Look at this photo. Kids on a school or camp outing in search of fun and knowledge. Adorable, right? I remember how excited I was when one of my parents would chaperone a trip. I was so proud of them. I felt like I was holding hands with a movie star. And because of that, when my daughter asked me -- OK, begged me and repeatedly continued to beg me even when I shamefully tried to get out of it -- I went. Here's why I don't want to do it again.
- The getting there. Since we live in New York City, that usually means the subway. Taking my own two kids on the subway puts me in a heightened state of alert. Are they leaning on the doors? Getting pushed? Pushing other people? Not touching the dirty poles too much? So being responsible for a whole pack of kids riding the train is terrifying. That's when I think about my suburban friends who remind me that someone always gets carsick on their bus trips.
- Other kids are annoying. I hate to admit this because I usually think all kids are awesome and hilarious and adorable. But when you spend hours with them, it becomes apparent that certain ones are bratty or like hitting others or have super irritating laughs.
- Your own kids behave badly. Maybe it's the excitement factor but they are not themselves. They don't listen well. They cling. My daughter would never admit it, but I think she would have actually had a better time-- and been more involved in the activities -- if I hadn't been along for the ride.
- Bathroom accidents. It happens. An it's nobody's fault. Still, dealing with pee and poop and a kid that's not your own is gross.
- Authority issues get confused. When stragglers need to be coaxed across the street or kids need to be reminded that something shouldn't be climbed on/touched/sat on, is that your role or the teachers'? You may say one thing, the teachers another, a different chaperoning parent another still... and the kids don't know who to listen to.
- It might rain. It's just water but for some reason rain on a field trip day sends everything and everyone into chaos. There are extra shoes to change into and out of. Umbrellas to keep track of. And if you're looking at your watch, you can add at least 2 more hours onto the deal.
- Once you go, they want you to come back. There's the rub. No matter how unpleasant the outing might have been, the fact that you were there was a thrill. That's what your kid will remember and why the time they bring that permission slip over and ask you to volunteer to come along, it still might be hard to say "no."
What's the worst (or best) field trip experience you've ever had?