The Kindergarten Bus

In this memory, I am five years old. We have just finished a weekend shopping at a large mall in the outskirt of town and are now driving back home. My mother is driving, and my father is sitting in the backseat between me and my little brother. His assigned mission is to keep the peace between us while my mother is focused on driving. Left alone, my brother and I can easily get overexcited and that can turn into a fight when it is evening and we are both tired.

My father takes out something from his own little shopping bag. It is a tiny yellow bus modelled after a kindergarten bus. Earlier that day, while my father and I were roaming around the mall together, I saw him purchasing the bus as a surprise souvenir for my brother, who was accompanying my mother for the household shopping and not with us.

“But he doesn’t like kindergarten buses,” I said to my father. “He only likes the large buses, remember?”

My brother is a big fan of buses and a keen collector of toy buses. But it is not that he is interested in any buses. He only loves the large public buses and shows little interest in small private buses, like shuttle buses including kindergarten buses. To my brother, these are not real buses. His toy bus collection also reflects this value system and all of his toy buses are modelled after the local public buses.

“Don’t be so picky,” my father said to me as he placed the yellow kindergarten bus into his shopping basket. “It is still a bus, and your brother will like it!”

Now, my father shows the yellow toy bus to my brother in the backseat of the car.

“Surprise, surprise! I’ve got another bus for you, Sweetie! Do you want it?”

It is dark inside the car, and we can barely see anything properly. But my brother is immediately interested. He takes the metal toy bus in his hand and eagerly studies what kind of bus he has got. That makes my father happy. But I cannot stop myself from revealing the truth.

“It’s not a real bus, though,” I say to my brother. “It’s a kindergarten bus!”

“Shhhh!” My father quickly pushes me aside. “You don’t have to tell him that! He doesn’t know and he is happy!”

“But it’s a kindergarten bus!” I repeat to my brother, laughing.

My brother plays with the bus for a while, but when we get back home and turn the light on, he realizes that it does not look like a real bus at all. It is a yellow kindergarten bus. He puts the bus at the far end of his toy bus collection and moves on to do something else.

My father blames me for my brother’s lost interest in the new toy bus, but I am laughing. To me, it is funny that my father carelessly underestimated my brother’s particular taste for buses and bought him a kindergarten bus in the first place.