Friday, November 16, 2007

Left Behind

I find it fascinating how some select childhood memories seem to "stick" for all eternity, while the majority of our youth experiences end up evaporating slowly over time.

Here's one of those memories from my childhood that for whatever reason left its mark so strongly, I can still remember it like it happened yesterday...

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Like many kids, my first experience with a school bus was when I was in kindergarten.

I remember feeling so grown up because I was riding the same bus as the "big" kids. Every morning we would walk down our gravel road together to the bus stop on the corner and wait for Mr. Moe to pull up and open the door. It was very exciting for me and I looked forward to it every day.

One crisp day that fall we all gathered on the corner as usual and waited for the big yellow bus to pull up to our stop. Once the older kids rushed past me to get on the bus first (like they always did) it was my turn. I lifted my knee way up to my chin and took that big jump up and onto the bus.

This is when Mr. Moe stuck out his big long arm and proceeded to stop me right there on that bottom step.

"You're not going to school today!" he shouted over the rattle of the old diesel engine.

I laughed, thinking he was making a joke, and hopped up to the next step. Mr. Moe leaned forward and practically stiff-armed me in an attempt to stop me in my tracks.

"I said, you're not going to school today. Now step down and go home!"

I just stood there and looked at him blankly, not understanding at all why he was saying this to me.

"Go on. Get going now," he said as he began to rev up the engine to drive home the point that he needed to keep going.

I was mortified. Why wouldn't he let me get on the bus? Why wouldn't he let me go to school? What did I do wrong?!!

So, I stepped down off the bus and backed my way toward the curb, still refusing to believe Mr. Moe was serious. But sure enough, no sooner had I stepped up onto the sidewalk when the bus rolled forward and drove off down the street.

It was then that I started crying. I just didn't understand any of it. Mr. Moe was normally such a nice old man. Why was he being so mean?

As I walked back down the street to go home, Mrs. Stepp was coming down her driveway and saw me bawling my head off. "Oh my God honey, what's wrong?" she screamed as she rushed over to me and put her arms around me, pulling me close into her stomach.

"(huhha) Mister Moe would'n (huhha) let me goawnna bus (bwaaaaa)."

"Oh sweetheart, I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding. Come on, I'll walk you home."

Sure enough, Mrs. Stepp was right - it was a big misunderstanding. For some reason the kindergarten teachers were having in-service training that day and I didn't have school. I'm now thinking Mr. Moe could have used some "how to communicate effectively with children" training himself.

The good news for me was that "mom guilt" just happens to be a very lucrative reward for a 5 year-old. Suddenly, an unplanned day off became a day filled with extra attention, a trip to the dime store, and lots of chocolate chip cookies!

21 comments:

Kathy said...

Your bus driver was an idiot. That's all I have to say about that.

I'm working on a post about my grade school experiences, and most of them are pretty rotten. You'll feel better after reading it, if I ever have the guts to post it. I think it's going to make people cry.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh my gosh...how hard to say, "No school for you today, son,"

Poor little kid you. But, luckily that neighbor came out and you had a good day.

Julie
Using My Words

Stepping Over the Junk said...

WOW! Yeah, he needed a lesson in communicating, to kids especially. How sad and weepy I feel thinking of you as this kid going through that!

Jennine said...

May the fleas from a thousand camels infest his armpits.

Can I say that?

Nathanael once fell asleep on the school bus when he was in kindergarten. I called the school in a panic and was informed that he would have to ride until the pm students were picked up and dropped off at school. The poor kiddo wet his pants in the meantime.

I bet we all have horrible bus stories. I'm so sorry for yours!
Ugh!

Peter said...

Gidday! I agree that some memories stick but why is that? The ones I remember hold no unique importance in my life. All involve good times and bad. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that as we get older we love to cling to the past to remind us of our youth.

Heather said...

Wow, as a mom, my heart broke for you as a little boy. I can see why this day stuck with you.

Poor little Jeff!

Mom Thumb said...

Now that is a significant emotional event. When we lived in Duluth, a substitute bus driver let some kids off, out of their neighborhood, and they had to cross Grand Avenue right when the high school students got out. The week after, Jessica had a sub driver who didn't know where to take her and she was over an hour late getting home. I was freaked out and I NEVER let my kids ride the bus again.

mom said...

Hey---did you forget to bring home the note from your teacher that said there would be no school because of in-service?!!!!

Jeff said...

mom - You mean kids did that back then too? I thought my kids invented the idea of not bringing home notes from school!

Bill said...

How could you forget having a day off from school?

Gale said...

Memory lane is often full of potholes. Like that? Just came up with it, which probably means I saw somewhere on the internet.

Gary said...

Mention a subject and I have a memory for it - ask me what I had for lunch today and I have to check the bin for the wrapper labels.

deborah said...

Awwwwwww; poor little Jeffie! I am looking at my little guy and my heart is totally breaking. What an oaf your driver was. Heartless. May his car not start on a cold winter day in the cloud. I'll be stuck with THAT memory for the rest of the day now - little boy not able to get on the bus. geesh

JD said...

Ugh. I hate Mr. Moe! That story brought back all kinds of childhood trauma. Adults can really mess you up when you're a little kid. I can see why you'd remember this.

wayabetty said...

Gee, I don't remember what I had for lunch and you remembered this?!

VE said...

Hmmm...this explains a lot!

Well that would never happen now; they have so many in-service days off that it's just commonplace

rick said...

Don't feel too bad, Mr. Moe hated all children. Perfect career choice.

Caron said...

Did they model Crankshaft, the cartoon character after Mr. Moe?

Carla said...

The bus that we rode was the kind where the engine was a hump right next to Harry the bus driver. We kids would take turns riding on the engine, it wasn't an actual seat, didn't have a back and we chatted with him the whole time. It's a wonder no kids was killed and he wasn't distracted to an accident. Some peoples kids....

yellojkt said...

Just cruel. Kids are really sensitive.

Diesel said...

Holy crap, I'd remember that too. I'm still scarred from the time I was playing duck duck goose with my Sunday school class and I got tagged and panicked and burst into tears.