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8 Thoughts All Field Trip Chaperones Have

Photograph by Twenty20

Here we go. The school year is in full swing and the field trip permission slips are already flying home in a flurry of primary colors. You want to do your part (read: not look like a bad mom), so you sign up for the first field trip of the year. You're psyched! You have your comfortable walking shoes, your water bottle and your cell phone set to silent. You're wearing your official school chaperone T-shirt and you are ready!

Now make a note of how many of these thoughts go through your mind over the half-day you spend traipsing after your kid and 40 of his or her closest friends:

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1. "How can they be so loud? No, seriously, how?"

Yes, of course you know your kid can be loud. You live with that noise every day. Then you put her with a bunch of other kids and multiply your one slightly noisy child several times over. Suddenly, you're convinced they can hear you in the next town.

2. "Buses smell just like they did when I was a kid."

Two words: mouth breathing. It's the only way to survive.

They can discover liquid water on Mars, but they cannot figure out how to get that sweaty, moldy, vaguely vomit-y smell out of a school bus. Two words: mouth breathing. It's the only way to survive.

3. "This is it, right? I do this field trip and I won't have to do anything else for the rest of the year. RIGHT?"

By the third hour of a school field trip, you are so convinced of your own martyrdom that you will growl at anyone who asks you what you're bringing to next week's bake sale.

4. "Why is my kid the only one who can't stand quietly in a line?"

You cringe, you squirm, you resist the urge to go put your hands on your kid's shoulders and hold him in place. You have failed as a parent. Just kidding. It's completely normal. You're paying more attention to your own kid, of course, so you're missing all of the transgressions of the other little darlings. At least for the moment.

5. "I just realized: I don't like kids."

This mid-afternoon epiphany is likely to come after you've been standing in a long line at the water fountain, with the sun beating down on your bare head (you let your daughter borrow your floppy fisherman's hat because her head was hot), and the kid in front of you, who is not your kid, just puked on your shoes. The feeling will pass and you will feel warm and fuzzy about children again one day soon. Probably. In the meantime, you might want to use your bottle of water to rinse off your shoes. You stink.

6. "Why do the other chaperones look so put-together and I feel like a smelly wet rag that needs to be rung out?"

You started out the day looking and smelling daisy fresh. What happened? Kids happened. Those other moms don't look or smell better and they are hating life just as much as you are, but you can't tell that because the scent of vomit is wafting up from your Sperrys and there is sweat dripping in your eyes because you gave your kid your hat and she dropped it in the retention pond.

7. "This is boring."

Maybe it's because you already know the difference between a mammal and a reptile, or simply because educational field trips are not all that exciting, but you're going to discover what your 6-year-old already knows. With the exception of goofing off with friends, eating lunch on a picnic table and puking on a chaperone's shoes, field trips are pretty dull. If you don't have a mom friend on this trip to commiserate with, this will be the point you pull out your phone and stealthily text your husband or bestie, "Save me!!"

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8. "OK so that wasn't so bad. It was fun, even."

This last thought will come to you after you tuck your little one to bed and are told what an awesome mom you are. You'll then hobble off to soak your blisters in a lukewarm bath while sipping your third glass of wine. You'll reflect on this mother-child bonding experience and how you needed new shoes anyway. It's called denial. Embrace it, because the next field trip form is coming home tomorrow.

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