top of page
Janet Gesme Seven Years Old


6:00 am and I am wide awake. I don’t have to wake up until 7:00 am. My sister and I will catch the bus at 8:24, but I am too excited to sleep: today is the first day of school and I am in second grade!

Last year I was scared to go to all-day school, but I’m not a baby anymore. All-day school is no big deal. What is a big deal is the back seat of the school bus! I hope I get to sit there today! Last year I sat in front. First graders have to sit in the front of the bus. From there I could hear the kids in back giggling. They always let out a little scream when we hit the bottom of the hill on Weaver Road, and with good reason!

We live in the foothills of the Ozarks. Our mountain range is nothing like the majestic, snow-capped Rockies; it is not visible from a distance like the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest. No, our mountains are hidden in a thick blanket of deciduous trees. They do not reach high altitudes, they just sneak up on you with sudden drops and hill sides that feel like vertical climbs several stories high.


Weaver Road has hills like this. From the front of the bus, it looks like the street just disappears in a shear drop. My stomach leapt into my throat every time we drove down those hills—school bus careening down a hill that felt like a free-fall. But that isn’t all. Just as you hit the bottom there is another hill: a little one. This little hill, when hit at high speeds, could send you air-born—bottom a good six inches off the seat—but only if you were sitting in the back. That’s my goal for today: I want to sit in the back of the bus!

I close my eyes. When I open them, only two minutes have gone by: 6:02. I can’t sleep anyway, so I decide to get up.

I spread out my clothes for the first day of school last night: gray knickers with pink trim and a white shirt with pink and gray flowers in little rows. I like pink. It goes well with my blond hair. But I like gray even more. It shows how serious I am. It lets people know: You can’t mess with this seven-year-old!

My Mom made this outfit for me. We picked out the paper pattern together and she let me choose the fabric. So exciting! I get to go to school in the coolest clothes ever!

Now I have to wait for over an hour for my family to wake up. Good thing Taffy, our dachshund, is here to keep me company. With him, the time flies by: the others get dressed, we eat breakfast and go out on the cool, dew-covered grass to wait for the bus.

8:24. Right on time. I climb up the steep stairs and head straight to the back. It’s empty! My sister and I hunker down and wait for the bus to turn onto Weaver Road. From here you can’t see the ground drop away, but you can feel it. Down, down, down, we are falling. I wish I could hold on to something, but there is nothing to grab: no handles, no seat belts. We suddenly bottom out, hit the little hill and, wow! Our feet lift off the floor and our bottoms off the seats. I can’t help but scream! We laugh so hard my stomach hurts!

Yes, this ride is worth it. Whether I like my new teacher or not, I know I will enjoy going to school every day. The Ozarks are my own personal roller coaster, and I love it!


“The mountains rose and the valleys sank down to the place that You appointed for them.”

Psalm 104:8


bottom of page