Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A day in the life of a chaperone

By Deana Nall
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.


  • At Wed May 17, 05:50:00 AM, Blogger Meredith said…

    I always try to be the juice opener, so I look busy because I do not want to be the bathroom finder.

  • At Wed May 17, 06:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I taught school I would get a massive headache at each field trip. I counted to 22 atleast 100 times I was so scared I would loose someone and be on the evening news! Last Wednesday I went w/Emma's class to the zoo. This experience reminded me why I do not teach anymore.

  • At Wed May 17, 07:33:00 AM, Blogger Denise W. said…

    Heypokers, hate em. It's nice to know they have a career path.

  • At Wed May 17, 08:26:00 AM, Blogger Diane said…

    Heypokers are so annoying! Thank you for giving them an official name - they do have serious space issues too [or lack of]...maybe they need a support group, but WHO would facilitate that one!

    Telemarketing a for sure career...maybe even used car salesmen!

  • At Wed May 17, 09:05:00 AM, Blogger Chad said…

    Having babies isn't going to be an option for me, but I've also never been on a field trip with Julia either.

  • At Wed May 17, 10:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, I know the HeyPokers. The ones that kill me are the ones that yell "Teacher, Teacher, Teacher" until you want to pull your hair out. I always want to yell back "I'm not a teacher and if you want to know why just look in a mirror!" But my husband is a teacher and therefore I can't afford other kids therapy so I just answer them.

  • At Wed May 17, 11:31:00 AM, Blogger Angela said…

    Yes, IMHO that back seat is to be avoided! Last year I had the honor of riding in the back seat of a school bus from Pasadena to the Houston Zoo. In addition to bathroom finding and juice box opening I got to tend to a bloody nose and clean up a spill (not bodily fluid) on the bus! You want to know the cherry on the cake? We weren't at the zoo just to have fun; on no...we actually had to carry around folders and answer questions and prepare for a quiz when we got back to school. It was kind of a drag, but it was worth it because I had several kids in my group of fourth graders who had NEVER BEEN TO A ZOO! Can you imagine?! The excitment and wonder in their eyes made all of the headaches worthwhile.

  • At Wed May 17, 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Jacinda said…

    Deana, Deana, mentioned argument resolver for girls....we know about that at our house these days. Gracie has been full of drama with one of her little "friends" at school. Did Julia go through this?!?!??

  • At Wed May 17, 01:01:00 PM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    Jacinda -- haha -- she is still going through it and probably will be through college.

    It does seem to be worse with some of her friends. Julia often finds herself trying to be the peacemaker.

    I know one thing -- they are starting all that a lot earlier than we did!

  • At Wed May 17, 01:54:00 PM, Blogger Heather said…

    Ian's whole kindergarten year, Andy did field trips. Not only was Alaina breastfed, but she wouldn't take a bottle of anything! So I'd make Andy take the day off and go with the kids . . .he also did a lot of b-day parties that year.

    Worst field trip I ever did . . . a bus full of 9th graders with me and one mom. . . going to the Ft. Worth Courthouse. Would've been a lot better if the case hadn't been one that I would rather have not taken my students to!

    You are making me so happy that our school district doesn't allow parents on the bus! We follow in mom vans.

  • At Wed May 17, 06:16:00 PM, Blogger ML said…

    First of all, Chad...go on a field trip. I always love to have a dad or two along. They are the good ones at telling the kids to behave or helping get the ice chest out of the bus or van.
    I teach at Julia's school. I prefer some of the moms to follow in cars or vans so we don't have to transport our lunchs and drinks on the school bus. I am rather new at the school, in my second year there, but my 27th year in teaching. So I am trying to let others that will to make decisions. So the kids all carried their own lunches and drinks on our 3rd grade field trip to the Houston Museum Imax and Planetarium. We provided no big labeled box with the teacher's name and no ice chest for also labeled drinks. Bad decision. At the museum the decision was made to let the kids leave their lunches on the bus and we'd reboard and be transported over to the park. Or the driver would bring the bus to us. But since we weren't that far and the next stop was the planetarium across the street, someone decided we should just walk all 120 kids plus adults across the street and over into the park. What about the lunches on the buses that aren't labeled very well? Another brillant idea was to have someone go on each of the two buses and pile all the lunches in our white trash bags. Have you ever tried to pass out the correct lunches mixed up in white trash bags to the matching kid???
    I'm just getting too old for field trips with more than a normal class size of 22 kids and 4 adults. Ah for the old days!
    I used to take my second graders from my old school to the Main Street Theater in Houston every year. Good field trip.

  • At Wed May 17, 07:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm taking my 9 junior high behavior modification students to Laser Quest and Joe's Crab Shack next week... looking forward to being shot multiple times and making them try crawfish ~ maybe we should disect one b/t now and then! ~ Mae

  • At Wed May 17, 07:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    P.S. what's w/ the handicapped sign beside word verification... can I get good parking in downtown Nashville if I qualify?

  • At Thu May 18, 06:17:00 AM, Blogger Paige Robins said…

    I don't know if I'd call that the EASY way out...

  • At Thu May 18, 07:42:00 PM, Blogger Tracy said…

    I know you loved putting the word "boob" in your newspaper column. I love that you still have a bit of the 12 YO boy in you.

  • At Fri May 19, 05:33:00 AM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    Tracy -- help me out here! Which column was that?!

  • At Fri May 19, 01:45:00 PM, Blogger SG said…

    I think she read body wrong... you know she has had a hard week! :)

    CAN NOT DO THE BUS!!! I am happy to go and drive a Mommy van but I can not do the bus. AHHHH the kindergarten Zoo field trip, that was a fun day.

    What is up with the hadicap guy by the word verification thing???
    Typing spfsweughytrew you reall ythink that Word verification works?

  • At Sat May 20, 08:14:00 AM, Blogger Deana Nall said…

    Yikes -- she HAS had a hard week! I hate insurance companies. Ours made our first miscarriage so much more traumatic than it had to be. Maybe Tracy can call Elizabeth's husband and sue the pants off those guys! Just a thought.


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