I sometimes dream about the school bus tortures I witnessed and also fell victim to during my school years. If it sounds a bit dramatic, it’s because it WAS.
Standing and waiting for the bus was torture enough.
Share your school bus nightmares in the comments below.
I can remember “Dress Up Wednesdays” when my mom insisted I wear a skirt and flats (as opposed to my typical jeans, flannel button-up and Converse high tops). I was a tomboy through and through, but she tried to make me a lady.
On those days in particular, I can vividly recall the ice beneath my feet as I gingerly slid from my front door, down our long driveway, across the country road and over to our neighbor’s driveway where the bus stop awaited me.
At that point, I stood there and FROZE as the biting wind would lash at my bare legs.
“Why me?” I would call out to no one. I hated "Dress Up Wednesdays."
Upon boarding the bus the question never failed… “How far back dare I go?”
When I was in second grade, it was fairly easy. There was no option but the several front rows. That was safe territory. But as I moved into the higher grades, the temptation grew to brave the back of the bus.
Secrets were told there. Coolness and maturity bred in those distant rows.
By fourth grade, I felt pretty cool as I sat four rows from the rear and discussed things like how annoying Jeff was (our bus driver) without fear of him hearing us (although, a quick slamming of the brakes would sometimes cause doubt…perhaps he COULD hear).
But the worst of it wasn’t the cold, the rain, or the location of my seat. It was those few kids who knew how to inflict pain and suffering in the confines of the tall back bus seats.
For whatever reason, I believed them when they told me I could chew and swallow "candy wax" and no harm would come to me. This made for one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
The wax went down and then within minutes, it was back up…all over the bus floor along with my oatmeal.
I can still hear Jeff as he slammed on the brakes and pulled the bus to the side of the road, “Gosh darnit! (although he might have used other choice words) You’ve GOT to be kidding me!”
He stomped to the back with a bag of some sort of sawdust and poured it on the puddle of vomit. The remainder of that ride is still repressed somewhere in my memory, but suffice it to say it wasn’t good.
In addition to eating strange things and getting groped on the days I wore a skirt, I had a back-of-the-bus education in such things as George Carlin and the Jerky Boys.
Somehow a tape player would sneak onto the bus and at low-volume emit jokes and words that I never knew existed. It was a true awakening at the age of nine.
And all this time, my parents were concerned about me watching the Smurfs!
So here I am, a parent to one child entering fifth grade who has moved to the back of the bus, and my youngest who is just about to board as he goes to kindergarten.
I’m thankful that the little guy is required to sit in the first two rows, but wonder what kind of education they’ll be getting as they ride the loop to school each day.
At least I don’t have to worry about making them wear a skirt.