The day has arrived: I'm a chaperone on my nine-year-old daughter's school field trip. I have no idea where I’m going, or what I'm doing. What I do know that I'll need a lot of coffee and an extra phone battery. My kid has been waiting for this day since she forced me to check "Yes" on the permission slip.
I know some parents who are great at herding children on a field trip, but I'm not one of them. I commit to one field trip per kid each year, and yet, each and every time I find myself going through a series of predictable emotions during the excursion. Here are the eight stages many parents go through while accompanying kids on a class field trip.
Shock: I arrive at the classroom and I'm greeted by a crowd of hyper kids. The teacher hands me a scrap of paper with a list of kids’ names on it. The only name I recognize is my own child's, and I'm surprised to learn there are identical twins in the class—and it seems I'm in charge of the one wearing the black bracelet. The two boys under my care talk incessantly about the zombie apocalypse, complete with sound effects.
Denial: I close my eyes and pretend I’m not riding on a rickety school bus without seat belts, with a driver who looks old enough to have driven me to school when I was in grade five. If I concentrate hard enough, I can block out the the screaming kids and zombie noises. There, it’s not so bad! And whatever that kid just wiped on me was definitely not a juicy booger.
Anger: Why did I sign up for this craziness? I don’t have time for this! I'm more than just a glorified babysitter. Jeez, my kid is being particularly aggravating. Why does she have to be so clingy? The other kids are entitled little know-it-alls, they won’t stay put, they won’t listen and they're running around like chickens with their heads cut off.
Desperation: OK, this is definitely the last field trip that I will ever go on. I just need a plan. If I look engaged and like a good parent for the next 30 minutes, I can definitely disappear to the bathroom and check my phone while the kids are busy listening to the boring speaker. If I survive this day, I will buy the teacher a giant bottle of wine as a holiday gift. At least I get to post some funny Facebook updates during this ordeal.
Depression: Oh, lord, this day is long. So long. Will it ever end? It’s obvious that my kid has no idea what is going on. I should read to her more often. I’m the worst mother. Sigh.
Bribery: Perhaps I can bribe my group of kids into better behaviour with some stale Jolly Ranchers I found at the bottom of my purse.
Acceptance: Teachers do this every single day and manage to survive. Most of them even say they like it! If they can do it on a regular basis then surely I can survive the next two hours. I’m a good parent, my kid is thrilled that I’m here, the other kids are kind of cute and it’s only half a day of my life. I'll be home by lunch.
Gratefulness: I'm so thankful there are people in this world who are willing to be teachers and spend all day with these kids. Our kids are so lucky. I will definitely buy my daughter's teacher two giant bottles of wine.
Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.