Clearly, I missed the memo.
Apparently there is a special bond that formed over the summer. It wasn’t like this on the last field trip I chaperoned…towards the end of first grade for my youngest kiddo, I don’t know, in May or so. Surely if the signs were there last time, I would have seen them.
Were there letters back and forth? Is there something in the second-grade curriculum about this? Why wasn’t I informed? Is there a secret informational conduit between second-graders and truck drivers? (I’m picturing something like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, here…)
Maybe it’s just the grapevine – one kid on one bus happened to know the universal sign for “Hey, Truck Driver! Honk your horn!” was a fist in the air, pulling down on an imaginary cord. Another kid saw him do it, and started doing it too…and soon, entire busloads of kids were completely transfixed on the traffic around them.
It’s as if they were WILLING the trucks in the lanes behind them to go a little faster . Using their incredible mind powers to move cars that dared to be between the school bus and the truck. They squinted. There were lookouts. ”There’s one 3 cars behind us!” And then the mental maneuvering began. Some kids were quiet about it, an intense look of concentration on their faces, their hands in their laps. Others were unconsciously moving their hands and leaning their bodies towards the lanes into which they were hoping the offending cars would move. Still others were slightly less subtle, bouncing up and down and begging the cars, “MOVE!!!! MOVE!!!!”
As each car moved out of the way, there were bursts of little happy sounds, but they quickly changed back into the concentrated hush that preceded them. There were still more cars to move. And when that was done? Oh, there was still the work of the master puppeteering of the truck. Half the kids are already making the universal sign, practically breaking a sweat as their little fists pumped up and down in the air furiously. I’d say these efforts were a bit premature, as I don’t think the truck driver saw them, but it was hard to fault their enthusiasm.
And then? Then…there…was…EYE CONTACT. This was the job and sober responsibility of the kids sitting in the very back of the bus. Waving their arms wildly, and some shouting, “Hey! Hey! Truck Driver!!!!” a connection was made. The truck driver noticed the school bus. He gave a small smile, nodded his head, as if he now understood his mission and its importance. He began checking his rear-view mirrors. He was safe and stealthy as he moved into the lane on one side of the bus.
It was now almost impossible to contain their excitement. All signs of decorum and dignity usually displayed by second-graders had fallen away. The school bus itself was practically bouncing up and down through the sheer force of dozens of 7-year-olds pumping their fists in unison – it was inevitable and undeniable.
The trucker smiled. He smiled big. He reached up, and grabbed the cord, and HOOOOOOOONNNNNKKKKKKed! The kids absolutely dissolved into giggles and cheers, and the truck driver looked like he had just been awarded the Heavyweight Championship Belt. And he had – at least the second-grade version of it. There’s not much time to bask in the glory, though. Within a few seconds the high-pitched alarm was sounded: “There’s TWO trucks behind us!!!”
And just like that, their tireless work began again.