I hate the bus. I really hate the bus. I hate it so much that last week was the first time I ever took my daughter on it. My car was in the shop and I wanted to go to the zoo, so we took the bus instead. As much as I loathe the bus, I felt it was important for Adi to learn bus skills. Also, the subway near us didn’t go to the zoo.
Adi was great on the bus. She sat. She looked out the window. She did normal bus stuff. Then the bus started to get crowded. Rush hour crowded. Of course this was in the middle of the day and nowhere near any rush hour, but it’s the bus so it gets packed at random hours (I hate the bus). When the bus started to get full and Adi felt more constricted in her movements, things started to go south.
Adi wanted to climb on people. Adi wanted to pull the emergency exit lever. Adi wanted to pull the next stop rope. Adi wanted to get off the bus every time the doors opened. Adi wanted to drive the bus herself.
About halfway through, another mom with a girl around Adi’s age got on. Adi and the girl made eye contact. About 30 seconds later the girl started acting crazy like Adi.
A few stops later Adi and this other little girl are still going bonkers on the bus. Nothing serious, but if I wasn’t holding on to Adi she would jump onto the laps of total strangers. I managed to contain Adi to jumping up and down on her own seat. Adi was jumping and yelling, and while I was silently hoping she would stop, I wasn’t planning on fighting her over it — because we were on a crowded city bus in the Bronx. A fight would have been more disruptive and if these people had really wanted silence they should have considered a location other than Fordham Road.
Then, I heard a smack. The other child who was also jumping around was physically disciplined by her mother. The kid cried for a little bit and then stopped jumping. All the eyes on the bus turned to me. Obviously it was my turn to smack my child. I tried my hardest to not make eye contact. Despite my child acting like a monkey on methadone, I had no plans on hitting her. She’s two for Pete’s sake. I’m not going to hit her for acting like a two year old (gasp). But still, the people on the bus wanted to see a live version of those department store security camera tapes where the mom beats her kid and ends up on the local news.
The rest of the bus ride was a combination of squealing toddler and awkward silence. Everyone on the bus — including the slap-happy mother — was giving me the stink eye.
Why is hitting your toddler preferable to enduring 10 minutes of moderate silliness? We got off the bus and went to the zoo. On the way back Adi slept the whole way.
I hate the bus. I hate people expecting me to hit my child. But I really hate the bus.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.