Fire and Ice is today’s stop on the official blog tour for Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. We have the author here for a giveaway and guest post!
Title: Summer on the Short Bus
Author: Bethany Crandell
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Pub. Date: April 1, 2014
Cricket Montgomery has been thrown under the short bus. Shipped off to a summer camp by her father, Cricket is forced to play babysitter to a bunch of whiny kids—or so she thinks. When she realizes this camp is actually for teens with special needs, Cricket doubts she has what it takes to endure twenty-four hours, let alone two weeks.
Thanks to her dangerously cute co-counselor, Quinn, there may be a slim chance for survival. However, between the campers’ unpredictability and disregard for personal space, Cricket’s limits get pushed. She will have to decide if suffering through her own handicapped hell is worth a summer romance—and losing her sanity.
Author Guest Post
UGLY GROWTH: IT’S THE NEW BLACK
In SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS, Cricket Montgomery embodies every ugly character trait we are taught you don’t want to have. She’s rude. She’s judgmental. She’s self-absorbed. She says and thinks horrible things about people who are different from her. Bottom line, she’s a bi*&%$.
I contend, however, that she’s not entirely to blame for her actions. In my opinion, Cricket is as much a victim of her bad behavior as the targets of her abusive words.
Hang on, hang on! I know this isn’t a popular school of thought, and I agree with what some of you may be thinking; that a seventeen year-old is old enough to be held accountable for the decisions she makes. But if you give me a minute to explain myself, I think you’ll see where I’m coming from.
*Yanks off Author hat. Pulls Mom hat out of the drawer. Shakes out broken goldfish bits. Slides hat on.*
Okay, some of you may know that my youngest daughter has cerebral palsy. If you only had a headshot of her, you’d think she was just like any other eight year-old. In person, however, you’d quickly realize that isn’t the case. She is learning to walk independently, but spends most of her travel time in a wheelchair. (A bad a zebra print wheelchair, thankyouverymuch) She rarely feeds herself, isn’t potty-trained, and does not speak through verbal communication.
Besides the physical and emotional impact having a differently-abled kiddo has on a mom, there are some serious social challenges, too. Rewind to three years ago…
I’d gotten used to the judgmental scowls and unnecessarily long looks when we were out in public, but nothing could have prepared me for after-school care the first day of kindergarten.
Even though my eleven year-old (then eight) had been in the program for a few years, I decided to join my little one on her first day so I could get a feel for how things would go for her. We got our fair share of stares and mumbled whispers as we made our way from the short bus and through campus in her fancy chair, but it’s when we entered the auditorium and sat down on the carpet with the rest of the kids that things started to get ugly.
“Why is she in a diaper?” “What’s wrong with her?” “She can’t use the toilet?” “How can she be in kindergarten?” To call the two kindergarten boys in front of us mutant devil spawns might be a tad harsh, but in my defense, I’m sure I saw little pitchforks poking out of their back pockets. I tried to answer their questions in as adult-like manner possible, but it wasn’t working. I could feel my cheeks and chest growing hot, the way they do when I’m upset, and something really deep inside of me began to ache. I’d been mad plenty of times in my life–had felt protective and defensive of my daughter more times than I could count–but this was different. This was a boiling-over, get-out-of-my-way-before-I-hit-you kind of mad.
With tears welling in my eyes, I scooped up my sweetly oblivious daughter and headed for the door. From her office, the leader of the program saw me leave and followed me outside to ask what had happened. I’ll be the first to admit I was very immature in calling those five year-old boys a bad name in my retelling of the incident (a really bad name that made me grateful my daughter isn’t able to repeat the things she hears) but I did, and the leader didn’t mind a bit. In fact, she agreed with my choice of words, apologized for their behavior, and assured me the problem would be remedied right away.
I was just beginning to cool down by the time big sister climbed into the car a short time later. But once I saw the tears in her eyes all those emotions steamrolled right back.
“Why does everybody have to stare at her?” She asked. “Why does she have to come to my school?”
My heart broke right then, not only because my oldest daughter knew what had happened, but because I knew that, on some level, she had a right to ask those questions.
Needless to say I was anxious when I arrived at school the following afternoon. I was positive things were going to go down the same way they had the day before, the only exception that I wouldn’t be there to get mad on my daughter’s behalf. All day I’d been wondering how we were going to get through this school year; with my kid being the target for rude comments and questions, and what it would be like to spend my lifetime protecting her from words she didn’t even understand.
Chest heavy with anxiety, I walked into the auditorium and was immediately greeted with a generous smile from my little one, followed by a bear hug from the big one. Hallelujah! We had a good day.
The mood in the car that afternoon was joyful, and familiar, like I was used to before kindergarten started. We were about a block away from home, when from the backseat big sister says, “I don’t want her to go to the after school program anymore.”
My chest immediately tightened. Crap. “Why, what happened?”
(long pause) “She’s already more popular than I am.”
Satellites orbiting the earth could have seen my smile in that moment.
Over the course of the following weeks, months, and now, years, my little one has stolen the hearts of just about every kid in the after school program. (Everywhere she goes, actually) Little boys spend hours of their precious weekend time creating Rainbow Loom bracelets for her, while fifth and sixth grade girls battle to sit next to her during afternoon snack. But what’s even better than her queen social bee status, is the comments I receive from other parents. They tell me how grateful they are that my daughter is at the after school program with their kids, because without her they’d never be exposed to a differently-abled peer.
…and therein lies the point of this ridiculously long post.
Without exposure, how can we possibly know what is acceptable?
Forgiving those sh*tty little boys was harder for me than it should have been. I was mad, and what they did hurt. But without them, I never would have recognized how valuable ugly growth is. Exposure to the unfamiliar isn’t always pretty–it certainly isn’t in Cricket’s case–but it is an essential part of the human experience.
I wish I had some mysterious secret to reveal about myself in hopes that you’d find me interesting…but I don’t. When it comes to me, what you see is what you get. And what you get is an irreverent, sarcastic and emotional girl who writes stories about characters with these same traits.
I live in San Diego with my husband, two kiddos, and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. I’m slightly obsessed with John Hughes and the wonderful collection of films he left behind, and
I’m confident that Jake Ryan will be showing up on my doorstep any day now…
I firmly believe that prayer solves problems, and that laughter is the best medicine. Along with avocados. Avocados make the world a better place.
I’m represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Agency.
2 Summer Camp Survival Packs and Signed copies of the book! US Only.
3 sets of signed swag! US ONLY
The survival kit comes with: A Camp I Can T-shirt (with an awesome logo designed by A.G. Howard), Quinn’s oh-so-sweet cinnamon treats, Cricket’s nostalgic pink peppermints, plus some other tidbits no camper can live without. They’ll also get some Short Bus swag (a bookmark and a button)
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