Monday, May 19, 2008

I love to go a-wandering . . .

Once in a while, a slip of paper comes home from school asking for parents to help on a field trip. I'm not going to lie . . . when I volunteer for field trips, you might as well fit my neck for a millstone, because I do it ever so grudgingly. I fully support quality time with my children . . . it's the other people's children I'm trying to avoid. Every group gets one that won't stay with the group, or on the trail, or keep his/her hands off the museum artifacts, and as bossy as I am with my own kids, I'm generally spineless when it comes to keeping other kids in line.

But guilt trumps reluctance, so sometimes I sign up.

Last fall I was in charge of five 6th graders on a two-part field trip. The first part found us running around in cold, pouring rain, trying to diagram tree leaves on wet worksheets. Despite multiple notices home that this was likely to be a cold, wet, even snowy day, several kids came without anything warmer than a long-sleeve shirt or fleece jacket. I gave away my first pair of gloves, and then my backup pair. Did you know 4 adolescents and one adult can fit under one umbrella? (The fifth kid is off the trail, remember?)

When the kids boarded the bus for the second half of the trip (also involving a hike), it began to snow, as we had been warned it might. At this point I was really irritated, because I was NOT looking forward to giving up my nice, toasty winter coat to some poor shivering child who was already drenched from the rain. Lucky for me, the teachers voted to skip the hike, eat lunch on the bus, and go home. Hypothermia-inducing service averted!

A few weeks ago, another slip came home. Another hike. Uphill. And my daughter REALLY wanted me to go. For the record, I am NOT a paragon of fitness, and the last time I went hiking was about 2 babies ago. (Please pretend that was an ANONYMOUS confession.)

"You understand that there's a good chance I'll pass out on the trail from exhaustion?" I warned.

"Um, yeah Mom. Can you go?"

"Aren't you going to be embarrassed when I'm wheezing and crawling up the trail?"

"No, I'm ok with that. Can you go?"

"What if they have to bring in a helicopter to transport me back down?"

(Commence eye-rolling.)

I volunteered, because it's the Year of No Fear. But I was really worried about embarrassing my poor child. Those of you who know the hike I speak of are rolling your eyes as well . . . you all told me it was no big deal. But seriously? A few weeks ago I was horrified to discover I had been winded by a single flight of stairs. (Again . . . ANONYMOUS.)

So I went on the field trip. (Bless the teacher, she didn't assign us kids . . . just asked us to keep an eye on the group in general!) I think my thighs were actually on fire at one point, and I huffed and puffed and panted a little (ok, a lot), but so did the rest of the parents! I've never been so relieved to see someone else suffering.

In the end, it WASN'T a big deal - more like a medium deal. The ranger that guided the hike was a veritable fountain of fascinating ecological information, the view from the top was everything a view from the top should be, and I didn't embarrass my child.

At least not any more than usual.

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bestgrandkidsever said...

The important thing is you did it! Proud of you! Usually anything hard is worth the "view" if we make it to the top!

Jill Walker said...

Way to go! I think it's awesome that you went...and I feel better knowing I'm not the only one that dreads school field trips!