Author’s Note: I am a stay at home mother who happens to hold a part time job. That job is bus driving. I drive an elementary route and a junior high route. As you can probably imagine, some amazing and funny events have transpired over the last few years one of which I’ve written below. Names have been changed to protect…well, basically, to protect me and my job. I'll also be writing about miscellaneous thoughts regarding non-bus stuff. This is my world! Welcome to it!
Aaah, life on a bus where children try to run free and hope their parents never hear about it.
Two of my extremely smart junior high 6th graders were friends joined at the hip. They lived on the same block and rode the same bus. Mine. I allowed them to sit together because for the most part they entertained themselves harmlessly. Occasionally, however their thought processes made a loop that defied any licks of common sense. Like the time they decided to play chicken with the bus. I arrived at their stop around 6:20 a.m. and as the days became shorter the mornings naturally became darker. One dark, overcast morning they challenged each other to a game of chicken by lying down in the road as the bus drove up to their stop. I didn’t see them until I was almost upon them and as I slammed on my brakes, they jumped up laughing and arguing over who had won. Not one thought entered their little unformed 6th grade brains that perhaps it could be dangerous to lay in front of a bus in the dark. Pleased with themselves they boarded the bus and were completely nonplussed when I ordered them to sit in the front seat and not talk until I’d decided how to deal with them. Really it was just a tactic on my part to find my equilibrium and stop shaking because they’d scared a couple years off my life.
By the time we arrived at the junior high I’d planned what to say to the little sh…., ahh Darlings. Junior high age is a tough one because they are old enough to yearn for and seek some freedom, but at the same time, maturity makes random hits with no rhyme or reason (obviously the maturity bug had skipped over them that morning). They are horrible and wonderful depending on the day, their mood, the weather, or what they ate for lunch. My point is, as dumb as they can be, they’re also fragile so a dressing down must be delivered without making them feel bad about themselves. I got ‘em good. I asked nice as you please, “Do you think you’re parents love you?” Confused head shake, yes. “Do you think you’re important to them?” Confused head shake, yes. “Do you think they’d miss you if say…a bus ran over you?!!” Understanding dawned and a head shake yes.
I’ll spare you the scolding but know that I spoke most emphatically trying to make them understand that they’re important and they’re lives have value while making them understand just how stupid it was to lay on a street in front of a bus. In closing I made them promise to NEVER pull such a dangerous stunt again for the rest of their lives and if they ever started thinking along similar harebrained lines to come and find me so I could smack, ahh I mean talk, the sense back into them. Then I informed them that if they so much as blinked funny for the remainder of the year, I’d write them up for every single silly thing I could recall along with calling Mommy and Daddy. Without remorse I blackmailed them with an iron fist for the rest of the year!
The you’re-gonna-get-it-don’t-mess-with-me-blackmail worked until a couple weeks before school ended for summer when one of them brought a pair of his Dad’s handcuffs to school. Thinking it would be funny, he handcuffed his friend’s ankle to the metal seat bracket bolted to floor under the seat. And don’t feel sorry for the friend because he let himself be handcuffed. They thought they were pretty darn funny until we pulled up to the school and the handcuff key broke off in the handcuffs. I didn’t know anything was amiss until I heard the panic in their voices and the laughter of the students passing by them. Luckily for me but not for them, before the key broke, the cuff around the seat bracket was released. I didn’t laugh in their frantic faces but I was highly amused on the inside. Talk about ain’t-got-no-sense actions balanced by consequences. Exiting the bus they were forced to walk to the nurse’s office and a confession wasn’t necessary because their plight was obvious. Handcuffs are considered weapons in our district of no tolerance and I knew that parents would be called, the issue dealt with and there was nothing I could do to save their butts even if I’d wanted to. Which I didn’t because how crazy is it to bring a weapon no-no to school in this day and age of no tolerance, not to mention allowing your friend to handcuff you to a seat bracket? They were like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in the flesh only without the cool history lessons.
Bus Safety Program Giggles
Doing the Bus Safety Program recently for first graders one little boy wanted to tell his bus story. While we pulled out the bus puppet and proceeded through the puppet show he kept breaking in and trying to talk. Shushing him continuously, his teacher obviously dealt with his interruptions often. Frustration finally broke through him as the children were lining up to walk outside for the remainder of the program. He huffed loudly, slapped his arms across his chest and declared, “They never let me talk at my other school either. I hate when I don’t get to talk!” Poor little guy.
Outside he had other insights that needed to be shared and his teacher kept right on shushing him as we continued with the program. Finally, he broke. Stamping his foot, he yelled, “I was supposed to be first in line and I hate when I’m third [in line]. And I hate when I don’t get to talk!” Then he turned around and walked full tilt into the concrete wall on purpose. I couldn’t help pausing to see what his teacher would do because I’d never seen a child walk his face into a wall. It had to have hurt. Undaunted, the teacher pulled him away from the wall and walked him over to the aid who took him into the building. My mouth kept on talking but my attention was torn between the rest of the class and trying to catch a glimpse of his face to see if he’d inflicted any damage on himself. I sure hope he was allowed to talk later because I think an explosion of suppressed words was imminent on his horizon.
Last week we were teaching a bi-lingual class so we’d talk a little and the teacher would translate to the pre-kindergarteners. For four year olds their attention was focused except for one tiny little girl who was busy learning to snap her fingers. She practiced during the puppet show and continued to practice during the outside portion of the program. We climbed on board the bus and everyone else did the motions for the Wheels on the Bus song but she snapped her way through. Every once in a while she’d look up and flash a big smile at me, obviously pleased with herself. We exited the bus, taught the kids how to cross the street in front of a bus and she kept on snapping. A while later as we walked to a different class we passed the snapping girl’s class in the hallway. Guess what she was doing? Yep, she was still snapping and as we passed she looked up and me and smiled the biggest, pleased-with-herself grin I ever saw. I had to laugh. It didn’t really matter what was being taught in school that day, only one lesson was on the agenda of one four year old girl. She was learning to snap and nothing, not teachers, buses or trips down the hall was going to get in the way of the task she’d set for herself.
My favorite story this year so far (really gross):
On Friday during the bus safety program, I was talking about the cool stuff in the front of the bus, kneeling on the first bus seat facing the children sitting on the following seats who were supposedly absorbed in the fascinating information rolling out of my mouth. Since I’ve been doing the program for the last couple years, I admit that sometimes my mind wanders while the words roll out of my mouth. As I was talking, I heard one little boy in front of me say to the little boy sitting next to him in a conversational tone, “Are you going to eat that booger?” The second boy was holding up his finger, obviously contemplating what he’d dug out of his nose. I looked up quickly because I knew if I didn’t I’d burst out laughing but then I couldn’t help myself and I glanced back down. During my glance away the boy contemplating his booger must have decided what to do with it because it wasn’t on his finger anymore. I didn’t actually see his finger in his mouth but I’m pretty sure that’s where it went. Then the first little boy remarked in the same conversational tone, “Sometimes I like to do this.” And he stuck his finger in his ear, wiggled it around, and then stuck it in his mouth.
That was it for me. I kept on talking but moved into the aisle so I couldn’t look at them because I was somewhere between gut busting laughter and totally grossed out. Ever wonder what kindergarteners think and talk about? Now you know.
Want to read more of Kathy's Work?
Want vs. Should
Wheels and Weather
This Old World Just Keeps On Turnin
What Kids Do On The Bus
The Day the Naked Lady Answered the Door
Elvis in Texas
The Air Ukelele Band
Bad Word Therapy
On the Soap Box