Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I find myself in that odd position of being a mother. I've been a mom for nearly 10 years now, but there are times when it still takes some getting used to.

ZBoy brought home a permission slip for a field trip, and at the bottom was a box for people to volunteer to help with the field trip.



Actually, I've done this once before. In December, we went to St. Augustine. The WHOLE FOURTH GRADE. We boarded a tour bus and drove over there. I had three kids to keep an eye on. Doesn't sound like much, but one was my son - who needs his own full time chaperone. He tends to wander off, doesn't always listen when something captures his interest. That's part of the reason I volunteer for this torture. One of the other kids, Kay, was a girl who spent most of our time in St. Augustine being sick. I held her for most of the trip. Who knew a kid's head could be so heavy? The third child under my wing liked to wander off and hang with her friends - who were not ZBoy and Kay.

You would think that I'd have learned my lesson from that. Guess not.

When the slip came home for a field trip to Goodwood plantation, I signed up for chaperone. It's just a few hours. And I wanted a good tour of Goodwood, complete with history lesson. Silly me.

I took off from work today, packed lunch for me and Z, and off we went to school.

I always forget how loud school is.

We boarded the bus and headed for the plantation. Kay and ZBoy sat together and I was across the aisle from them. Kay made me a friendship bracelet that says "thank you" on it - for being so nice to her on the St. Augustine trip. Ever since then, she sticks to me like glue every time I show up at the school. Today was no exception. I can see Kay and Z dating in the future. It's weird to think about that stuff, but I know the day is coming.

It was overcast with rain in the forecast but we rarely actually GET rain when the forecast says that. Unless, of course, a fieldtrip is planned. The drizzle began as we got off the bus and headed for the main house.

The main house is a thing of beauty, with frescoes on the ceilings and lovely furnishings. All of the chandeliers are candle-powered. Electricity was added in the early 1900s, but the owner liked the candlelight and didn't touch the chandeliers. After a brief talk in the parlour, we got a very quick tour of the house, including the bathrooms and five bedrooms upstairs. The ceilings are very tall, the windows too - a house truly built for Florida's heat and humidity to catch the breezes and make life here bearable before AC was an option. It was fast though, not much time to actually take in anything.

We then went to a guest house, where the docent gave us a marvelous rundown of the history of ownership. The builders of the house never actually got to live in it - they drowned in a shipwreck before they could take posession. The Docent was very good with the kids, choosing some to act out the parts of the various owners. It was hilarious!

The rain was falling with actual drops now, and we were herded out to the front of the main house for a mini Jazz concert. Only when we got there and got settled, the musicians were covering up their instruments - too much wetness and electricity. Drops backed off to a very light drizzle and the musicians agreed to play. They got two pieces of music out before the rain began in earnest. Time to decamp and run for cover!

Lunch was not on the grounds as originally planned but crammed inside another of the outbuildings. Everyone on the floor, unbelieveably loud. My head was really starting to throb at this point. When lunch finally ended, we were herded back to the bus.

Thank God it's nearly over - and unbelieveably, it's only 11:30! Wow! I can go home and get some stuff done!

Only the buses didn't go back to the school. We went to another historic house in the area for two different presentations - one on Vaudeville performing and the other on the benefits of everyone helping together to accomplish a goal. Both were really good, but I was SO ready to get away from loud children! Finally, we were back on the bus, this time heading for the school.

Why do I subject myself to this kind of torture? At least without a little chemical assistance? I actually have something I could have taken, just to take the edge off - but I take it so rarely that it didn't even occur to me until it was too late.

Perhaps it is to remind myself of what incredible people teachers are. I know this is a job I couldn't do, and yet everyday, millions of men and women get up, get dressed and spend their days enriching the minds of children.

I stand amazed.


Island Rider said...

As one who has been a docent to many, many groups of school children on field trips, I say "Hats Off to the Chaperones." Takes lots of guts and who knows what else to get on that bus!

Sandcastle Momma said...

That was a LONG day! When my boys were in school I volunteered for every field trip but I had one condition - I followed in my own car. I rode the bus once years ago and vowed to NEVER do that again.
I tell the teachers up front that I'll be standing there waiting when the bus doors open and will gladly chaperone other kids and then I'll put them back on the bus when it's over but I'm not getting on the bus. I've head a few teachers act like that was odd but the majority would smile and nod their heads LOL
And for future reference the whole day goes much better with that chemical help you mentioned LOL

Jan said...

Good for you! So many never participate at all, and you've done it twice.

That girl said...

I hear you! My son had a field trip today too, (grade 4 as well) to the Space Centre. His dad went as his chaparone.

I could not do it either. Although, I always like one of us to be there on field trips... and by 'one of us' I always mean him.

Kids are rude, loud and completely self absorbed at this age ~~ I can only handle mine.

HoosierGirl5 said...

As someone who spends her days with people under the age of 12, I will say that I don't like field trips. I avoid them at all costs. They are loud and chaotic and I don't relax until they are all back on the bus headed back to school. I like them much more with my own children, when I get to be a mom and just amble along with the herd, not in charge. I DO have to fight the urge to correct anyone who is acting bratty.

Also, let me make one thing clear: students are RARELY allowed to be that noisy IN school. They definitely aren't in MY classroom. I don't do "loud".


BTW, I'm sure Z-boy was glad you went 'cause you're a cool mom! (smile)

Patience said...

You're the bravest person I know

Pamela said...

yes. there are some teachers out there that should be canonized.

I regret never getting to field trip with my kids.

Pamela said...

your blog filled my whole oversized screen today. Amazing. Did you change it?

Tookie Tail said...

I'm a retired teacher and I have to say...I loved field trips! lol The students were warned to behave or they would not be allowed on the next field trip. And they did! I think it depends on the destination and how many are attending. Sometimes too many chaperones make matters worse too. I do hope you try it again. It's times like these your child will remember forever! Yeah you! :)

movin' down the road said...

I love your new look here!!! I am going on a field trip next fri wth my kindergartner. To a PLAY. Where kids are supposed to be quiet. 5 and 6 year olds. I have to chaperone THAT! Agh.