Welcome to my stop on the FMB Blog Tour for The Homeschoolers: The Ballad of Squirtina.
Title: The Homeschoolers: The Ballad of Squirtina
Series: The Homeschoolers Book 1
Author: Henry Circle
Publisher: Sea Star Publishing
A mortifying episode of in-school diarrhea sends witty and skeptical Christina Begoni flying into the arms of a holy-rolling homeschool group where she meets “Teenage Sex Incarnate,” David, and his alarmingly sweet sister, Sunny. The group is complete when they are joined by two other hardened public school students, Christina’s mustachioed younger brother and one deliciously rowdy redneck bully for a raucously funny and often gripping adventure on the Mississippi River. Will Christina be able to fight the wild river, a gun-toting grandpa and her own hilariously heathen ways to hold this group of unlikely friends together?
Guest Post: The Bullies on the Bus
“You can’t sit he-yuh. Seat’s taken.” The iconic scene from “Forrest Gump” is what comes to mind when I think about bus rides. And all those recent news stories about the battered bus monitor and tormented disabled kids. While I was waiting to pick up my daughter from kindergarten, I overheard a father complaining that a girl on the bus was calling his son “big titties” every day and making the boy cry.
And now it’s my daughter’s turn to ride the bus. I have avoided it. I’ve been chauffeuring her and her little purple zebra-striped back pack to school every morning and waiting in the hallway in the afternoon to pick her up, where she greets me with excitement and fruit-roll up scented kisses. The arrangement has worked out beautifully, but my husband and I are down to one vehicle right now. His job is a bit out of town so he needs our SUV until his epic quest for a dream truck comes to fruition. This might take a while, as epic quests often do. So that means putting my baby on the bus where she could be facing bullies.
I have heard many Tales from the Bus, some funny, and some heart-breaking. But I can’t truly relate because I never rode the bus, except for a few class field trips to the zoo, and it was all snacking on Cokes and Corn Nuts and cheerful sing-a-longs. I may not know buses, but I know bullies. I could write a book about bullies! Oh, wait, I kind of did. In my young adult novel, The Homeschoolers, one of the main characters, Ricky, is a bully. In fact, this character was based off my real life bully-turned-friend who shall remain nameless. (Though, there is no risk of him reading this or reading anything, really.) But Ricky isn’t a bad guy. He’s just a bored teenager who sees harassing other students as a sort of amusement, and he can’t understand why these kids are getting so hurt over what he considers good-natured teasing. Here’s an example of Ricky’s mind-set, cited from The Homeschoolers: the Ballad of Squrtina:
“Didn’t you notice I wasn’t at school the last week? No? Well, I done got myself expelled. There was this Chinese kid. Think he was a freshman. Me and the guys were just messing with him ’cause it’s fun to mess with nervous, uptight people. They take stuff so serious. So we tell this Korean kid or whatever kind of Oriental, to go sit up in the tree by the auditorium and don’t come down ’til we say. Well, we didn’t think he was fool enough to do it. He stayed up in that tree overnight until one of the teachers saw him the next morning. Sat up there like a fool with mosquitoes eating on him, holding his piss up there all night long! What a dummy! But seriously, I can’t help but feel like I’m partially responsible.”
Ricky doesn’t realize he’s a bully. He’s not cruel. He is actually quite likable at times. He’s just a stupid kid. Like the notorious bus bullies. Like most children. That is why we must have adults surrounding and constantly monitoring our kids’ behavior while our offspring are learning the art of getting along, compromising, teamwork, controlling their emotions and all that great stuff we value in our society. Otherwise, it might get all “Lord of the Flies” up on the bus!
Today, as I put my child on that big, yellow, school-bound automobile for the first time, I hope that she’ll be under the care of watchful adults and that she doesn’t encounter any Rickys!
I stretch my hand up to him, and he bends with his legs wide to stabilize himself. When Ricky pulls, I start gliding through the mud. I can feel the strength and power from his seemingly boney arms. I guess he’s what you’d call wiry. But the mud seems to be trying to hold me down. I feel the mud rolling my shorts and underwear down to my ankles. I try to push my free arm under the gunk to hold onto my bottoms, but with one more yank from Ricky, they are long gone. I have no shorts. No underwear. “Stop! Stop a second!” I scream. I scrunch my knees up and wiggle my arms down through the muck trying to find my clothes. I extend my legs down and feel around with my toes. I try feeling through the mud with my hands again. And my feet and hands at the same time. Nothing.
“What on earth are you doing?” Ricky asks. “Give me your hand so I can go on and get you out.” He sticks his fingers out to me.
My eyes are misting over. “I can’t come out.” I can’t believe this is happening in front of Ricky Kelly. I wish I could just disappear.
Searching the pit with his eyes, he asks, “I can’t see nothing. Too dark. What happened? Something caught your foot?”
The last thing I want to do is admit I’m literally half naked, but we have to get out of here and find our friends before something terrible happens to them. This isn’t kiddie kiddie play time hour so I buck up and confess, “I lost my stupid shorts in here. I can’t find them.”
“You aren’t the first girl I’ve seen in her underwear. Gimme your damn hand.”
“I lost those, too. Can I have your shorts, please?”
Ricky brightens, blooming into a grin as bright as a garden sunflower. Even in the dark of the evening, I can see the foolish look on his face. “Ricky, hand me your shorts,” I repeat.
Henry was born in a hidden cave on the Mississippi River. She was sent to an awful place called Kah-lidge for many years to learn to be a writer. Her hope is that her first series of young adult novels, The Homeschoolers, will make you laugh every now and then, get you excited about this spectacular thing called life, and teech ewe to spehl as gut as she do. 😉
This tour was put together by FMB Blog Tours