Monday, September 13, 2010

Smackdown on the bus

A few days ago Genea got off the bus and right away told me that some girls had been hitting her and had knocked into her with their backpacks. I was confused, alarmed and quite frankly really pissed off. The bus had already gone on its way and so I tried to pry out of Genea what had happened.

There were two of them, it seems, and that made me even more angry. What kind of vicious nasty team of future inmates was assaulting my child? My mentally ill child! Some parts of the story came out as we were walking home and other parts throughout the afternoon. The way Genea's brain is structured, she has a hard time giving information in the moment, especially details. So I have to think through the possibilities and ask the right questions.Then, I have to ask the questions in a way that does not lead Genea to give an answer just because she thinks I want to hear it. Or that gives her ideas of things to say that never even happened. It sounds tricky but over time you learn and it gets easier. But I can't just sit her down and say, "what happened?" because then I'll never find out.

Genea was sitting on the bus seat and Future Inmate #1 was next to her in the window seat. Genea was on the aisle, and across the aisle was Future Inmate #2. #1 and #2 are friends. Future Inmate #2 had some thing she was showing to #1, and Genea was looking at it too. One of them told her to stop looking the item. Details are a little fuzzy here, but then one of the little shits hit her! I asked Genea, what did you do, and Genea tells me "I hit her back".

Huh. Really. Really?
Okay, then what?

So it seems there was a series of hits from both of the other students, who incidentally are older, some kicks and some hits with a backpack. And Genea responded to each with an equal show of force.


*ahem* I mean, we don't hit. Hands are for hugs you know.

Seriously though, it wasn't the best response. If kids are behaving poorly the other children are supposed to tell the driver right away. Hitting back is rarely the best choice and not what I would have told her to do in most cases. Probably. 

If this had been Teena, things would have been different. I would expect a non-violent response from her that followed the rules. But Genea? I would have thought she would cry. Cry and possibly crawl under the seat trying to hide. Wailing maybe. Her reaction would be uncontrolled, if she did hit back it would be in an ineffective flustered sort of way. She might freeze and stare at the Future Inmates, as they antagonized her more and more trying to get a reaction. She might have said something strange sounding. She would react as the perfect victim, the type of response that would have guaranteed this would happen again and again.

Instead, she gave as good as she got. I think, personally, that sometimes you have to stand up to a bully right away. Following protocol and reporting it is all good but things can also get dragged out and blown up that way. The Husband and I discussed it, and of course we could call the bus company and maybe we should have. But I thought Genea seemed to handle it herself just fine. We coached her on what to do if it happened again.

The next day there were no problems on the bus.


  1. This is so funny.

    But most importantly: GO GENEA!!!

  2. I hate school buses. They are evil all around :)

  3. That is why my girls ride the little bus. Hope would draw blood and GB would freeze, then cry. GO GENEA!

  4. What's going to happen now?
    My kids went to a private school where transportation was not provided so there was no bus riding for them.
    However, I rode a school bus when I was little and let me tell you, the things that went on in there would make a cellblock at a maximum security prison for violent offenders seem like a little old ladies' book club.
    Bus drivers do not want to address behavior issues. Aside from threatening to "stop this bus right now and make you all walk home" which, even then we knew he couldn't possibly do and not get into a heap of trouble, the bus drivers I recall simply tuned out the mayhem occurring in the seats behind them and concentrated on dumping us out at our respective stops, where the violence would usually escalate to rock-throwing.
    I think the best thing for Genea to do in future incidents would be to shout LOUDLY, "She's hitting me! Stop hitting me!" Hitting back is optional but highly advisable IMHO but shouting out that she's the one being victimized MIGHT draw the driver's attention and prevent the nasty little beasts who are tormenting her to claim that Genea hit them first.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about the possibility of her reaction making her "the perfect victim." P is like that. I would be doing cartwheels if he defended himself that way, even though our official line is that "we keep hands and feet to ourselves."

  6. My aunt drives a school bus and I agree with Miz Kizzle... some cellblocks are safer! My aunt said this year they installed cameras on her bus because she is transporting middle schoolers and they are the worst group she says.

  7. yes, hitting is wrong and all that, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Our hitting policy states the following:

    IF someone hits you tell them to stop, tell them if they hit you again that you will hit them back. If they hit you again, hit them back.

    In my experience, telling on a bully only makes the bully want to beat you more when there are no adults around. Kids need to learn to stick up for themselves.

  8. Go Genea!

    Whew this is a tough one! I thought I was going to be able to get around it with my 9th grade daughter (who not only is a fun target, but who reacts to teasing with bravado and poking and teasing back which makes the other kid thinks it's OK, and then it escalates - meanwhile, inside she's scared out of her ever lovin' mind!), because my neurotypical daughter also rode the same bus. Instead my adopted daughter transfers all of her angst to her sister! So my poor neurotypical daughter can't win. If she laughs off the teasing or worse gently teases too then my adopted daughter feels attacked, and all the blame goes on her sister instead of the kids on the bus (or herself because she instigates or perpetuates the teasing too). *sigh*

    We've had bus drivers who were driving a van full of emotionally disturbed teens, playing inappropriate music and completely ignoring all the kids - as they tormented my daughter. My daughter refused to "tattle" then too.

    It's so often a no win situation.

    Mary in TX

  9. I agree with go Genea!!!! Its complicated, but as a parent, if your kid is getting physically assaulted, your first reaction is anger and you want your kids to fight back...and then the little voice tells you that society frowns on that. I think sometimes society is wrong...look, her fighting back solved the problem. I tell my kids to tell if someone is bullying them, but secretly I want them to kick some butt.

  10. Great title for a play "The Bus". Lots of drama. The bus driver pretty much has to shut his/her ears in order to drive safely, and even if there were a couple of teachers on there, they'd have a hard time seeing everything that goes on.

    I think Genea sensed that in that atmosphere it was each man for himself, so to speak.

  11. The bus is a constant issue for us too. The boys are finally after 2 years riding it both ways and so far it is all good. I think that it is great that Geena stood up for herself even though we can not tell her that hitting back is ok it was toatlly the right thing to do.

  12. She was not ut on this earth to be someone's punching bag. Go, Girl!
    (Uhm, I mean, hands are not for hitting.)

  13. Yeah! Genea is using all the tools in her tool box...including her right hook and left jab!


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