A day in the life of a chaperone
The Baytown Sun
Published May 17, 2006
Well, I almost made it through the school year without chaperoning a field trip.
But then the year wouldn’t have been complete, now, would it?
On Monday, I boarded a school bus with my daughter Julia and the other top Accelerated Reader points earners from Travis Elementary.
If you are not familiar with the Accelerated Reader program, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: If your child reads a lot of books during the school year, he or she gets to win cool stuff and may even get to go on the AR field trip at the end of the year.
Last year, the trip was to Barnes and Noble and then to play miniature golf. This year, we went to the Main Street Youth Theater’s production of “Anastasia Krupnik.”
To be honest, I was glad I got to go on a field trip this year. Because I gave birth ten days into Julia’s kindergarten year, I had to miss that year’s field trips. Goose Creek has a policy banning younger siblings from attending field trips — even if they can’t hold their heads up yet. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, but when your baby must be affixed to your body every two hours, leaving her with someone else for a day presents a logistics problem.
So this year, I was ready to get on the bus. Except for one problem: Julia loves to sit in the back, and bouncing around on a bus across Houston’s freeways isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. And the box mounted on the wall above the driver that said “BODY FLUID CLEANUP KIT” really didn’t help my outlook.
But we all survived the trip and enjoyed “Anastasia Krupnik,” which was a funny play about a fourth-grader facing some major changes in her life. Then we moved on to Hermann Park for a picnic and playtime. This is when the real work of “chaperone” began.
When you go on a child’s field trip, you are not just a chaperone. You are also a bathroom-finder, a drink-opener, a retainer-keeper, a shoe-tyer, an argument-resolver (especially if you’re in charge of girls) and a target of a group I like to call the “Heypokers.”
Heypokers are the kids who think that if they stand there and say “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and poke you long enough, they will eventually get your attention. Their technique is actually quite effective, since it is so annoying that you will do pretty much anything to get them to stop. I can usually handle one or two Heypokers at a time, but being attacked by a mob of them can be pretty overwhelming.
Heypokers are not bad kids. They’re just Heypokers. They’ll probably grow up to be telemarketers, bless their hearts.
After a beautiful afternoon at Hermann Park, which almost made me wish I lived in downtown Houston, we re-boarded the bus and made our way back to Baytown. As far as I could tell, everyone kept their body fluids contained, so we didn’t need the cleanup kit. A mark of a successful field trip, if you ask me.
Although this field trip really was fun, they are not always for the faint of heart. If you think field-trip chaperoning isn’t your thing, remember that there’s an easy way out. Just keep having babies.
Deana Nall lives in Baytown with her family.