School field trips are on my do not do list but apparently I forgot to check my own list. After a horrendous first go around,(for the full details on my previous trip click here ), I lost my sanity and decided to give it another go. Not unlike the experience of childbirth our brains tend to block out traumatic experiences so that we will yet again get to relive our pain. And I mean that literally.
The night before the field trip I got up to let one of our dogs in who was barking at the back door. It was a freezing night so I somewhat ran/skipped/hopped to get back to my cozy spot in front of the fire. In doing so my baby toe of my left foot decided to go into a different direction from the rest of its toe friends and right into the wooden foot of a nearby ottoman. The pain was curse inducing and I knew right then and there it was broken. Low and behold, with my low score on coordination skills, this has happened before to this same exact toe, except it was on a door frame. My toe hates the rest of my body and is trying to commit suicide. My husband graciously straightjacketed my baby toe to it’s its enemies and gave me some aspirin, just another romantic night in our household. I said some prayers for it to be better in the morning because I was committed to chaperoning the school field trip. We were going to the historic areas of Philadelphia and I had a list of 6 kids to be accountable for.
I awoke to a throbbing toe. If you have ever broke a toe you’ll know that there isn’t much that can be done for it except to keep it straight and supported, so no flexible soled shoes or narrow toe boxes. My shoe choices just went down to about 2. Normally this wouldn’t have been that big of deal but it was recommended to wear “comfortable shoes” and to “dress warmly” as this was a walking tour around the historic areas of the city. Now having been through this experience I encourage the school to change the description to “dress like you will be tailgating outdoors for an Eagles game in the middle of January.” Perhaps then I would have thought about things like hand and foot warmer inserts and ski hat. As luck would have it we got our first cold snap of the season, with a forecast high of 34 degrees and high winds. At 7 am I checked my phone for the current outdoor temperature, it said 20 degrees. Wonderful! The wind was whipping up already outside so I went down to give the thermostat a little kick up as the house felt exceptionally chilly. One look a the thermostat and I knew it was exceptionally chilly, 59 degrees. And the heater was quiet as a mouse. Good times.
My husband had an early meeting and said he had to leave but would look at when he got home. Luckily he does own a HVAC company (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) but that often means that paying jobs come first and I was not a paying customer. So I was back to solving my footwear issues. I layered up significantly figuring 2 cashmere sweaters would give me warmth without bulk so I would be comfortable when we were inside. I really hate to be cold and I honestly considered one of my long faux fur coats that is super warm but I was a afraid of looking like Howard Eskin.
I chose a mid weight jacket figuring it wouldn’t be so heavy if I had to carry it. I had on cozy cords and just needed socks and shoes. When your toe is broken it hurts just to have socks touching your toe. But I went with a thick wool sock as the alternative would be freezing toes. And since the toes already seem to be at civil war with each other I didn’t want to piss off the remaining 4 by making them all cold just because the baby toe has issues. The problem with this was then that my foot didn’t fit in anything, and trust me I tried every single shoe and boot I owned. The clock was ticking and the buses were leaving at 9am and I HAD to make sure I got coffee which meant I HAD to leave. I painfully crammed it, wool sock and all into my warmest boot that has a clog like sole for support
Thank you UGG!
I got there just in time. My daughter rolled her eyes at me and then pretended she didn’t know me. Thanks sweetie! I got my assigned group. Gianna, Faith, Kaylah, Juan, Charley and Joey. This was a mouth full to call out all day and quite frankly too hard to remember so I asked them all if they minded if I referred to them as “Girls” and “JCJ” , the latter not to be confused by the rapper Juicy J, as it would be extra strange if we walked around the city and I shouted out “Where is Juicy J?” Charley requested I refer to him as “Chumpy” and asked if we could look for “poop bugs.” Sounds like my kinda kid. I told them if they were good I would reward them by showing them a picture of my black toe. This wasn’t funny to any of them, especially my daughter, so I changed it up and told them if they were bad I would punish them by showing them a picture of my black toe. I could feel my daughter sending dagger eyes at me to just stop.
The bus ride down was fairly enjoyable. I had a whole seat to myself (my daughter did not want to sit with me) and my foot was comfortably propped up. We were in the back of the bus and it was right over the heater and I was loving it. I met a wonderful mom sitting close by and we had a great chat. Maybe my luck is changing! Maybe this won’t be so bad! We arrived without any issues to our first stop, The Betsy Ross House.
We exited the bus and were instructed to get into lines and wait…outside. It was freezing but it wasn’t long before we took our turn for a tour inside the house and again gathered outside. Our guide was a high energy man named Bob who informed us we were getting ready to start our walking tour. Excuse me? I thought we were visiting different buildings and going inside. No, I was mistaken. This was an outdoor learning lesson. We would just be looking at the outside of buildings like Independence Hall, not actually going inside. And we were on a tight schedule so we had to walk very quickly so that we could gather at various outdoor landmarks. The upside to this was that my feet were now frozen so I could no longer feel any of my toes. I had no hat but I had a plaid scarf that I wrapped around my frozen ears and head. I resembled a Russian babushka as opposed to a fashionista but warmth trumped style in this situation.
We had a brief warm up period where they let us eat on the floor of one of the visitor centers. This is not common but due to the cold temperatures they allowed us to use the back area of their gift shop. We were seriously grateful as it felt so good to sit and warm up.
However it was at this point that my toe warmed up and reminded me that it was not up for walking. I was starting to limp and I am sure some of the parents thought I had vodka in my water bottle since I was walking with a drunken like lag. As we moved on to a line at the Liberty Bell things got slightly worse as a horrified 5th grade girl screamed and pointed at me. “What is all over you? ” she yelled. Oh God is all I could think. There was something wet dripping down the back of my jacket, and on the back of my pants. “Did you wet yourself?” asked another caring student? I frantically took off my bag and started searching for the cause of the mess. Sure enough one of the many water bottles I was carrying was leaking, all over the contents of my bag. It was cold and I was wet. I now have to start handing the contents of my bag (and yes of course it had to include tampons) to various students to hold as I proceeded to dump the water out of my bag and onto the ground. Out falls a quarter which causes concern among another thoughtful student as we cannot reach the fallen coin because we are stuck in the cattle shoot line. He then wedges himself under the bars as far as he can, with everyone cheering him on to retrieve this magical quarter. When he recovered the quarter there were cheers and he triumphantly held the quarter up high. I graciously allowed him to keep it as a reward.
We viewed the Liberty Bell and we were ready for the home stretch. I have never in my life been so happy to ride in a school bus. It was warm and I could rest my foot. Amen. I checked my phone as we rode home and saw a message from my husband. He was stuck at work and would need me to take our son to hockey practice, in about 1 hour. If you have a child who plays ice hockey you know that the rink and the area surrounding the rink feels like arctic tundra. My husband said the good part was I might actually be warmer there then our house as he had not yet had a chance to repair the heater. It was a Catch-22. We got back to the school and I grabbed our son to head out for his hockey practice, a practice that ended with him having to leave the ice early due to a head first fall into the boards. He was put on concussion watch and I on nervous breakdown watch. I was done.
Perspective is a big thing. That day I found a new friend in another mom on the bus ride. My daughter actually thanked me before she went to sleep for joining her on the trip. My husband was able to fix our heat. Our son was fine. And my toe has turned all kinds of shades of black and purple but is healing nicely. Life is good.
*Insider Tip – Know where you are going and what you are doing.
It sounds silly but I am constantly reminding my clients to find out the exact details of where they are going and what they are doing. In this case I forgot to listen to my own advice. A simple call or email to one of the teachers would have prepared me much better for the day. When in doubt it is perfectly acceptable to call your host or your destination and ask for more details. Is it a beach wedding? Will it all be outside or some inside? Going to a work conference? Call ahead to find out how far your room will be from your meetings so you plan on appropriate footwear and outerwear. Take it from me, there is nothing worse than being unprepared and uncomfortable so take the time to do your research. Oh and watch where you apply those school stickers! At the end of the night I realized I had been walking around with my visitor pass sticker still on my jacket. I tried to take it off. The operative word was tried. I am still working on it as it seems to want to remain a tattoo of my field trip experience.