E ssence of Kid (part two)
The introduction to this section of Bus Dwivah, subtitled Essence of Kid, is in Chapter Six. If you care about introductions, feel free to peruse it there.
Constance Marie, the kissing bandit, was a 2nd grader (as I'm rereading these accounts I realize that my father may have been right about something. He always maintained that all humans are born insane and a lucky few attain sanity as they grow up. I'm thinking maybe the summer after 2nd grade? Dad also said, and this may have been a quote from somebody else, "Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your kids.").
Constance Marie, the kissing bandit, was a kissin' fool. She would kiss any boy who would hold still long enough, which was no boy. It actually became a safety issue on the bus, because few things will disperse a crowd of elementary school boys like some crazy chick trying to kiss them. It looks and sounds like a scene from a Japanese horror movie. Thundering feet, screaming, boys launching themselves headlong into the aisle to escape the attacking lips.
Long soulful talks at the front of the bus while we waited for the older kids to board in the afternoons had no effect. She couldn't help herself. She was an addict. I sent a note home to her mother. "Please talk to Constance Marie about not kissing people anymore. I'm afraid someone will get hurt." Her mother did not respond.
I finally had to displace Lincoln the Destroyer in the front seat so I could separate Constance Marie from temptation. I placed her with girls her own age that she did not care to kiss and who wouldn't have cared if she had. Unfortunately, Constance Marie discovered if she wiggled her little body into just the right position, she could stare down an opening between the seats and the outer bus wall and occasionally catch a glimpse of Martin, a handsome 5th grade boy. There was no question in anyone's mind who saw her staring at Martin that she would kiss him in a heartbeat if she got half a chance.
This made Martin both nervous and annoyed. When it was his stop, he would hurry down the aisle and Constance Marie would drape herself winningly in his path, bat her little 2nd grade eyes and say, "Hi, Marty!"
Martin would look at me desperately and said, "Make her stop calling me Marty." or "Make her stop looking at me, she makes my face hurt."
I hated to admit I was unable to control a 2nd grader with a curiously raging libido. One evening, when Martin made his customary plea to me about making Constance Marie forget he existed, I said, "Martin, I'm sorry – but if you're gorgeous, you have to expect some fans."
Martin looked disgusted and then said, sarcastically, "Yeah. I'm dead sexy."
Gorgeous AND funny. Kid didn't have a prayer.
Crazy little Mikie again (with the brick-laden backpack and broken ankles). I always thought of him in those exact terms. One afternoon run, a hubbub broke out in seat 12, where Mikie sat on the aisle next to two 4th grade boys. I heard the one by the window yell in a tone of horrified hilarity, "Oh, my gosh! I don't believe he's doing that."
I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw little Mikie, grinning crazily, riding his neighbor's leg, moving his body up and down rapidly. I blinked rapidly a couple of times, shook my head, and looked again. Yep, that's what he was doing. His neighbor, Jacob, lifted little Mikie into the air and plopped him down in the seat across the aisle, which was fortunately empty, its previous occupants already having disembarked. Jacob scrubbed at his leg with both hands, his face dark red and disbelieving.
"Just sit there, Mikie," I ordered from the driver's seat, at a loss for anything else to say.
Mikie sat there as ordered, looking hurt and mystified. Bus Dwivah's brain raced. No way could a 2nd grader have invented that particular move. Clearly there was something else going on here, something that wasn't covered in the classroom OR the practice sections of Bus Dwivah training. Sick at heart and praying for wisdom, Bus Dwivah waited for the turnaround at Spring's house, when the bus was off the road and all but two or three kids were off the bus, and called Mikie to the front.
"Mikie," I said gently. "I need to talk to you about what just happened back there in the seat with Jacob."
Mikie still looked confused and nodded a little.
"Mikie, honey, what would make you do such a thing on Jacob's leg?"
Mikie swallowed hard and opened his mouth, and I braced myself for whatever awful tale of abuse would follow.
Mikie choked out, "I was bein' funny. When my dog does it to my uncle's leg, everybody laughs!"
Rose was the Princess Di of Bus #30. Pretty, blonde, friendly, kind. She was given to such noble gestures (especially for a 6th grade girl, most of whom turn into vampires during the summer after 5th grade) as stopping on her way back the aisle to give a handmade tulip to a kindergarten girl, saying, "I made this for you in art class."
Everybody loved her, including me. If a shy or troubled child was assigned to my bus, I'd ask Rose to take them under her wing, and she would always cheerfully agree, and look out for them like a mother hen.
All the young kids adored her, the older girls wanted to be her, and the boys worshipped her. If Rose dropped a notebook in the aisle, there would be a life-threatening scramble of boys racing to be the one to pick it up and hand it back to her.
That's why I was shocked when an uproar went up from the "First Class" rear few seats of the bus one morning, with Martin the dead sexy yelling, "I don't BELIEVE you just did that!" and ensuing cries of "Gross. Ewww. SOOOOO gross."
Bus Dwivah sighed and looked in the rearview mirror. "What NOW?"
Somebody yelled out, "Peter just spit on Rose!"
What? Peter, like all the rest, thought the world revolved around Rose.
"Peter, everybody, sit down and be quiet."
When we arrived at the school, I summoned Peter to the front of the bus and asked him to sit down while everybody else unloaded. Then I looked at him.
"Peter, what in the world would possess you to spit on Rose?"
Peter was a freckle-faced kid with a shock of dark auburn hair and a pug nose. He himself could not believe he had spit on Rose and his freckles stood out green on his pale face.
"Sam," he choked out.
"Sam?" Bus Dwivah was thinking 'Son of Sam.' Bus Dwivah was again thinking, 'Serious issues beyond my pay grade.' "Sam possessed you? How?"
Peter was starting to cry, but he forced the words past the sobs. "Sam said, 'on the count of three, let's spit on Rose.' Peter's voice began to rise steadily. "And then he counted. 'One, two…' by the time Peter got to 'three,' he was wailing, and the last bit came out in a wounded and terrified squall. "AND THEN HE DIDN'T SPIT!"
Rose, being Rose, graciously forgave Peter when he offered the stammering apology I made him give. Bus Dwivah separated Peter and Sam, and kept a close eye on Sam the Manipulator from then on.