I’ve had the extraordinary (ahem) pleasure of accompanying Bear’s class on two field trips this fall.  The field trips themselves were actually kind of awesome, despite somewhat iffy weather for the first one.

The bus rides themselves earned that ahem. 

Bear’s in a combination class of fourth and fifth graders, a setup that’s working out really well for us this year.  She’s been exposed to things she might not otherwise learn if Bear was only with fourth graders, and I mean that in a good way.  Sometimes she’ll spout some tidbit of knowledge and I’ll ask where she picked that up before remembering: little pitchers have big ears.

When these two field trips rolled around I agreed to supervise the fourth graders so Bear’s teacher could stay behind and continue lessons with her fifth graders.  (That’s just one of the many reasons I love Bear’s teacher this year – she knew splitting her fifth graders between the other rooms for the day would mean busywork for them.  Gotta love a teacher who cares about instructional time.)  

I’ve chaperoned field trips before, but always by meeting the kids at their destination. Escorting the class would entail accompanying them on the bus.  That big, yellow, tank of a bus.

The October field trip brought back a slew of memories.  Boarding a school bus again after 35 years was like traveling back to my own days of backpacks, lunch boxes, and student politics. Good times.

Tall back seats, stiff with no padding, trapped dozens of small(ish) bodies on board.  Remarkably, there’s still not a single student seatbelt in sight.  Every window was closed up tight, making the air hot and stuffy.

The noise was almost overwhelming.  Children’s voices swelled, washing up and around me as I sat behind the driver, counting the minutes until we arrived.  I can’t read or write in motion (everything makes me car sick) so I passed the time listening to the fourth grade cacophony rising up from the seats.

Ewwwwww!!!!!

Of course I live there.  Everybody should know where I live.

Say yes.  Say yes!!

Dude, it’s so close.

Where are we going?

Do you want to go on a date with Brandon?  DO YOU?!

Where are we going?!?

Step on it!  STEP ON IT!  QUICK!!

We went to the science center once, it’s the exit over –

How about Ryan?  Do you want to go on a date with Ryan?!

But where are we going?!

Suddenly a teacher appeared at my side with a decidedly pasty-looking girl in tow.  It seemed she was feeling nauseous, so they’d brought her to look out the front in an attempt to ward off any actual car sickness.

And that was the moment the adults realized there were no bags on the bus.  No containers, no shopping bags, no trash can…in other words, nothing resembling a container to catch any vomit that might abruptly spew from this child’s mouth.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one winging a prayer up right about then.

I dug a granola bar out of my purse (there went my emergency stash in case my blood sugar tanked) and gave it to her in the hope that it might settle her stomach.  We then busied ourselves opening several windows to relieve the sauna-like atmosphere.  Needless to say, the remaining twenty minutes of travel were somewhat tense.

Lucky for us, they also turned out to be vomit-free.

I love doing things like this with Bear.  My work at the school gets me my teacher fix without the teacher gig – a wonderful calling that I accept I’m not longer suited for.  I miss the kids, and the joy of teaching.  But the testing, the endless hours of planning/grading/crafting, the ever-growing state driven interference in the classroom…I’m not cut out for it.  I doubt I’d last a year in the current polical climate of education.

But I get to do things like reading groups and field trips, which works out pretty great for me.  Though I have to say I’d be okay with it if they didn’t need me to ride that big yellow bus again…