Last night ranked up in the top 5 most proud moments of my life. It was stressful and strange, but I came away from it with the strongest feelings of pride and happiness.
P takes the 5:00 late bus home every day after school because he is on the wrestling team. He usually gets to the drop off spot at the end of our street at 5:45. Dan had already left to go pick him up and I got a phone call from him at 5:43. "Mama, it's P. A boy tried to kill himself on our bus, I am going to be late." My immediate response was "Can I come and get you? Will they let you off the bus?" He didn't know. I told him I was going to call his Papa and tell him to come home, and that he should call us when the bus gets moving again and we'll meet him down at the end of our street. I called Dan and couldn't get a hold of him, so I had to drive down and let him know to come home.
I'm not sure at what point I decided this, but I told Dan to go home and that I was going to go to where the bus was (P was able to tell me) and see if I could just get him. It ran through my head, all that he has been through in his short life. I had the thought "he doesn't need to be exposed to this trauma". When he called he could barely hear me through all the chaos of the bus. I could hear it in the background. I felt a strong need to protect him and get him out of the situation. At that point I'd had no idea.
I got there and there were two buses, the 2nd to get the kids off and take them home since the 1st was not going anywhere fast. I asked the bus driver standing on the the bus with no kids if I could get my son. She acted like she was too busy and frazzled over the situation to deal with me so I backed off and waited. Shortly there after kids started coming around the front of her bus and getting on this 2nd empty bus. I was looking for P. The bus driver said if I saw him I could grab him, but then said oh wait, no you can't. I said ok, and just waited further, looking for P. I figured I'd at least tell him I was there and when they were free to be released I would take him home with me. Another batch of kids came around the front of the bus and I looked for P, but he never came around. From where I was standing I could not see the other bus.
After a minute or so of waiting I walked over a bit and got a view of the other bus. It was empty except for the bus driver, the child in crisis, and 3 other students. One of them was my son. He was in the bus seat with the boy, holding him......I broke down. My son was the young man sitting in the seat with this boy. He didn't run, he wasn't too afraid to step up, he wasn't too cool to show this hurting child compassion. He was the one helping, he was there. And I couldn't do anything.
I called my mom, told her what was going on. She helped me calm down as I was feeling so emotional and so proud of P, all the while wanting to end this chaos and stress for him. I wanted to go on the bus and help so that my son didn't have to. As I was there watching, it occurred to me how ridiculous it was that there were absolutely no emergency personnel at the scene. It had been 20 minutes since P had called me at home, and surely the police had been called prior to him calling me. How did I get there faster? And I had been there a while. I decided to call 911 myself. I was told they didn't have any officers available, they were all out on other calls. I was pretty curt explaining that my son was stuck on a bus with a child who had tried to kill himself and that no one was here. I told her it felt like it'd been a half an hour already. She said she was dispatching an ambulance now. I thanked her and hung up. I talked to my mom again and she told me to get as close to P as I could so I went over to the bus, right outside the window where he was and gave him reassuring looks every chance I had. They seemed to be going between reassuring and calming the boy, and restraining him. The bus driver opened the door and I said that I was P's mom. She started to move like she was going to get him for me, and I said that is ok he can stay, he's helping. And she said "yes, he's really helping". I said it was okay I just wanted her to know I was there and I said I could help if she needed me to. I told her I had called 911, and what they had said. She couldn't believe it. I am tempted to follow up today on the non emergency number about what happened and make sure they understand how long all those kids waited for help. Make sure they understand that my 14 year old had to step up and help that child in crisis for over a half an hour while the people trained to do such things were no where to be found.
Once some one finally arrived they got right on the bus and started talking to the boy. P said he felt like they didn't do enough and just started talking to him. I think he was more than ready to hand things over but it didn't quite go like that. The bus driver got off to go and talk to the other bus driver and when she went to go back on I asked to come on to. I felt like with my son in the middle of this I needed to be there with him. I just tucked in the front seat and stood there. The boy seemed to be having a severe panic attack or anxiety attack. His breathing was very irregular and he was unable to move his legs. P told me later that the boy has Aspergers. It sounded like he got in an argument with some one on the bus, and was yelling that he was going to kill these other children. P's good friend Victoria was trying to calm him down P said, and then he started choking himself. P said that basically he had heard things in the past that made him think the boy comes from an abusive home. The 3rd student still on the bus was they boy's brother, he was two seats ahead of P, V, and the boy. He made some comments about this not being the first time some thing like this has happened. After some time the firemen were able to get the boy up and off the bus and in to an ambulance. It was at this point I was able to take P and go home. (Of course I had to show my I.D. ;)
I couldn't hug P enough times. I told him he could stay home from school today, but he chose to go.
When I was going to pick him up. I didn't think about him being involved, or being in the "thick of it" if you will, but as soon as I saw him on that bus holding that kid, it hit me like a ton of bricks "of course he is helping". That is the kind of kid he is, and some times I forget that. When you live day to day with the little things that come with older child adoption, lying over stupid things, parenting their siblings, inability to let go of control, distance, manipulation, it's easy to get wrapped up in the negative, and trying to change things so those behaviors don't manifest. But this boy does not need me to try and change anything about him. His heart is the biggest I know, and last night he didn't need me to mold anything, or fix anything, or teach him any lessons about life. He taught me a huge lesson. I wouldn't have wanted him to be anyone else last night. I always worry about how my older kids are when I'm not around. I worry because at times they make bad choices when I am not there to see. They are often little things, but it makes me worry about the big things. I wasn't there to see last night, and P made all the right decisions about a pretty big thing. I feel ashamed that I don't give him more credit where credit is clearly due. What an amazing person I am so fortunate to have the opportunity know. I am so, so very proud of my son.