Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Now that there's a movement to make kids belt up in school buses, we've lost yet another of our potential kids' playgrounds for before and after school entertainment. Gone are the days when we rambunctious toddlers would run up and down the narrow aisle to "socialize" with the other kids. Dad once said he knew I was coming home from school because he could hear the bus long before it pulled into view.

The school bus was fun. Early in the morning, it was the one last sanctuary before another long, dreary day at school stuck behind my desk. If I got sleepy, I'd just doze off only to be rudely awakened by the occasional e-brake stop, the momentum smashing my face against the steel back of the seat in front, or the loose side-window would abruptly slam shut against my forehead. At that, I'd blink blearily before drifting back off to sleep until the next e-brake. I think I spent much of my schooling life looking like an abused child, but no one at that time dared to ask about my domestic situation. Parents, kids and teachers knew their roles back then.

En route home, sleep wasn't as much a priority as playing cards with the gang (we played "Top Trumps", not poker), or playing catching over and around the seats, or beating up on the moron kicking the back of my seat 'cos he was bored and looking for a punch-up to pass the time. We had a saint of a bus driver who stoically kept drivin' on while Chaos ruled the rear compartment.

Now, if the seat-belt thing becomes law, all the little kiddies will be strapped into their transport like raw cargo being delivered to the processing plant. I imagine if they can't let off steam physically, mentally they'll be screaming for the loss of yet another outlet of youthful aggression expression. And woe betide seat partners if they can't stand each other. As soon as they reach school and the seat-belts come off, the only way to separate the two is with a crowbar, and only after a few solid whacks to soften the resistance.

Yes, I know there's a safety concern, so there's a good reason for safety belts. And I'm not trying to make light of the recent tragedy. But I am glad I'm not a child today.

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