I had already come to realize that our family’s life is at that sweet stage where we are past wiping bums (most of the time), able to go out to eat with ease, traveling without the need for Valium, and enjoying the precious time where our children still need us but do not NEED us. This means I can relieve my bladder with complete privacy 99.9% of the time. With both boys in full-time school, my occasional volunteering there can expand now to include field trips.
Last week was my first field trip as a chaperone here. I had only done so once before at a preschool trip with Connor a couple years ago that as far as I can remember was short and sweet. Ethan’s grade was going to a pumpkin farm which sounded like fun. We had gotten pumpkins every fall while living in Chicago. I knew it was supposed to be chilly (for New Mexico), so Ethan and I wore long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts AND fleeces.
Did I say chilly? It was officially cold. Apparently on the other side of the mountains where this farm was located, it is extremely windy. The freezing winds rivaled our former windy city. No, my boogers weren’t completely frozen and I could still feel my face, but I was not expecting true cold. I could have dusted off my sleeping bag coat had I not underestimated sunny New Mexico.
I was in charge of 4 boys including my own. FOUR BOYS! To take my mind off my hypothermia, I tried to reign in these excited young lads who were screaming and running off in opposite directions. I will no longer judge a teacher I hear using the mean voice. I still tried to keep my voice nice but firm. It was so “successful” that my crew was the one group NOT sitting flat on their bums during the hayride back from the pumpkin field. After my third, “Please sit down flat on your bottom” went ignored, I just rationalized to myself that no real harm could come going 5 mph on a tractor in the middle of nowhere. I channeled my husband who starts out the driveway while Connor still has yet to close his door let alone climb into his car seat and buckle his 5-point harness. This always gets my “Safety first!” blood boiling. However on this trip, I threw my always-wear-a-helmet ways to the (freezing) wind. I would be Mike Beckett and shrug nonchalantly that they would be just fine.
Meanwhile another parent was complimenting her charm school graduates on their great listening that made them very safe sitting completely flat on their bottoms. I reassured myself by thinking of the article praising European risk-taking parenting and thought how I was helping these boys hone their own judgement (after soundly ignoring mine). Maybe they would end up dropping out of college to start the next Microsoft. As successful millionaires, they could look back and thank me for letting them sit higher up on their shoes. Were it not for my bad chaperoning, their lives might have gone the safe route with completed bachelors degrees but no private foundation granting billions for the good of others. Instead of feeling like a failure, I began to think of how I was positively affecting the future lives of many because of these risky tractor-riding ways.
Twenty minutes after getting there I was wondering if it was time to go yet so my body could thaw. Hours later after lunch, I was engaged in conversation with another mom while the four boys got to burn their never-ending energy playing. When we decided to head back, I saw everyone else completely loaded up in both buses. As soon as my crew boarded, they took off immediately because they were waiting on my four charges. Perfect and ironic. On the bright side, I suppose being the worst chaperone ever could give me an out for the next few field trips to come. I will confess that during the 45 minutes between the field trip ending and after school pick up I came home and had a hot, spiked cup of coffee.
This field trip plus the cake walk extravaganza in the same week did me in completely. Although the cake walk was a success for the most part, I came home feeling exhausted and was hoarse trying to read the boys their bedtime stories that night. Despite becoming a regular runner, I have never done any workout in my life that could compare to manning a school cake walk for over 2 hours. I actually got sick after completing both of these parental duties. Is this the new era for me now? Maybe wiping butts is not so bad. I give mad props to all those parents who faithfully volunteer so much of their time at field trip after field trip and run event after school event. They are ever-present at schools and somehow still have a smile on their face without a flask attached to their lips. I will fully admit that I am more of the mom whose school presence is in and out here and there. My respect for teachers has also grown deeper than it already was. They do this type of thing every single day and most are not raging alcoholics like I would be. Hats off to all of you wonder parents and super educators! You make us selfish lightweights look bad, but it is worth it for all the ways it benefits our next generation of Bill Gates. Wait, maybe we need more losers like me for that. 🙂