Monday, August 25, 2008

the start of a beautiful career

so, as first days go, today was probably the most memorable first day of school i ever could have asked for. i never even made it to school. and not through any fault of my own. shanghai decided to flood this morning. only no one realized exactly what was going on until it was too late. the bus picked us up at 7 and it was raining pretty hard, but we didn't think much of it. until we started driving in water up to our bumpers. then we started to wonder about whether it was worth going to school.

it took an hour and a half to pick up 2 kids. it should have taken like 20 minutes, tops. it took another hour to pick up the next 2 kids at the same complex. then we headed out of the apartment complex, around the corner, into a river of water and stopped. and not on purpose. our bus had stalled out, probably due to the water pouring into the engine...and then the interior of the bus. we called the school, but all they could do was send another bus and tell us to wait. so we did. for 3 hours.

at that point, both 3-year-old boys had run out of seatbelts and buttons to explore, the two 5-year-old girls were running out of things to say to each other and the 2 brand new teachers had pretty much exhausted their patience, with no rescue in sight. and then walks by one of the neighbors of the kids we had just picked up. there was a bigger bus full of kindergartners stalled right in front of us whose parents had come wading through the river of a street to get them. the neighbor called our students' mothers and shortly thereafter, here comes two mothers, wading in up to their thighs, umbrellas in hand, to rescue their children from the bus. and we were down to two. (had we realized just how close to their building we were, we would have called them sooner, but we thought we had gone a lot farther before getting stuck.)

a few minutes after that, Hana's mom came back to the bus to get Wakana, the last little girl. she had spoken with her mother and they had decided it would be better for Wakana to stay at Hana's. looking at our sad, sorry selves sitting on the warm bus with an antsy kid, i think she took pity and invited us all to stay with them at her apartment until the new bus could arrive. thinking it wouldn't be long, we gladly agreed. little did we know that, 3 hours later, we would still be sitting at her apartment, essentially babysitting.

she was the nicest woman. she took us into her apartment and showed us some toys; gave us a towel to wash the yucky street water off our legs and let us hang out. she somehow didn't seem to mind the 3-year-old boy throwing their toys and screaming, nor the disruption of her day. she even made us sandwiches and sent us on our way with a bag of bananas and cookies. finally, finally, the new bus called to tell us they could see the apartment building. we said, we'll meet you outside. luckily the water had gone down a lot and the ride home wasn't terrible. it still took way longer than it should have, but we made it without incident.

my only hope for tomorrow is that i actually make it to school. if i accomplish that, i will consider my day a success.

p.s. important lessons learned: Do not try to use your bus as a boat!! (oh, little did that man know...) also, never leave home with a purse devoid of toys. i can't believe that the one time in my life i choose not to carry crayons and silly putty is the time i need them most.

1 comment:

Robby said...

Oh my Kim! This is an award-winning teaching story. You win for roughest "first day". I'm glad an example of human compassion came out of the experience. Whew! Hope tomorrow is better!