My daughter’s class went on a field trip this week and I volunteered to chaperone for the following reasons:
1. She turned eight last Thursday and it did something weird to me. Like, all of a sudden I’m a total mathlete when it comes to how much time we have before each milestone (“One hundred weeks until she’s in the double digits!” and “Lordy, she’s half of a licensed driver!”). I can’t stop scrolling through pictures and videos of when she was tiny. You guys, I keep petting her face. I’m telling you, I’ve gone WEIRDO. This explains why I viewed chaperoning as an opportunity to soak up a few more hours of the 85,200 that I have left to raise her (I’m telling you-mad mathletic skills).
2. Venturing anywhere other than Target or Costco these days feels the best kind of wild and crazy (not that I would ever dream of replacing your spots in my heart, Costco & Targ. Hugs to you both. I’ll see you after nap time!).
The students were field tripping to the high school just down the road to study agriculture and here are a few things I learned:
1. When you’re in second grade, a lesson in agriculture looks like this: hold a baby chicken, hold a baby pig, play with robots, form tissue paper into a flower, eat some toast. Boom. The future suddenly holds 21 farmers from Mr. Hernandez’s class. I mean, who wouldn’t want to farm after that? Even I went home and started Googling barns.
2. A healthy chicken’s body temperature is between 102-104º.
3. Baby pig poop is as awful as it sounds. Those little bacon seeds know how to clear a room. My heart actually softened a bit toward Fern’s dad in Charlotte’s Web. I may have second guessed Wilber myself if I was constantly cleaning up that business.
4. Kids today can watch a real life robot move around the room and NOT freak out. They are more impressed by a crazy mom who keeps squealing and referring to The Jetsons (figuratively speaking, of course) than they are by an actual robot.
5. It is fully possible for a small person to lose their coat twenty six times in a 3 hour window.
6. As an eight year old, it is socially acceptable to adjust a wedgie and indulge in the occasional nose pick.
7. Teachers are too incredible for words. They can juggle the individual needs of 20+ students and still find time to thank you for volunteering to eat toast and hold tiny animals.
8. The sense of wonder found in a child is contagious. Robots aside, everything else becomes so much more fascinating when you see it through their eyes.
9. When a second grader asks you how old you are, that is NOT the time to dig for a compliment. When you tell her to guess and hope that she, in her naiveté, will say 16, 19, or 24, she will most definitely guess 39, 47, and 52. No worries kid. You’re only off by the entire lifespan of a college student. Whatevs.
10. And finally, I have a reflex that I have never noticed until this field trip. Every time my daughter slips her hand into mine, I whisper “thank you” under my breath. She’s heard me before and has tossed out a chipper “you’re welcome.” But what my daughter doesn’t know (and may not until she’s on a second grade field trip with her own kiddo) is that I’m not actually talking to her.
God, thank you for this precious little life.
Thank you for her contagious sense of wonder.
And thank you for letting today not be the day she decides she’s too big for this.
So there you have it. It pays to volunteer as a chaperone. You’re never too old to learn new things on a field trip.
Even when you’re 39, 47, or 52…