Last Monday I chaperoned a field trip with Kaitlin's second grade class. The plan was to leave school at 9:30 a.m. and drive to the carousel on the waterfront in downtown Salem. The kids would each ride the carousel, eat a picnic lunch and play on the equipment in the adjoining park. After they got their wiggles out, we'd head a few blocks into the city to watch the play version of Charlotte's Web in a historic theatre. I arranged childcare for Alli and Paige and looked forward to a bonding day with just Katie.
Monday morning I squandered my extra time and found myself ditching Paige with Kelly at the gym and rushing to Mabel Rush to make sure the buses didn't leave without me. When I showed up at 9:29 and didn't see any buses out front, I had a sinking feeling that I had missed my ride. I envisioned Katie's disappointed face and possible tears and was feeling like a terrible mom as I dashed to the office to grab my volunteer tag and sign in. Turns out, the second grade teachers ordered three buses for the four classes and only one bus showed up. So there we sat in the cold front lobby of the school, all hundred something second graders and chaperones, bundled up against the uncharacteristic 20 degree weather and waiting for the buses to arrive. We waited. And waited. And waited for 50 minutes!
By the time we loaded onto the buses, we were way behind schedule, and I wondered how 125 second graders would have time to go on a carousel ride, eat lunch and play at a park in 30 minutes. Never mind the fact that it was really cold by Oregon standards and none of the adults relished the idea of "picnicking" outside in the frigid conditions.
Our bus was the last one in line and ended up with the fewest amount of people which thankfully made for a much quieter bus ride. My group consisted of Katie, her friend Lauren, and two boys from her class. Since the bus was so empty, Katie and Lauren sat in the seat in front of me and proceeded to ignore me the entire ride to Salem. They giggled and whispered and played rhyming clapping game. I periodically tried to engage them by poking my head over the seat, but finally gave up and dug my Bible out of my purse. I laughed to myself at how the day was not reflecting the vision I had in my mind on any level and decided to choose joy and just roll with it.
We arrived at the carousel that was graciously indoors and quickly took over the entire building. We assembly-lined the kids on the footprints painted on the ground and systematically loaded the carousel to max capacity while each child took a turn. It really was a beautiful carousel with all hand-carved animals and the smiles on the children's faces were so precious. We turned the building into a make-shift picnic area and all the kids grabbed their sack lunches from bins, plopped onto the cold cement floor and inhaled their lunches as fast as they could. We skipped the playground, piled back on the bus only to unpile two blocks later at the very old, very beautiful, castle-looking theatre in downtown. The theatre manager was kind enough to hold the start of the show until we found our seats, so we rush, rush, rushed the kids into the theatre for the hour-long show without a bathroom break. The show itself was marginal at best with lame costumes and really loud obnoxious acting, but the kids seemed to enjoy it which is really all that mattered. Once the show ended, we got a much needed bathroom break and then dashed back to the waiting, cold buses for the hour drive home. Katie and Lauren ignored me again, but I kept myself occupied by repeatedly asking the little boys in my group to stop yelling, wrestling and kicking my seat. We arrived back at Mabel Rush thirty minutes behind schedule, completely frozen and with enough time for the kids to rush outside for 20 minutes of recess.
I'm not sure what the value was in me going along, but I'm sure it will dawn on me at some point. And if it never does, at least I got some good pictures.