Making Tough Decisions – part 2

yellow jacket

(This is a continuation of the last post)

I arrived at the bus and it was swarming with thirty or so yellow jackets inside and out.  It had been a hot day and we left the windows open so the bus would be cool when we returned.  I closed all of the windows from the outside, opened the back doors and walked around to the front entrance.  I grabbed a sweatshirt and wrapped it around my head and then entered, shooing the bugs out the back door and jumping out myself.  I had to do this about four times before all the yellow jackets were gone and the I had to repeat the process with two more vans.

Once secure, the kids all came down to have their snack break and we were happily unmolested by the pests.  We headed for home after that.
As we were driving down home, the road was steep and the curves frequent.  We call them switchbacks because you are constantly switching the direction you are steering in.  In the middle of this one of the girls tells me there is a yellow jacket in her shirt.  With no place to pull over, I can only give her verbal instructions on how to help herself.  I told her to hold out her shirt so the yellow jacket can fly out.  It did this, but then flew behind her into the gap between the seat and the backrest.  I had others nearby give her jackets so that she could at least trap it in the space behind her until we could pull over.  By the time we found a space, the bug was gone and there were no other incidents on the way home…yay!

That wasn’t the last of them though.  We continued to have a problems with yellow jackets for quite some time as they had gotten into the air conditioning system.  They would go dormant in the evening and on cold days but once the temperatures heated up, you could see them flying around in the bus.  Because it was a school bus and transported children we couldn’t use any pesticides to get rid of them.  A few natural pesticides were attempted but were ineffective and made the bus smell awful when the air conditioning was on.  I found the most affective way to get rid of them was to kill them with a fly swatter. So each week on field trip day, I had a little routine where I would go kill any yellow jackets during my bus inspection.  This seemed to be acceptable to the kids and we got along fine for several months.  Yes, we really did have yellow jackets for months after that.

One day we were getting ready to leave for a trip and they decided they didn’t want to go in the bus.  Suddenly…after all this time they were scared.  I think part of this sudden fear had to do with them researching yellow jackets and discovering they can sting multiple times.  I guess that’s what happens when you teach kids how to read.  I had omitted giving them that information up to this point.

I let them know that we could stay at school and do projects, or I could go in the bus and kill yellow jackets and then we can go on the trip.  I suggested they talk it over and let me know what they wanted to do.  After a few minutes they had decided that I should go get my fly swatter.

I don’t remember how much longer we had this routine, eventually they were all gone.  It seems we both had some hard decisions to make.  They had to confront their fears and I had to take the Earthquake Trail off of our field trip schedule.  Too many children with severe allergic reactions, even prepared with medicine, I needed to stay closer to civilization.