Road Trips – Part I (Education or Bust!)

FieldTrip Med 500This post will appeal to people who are raising children or have raised children, people who work with children and young adults, and people whose parents embarrassed or annoyed them at some point.  Those readers who do not fit into any of those categories can go on to the dating sites and career blogs.

(Really? Your parents never, ever embarrassed or annoyed you?  Then, definitely go onto the dating sites – you possess a quantity of patience and understanding that is extremely rare!)

Since I had to work while my kids were little, I had few  opportunities to go on field trips like some of the other moms.  However, the ones I did go on were memorable.

The Toxic Field Trip

One of Cordelia’s science teachers came up with the bright idea of showing the children what happens to waste after it is picked up at homes and businesses.  I was ok with the proposal to visit the recycling plant, but had issues with the idea of taking young adults to the toxic dump site near  the former Love Canal site.

At the informational meeting at the school, I voiced my concerns, only to be shot down by other parents, who accused me of being overly protective.  At which point, I decided:

Well, by golly, if my kid is going to be exposed to toxic waste, so am I – I am going on that field  trip!

(How this was supposed to protect her, I don’t know.  My thought process never got that far that day.)

The  trip started at the recycling facility.  It was a very benign start.  The employees at the facility demonstrated how cans, bottles and papers were sorted etc.  Meanwhile, the girls were crying “oooooo, yuck” while the majority of boys in the group ran around looking for rats, snakes and other vermin.

Snacks were offered in the facility’s employee break room.  All I remember is telling Cordelia to be sure to wash her hands thoroughly in the rest room and DON’T EAT ANYTHING.

Toxic PuddleEventually, the buses loaded up for the trip to the toxic dump  site.  At the entrance, our bus sat idling while employees dealt with a rogue trucker trying to drop off his load – his truck was leaking some kind of neon-greenish fluid from under the back doors.  The guard at the gate screamed at the trucker to get his vehicle off the premises, at the same time glancing over at our school bus filled with eager young faces at all the windows.  And at least one mom whose face was approximately the same greenish color as the dripping fluid.

I don’t remember a whole lot more about that trip, other than that the rogue trucker left the premises, and we were thereafter treated to  videos of various kinds of sludges and slurries being handled at the facility.

There was an upside later on, however.  I wound up taking a job in a law firm where the major case was an environmental remediation dispute for work done on the Niagara River.  I was amazed that I actually understood what the engineers were saying in their depositions about dredging, sludges and slurries!

Sometimes It IS Rocket Science

Toronto MediumMy youngest daughter was going on a field trip to the Toronto Science Museum with her middle school class.  That sounded like great fun, so I (silly me) volunteered to go along as a chaperone.

I was assigned the largest group of children – fortunately all girls (supposedly easier to handle), and the teacher assured me that yes, while this was the largest group, not to worry as these were his very best, most responsible students.

On the way to Toronto on the bus, the other moms chitchatted, while I gazed out the window dreaming of how wonderful it would be once we got there.  I visualized myself, Mother-Superior-like, leading my group of girls through the museum and enchanting them with my great wisdom at each exhibit.

I’m sure you can see where this is going.

The bus got to the science museum and within 5 minutes I had lost two of my students. These young ladies simply had no idea that it was not ok to run off to the ladies’ room without telling ANYONE where they were going.  It was Science Class Field Day at a number of schools, and there were hundreds of kids milling around.

Got them back and proceeded on our tour.  Still thought I was Mother Superior.  I had even worn the brightest outfit I owned so that if my group became separated, the students would be able to spot me easily.

Not to worry.  My students had ideas of their own, which did not include following Mother Superior in an orderly, duck-and-ducklings type line.

After losing nearly all of my group in the first few exhibits, I simply grabbed my own kid and proceeded to guide HER through the exhibits.  I figured everyone else would eventually catch up – how far could they really go anyway?

Rain Forest MedBy the time we got to the tropical rainforest exhibit, my group had miraculously reconvened, but I was a total wreck.  We ran into the teacher, who took one look at my face and assured me, again, that these were his very best students, and I would have no problems with them.   (Sure, where was he during all the foregoing exhibits?)

At the end of the day, I did take some comfort from one of the other moms, who was apparently even more inexperienced at field trips than I was.  We found her sitting on the curb next to the bus, smoking a cigarette – no students anywhere near her.  She stated that she had given up after about half an hour and spent the rest of the time outside without her group – she figured they’d find their way to the bus eventually.

A part of me wanted to blast that chaperone for her inattentiveness, but another part of me had some sympathy for her.  I remember feeling somewhat guilty at one point during the day, when everyone except my own kid disappeared into one of the exhibits.

Needless to say, my youngest daughter  FORBID me from ever going on another field trip with her.  Not that I ever would have wanted to, anyway.

NEXT UP:  Part II – College  Tours.  Please stay tuned for next post.


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Images by: pennstatenews, ramsey stirling, AlkoBy, and chrislee-cm, respectively

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