Monday, September 20, 2010

The Only White Boy on the Bus

While my inability to drive myself anywhere is frustrating (and pathetic) it has not made a significant impact on my overall enjoyment in being in Johannesburg. I admit I feel a bit claustrophobic at times and completely dependent on the goodwill of others but I am able to get out of the house enough (thanks to my friend and chauffeur Mandy) that I have not forced Trent to buy me an automatic car YET. There have been some occasions in which my manual transmission ineptness has left me feeling helpless and anxious and I frantically searched the web for an affordable and reliable automatic.

Since Trent started leaving for work earlier in the morning, we needed to figure out how to get Aiden to school. I spoke with the secretary at school and his teacher and they referred me to a driver that buses kids from all over the area. He has been in business a long time and came highly recommended. Buses here are not actually buses. They are mini-vans and the drivers are infamous for being horrible drivers. I was assured that Krish's transport service had a fine reputation and it would be perfectly safe. Before agreeing to use his services, Krish came by the house and we were able to ask him questions and Aiden was able to meet him. I prayed and prayed that we were making the right decision and although I would prefer to be able to drive him myself, I felt that this would be a safe alternative.

Aiden didn't say much about his new transportation method. We of course asked him if he would be okay with it and he said he was. That first morning of pickup as we were walking down to meet Krish at the gate of our complex, Aiden began to look anxious. He asked if all the kids on the bus were going to be black and I could see some fear in his eyes. I told him I wasn't sure but that it was a huge possibility, as the majority of white people have cars and drive here while many black individuals take public transportation. Aiden's lip began to quiver and although he tried to fight it, he started to cry. My heart ached as I watched my beautiful son cry with fear of the unknown. We stopped walking and I told Aiden that I would never do anything that would put him in danger and that I was sorry for the situation we were in. I promised him that if he did not feel safe or if it was an unpleasant experience I would do whatever I had to do to find him another way to get to school. While holding back my own tears I put on a brave face and tried to convince him that this was going to be a new and exciting experience. He was going to be one of the only American children I knew who traveled to school by mini- van in a foreign country with foreign friends! We then took the opportunity to strengthen our testimony of the power of prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help Aiden feel comforted and to know he was safe. Aiden stopped crying and we walked the rest of the way to wait for the bus. A few minutes later it pulled up and as I expected, carried only black children. Aiden climbed in, gave me a quick pleading look, found a seat and waved goodbye. The minute the bus pulled away I began to sob. I cried all the way back to the apartment. What had I just done? Not only did Aiden have to go to a new school in a foreign land but then I couldn’t even provide him some security by taking him myself. I waited about 20 minutes and then called the school to make sure he was okay. I was relieved to learn that not only did Aiden arrive there safely but that he was happily playing with his friends on the playground. When Aiden got home that afternoon he said that everything was fine and that he was perfectly okay with taking the bus. What an amazing and brave child I have. I envy the resilience and innocence of children.

Aiden has now been taking the bus for the past 2 weeks. He assures me that the driver is cautious and that he has made plenty of friends. A few days ago as we waited for the bus to come Aiden commented how much nicer it is that everyone talks the whole way to school now. He then said that the first couple of days no one said a word. When I asked if he meant no one talked to him or no one talked at all, he said no one talked at all! They all just sat there in silence! I couldn't help but laugh as I pictured the stunned look of all the children when my little white boy climbed onto that school bus the first day! Aiden was not the only one that experienced something new that day!

2 comments:

  1. Let's try this comment thing again!! Aiden, you should be so proud of yourself!! Way to go!!

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