I survived my first school-trip chaperoning gig. And you know what? It was really fun, as many of my mom-friends told me it would be. My favourite part was meeting some of Anna’s sweet little school chums and chatting away with them (because everyone wanted to tell me everything about themselves, all at the same time!). The noise on the bus was almost deafening, but the kids were so excited and animated that I couldn’t help but embrace their enthusiasm.
We went to a farm, where the kids ate lunch, went on a tour and wagon ride, picked strawberries and played in the hay. Also providing entertainment were my fellow parent chaperones, reminding me that in all things parenting (including field trips), you’ve just gotta be you.
(This is just for laughs, friends, not to be judgmental or add fuel to any “mom wars” in the news lately. I’m a writer, and when archetypes like these pop out at me all day in technicolour, I just can’t resist. I can’t.)
Tracy’s guide to field trip chaperones
The Vet: This is not her first trip on the bus. She’s already downloaded a map of the farm and she wields a fanny pack full of medical supplies. She runs her group of kindergartners like a special-ops unit, barking out commands drill-sergeant style — and she’s not afraid to whip your rookies into shape if they’re flailing on your watch. She makes conversation by pondering why the bus driver would take this route instead of the faster one she knows. There may be no room for fun on this trip, but by god, we’ll be on time.
The Glam Mom: She’s come to the farm in her maxi dress, heeled and bejeweled sandals, huge hoop earrings, and sparkly necklaces and bracelets. The fact that she doesn’t stumble on the gravel road or trip up the wagon steps is admirable. But that’s her style. Her iPhone is always in hand, and not to take pictures.
Too Cool for School: She’s had three coffees to prep for the field trip and may have a flask (you’re not sure if she’s kidding). Once she sees the bevy of parent volunteers, she wants to bow out to sneak a day off work instead, but knows her kid would freak. She rolls her eyes a lot. But honestly, she cracks you up all day saying out loud the things you just say in your head.
The Grandma: She sweetly volunteered (or was volunteered?), but is clearly out of her depths. She asks you a million questions about where you’re going and what happens there and what to do if a kid gets lost. Her stress level makes you want to take on her group of kids (or pass them on to The Vet) so she can just chillax and enjoy her strawberries. One thing is clear: Kids didn’t behave this way when hers were young. (Be warned: This chaperone may, near the end of the trip, suddenly and inexplicably decide to take her group onto the bus and stay there by themselves… while the rest of the group combs the farm for them.)
The Dad: He’s cool. He doesn’t say much, follows instructions well, and corrals his kids calmly and quietly while letting loose the most perfect one-liners every now and then. Bonus: He offers to watch the kids so you can check out the gift shop.
Chilled-out Mom: She doesn’t care if the kids are sitting on their knees instead of their bums on the bus or if they eat their cookies instead of their sandwiches. Her only rule is that everyone wears a hat. She lets them make funny faces as they pose for pictures. She has an amused smile on her face all day, just happy to share in this experience with her child, because this is the good stuff. And it sure beats a day at the office.
Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr.