• E.G. Riffith

The Bus Disparity

This year, we switched our kids from the school district where I teach, to our home district.

They now get the thrill of riding the bus home every day. I have to meet them at the bus stop each day and I find that to be so freaking adorable. MY KIDS get to get off the bus at a bus stop. Their bus ride is fifteen minutes long. That's right, fifteen minutes. They ride the bus home with only other elementary school middle school kids or high school kids so they get off the bus every day with huge smiles on their little faces!

The first day that I met them at the bus stop, I was bouncing up and down with the excitement and novelty of the whole experience. I was on the phone with my mother saying "I am meeting my kids at the bus stop! Isn't that cool!" The other moms were laughing at me because I was getting such a thrill from meeting my kids at the bus stop; which, to them, is so common place and normal that they take it for granted. Let me enlighten you to my own bus experiences.

When I was a kid, we lived so far out in the middle of no where that, I kid you not, we had an hour and fifteen minute bus ride to school in the morning. We had to be out at the end of our driveway at 6:00 in the morning.

It was so freaking early in the morning that my stomach was not awake and if I tried to eat breakfast, I would throw up as soon as I got to school. So mom had me on a weird liquid diet of home made fruit, yogurt, and tofu smoothies that were similar in consistency to vomit, so my stomach was all like...hey, this stuff saved me all kinds of time by already being vomit, so I will just chill. Most of the time, the smoothies stayed down.

The first time I rode the bus, I was sitting in my textured green vinyl seat, minding my own business, when this chubby, blonde, cinder block of an 6th grade boy looked over at me and said. Shit, your eyes are HUGE! I have never seen a kid with eyes that big. They take up like, half your face. Is that even normal? I found out later, that his name was Kevin.

**SIDE NOTE: To be fair, when I was a kid, I had huge anime style eyes. Big old baby blues that took up a good part of my face. Framed with long black eyelashes, you could almost feel the breeze come off them every time I blinked. Most people thought they were adorable....but not Kevin. My children have the same eyes.

Firstly, that is the first time that I had ever heard the word "shit." What can I say, I was sheltered.

Secondly, Kevin called me "Bug Eyes" from that moment on...and so did all of the other kids on the bus. Furthermore, Kevin and the high school kids saw to my education in foul language, heavy metal music, pranks, spitballs, and bus driver subterfuge (just enough to walk the line between free seating and assigned seating).

It was similar to prison, in that, people traded gum for favors such as window seats, borrowing or sharing their walkman, to get their homework done, play someones game boy, or to get a reprieve from abuse. You had to establish dominance or befriend an 8th grader or high-schooler in order to get "protection" from relentless teasing. If you had an older sibling who was an 8th grader or high-schooler, you automatically got a pass (lucky bastards)

I couldn't shake the name "bug eyes" for years until Kevin got his drivers license and didn't have to ride the bus any more. The day I got on the bus, as a seventh grader, and realized that there was no Kevin, was (at the time) the single greatest day of my life. I also had braces and had to wear my "head gear" to school three days a week. So, my social life was already in shambles and, having no Kevin around, made it a little less painful.

Anyway, eventually, the braces came off and I walked into high school on my first day as a 9th grader with a little more pride in my step, talking with my besties and looking pretty damn hot (if I could toot my own horn a little-toot toot!) Then, a very tall, blonde, double cinder block of a senior football player came walking toward us. I spun around and quicly walked in the other direction. My friends spun around in surprise and watched me walk away. "Hey!" he calls. I cringe. I can hear him getting closer.

"BUG EYES?!?" he asks from right behind me.

"Fuuuuuuuuuuck" I sighed, plastered on a smile, turned, and looked up at him.

"Kevin!" I said through clenched teeth, "So nice to see you."

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