A sadness that stretched down into the depths of my very soul. In this little boy’s twisted face, I saw the face of my son. I saw a boy that must have felt himself being torn into a thousand pieces as his world crashed around him into chaos. He was being physically pushed into a place so filled with confusion and tumult that he would have rather been anywhere but there. A primal need to escape the danger had overcome his little mind leaving him with little control of his body’s reactions.
With the ever-present tears in my eyes, I imagined his mother as she put him on the bus that morning. Had he fought her too? Had she put her precious son on that bus, knowing his pain, and felt the same mothers anguish that I had felt so many times before? Did she wonder if she was hurting him by making him go? Did she feel helpless in knowing how to help her angry son too? Maybe she wouldn’t even have time to grieve or to feel as she hurried to go to work for the day in order to provide for him. At least I had that option, to go home and try to decompress.
This experience changed me as so many other experiences had before. I paused and said a silent prayer for this boy and for every other child, mother and father that day. A fervent prayer that peace could be found and answers obtained to these most difficult situations that felt so impossible to solve. I have recently come across a saying that I think perfectly applies to this situation. “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
I am grateful for the experience though not for his suffering. I am grateful that my eyes can now see what I once missed in my ignorance. I hope that in my life, when I come across the suffering child, my newfound knowledge can bring peace to them. I hope they can feel that they are not alone and there is someone who cares. I hope the parents I come across can see, as I smile in their direction, that this is a judgment free zone. I hope they can feel that they are not alone and that someone out there understands, even if it’s just a little, that their heart is breaking too.