A bus driver becomes concerned about a little boy who walks to the forest behind his school every day instead of going to class and decides to follow him. What he discovers along the way leaves him stunned.
Scott Morrison had been a school bus driver for 40 years and loved his job. He was friendly to all of the children who traveled on his bus, and he would frequently engage in conversation with them to keep them entertained.
When Scott was young, he used to be a boy scout. He met the love of his life, Lyra, while he was a scout, and they married and had a beautiful baby boy, Harry, years later. Scott and Lyra were happy with their marriage and never imagined anything could go wrong. But sadly, fate had other plans…
When Harry was just 8, Scott and Lyra lost him in a bullying incident at his school. Some of Harry’s classmates forced him to walk to the hilly area behind his school, where he slipped and fell into a deep valley. From that day on, Scott began to doubt children’s innocence and believed that they could be nasty.
After that incident, Scott quit scouting and went to work as a school bus driver. He didn’t speak to the kids much because he was still reeling over Harry’s death, but he gradually came to terms with his loss and became more friendly to the children on his bus.
One day, Scott noticed a little boy on his bus who was unusually quiet and sat apart from the other children. He was visibly upset and didn’t say anything during the ride. When they arrived at the school, all students hurried to their classes, except for that boy, who remained at the school gate.
Scott waited on the bus for a while, hoping that the youngster would go inside soon. However, he noticed that the child skipped classes and instead went to the abandoned forest behind the school. This happened for a few days in a row, and Scott became increasingly concerned about his safety. He recalled how Harry, too, had been compelled to walk to the area behind the school and ultimately died.
Fearing the child could be in trouble, Scott decided to follow him into the forest one day. He kept a safe distance from the child to avoid being seen, and he noticed the boy kept walking deeper and deeper into the forest. At one point, the boy abruptly stopped, removed his backpack, and began picking up trash and placing it in his bag.
Scott was puzzled, and he stood frozen as he gazed at the boy cleaning the forest. Suddenly, the child noticed him and got scared. He hurriedly snatched up his backpack and prepared to run. But Scott stopped him.
“Hey, hey,” he said, approaching him. “I don’t want to hurt you. I am just curious about what you are doing here. Don’t you recognize me? I’m Scott, the school bus driver. What’s your name?”
The little boy looked at him, teary-eyed. “I recognize you, Scott. Please don’t tell anyone that I’m coming here. My name is Stanley Hayes.”
“But Stanley, what are you doing here? A little boy like you shouldn’t be alone in the woods. It can be dangerous.”
“I’m trying to make dad proud,” he said, trembling. “I want to be like dad.”
“What? What do you mean?” asked Scott, confused.
“My dad used to be a scout,” Stanley said. “He used to help everyone. One day dad was trying to save a girl from a bear, and he died. After that, mom and I moved to this town. My old school had a scout squad, and I loved being a part of it. But my new school doesn’t have one…Every day, I come here alone to clean the forest. Dad always told me that I should keep my surroundings clean.”
Scott gave Stanley a friendly smile. “Did you know, Stanley, that you are incredibly kind and smart? I’m sure your father is proud of you. However, it can still be dangerous for you. Why didn’t you approach your teacher for extra help?”
“That’s because,” Stanley bowed his head, tears streaming down his cheeks, “all the other kids laugh at me. They call me dirty for picking up trash and say I stink. They even call me a dirty janitor because of it. I hate going to school. I don’t want to go back there. So I recently started skipping classes.”
“Good Lord!” gasped Scott. He felt terrible that Stanley was being bullied for doing something really noble and thoughtful for such a young boy like him. Scott decided he’d help Stanley at any cost.
“Hey Stanley,” he said, formulating a quick plan. “I’ve got an idea to help you.”
“Yes, come with me, and yeah, you won’t have to miss school starting today. Nobody will make fun of you. Instead, they’ll all pitch in to help you.”
Scott approached Stanley’s principal, Mrs. Stepson, and told her what had happened. He also said to her that he used to be a scout and that he had an idea to start a scout program in the school to inspire children like Stanley to continue doing the good.
Mrs. Stepson felt sorry that Stanley had to go through so much, and she decided to assist Scott in carrying out his plan.
A week later, Stanley’s school organized a competition for cleaning the abandoned forest and announced that the winning class would receive a prize. To everyone’s surprise, at the end of the cleaning week, 6-year-old Stanley and his team of 1st graders won the competition!
The forest was always spick and span from that day on, and nobody was afraid to go there. Stanley’s classmates stopped bullying him, and they all started praising him for his work. Stanley’s mom was very thankful to Scott that he’d helped Stanley and that the little boy didn’t feel lonely at school anymore. But that wasn’t all.
After meeting Stanley, Scott’s faith in children’s innocence was restored.
What can we learn from this story?
- Never give up on what you love doing just because others mock you for it; if you love doing what you do, you will see the fruits of your labor soon. Stanley wanted to be like his father and keep the environment clean. Despite the bullying, he continued to do it, and ultimately everyone at his school began praising him for it.
- Young minds are like budding plants: if nurtured properly, they can do wonders. 6-year-old Stanley is an example for millions of people out there to keep doing what is right and good.