Monday, October 15, 2012

School Days--Wally's Field Trip, Part One

  School Days is a reoccurring feature in which I ask people about their early memories of school. Everyone has a story to tell about this and I hope to give them a voice here.

This week will be a little different with an account of Wally's first grade field trip instead of an interview. I wrote this soon after we returned from the trip so there's no looking back with nostalgia here. The story is fairly long so it will be posted in three installments. They will follow each other weekly on School Days Mondays.

Wally's First Grade Field Trip 
Part One

Wally with his teacher before loading the bus.
Wally came home from school one day excited about some papers he had for me. It was time for the first grade field trip to the zoo, and he had a permission slip and a volunteer form. This was just the opportunity I had been dreading waiting for—a chance to ride on a bumpy school bus with 50 first graders, and then chase them all over the zoo as they showed a life size example of Brownian motion. However I couldn't ignore Wally's enthusiasm, so I filled out both forms and waited to learn my fate. There were only had a limited number spaces for the trip, so the school used a lottery system to pick the chaperones.

I was given a false sense of relief when Wally brought home a note saying that I had lost the lottery and my services wouldn't be needed. My relief turned to dread  excitement when two days later, I got a call from the principal that one of the chaperones had canceled, and I was the next lucky person picked to go.

Quickly I went to work on finding childcare for Theodore and an attitude adjustment for myself. Maybe the trip wouldn't be so bad. The kids had matured a lot since kindergarten where my attitude about school field trips had been formed. Maybe the trip would actually be fun. Certainly the general population seemed to think so. “Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun!” was the universal response when I mentioned the trip to anyone. Perhaps they were right. I hoped so.

After a lot of effort on my part, I arrived at the school Thursday morning of the trip with a positive attitude along with some Kleenex, extra band aids, a blanket, and a bottle of aspirin. (As positive as I was trying to be, I still had to be practical about the situation.) The day was looking promising. The rain had stopped  and all of the kids had remembered their lunches. After group assignments and a bathroom trip, we loaded the bus at nine o'clock.

We were off and not a moment too soon. The kids were ready to explode with excitement and essentially did once the bus started moving. The sound was deafening as 50 six year olds started screaming with excitement. As their squeals got louder and louder, the mom in front of me looked back with an expression of horror and said, “We're not even out sight of the school yet!”

The first half of the hour-long ride was filled with the kids calling out the name of every eating establishment we passed. “There's McDonalds!” There's Jack-in-the Box!” There's Ci Ci's!”  The second half of the trip was teeming with questions like, “Why are we going this way?” and “Are we there yet?” During the bus ride, trying to keep a positive attitude, I reminded myself that the kids had matured a lot since last year. I saw very little running up and down the aisles and no fighting as I had seen on the kindergarten bus.

We arrived at the zoo at ten o'clock.

Tune in next Monday to see what happened at the zoo.