Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Lesson on Small Bus Etiquette

We recently learned that we had not properly educated our son on small bus etiquette. We had, in fact, failed miserably.

We were 9 hours into our hellish 13 hour trip from Penang to Koh Lanta, Thailand, having woken up at 4:30am to hit the road. Simon had taken 2 short naps, but was otherwise mostly entertained by games on his iPod, just playing quietly. We spent about 20 minutes playing with one of his sticker books as well. I will admit, I said things out loud like, "That's a shark" or "That's a manta ray" in response to Simon's questions. Then I gave him back the iPod and he turned on an Elmo video. Then, this is where our parenting clearly failed, he counted to four along with Elmo out loud.

Let me set the scene a little. We were in a cramped minivan, and we we had our own row. Most other passengers were plugged into their various devices and there was minimal conversation during our ride.

But then Simon went ahead and counted for four out loud. A lovely asshole Australian passenger turned around sharply and said venomously, "How about teaching the kid a little small bus etiquette?" (Picture scruffy, dirty old overly-tanned man with a wife beater.)

I was stunned and had to ask him to repeat himself. Was he really implying that he had a problem with my son's behavior, which consisted of counting to 4 out loud? I explained that he was 2 and that he was being very quiet and patient on this long bus ride. Somehow this ended up with him calling Martin and I "ignorant pigs." I turned away and Martin was incredulous and I told him not to bother, just stop talking to this idiot.

I was now fuming in my seat. How rude! Simon had done nothing wrong, and had in fact been behaving very well. He hadn't cried or screamed or started singing "Twinkle, twinkle" on repeat as he some times likes to do (very loudly, I might add). He counted to 4.

I understand that some people are not thrilled to find themselves on a bus or train or whatever with a family with toddlers. But we all have to get where we're going, so it's bound to happen. Parents work hard to make sure their kids behave on these journeys, because it stresses us out when our kids are bothering everyone and misbehaving. This guy was plain unreasonable.

As we arrived in Krabi and was I was starting to simmer down a bit from our earlier confrontation, our new Aussie friend turned around said something to the effect of, "See? I told you he could do it. I haven't heard a peep from him the last 2 hours. You tell me 'oh he's only 2' but he's not as stupid as you think he is. You should give him some credit."

Me give Simon some credit? Me? And stupid? You could not find another being on this earth that thinks Simon is as brilliant as I do.

I of course did not waste any words on this ridiculous comment. We obviously didn't see eye to eye and no words were going to change that. But I do wish for him, many future bus rides and long flights seated next to lots of toddlers who are loud and rowdy. I also hope that his mouth is covered with duct tape as I wouldn't want other parents have to listen to him blither on with his inane comments.

There will always be people out there like our Aussie minibus companion, but they are the minority. There are many more out there that are kind-hearted and empathetic. When we next review small bus etiquette with Simon, I will tell him that it's not worth arguing with people who are rude and ignorant. Be the bigger person, and walk away. Or, in a small bus, simply yawn and walk away. That's what you have to remember, and that is what I learned in my lesson on small bus etiquette.



  1. I think we should find this guy & have him share a 10-minute cab ride with Hugo! To quote from Cars 2 'what a jerk'.

  2. Wow, I'm glad that wasn't me, b/c I'd be sitting in Thai jail right now for having beaten the shit out of him.

  3. He should be grateful he wasn't with Lily :) What a crappy experience- good for Simon! I just wish he'd gotten car sick and barfed on this twirp!