So I volunteered to chaperone my daughter’s 2nd grade field trip. I can only assume I was drinking when I signed up for this. Volunteers are needed at schools. But you must know your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to helping out with school functions. Some moms are rock stars at baking, some at decorating, some at organizing. I am best in a situation where I am delegated to, like volunteering in the classrooms to help out with different learning centers. It is scheduled, stress-free, and patterned. Field day, I don’t go near. Me and athletics are not a good fit. If there is a ball somewhere in an open field chances are it will hit me in the head. So doing a field trip was unknown territory. I now know it is on the same list for me as Field day.
The day starts off horribly. I plan on driving my daughter in but she prefers to ride the bus to be with her friends. Strike one on the mother daughter bonding. I quickly glance at the trip itinerary thinking it says to be there by 9. If I put the kids on the bus at 8 I should have about 45 minutes to get dressed, get breakfast and most importantly go out to get coffee. Should be plenty of time. As I am feeding the kids breakfast my responsible daughter aka the first-born who keeps mommy in line, reminds me that we will need brown bags for packed lunches. oops, don’t have those. I have plenty of oversize shopping bags. This stresses my by the book first-born out so bad she starts to cry “It has to be a plain brown bag!!” My smallest brown bags are a Starbucks bag and a wine bottle bag. Okay so my daughter will get the Starbucks bag and I guess I am stuck with a wine bottle bag. Looking back I should have just put wine in it.
I get the kiddies on the bus but get sucked into something completely irrelevant on the computer. Time starts to tick away and I need to get dressed. What do you wear for a field trip? We are going to an aquarium. Lots of walking. So I start with the shoes. I bought 3 new pairs the day before (DO NOT tell my husband), none of them remotely appropriate for walking. So I will go with my Tom’s.
Yes they are trendy but they are super comfy, hide the fact that I desperately need a pedicure, and they are not sneakers – I already have cankles so I prefer only wearing sneakers when I am pretending to work out. Okay so the Tom’s are flat so most of my jeans are too long. I put on a pair that are the right length. But then I am hot. So I put on shorts. They feel too short. I put on a dress – can’t do the shoes with the dress and can’t do sandals without it looking like a ferret tried to eat nail polish off of my ragged toes. Back to the jeans. I am so uncomfortable and now it is getting later and later. I settle very unhappily on something and run downstairs. I open the garage door and a very angry bird flies in. I now have to get it out so I can close the door to leave. This takes a good 5 minutes of me talking to a bird asking it and then begging it to leave. Now it is 8:55 and the school is about 8 minutes away. I have not had coffee.
In dire fear of the caffeine withdrawal headache I grab a soda out of the back fridge. I only drink soda a couple of times a year. Chugging it in the car on the way was a shock to my system and not in a good way. I rush up to the school as they are getting ready to get on the bus. My 7-year-old lectures me on being extremely late and mutters something to her friend “my mom probably couldn’t find the right outfit.” What a sad example I am setting! The very patient teacher hands me the admission bracelets and my chaperone list and we get on the bus. It is very crowded but I am relieved to see an open seat. I realize later it is open because it is on top of the back wheel well, a seat not known for its smooth ride. My own daughter refuses to sit with me and 2 poor girls are shoved in the seat with me. After much bribing and begging I get my daughter and her friend to switch so at least I can play sardine against someone I gave birth to.
The bus pulls away from the school and I realize I have to pee. Like now. The soda I chugged is like an instant diuretic and is giving me severe indigestion from the carbonation. Our estimated travel time is about 1 and 1/2 hours. If you are a woman and you have had a child, or are over the age of 35 you know that once your bladder fills it is an immediate response. There is no warning you just have to go now. And I am on the wheel well being bounced around like Dolly Parton’s breasts in a 5K race. Not a good feeling. I longingly look out the window at passing fast food places and debate asking the bus to stop. I look up at the front. At the front of the bus near the driver is this container.
Whaaaaat??? I do not remember those being on the bus when I was younger. I am praying they don’t have to use it on me. I get more than a little motion sickness unless I look up front or out the window. So I can only look up at the front of the bus at this sign that reminds me I have to pee or out the side window at the places that have bathrooms which also reminds me I have to pee. This is not fun. Did I mention the noise level of 40 some children on a bus with the windows open on a highway ? Imagine if you gave methamphetamines and lattes to Alvin and the Chipmunks and then got locked in a small metallic elevator with them. Then double that.
We arrive and I cannot get off the bus fast enough. I would have run inside but I remember I am responsible for 4 other kids. Jesus I can barely watch my own two children. What was I thinking? And it is dark inside. Very dark. I have 2 boys and 2 girls and cannot take them all in with me to the restroom. I buddy up with a very wonderful grandmom who is chaperoning 4 other kids and we split bathroom duty. Always find the grandmom because they have been through all this before and will not take any crap from any kids. They have also perfected their voices to the exact volume and pitch to make children listen to them. We make it to lunch time with nobody eaten by a shark. I try to keep my wine bag lunch in my purse so no one thinks I am any less adapt as I am already proving myself to be. My head is throbbing. Of course I have not packed a drink. We have 1 hour to kill before we go home. I sheepishly ask one of the more together moms if I can borrow her map (a map! what a novel idea!) to look at real quick to see if I even took the kids to see everything. The aquarium is laid out like an MC Esher labyrinth with all routes ending in the gift shop which we have been given very specific instructions NOT TO GO IN.
Gathering up all the groups to leave takes longer than I thought. I look at the teachers with shock and awe that they return day after day to do this. The noise level, the questions, I am spent. They are true superheros walking among us. And kudos to all the other fresh-faced mom and dad chaperones who I think were actually enjoying themselves! I wish I had their positive attitude but I am only that happy if I am at a mall. Shallow but true.
There is a major accident on the ride home and traffic has stopped. Fire trucks are rushing by. The girl in the seat behind me is crying. They have moved a boy into my seat who is Shrek green and holding a plastic bag. The girls on the bus go into their 123rd rendition of a cheer at top volume level. I know the words by heart now because it was seared into my memory, haunting me even in my sleep.
“Lemonade. (Clap, Clap, Clap),
Crunchy Ice (Clap Clap Clap),
Sip it Once (Clap, Clap, Clap),
Sip it Twice (Clap, Clap, Clap),
Touch the ground,
Kick your boyfriend out of town,
I start to look for Ashton Kutcher in thinking maybe I am on a Punk’d episode. I debate on asking the bus driver to just drop me off at a bar.
When I get home the night gets infinitely better when I ask my kids to help me bring up the trash bins and my son drops the massive big blue one onto my daughters thumb (I can’t even explain how they physically got into that scenario) and she screams that it is broken. It looks it too. And when I get the mail praying for a catalogue or magazine (Yes they do make my day) I am met with a Jury Duty Summons. Seriously.
*Insider Tip – Own at least one pair of cute and comfy shoes. The best part about my day was my comfortable Toms. They saved me. I know there is a lot of hype about these shoes but it is worth it. Plus every time you buy a pair a pair is given to a child in need. Probably one that needs them for a field trip. You can read about the Tom’s story here on the website. Oh and thank your childs teacher and the parents that volunteer. We need them. They have a level of patience not known to us mere mortals.