The time is upon us. We have survived another year (pardon me if that seems presumptuous, but if you are reading this I am going to make assumptions about your vital signs.)
As a reward for the hard work you have done all year in getting your child to school, remembering show and tell, and listening to what things Johnny did to get placed in the blue timeout chair, there will be one final test: The Field Trip. (Please read that with the appropriate amount of spooky emphasis.)
Now that I have you wound up for the horror, let’s bring it down a notch because I am going to outline how this trip will go so you can prepare yourself. If you can successfully navigate this final test, you will earn your title as Parent of the Year.
1) Let the teacher know you will be going.
I know it sounds fun to show up last minute and yell, “Surprise!” However, when the cops come to remove you because you didn’t pay for your spot… well, it’s still awesome because kids love to see the police in action… but you will regret the pepper spray. (Note to self: When completing list for Making the Most of a Field Trip guide, be sure to include a step convincing one parent to show up as a surprise and not leave until police come.)
2) Don’t back out.
There will be nights when you wake up in a cold sweat and panic about going on this trip, the elementary-aged kids still whining in your ears. It’s going to be tempting to call back and say, “I can’t make it (sorry, not sorry).” Stick it out. Don’t be a quitter.
3) Dress your child.
Put tennis shoes on your kid. You may be tempted to dress your kid in full-out safari wear and add binoculars as a special accessory. This is not necessary. Your goal is to get through this field trip, not to win this field trip. Try to stay in the middle of the pack as far as parenting goes.
4) Receive your assigned children.
Talk to them just enough to let them know that you care, but not too much so that they think you want to hear about their life story. I find this to be a really fine line with children of this age. Basically, I say something like, “What’s your favorite animal?” and then, “Do you want me to hold your coat?” Bingo- Bango- task complete.
5) Board the bus.
Keep an eagle eye on them and every once in a while do that move where you signal that you are watching them by pointing at your eyes and then pointing at them. Don’t try that move if you are extremely nearsighted and can’t do it without poking yourself in the eye. You have to maintain their respect.
6) Enter [insert soul-sucking destination here].
I was lucky on my trip. We all stayed together. There were other adults adulting nearby. If you lose focus and can’t figure out what to do, copy nearby chaperones. If for some reason you have to go off on your own with your group of kids, I would suggest finding an employee and, if you’re at a zoo, for example, asking to borrow their tranquilizer gun for backup. Just in case things get unruly. I can’t foresee them having a problem with this.
7) Wander the venue for two hours.
If you’re at that zoo, for instance, point at animals. Try to avoid the mating animals if possible. On our trip we did ok, but then the darn turtles started going at it like rabbits. The kids didn’t seem to notice at the time. Then later that night my daughter told my mom about how the boy turtle was trying to climb on the girl turtle’s back and was making a “Gaah” noise.
8) Return to the bus.
Don’t push kids out of the way. Don’t yell, “I thought we would never get out of there alive!” Sit and stay calm.
9) Arrive back to the school safely.
Find your kid (or a kid that is of equal or lesser value) and proceed home.
You deserve it. Let the child nap, too. Order pizza for supper.