Back seat of the bus where dark side lurks
The back seat of the bus has a reputation for being a place of mischief and misdemeanour.
But I was surprised to learn that its seductive powers extend to preschoolers.
On a recent kindy trip to Te Puna Quarry Park, I made the mistake of sitting one row from the back. While the pint-sized passengers sitting two-by-two in the rows in front of me were all calm and contained, behind me all hell was breaking loose.
A jolly rendition of "the wheels on the bus go round and round" quickly mutated into "the wheels on the bus go poo, poo, poo", until eventually both "wheels" and "bus" were dropped entirely.
"Poo, poo, poo," sang the back-seat choir - followed in quick succession by: "Poo, poo, poo. Bum, bum, bum"; and then elevated to: "Poo, poo, poo. Bum, bum, bum. Penis." It had gone to a whole new level.
Miss Curly-Top, who had brought her cuddly rabbit, Lettuce, along for the ride, was doing bunny farts in everyone's faces.
"Pbrrrrrp, pbrrrrrp," she blew raspberries, shoving Lettuce's pink, cotton-tailed bottom at her giggling friends. The gag was such a hit she repeated it over and over.
Meanwhile, having ignored numerous requests to "sit down", the ringleader of the boys' gang got separated from the mob.
Without their leader the two remaining boys settled down considerably, outnumbered and overpowered by the formidable force of frenzied females.
At the park, their excitement was tempered by momentary disappointment when they learned that "park" did not necessarily mean "playground".
But it wasn't long before curiosity got the better of them and they sprinted off up the gravel path, leaving parents and teachers in their dust, cringing at the scraped knees that were sure to follow.
A long-drop toilet drew mixed responses - the level of adventurousness matched to seating positions on the bus.
A cautious front-seat sitter was too scared to sit down in case it swallowed her up, while one of the back-seat girls emerged with a wide grin on her face, exclaiming: "That was cool!"
Caterpillars were held, butterflies admired and roses sniffed.
The thought of swing-sets and sea-saws had all but vanished as they made their way down to the picnic area where, much to their delight, they were greeted by a magnificent dragon slide.
Fuelled by afternoon tea, the girls rode the dragon, while the boys proceeded to slay it.
But emotions boiled over as the dragon got the better of some of them and the waiting bus became a welcome refuge from the day's excitement.
Assuming their rightful position, the back-seat girls burst into song as soon as the wheels of the bus started turning.
"The mums on the bus go waa, waa, waa," I thought to myself as I was mooned by a rabbit.