For those of you who are regular readers, you know I suffered and still suffer from extreme motion sickness. My stories about my parents placing a bucket in the backseat of the car for me were plenty. My brother and sister had to freeze while I had the window rolled down just enough so my bony little fingers could feel the cold. That made me feel better for some reason.
As I got older, I had to add “traveling on the school bus” to my car sickness agenda. It was not fun. I got sick on the bus almost every day. I threw up on our bus driver, who was a nun. Well, I didn’t throw up directly on her, I was able to make a direct hit on her sensible shoes while she was shifting gears on the pretend bus van. When I switched to a public school in fourth grade (after debating with a nun why God was a meanie because of the whole Noah’s Ark situation for most of third grade), I got to sit with my best friend, Ramaine.
Ramaine would let people know when I was about to get sick. It happened at least twice a week on the way home. Our bus driver liked the bus to be toasty toasty on his afternoon run for some reason. My gurgling stomach couldn’t stomach the heat and the swaying of the top heavy bus around corners. So, Ramaine would yell out, “Raise your feet!!!” We had a good system. I would throw up, the bus would be going up or down a hill, and the kids could raise their feet before it got to them. It’s gross, but since I didn’t eat much but had to drink a lot of water because of my dysfunctional kidneys, it was just a liquid venue.
So, as I got older, I couldn’t ride in the back seat. That explains why I didn’t date much, I guess. I couldn’t ride many of the amusement rides at Kennywood Park. I couldn’t float on a raft in a pool. And when I had children, I couldn’t chaperone on any of their field trips…. And that killed me.
Oh, sure, I followed the bus on some of the trips. But, I always wanted to be a chaperone. I wanted to watch how my children interacted with others, and be able to slap the ones who were mean to them. Ok, I would never have done that part. But, I do have a look that is like a slap. So, for many years I was able to avoid traveling on a bus until I got a teaching job.
When you teach, you wear many hats. You are a counselor, a nurse, a principal, a banker, and a field trip coordinator. I had been able to skirt the whole field trip for awhile. This year the class was going to the Pittsburgh Zoo. I love the zoo and decided I would try it. After all, I have taken the bus from JFK airport to Penn Station several times with no issues. I’ve been on Amtrak and have flown several times. I have plans to take a long train ride into the Canadian Rockies this summer. Surely, I can take half of a Dramamine and go on a two hour trip to the zoo. My daughter didn’t think so.
“Mom, you know you are going to get sick. Why are you doing this?”
Yeah, why am I doing this? Well, I think I can handle it for some reason. I don’t think I’m that little scrawny Pukey Vickie anymore. It turns out, I was right. I did great on the bus. I made one fatal (ok not exactly what I would call fatal) mistake, though: I told my class I had to sit in the front and wouldn’t be able to turn around. What the hell is wrong with you, Vickie?
I thought I had it all worked out. I had six chaperones from my class for fourteen students. How easy this would be! With two classes, we were going to have twelve adults on board for 28 students. We loaded the buses with the chaperones scattered throughout. I had previously talked with my class about bus behavior and the fact that they would not be allowed to eat, drink, or chew gum on the way up or the way back. (I was surely not going to perform the Heimlich while the bus was moving. Not gonna happen.) I repeated the rules because that’s just how we are this year. I also told the kids to show respect towards the chaperones and not run away from them.
So, we loaded the bus and after a head count and quick repetition of the rules…once again..we were ready to close the doors. So, we were off. I was prepared in case I got sick. I sat in the front so I could look watch the road. Plus, I took half of a Dramamine.
The rest of the trip up wasn’t too bad. No one got sick, so life was good.
I think the kids had a great time at the zoo. The other fourth grade teacher and I did not put any kids with us. We weren’t about to do that to ourselves. So, after arriving 40 minutes late, we ate, and then began visiting the exhibits. During the day, parents who had driven up behind the bus signed their children out. Four less children would be on the bus on the way home.
I do have to mention that some time during the day, one of my girls ran up to me with a stuffed animal skunk. She bought it for me because my favorite animal is the skunk. I was at a loss of words. I hugged her and knew she spent way too much on me.
So, we loaded the bus for the ride home, which took forever and I had one of my girls sit with me on the way home because she was feeling ill on the bus. Her forehead was quite warm. She slept most of the way home…until she woke up and puked.
Luckily, for me, I know the signs. I was able to grab my zip lock bag out of my bag when she woke up. I had that feeling. I didn’t have time to get the trash bag out of the zip lock, so I just opened up the zip lock. She managed to get 50% in the bag, and 50% on her pants and all over my hands. The other teacher was handing me paper towels left and right.
When we got out of the bus, the little girls grandmother collected her quickly, and I went into the school to wash my hands.
Some things never change. Well, except this time we didn’t have to raise our feet.