Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Why I Should Never Chaperone a Field Trip While PMSing

First I should admit, up front, that I am a terrible girl. I would have been better off born as a boy. I never have a single clue in this world when I'm going to get my period. The rest of my family does because apparently I turn into a raging hormonal rhymes with witch the likes of which this world has never seen (not that I'm buying their version of this personality morph--I'd probably be more inclined to believe them if they just admitted it has nothing to do with hormones and everything to do with my personality defect, but whatever). So I agreed to chaperone a field trip for the middle child without having the remotest clue that I'd be PMSing on the day. Please note that I freely admit I'm not the world's best chaperone either. For starters, I generally hate other people's children. Heck, I often don't like my own children so it's not a stretch to dislike those that aren't formally related to me. At any rate, R. guilted me into agreeing, despite having chaperoned this same trip last year for W. and so knowing exactly what my day would be like.

I started the day off pretty well with a 5 mile run (the marathon training schedule only called for 3 miles but that's clearly for wimps--and anyone who reminds me of this comment in a month's time will be shot on sight) that felt easy and slow. Then I came home to a kid who ticked me off before we even got in the car to leave for school. W. decided that playing in his room with his Legos, which had previously been removed from his room because of their contribution to his complete lack of ability to get ready in the morning in a timely manner, was a better plan that getting dressed and having breakfast. The Legos are now in the garage sale pile if that gives you any idea of how angry I was (and it's only because it'd be illegal that W. isn't also in the garage sale pile--perhaps even the "free" box). Did I mention I'm also not very maternal? So a late start to school, a weeping child, and me trying desparately to control my blood pressure meant that at best I'd end the day with a headache and at worst, well... Let's not even try to imagine the head spinning Exorcist move I occasionally find myself capable of reproducing faithfully.

I go down to the classroom to collect my carload of kids (really only two extras, plus R.) and the teacher tells me we're to meet them at the cafeteria. Really, I do read all the notes that come home but this one completely whizzed over my head. every other parent knew so I'm obviously the only nincompoop in the bunch. Ah well, I get the girls and we head out. I only have a vague idea where we're going as I'm not from here but I figure we can get in the ballpark, right? So the girls get in the car and I tell them all to sit in the back, figuring I won't deal with arguments about who sits in the two middle seats. Child one tells me she can't sit in the back because she gets carsick. My response? "That's okay. So does R. so I'm really good at cleaning up barf." Disgusted look from child one, who proceeds to claim a middle seat. Child two claims the other one, leaving my own carsickness prone daughter the back seat option. All-righty then. Conclusions: child one clearly lacking sense of humor and going to do what she wants regardless of my instructions and child two a quiet follower. We get started and child one decides to announce that the van smells funny. Well duh! My kid gets carsick in here periodically, just how do you expect it to smell? R. also keeps her stinky dance shoes in the car at all times so she doesn't forget them. Not a petty smell. I'm pretty certain we had removed W.'s shin guards and cleats before the field trip but that odor lingers too. Even better, I get us lost so complainer has to sit in stinky car for longer than planned. Hehe.

We get to Greenfield Village and child one complains I parked too far away. I resist the urge to tell her tough noogies and ignore the comment. We get inside the gates and start off on our roaming "do what you want" day. Apparently what they all wanted was to eat lunch immediately. I told them no (it was only 10am) but agreed to let them all ride the train around the village. Not a one of them said thank-you to me for buying their tickets (R. included). I'm unimpressed with their manners. We ride a while before child two grabs the map out of my purse (whose child at the age of 9 feels free to go into a relative stranger's purse?!) and announces that she wants to go to the candy store. I tell her that we'll look at some of the more educational places first, not using the "e" word, of course, but that I'll make sure we get to the candy store before we leave. After every building we went into thereafter, child two was bored and darted right back out again regardless of whether child one or R. was interested in the presentation going on. And worse, after we followed her out of each building (despite my growing desire to let her wander off on her own and be eaten by one of the coyotes they've apparently recently sighted in the back 40 at Greenfield), she wanted to know if we were going to the candy store. So I lost my cool a bit (I have Irish and Italian ancestors so it's a mercy I lasted as long as I did rather than a surprise that I eventually snapped) and told her that she was being incredibly annoying and nagging and that if she asked one more time, we absolutely were not going to the candy store. I'm not sure if she saw the truth of this statement in R.'s face or if the steam coming out of my ears was enough but she stopped asking and we did eventually go to the candy store where we got to stand in line for 10 minutes just for the chance to buy very expensive jolly ranchers and other assorted bulk candy any local grocery stores sells for half the price. Now, naggy child two actually had money for the candy store, hence the broken record repetition. But child one had no money for goodies (and poor R. has me as a mother so she knew better than to ask me to buy overpriced junk). That didn't stop child one from grabbing a huge gobstopper sucker, thrusting it into my face and announcing that she wanted that. Very calmly, "No. Put it back." Greedy little snot reiterates that she wants it *a lot.* Kid, you got the wrong chaperone. Plus I should have known she'd push me on it because this is the same kid who asked about the (non-existent) goody bags at R.'s birthday party (silly me thought the chocolates they made at the chocolate store were more than enough to take home).

So now I'm in an even blacker mood that I was before leaving home in the morning because I've dealt with one of my own rotten children, one nagging pain in the rear, and one whiner who wants all things her own way. I. Am. Not. Happy. After the candy store, we have very few options left time-wise thank heaven. Child one who is apparently allergic to any exercise wants to get back on the train (the steam engine was fairly smelly and making R. a bit nauseated). Child two has to pee. When told that we'll find a bathroom but we'll have to walk, child two decides maybe she doesn't have to pee afterall. I warn her that we won't have time to find another bathroom if we get on the train. She's okay with that. Of course, as expected, as soon as we get off the train, she announces that she has to pee again. Too bad she has the chaperone from you know where. Looking at my watch, it is clear that we can't both traipse off to a bathroom and get to the appointed meeting place on time so I tell her she made a choice and now we have to speed to the front so she'll just have to hold it. (I'm sure her mother has heard all about how nasty I am by now.) And off I trot. The entire journey to the front is punctuated by child one whining that her legs hurt and her shoes don't fit. When I try to muster up some sympathy, she admits that she has a pair that fit her better but she's only allowed to wear them twice a week because her dad doesn't want her to get them dirty. You have got to be kidding me!!! A walking field trip (which it would have been exclusively if I hadn't sprung for the train) doesn't rate the decently fitting walking shoes? No wonder this kid is a whiny baggage!

Anyway, we make it to the front and I check us out to go home, send the girls to the bathroom, and off we head back to school. It was a much subdued car ride back, for which my throbbing head was thankful. I was never so grateful to see teachers drive in as I was today. You couldn't pay me enough to spend more hours with children not my own. Sheesh! I collect the two children at school who do belong to me and we come home, only to have me discover the reason for my incredible irritability. Now methinks I should forestall this ever happening again and just vow never to chaperone again (poor T.--as the third child he always suffers because of the self-knowledge I earn with the older two--but I just don't think I can survive anymore field trips in this lifetime).

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