This was 99% because we always had a younger child at home, one young enough they could not tag along on the various school-sponsored excursions. The other 1% was pure self-preservation on my part.
But now, this year? All our children are in school. And I work at a place that gives me a ridiculously flexible schedule- great for dentist appointments, but at the same time siphoning away any excuses I have not to go on these field trips.
A few months ago, then, when Atticus came to me, brandishing papers from school declaiming the details of not one but two upcoming outings, I knew I was sunk. My draft number had been drawn. It was all over. And any other overly dramatic hyperbole you can think of.
I saw that one field trip was to the science center and immediately said no. (Actually, I cackled for quite some time and then said, "No.") We had a family membership to that place for a year, and while we all loved it, by the end of each visit I felt that I was barely escaping with the four things I had carried in the front doors with me- my sanity and all three children- so to help wrangle a few hundred children through there? I'm good, thanks.
I did feel a little twinge, like maybe I should chaperone the trip to the science center- deserved to, even- when I remembered that I hadn't gone when Adelaide visited with her first grade class (small children at home, remember), and that this particular trip had just so happened to occur within the time that our daughter was deathly afraid of getting sucked into escalators.
The science center has an escalator. Two of them, actually, since that's generally how escalators work. And apparently the mother who chaperoned had a heck of a time with Adelaide and one of those nefarious, child-sucking escalators. Is it terrible that I'm laughing hysterically recalling that story, but still refuse to chaperone a trip to the science center/escalatorland? Or does it just make me smart?
Since the science center was out, it meant I was going to see a play with Atticus and the entirety of the second grade. Hey, a play sounds fun, though, right? And my goodness, it's Elephant and Piggie's We Are in a Play! We love Elephant and Piggie, and the entirety of the Mo Willems canon, as a matter of fact!
It's sweet how naive I am sometimes, right?
Let me just say that the play was great. Charming, entertaining, maybe one or two songs too long, as the vast auditorium full of children, who had previously been entranced with the goings-on on stage all began to squirm in concert when the second-to-last song began. But cute, and a great celebration of the books and characters we love so much.
The truly terrible part was the bus ride.
Why did I elect to ride on the School Bus of Horror? Why didn't I drive myself? (Oh, yeah- I'd never done this before.) It's hard to describe what the ride there and back were like, except to say it was difficult to breathe. It was an unseasonably warm day, and apparently there's still no air conditioning on school buses (?). On the way there the kids were asking if they could put their windows down to get some air moving, but I was worried about the boys around me (I was surrounded by boys, most likely because I was sitting with our own boy) losing a limb as, being second grade boys, they inevitably waved it out the window.
By the time we'd gotten back on the bus to head home, I no longer cared whether or not I delivered those boys back to their mamas with all their limbs or not. So down the windows went.
Also, an equation I don't remember learning in any science class ever but that would have served me well that day is HEAT + 8 YEAR OLD BOYS = A THICK MIASMA OF STENCH.
Oh, gosh. It was so bad. And the noise. Another previously-unknown-to-me equation was BUS RIDE + 8 YEAR OLD BOYS = LOUD OBNOXIOUS SOUNDS COMPETITION.
Atticus tried to warn me when we first settled in our seat at the beginning of our trip: (whispering) "Mom? Just so you know, that boy there and those two boys there are kind of wild. Like, they're the wildest boys in our class." "Wild" in our house doesn't so much mean Where the Wild Things Are but more "poorly behaved heathens who make you yearn for the days of corporal punishment." And when did second grade boys get so big? It's hard to stink-eye a kid into submission when they're the same size as you. Don't you worry, though, having two boys of our own and a brewing migraine, I managed just fine, thank you very much. I probably don't have the reputation of Nicest Mom in our son's class, though. This does not break my cold, icy heart.
A dear friend of mine and fellow introvert was similarly ensconced further back in the bus. Toward the end of the trip we sent texts back and forth celebrating mile markers that meant we were that much closer to home and threatening to throw ourselves out the now-open windows into oncoming traffic. I also sent Derek texts requesting he have water and ibuprofen waiting for me on my return. You see, once Atticus and I returned, our family was immediately jumping into the car for a trip to Kansas, and I knew that if I allowed the field trip-induced headache to continue to grow, I would make everyone in the car miserable with my piss-poor attitude, plus possibly start puking. Yay, field trips!
After all that, I am going on a field trip this upcoming Monday with Adelaide's class. It's Pioneer Day at a park. We have been instructed to bring bug spray and given specific instructions on what to pack in our tin cans so that even the lunch is period-appropriate. What sedative would have been available to pioneer moms, I wonder? The papers from school didn't say.