The Big Cheese Wagon, Bully Boy And The Poncho!

Several years ago, I noticed that a good friend of ours had this habit of calling most of the girls and women we know "precious". I thought about this and then asked Robby one day, "I wonder why he doesn't call ME precious." He just stared at me; most likely not paying attention, I assumed. Well, in fact, he WAS paying attention and came back with an answer to my question. It seems that I really didn't fit the description of "precious". WHAT? Although I feigned surprise, I really wasn't. But, I DID push the ticket a little by asking, "If I'm not "precious", then WHAT AM I?" That stumped our friend a little and I have to admit that I enjoyed watching him squirm. Then, he piped up and said, "spunky!" Hmmm...OK, I could deal with that; actually liked it and AND it suited me better than "precious". That got me to thinking about what makes a person "spunky" versus "precious". MY spunkiness included lessons learned from riding the "Big Yellow Cheese Wagon".

"The Big Yellow Cheese Wagon" is how my children fondly (or not too fondly) referred to the school bus. While restricted from driving once during his senior year of high school, we told Justin that he could ride with his younger brother. He told us that he would rather ride "The Big Cheese Wagon" than to be seen riding with his YOUNGER brother. THAT was saying a lot! My children have pretty much lived a charmed life, as I'm sure each generation remarks about their own offspring. But, truly, they never HAD to ride "The Big Cheese Wagon". That is because they all attended private, Christian school and there were no buses; we had to carpool. I, on the other hand, was not quite as fortunate as they were; "The Big Yellow Cheese Wagon" was my mode of transportation to and from school for many years.

I don't suppose riding the "Cheese Wagon" was TOO terribly bad. There ARE a lot of lessons to be learned from riding the bus. For instance, sharing is one lesson you have to learn. There are only a limited number of seats on the bus and you may have to share one with someone...hopefully it is with someone you know and like, otherwise you will then get to experience being out of your comfort zone. Another lesson learned from riding the bus, is that of physical discomfort; it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. However, one lesson I learned early on in my bus riding days, was the lesson of taking up for myself. This lesson was worth passing along to my children.

When I was in elementary school (and riding the "Cheese Wagon" every day), there was this boy in my class and I suppose you could call him a bully of sorts; he was ALWAYS in trouble. That was back in the day when teachers were allowed to spank kids (at least in the south they did)...and believe me, this kid got the paddle ALL THE TIME! However, with all of the effort put into attempting to mold him into a nicer person, his behavior still failed to improve. Lucky me...he rode MY "Cheese Wagon" (ugh!) Having such severe issues with his behavior, "Bully Boy" was given a permanent seat on the bus...directly behind the bus driver. THIS, however, did not deter him. From his seat of shame, he continued to have the ability to torture. The torture he chose for me, came in the form of DAILY tearing one of my favorite pieces of clothing. You heard me right! Let me explain. My mother made me this little reversible poncho to wear to school. It was really cute. One side was blue and the other was red, but my FAVORITE thing about it was the fringe. The fringe was these little smiley face balls. Those little smiley faces is where the trouble with "Bully Boy" began.

Although he was required to sit directly behind the bus driver, it was almost as if he had the last say. It became a habit of his, that as I was exiting the bus at my house each day, he would quickly reach over and pull one of those smiley faces off my poncho! OH...this REALLY made me mad! Mostly because of him actually doing it, but also because the bus driver couldn't seem to make him quit! Considering all of this, I decided to take matters into my own hands. The only weapon I could manage to think of fingernails. Now, this was WAY before the days of acrylic nails (and I was only in elementary school too), I began to grow my own nails out. Day after day, "Bully Boy" would pop another smiley face off my poncho, as I would attempt to dodge him while exiting the bus and the bus driver continued to look helplessly at me. At this rate, I would soon have NO smiley faces left, so I decided to quit wearing the poncho until my plan was ready to execute. The day finally arrived and I once again donned my poncho...armed this time with my "weapons". As I exited the bus that day, I sauntered past "Bully Boy" with those smiley faces enticingly dangling before his eyes. And just as I suspected...he could NOT resist; he went for the bait! HOWEVER, as he reached for the smiley face, I reached for his arm and shall we say...came away with his DNA under my newly grown nails. Exiting the bus that day (to the screams of pain coming from "Bully Boy"), I glanced back at the bus driver. We made eye contact, but he did not reprimand me.

I'm not sure why I didn't tell my mother about "Bully Boy" and quite frankly it might have made things worse if I had allowed her to handle the problem. I don't recommend this type of retaliation for everyone. BUT, I CAN say that for me, it was just one more lesson learned from "The Big Cheese Wagon" that helped define who this spunky chick is today!

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