I have always volunteered to be a chaperone for both children when they go on school field trips. Yesterday's trip has caused me to re-think that.
I arrived at school at the designated time and went to the library as instructed. I saw the same familiar faces we always see at these thing and we exchanged hellos. We were all on high alert as we have never ever been told to go to the library - we've always gone to the classrooms.
My friend K and I were given a list of 13 kids. We knew exactly 3 - our own and one other. This was not good, but we felt that between the two of us, we could keep track of 13 kids. The other parents - all 3 of them - looked a little nervously at their lists. They had the same problem. They didn't know the kids on the lists either. We noticed that the lists were just an alphabetical list of kids split up... No friends with friends... etc.
We were instructed to get on the buses a short time later. As we ascended the steps, we heard chatter. All the kids were on the bus. Excuse me? Parents always get on first or at least with their assigned group. We shuffled some kids around so that we could sit together. We gave one boy a choice - sit with another kid or sit with one of us. He leapt at the opportunity to sit with another kid.
We arrived at the National Building Museum a few minutes late. Our group was supposed to do the self guided tour in the morning and the class after lunch. I got switched around. Whatever.... Then one of our teachers came over and handed us a new list of 22 kids. Huh? I signed up for 6.5 not 11. We now knew 5 kids between us... Did I mention that there were only 4 girls on that list?
Our group went from station to station with our guide. Then we ended up in a classroom where we were supposed to build a model house out of recycled stuff. It was supposed to be energy efficient and designed for a specific part of the country. #1's group got the Northeast. How easy is that?? So, I gave them some hints. One of the girls was amazed at my knowledge. (I'm a walking encyclopedia, you know!!) She looked right at #1 and said, "Wow, she's even smarter than you!" All of a sudden #1 had the respect of his peers. He can't help it that he's smart...
Needless to say, our house was pretty darned good considering it was made from a Fruit Loops box and some construction paper. We even had bamboo flooring because bamboo is a renewable resource, you know...
After lunch, K and I had to keep track of 22 kids. You remember we only know 3. We had 2 who wanted to chase girls from another group. We had one who didn't have a friend in our group who wanted to be in yet another group. We had 4 boys who wanted to use the restroom together - ummm... NO. The self guided tour would have been fine if I had been there with 5 kids - not 22. We saw a few more exhibits, but there was not enough to keep them busy for 2 hours.
We had an hour to kill before the buses were due back. It was the longest hour of our lives. Some of the kids had the worst behavior ever! They were tossing balls, trying to climb walls, rolling around on the floor and being loud. I have a hard time with that kind of behavior. #1 and a group of kids were sitting on the floor chatting - that is fine. A bunch of hooligans were running around and climbing on columns. I asked them if they climbed the walls or ran in their houses. Do you know what they said?? Yes. They said Yes. I told them that I don't allow it in my house and that they were not to run around or climb the walls. Deliver me!!
We boarded the buses at 2:30 and arrived back at school at 4:30 - the traffic was bad and it was snowing. I am supposed to chaperone the trip to Kings Dominion later this spring. I think I may have to reconsider unless they make some serious changes.
LLB and her class are off to Annapolis in a couple of weeks. I'll go because she wants me to go and because she is interested in going to college there. She is excited to see the Academy and eat in the dining hall. I think it sounds like great fun!
If the teachers give me 22 kids - I'll drop dead!