When our oldest daughter was in kindergarten last year, I was so ready to take on my first field trip as a mom. I wanted to be there to experience her joy and excitement, to take photos and to interact when her and her friends. And then I turned around and gave birth to twins a week before her field trip and had to pass on going (my darling mother-in-law did chaperone in my place so we could be home with the babies, God bless her). I was a bit heartbroken, but when my mother-in-law brought our daughter home that afternoon covered from head to toe in the ice cream one of the kids in her group dropped on her, I felt a little better about being at home with our newborn twins. But I was ready for that first grade field trip – and I went. It’s been two months since that trip, and I think I’m on the mend.
I blame my mother for this. She is a teacher and I grew up with her in attendance at every single field trip I ever attended, and I even begged my teachers every year as I got older to please NOT put me in her group. But my daughter thinks I’m much cooler than I thought my mom was, so she was so excited to be in my group, to have me there and for her friends to meet me (the same as she is every few weeks or so when I go to her school to have lunch with her). It makes me happy. And my mom always went without complaint on all field trips – I had a great time, too, on them growing up – so I thought to myself, “This sounds like fun. A day at the zoo with my favorite big girl.” It’s thoughts like this that remind me that I shouldn’t think.
I learned a lot on this field trip – I really did. I learned so many things, and even though I’m going to go again next year, and the year after that, and every year after that (I’m a sucker, I know), I learned a lot. Most of what I learned was the stuff of nightmares.
The Wardrobe Conundrum
The first issue with field trips is this; we live in Florida. Our field trip to the zoo was in mid-March when the weather was 90 degrees and miserable. What does that mean? It means you have to find something to wear that won’t give you heat stroke but that’s also appropriate. And guess what? That’s not that easy in Florida. I ended up in shorts and a tee, but I was so hot.
The Avoidance of the Carpool
Kids get to ride the bus. The zoo is an hour away, so the parents had to drive. And boy did they all want to drive together. And boy did I want to do nothing less than I wanted to share my car with people I’ve never met or ride with someone whom I’ve never ridden with (I have driving trust issues). That was awkward turning people down when they dropped their not-so-subtle hints about riding together. But I made it out alive and gloriously alone.
There’s always one in every group. She’s so excited, happy and just knows everything and everyone and all things. She wants to tell you this and that and the other, and she’s just so perky and happy and excited about being with other people’s kids all day that you can’t wait to escape her. Thankfully, I was able to escape her quickly.
Okay, so not all dads are totally creepy. But there are some that are. Some of them seem to have never seen a woman before, and I find that difficult to believe since they are there with their kids. Watching them hit on one mom after the other all day is a little off-putting.
Being in Charge of Someone Else’s Kids
When I was growing up, chaperones had 5 or 6 kids in a group. I was stressed thinking about it. fortunately, we now only have two kids in a group, and one was mine. And you have no idea how stressful it was to have someone else’s kid in my care all day long. I was paranoid. Paranoid.
Trips to the Bathroom
There are few things in life I hate more than a public restroom. But when I do hate something more than public restrooms, it’s kids that need to use public restrooms. I don’t care if it’s my own kid or someone else’s. I hate public restrooms, and field trips mean ample trips the bathroom. It’s gross. Parents; teach your kids to hold it. I know it’s not good for their bodies, but do it for me, mmkay?
Thank goodness that I did not have this kid in my group, but one of the other moms that stuck with me all day did. This kid was so excited and so talkative and so LOUD all day long that I think I took entirely too much ibuprofen to rid myself of the incessant headache he gave me. I also mentally tripped him about six times. I also fantasized about how great it would be if the mom caring for him accidentally lost him (it would have been awful, but really…you didn’t have to listen to him so you don’t know).
I hate math, and this field trip added counting to all forms of math I dislike with intensity. I have never counted so much in my life. We had a group of moms with two kids each that wanted to spend time with us, so that meant that we were in a group of four moms and eight kids, and I felt the constant need to count to eight. One, two, three….seven, where’s eight. Omg? Where’s 8? Oh, eight. All. Day. Long. And six of them weren’t even in my group. At one point I even found myself trying to stop counting by wondering just how bad it is to lose someone else’s kid, or how many other moms have actually lost someone else’s kids. Eventually, I put myself in those parents’ shoes and realized that losing a kid is very bad idea.
The Slowest Kid Ever
Why is it so impossible to walk in a straight line at a decent pace and just keep up? WHY? I’m willing to bet that this is why this kid was in my group and her parents were noticeably absent. She was so slow that I felt like I needed a stroller to push her around in. I mean, really, I thought about going back to my car and getting my twins’ double stroller and actually pushing her around just so she’d keep up and move it!
Parents: There is a paper that goes home with you that says not to send your kids with anything. So really, don’t send your kids with anything. We all know that your kid is not holding her bag, her water, her jacket, her camera and all that other crap she brought with her. I’m holding it. And that is not awesome.
On that note – I’ll be one awesome field-tripping mama next year. I’ve got this. I know what happens now.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images