I hated the school bus as a kid. I loathed it. I despised it. I dreaded it.
For good reason.
From the time I was in grade one, a girl named Jill* bullied me – relentlessly – on the big yellow torture tube. She called me “the little rich bitch”, she sneered at me and she tripped me (regularly) when I walked down the aisle with my Holly Hobby lunchbox.
Here’s the thing. I grew up in a house that was pieced together from old motel units. For a number of years, it had no floor. There are pictures of me, as a toddler, wandering across a makeshift pathway, made up of 2x4s in the living room. We had no curtains until I was seven.
I was not rich.
Nor was I a bitch. I was a painfully shy kid who could barely make it down the driveway without puking up my breakfast – which usually consisted of mayonnaise on toast. Thanks dad.
But I was cute – as cute as a girl who reeks of vomit can be – and perhaps that’s what I had on Jill who was an awkward girl who made up for her deficiencies by regularly going batshit crazy on me and the rest of the scrawny schoolchildren.
In an effort to reduce the taunts, my parents secured the help of an older boy to watch over me on the morning bus ride. His name was Eric or Dave – a 7th grade safety patroller who wore an orange vest and made traveling to school tolerable, at first. But, as it happened, Jill loved safety patroller Eric or Dave and so hiring him to protect did nothing more than fuel her hatred of me.
After school, I would walk to a friend’s house or was picked up by car – mostly because I think my folks (after weighing the odds) figured there was a greater chance of Jill plowing me in the head after a stressful day of school, than first thing in the morning (when the sedating effects of breakfast cereal were still fresh).
I eventually made it through elementary school – relatively unscathed – and was in pure heaven during my grade eight year because by that time, Jill was in high school – presumably being initiated by (and learning new techniques from) older, more skilled bullies.
I met up with Jill again when I started grade nine.
She cornered me after school (after school!) in the tech hall, right by the auto shop – just as I was trying to head out the door. We were alone. She rambled on about how I had made her life hell and how it was time for me to pay.
My body vibrated as memories of years of teasing bubbled to the surface. The wrath could no longer be contained. It was do or die time and I was ready to expire.
And so, I went apeshit on her.
I hopped around like a boxer and started screaming like a banshee.
“OK you f#%*ing mother f*&#er! Come and get me – I f&*#ing dare ya!”
I was shaking, twisting and snarling with such speed, she didn’t know which way to look. I bounced in towards her and then back again. Arms and legs were flailing. It was beautiful… in a hell-spawned Chihuahua sort of way.
Jill was understandably startled when my shoe unintentionally flew off my foot and came this close to her head, while I was “dancing” like it was the last night of my life.
She said something I can’t remember. Then, she turned and got the hell out of there.
I didn’t see much of my bully after that. On the rare occasion when our paths crossed, she would just smile at me before quickly looking down and hurrying past.
From that moment on, the only hazard on the school bus was a little prick named Kenny who took great delight in comparing my face to a slice of pizza. Every. Single. Day. By then I was 14 and the acne was menacing. But here’s the rub… my skin eventually cleared up. Poor Kenny never got any taller.
I still hate the school bus. But at least I learned a valuable lesson — one I am now able to pass on to my daughter.
When dealing with a bully, keep in mind that apeshit is way worse than batshit.
*Jill wasn’t her real name. Her real name was Kathy.
(This post originally appeared on No, Really)
About the author: Andrea Mulder-Slater is a writer and artist living a creative life with her family by the sea. In a former life, Andrea was a public art gallery educator by day and a rock ‘n roll journalist by night. These days, she splits her time between writing the No, Really humour blog, running an art studio, sharing art lessons on KinderArt.com, and blogging about creativity for YummyMummyClub.ca. Her stories have also been featured on Today’s Parent online and in the Martinis & Motherhood anthology.