Friday, January 10, 2014

Chaperoning School Field Trips; Otherwise Known As Hell

   My daughter has a school field trip coming up, and once again, I have found myself agreeing to chaperon this event. Yes, this is a good way to get to know my daughter's teachers, this is a good way to get to know the kids she is choosing to hang out with, this is a good way to meet some of her friend's parents, and this is a good way to participate and support her education. These are all the reasons that I agree to do the chaperon thing (that and the knowledge that if the school does not get enough volunteers, they cancel the trip altogether, which would make me feel massively guilty. Understandable, because there has to be enough adults to keep the kiddos supervised and safe, but pressure, nonetheless.)
   The reasons that I dread field trips are simple. I am not a child person. Never in my life have I ever wanted to be a teacher; I don't have the patience. My sister works in the early education field, and the stories she tells gives me true horrors; even the ones that she thinks are hilarious. You found the kids playing in the toilet? They need to be coated in Lysol now; they are contaminated. Yes, my daughter has done disturbingly disgusting stuff, especially during her toddler years; kinda the definition of being a toddler: gross little mini-human who gets away with disgusting shit by being adorably cute and innocent. I smell a conspiracy, but I digress; with my own daughter, there was no one around to judge as I ran after her cleaning up the messes and disinfecting, all while dealing with massive gag reflex. People are gonna look at a preschool teacher or daycare worker a little askance if boogers and baby shit bring on epic amounts of gagging.
   Of course, these are older kids that I am chaperoning. They might pick their noses, but exposure to society and their peers has taught most of them to do so in secret. What I don't know won't hurt me, right? But older kids bring more issues, albeit ones that do not make me gag. Last year, my daughter's class went to see a limited-time exhibit of King Tut's tomb for one of their field trips. They also did a segment on ancient Egypt, so that the field trip could be incorporated into the lesson plan. This was the first time I had heard of a lesson being given just so that a field trip could be justified, however, as I said, the King Tut exhibit was only there at the Science Center for a couple months. The 5th grade teachers saw a chance to have a really cool educational field trip, and certainly, I can't blame them. So field trip it was, and of course, my daughter wanted me to go. (I kinda like that part though, being well aware that one day, she is NOT going to want me to come.)
   When you chaperon at my daughter's school, they split you into groups of four or five, each with a chaperon, and the teachers wander and bounce from group to group, checking on stuff. Which means that the chaperon is in charge of four or five little ankle-biters, and only one of them is hers(his). Can you say....outnumbered? And there I was with four rambunctious ten year old kids, in a room full of ancient Egyptian artifacts: priceless relics, thousands of years old, and they all want to touch everything. Eight hands. Eight hands grabbing shit that I couldn't even imagine the cost of. Can you say...heart attack?
   And this is just one field trip. I get suckered into most. I've helped the kids plant trees, released salmon into the wild, visited zoos, just to name a few, and I can tell you horror stories about ALL OF THEM. Shovel wars, mud fights, pulling the feathers out of the peacock's tail!!! The list could go on, but regardless, all my daughter has to do is look at me with her sad, chocolate-brown puppy dog eyes, and say, "Please, Mom?" And there I am, saying that I will go. Chaperoning is a hell that many parents endure, but we all make sacrifices for our kids, and I make this one because I actually think that field trips are valuable to education; they give the kids a chance to learn something from a different angle than a school book or a lecture. Plus, going on a trip tends to make learning fun. Win/win. Except the parental hell part, but who counts that, really? Yay, parenting! 

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