How Important is Language? The Bus Story!


I’ve been writing this blog for years now and don’t think I ever shared ‘The Bus Story’. It is a true lesson in understanding how important ‘words’ can be.
Alex was adopted from Russia at age 5 1/2. He came home to us in late July. By mid-Aug. he was off to kindergarten. I remember the first day, introducing myself and Alex to the bus driver. I told her he didn’t speak a word of English but that I could get a translator to talk with Alex if anything needed to be explained to him. Little did I know how many times we’d be talking with our translator friend that week.
At the end of Day 1, I picked up Alex at the bus. The bus driver appeared to be a bit ‘frazzled’. She had to pull the bus over 3 times since Alex kept running up and down the aisle of the bus. I apologized and said we’d go right home and talk with Karina, our friend who speaks Russian. Karina promptly told Alex that he was not to walk or run in the bus….and that he must stay in his seat.
Day 2…When I picked up Alex from the bus stop the bus driver then told me that he did not get out of his seat but he was standing and jumping in his seat…not sitting! Again we made the phone call to Karina who told him he must SIT in the seat of the bus.
Day 3…The bus driver now claimed Alex sat in his seat but was swinging his backpack around hitting other children. Parents at the bus stop were looking at me like I had a monkey for a child and that I must not have any control what so ever with this kid. (I had only had Alex for one month and couldn’t speak his language! Give me a break, ok?)
After our friend covered every bus rule she could think of with Alex…and was quite specific with her words, things improved. The bus was never a place where Alex was on his best behavior and it was a struggle for quite awhile for him to be good there. We did all types of positive reinforcement, which usually worked for awhile. However, since Alex did have some learning issues with reading and math, mostly due to language skills, the bus turned out the place to be to let out his frustrations.
Now that he rides to school with friends and doesn’t take a bus, I have almost forgotten the early days and our daily bus routine!

Deborah Mumm, The Adoption Coach
Everything for Adoption

Fall 2005 011

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