Posts Tagged ‘school’

Herding Cats

October 9, 2015 Leave a comment

I am now the mother of two teenagers.  I can scarcely believe it myself.  It all happened so fast and now I’m keenly aware of how little time I have left to parent these people.  And by parent, I mean the daily influences and guidance, because I know the give me money and buy me things part of parenting will never, ever end.  But when I look at these two, I see this:


Not this:


Back then, I was new.  I was struggling, I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.  But I kept the faith.  I knew it would get easier.  When the baby sleeps through the night, it will get easier.  When they can bathe themselves, it will get easier.  When I can leave the house without juice cups and pull ups, it will get easier.  Sooner or later, I will catch on to this mom thing and it will get easier.

Well, all things in perspective.  It is easier in that I don’t have to lean over a bathtub and wash little people’s hair.  If I don’t feel like cooking, they are old enough to feed themselves.  I did catch on to the mom thing, at least a little.  I know what to do about teething.  I can handle nightmares, loose teeth and learning how to read.  The problem is that I don’t need to know any of those things anymore.  Parenting is chasing a moving target.  As soon as I get a handle on a thing, I don’t need that thing anymore.  And bonus points for me for having a two children who have not one thing in common and have required a completely different mommy skill set since the day my sweet girl laid eyes on her fresh baby brother and then refused to so much as look at me, so great was the betrayal.

So, teenagers.  We have passed that stage of me telling them what to do and how to live.  (I do ask that no one ever share that with my daughter, who is well-known for demanding that I stop telling her how to live her life.  The only reasonable response to that is, “That’s literally my job.”)  The way I see it, the foundation has already been laid.  Now it’s my job to guide rather than to issue orders.  Please don’t misunderstand, I will not hesitate to issue orders should it become necessary,  It’s just that at the ages they are now, specifically my daughter, who is a mere two years away from leaving my home and going out into the world by herself, they should be, and need to be, capable of making responsible decisions for themselves.  This requires me to relinquish a certain amount of control.  That is not in my wheelhouse.  This is hard.

My son lacks a certain amount of self motivation.  He will do what is asked of him, and do it well, but he’s not putting anything extra out there.  Example.  He recently finished a research paper and got an outstanding grade on it.  Then, each student was asked to do an oral presentation on that paper.  It could be as simple as reading the paper or as elaborate and creative as they desired.  But, here’s the rub.  It’s not graded.  Little guy (sorry, I know he’s not little anymore, but he has always been, and shall always remain, my little guy) decided to just read the paper.  Because it’s not graded.  I recommended that he put forth a little effort.  He resisted.  I backed off.  After all, there’s no grade.  However, I heartily disapproved and I had a long talk about forming habits and striving for excellence and how an average effort produces an average life.  And he still declined to put forth more effort.  And I backed off.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt me to do that.  Every fiber of me wanted to force that boy to sit down and get to work.  But I’m not always going to be there to push him that extra step.  He has to be capable of making that decision for himself.  He has to choose to be exceptional.   I walked away from that conversation pretty confident that my feelings on the topic had fallen on deaf ears, but hey, I’m nothing if not persistent.  I can voice my opinions as many times as necessary.

That being the case, I could not have been more shocked and proud the next day when he reported to me that not only had he decided to do a PowerPoint for his presentation, but also while he was at school that day he had taken tests in five subjects, then completed twenty-five extra pages of math work.  Now, THAT is what I call striving for excellence.  He was listening, after all.  And he made a smart and responsible decision.  Most importantly, he did what I wanted him to do and if there’s a greater accomplishment for a mom, I just don’t know what it is.

Look, I’m bossy.  That’s a great quality when the kids are little.  It’s much harder now that I have to parent with restraint and subtlety.  But I might be starting to get a handle on it.  In the next couple years, I might even become an expert at it.  Just in time for them to go to college and need a whole new kind of mom.



The School Food Holy Grail (and how I got it)

August 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Hubs and I went to elementary school together.  Cute, right?  Don’t start thinking we were all that cute.  He sat in front of me in the fourth grade and we didn’t like each other at all.  As a matter of fact, even through high school we didn’t really associate with each other, except in a casual kind of “Hey, I know that guy” way.  Who would have thought we’d end up married for a gazillion years, am I right?

But I’m quickly wandering away from my point.  Back to elementary school.  Our cafeteria food was bangin’ at that school.  We have many fond memories and we often replicate it and subject our children to stories of how good that food was.  Which, when you think of it, is pretty mean considering that neither of them have had experience of school food that is much beyond edible, let alone tasty enough to still talk about all these many years later.  (I’m not doing the math.  It’s a lot of years and let’s just leave it at that, shall we?)

There has always been one item out of our grasp, though.  Fried veggie sticks.  Does anyone know what I’m talking about, here?  They look like mozzarella sticks, but the filling is mixed vegetables.  I know, I know, it sounds gross.  These suckers are so much tastier than they have any business being, though.  They are the ultimate of nostalgia food.  Guess what else they are?  Freaking impossible to buy.  Anywhere.  Ever.


We have been searching for these for years.  They are still made, but apparently only for food service companies.  I, for one, have never, in my adult life, encountered these at any eating establishment.  My kids have never heard of them, let alone been served veggie sticks at school.  Who’s getting these?  Where are they going?  More importantly, how do I get some???  I have done everything I can figure to try to make them at home, but it’s not working out for me.  I did discover that you can make a yummy little treat if you add mixed vegetables to hush puppy batter.  I’ve also added broccoli and shredded cheddar to hush puppy batter with great success.  But, alas, it’s not the same.

So, after all these years, I’ve kind of given up on them.  And they were certainly not in the forefront of my mind as I was making my grocery list yesterday.  But my husband asked for steak.  He almost never asks for steak, even though it’s one of his most favorite foods.  And I really, really hate to buy steak.  It’s tasty, sure, but it is not as good as the price tag would suggest.  And my grocery store has no steak on special this week.  You guys know I don’t really pay full price for anything, right?  I would ordinarily demand politely suggest that we have steak another week when it’s on sale.  However, Hubs has been working hard lately.  I mean, like, no less than sixty hours a week in the past three weeks, and usually more.  Who am I to deny him a nice fat ribeye?

So, I got this idea to try another store.  We have a funny little store in town that is like a miniature Costco combined with a local butcher and farm stand.  They have fresh meats, local produce and seven pound tubs of animal crackers.  You just never know what you’re going to find in there.  Honestly, I rarely go there, because I’m more of a one-stop shop girl, but I knew I’d find some nice steaks there, and probably for a fraction of the price.  Also, summer’s almost over and I haven’t even eaten a local cantaloupe yet and, well, our local cantaloupe is kind of a big deal.

So, I stopped at the store on my way home from work.  I threw a couple cantaloupes in the basket, selected some very nice steaks, and had an idea.  I know this store has a huge selection of giant food service size bags of frozen foods.  What if…..just what if….

Bam.  There they were just sitting on a shelf like I haven’t been searching for them for the better part of twenty years.  I snatched them up, then actually looked all around me, as if there was a veggie stick mob threatening to take them from me.  I could barely contain my glee.  To say nothing of the accolades I was sure to receive from Hubs.

So when he got home, I did my usual song and dance about who’s the best wife ever?  And what could I do to be even better?  Nothing?  Wrong!  I did this!


He could not have been more stunned if I’d told me I was pregnant again.  That’s a lie.  But it was close.  I, friends, have forever cemented my place in his heart as the finest woman in all the world.



You may be wondering if they were as good as we remembered.  I was wondering the same thing, and, frankly, I expected them to be disgusting.  They were NOT.  They were actually not only as good as we remember, but better.  You see, we dipped them in Ranch.  Ranch dressing was not really around when we were in elementary school.  And now that I’ve dated myself horribly, I’m signing off.  Peace. 🙂

School’s Out ForEVAHHHHHH

June 2, 2013 4 comments

Okay, not really forever.  School is out for summer break, though.  Technically Friday was the last day of school, but since I stopped caring about anything school related on the day the last test was taken, I didn’t make them go on the last day.  I figure, if the teachers tell them not to come, they who am I to be concerned about attendance.

Our day-to-day routine during summer break is not really that different from the school year, though.  Since I did not have the foresight to get a job that provides a summer break of any kind, I still get up every morning and go to work.  Since I believe in sharing the beauty of the pre-dawn start of a new day, I continue to wake my children at the same time as a school day.  Cruel, I know.  (I’m not snickering about this at all, I assure you.)  I go to work, they go spend the day somewhere, I pick them up after work, then we do it all again the next day.  Pretty standard stuff.

via (kittens are cute)

via (kittens are cute)

However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that summer break does provide some relief.  For the kids, sure, but I’m talking about me, here.  Here are some of the dreadful and terrible things that I will not have to do for three glorious months.

  • Homework.  Don’t act like I don’t have to do homework.  I have to help with homework, I have to check homework, I have to sign homework and everysingledamnday I have to remind the children to do their homework.  So.  No homework.  That’s a big load off, since I had long believed that I was done with homework, you know, when I stopped going to school.
  • Remember things.  Look, I have enough on my mind without having to remember who needs a poster board, when the science project is due and when I’m supposed to send money for a field trip.  Since my children barely remember to put on shoes each morning, they rely on me far too much to remember these things.  And while I realize that forgetting to pay for the field trip would spare me a morning of getting up at 4am to take a kid on a field trip, I’m not quite that far gone yet.  Give me a couple more years.
  • Hear the latest school horror stories.  The stuff my kids tell me about school terrify me.  The things middle schoolers are getting up to during school hours far surpasses anything I ever did, let alone before I hit my teens.  I don’t want to know about eighth grade mothers, I don’t want to hear about drinking at school, I don’t want to hear about fights where shoes get thrown… okay, I do want to hear that last one, because it is a pretty entertaining story.  The other stuff, though, nah.  It’s enough that I have to know that it happens, it’s too much for my brain to process to hear my own baby telling me about it.
  • Worry about my reputation.  Okay, this is not something that I ever do too terribly much, especially since I seem to specialize in making enemies at the schools.  However, I do need to worry about the things I say being repeated.  I have the dangerous combination of a lack of brain-to-mouth filter and a child with no discretion whatsoever.  Things get repeated.  Often.  And they are nearly always the things I should never have said out loud in the first place.
  • Buy mechanical pencils.  I’m going to tell you, I am so damn sick and tired of mechanical pencils that I could cry.  Literally.  My son apparently not ever realized that these are not one-time-use disposable instruments and field strips the little suckers as soon as they run out of lead.  Therefore, I buy mechanical pencils like it’s my job.  I don’t buy them while I’m at the store, though, oh no.  I buy them at 9:30 on a Wednesday night when someone realizes that we have NOT ONE PENCIL IN THE HOUSE.  I once sent my kid to school with a stubby pencil that I found in my car left over from mini-golf.  Don’t judge.

So, we may still get up early and go places and do nothing terribly special in our daily routine, I still breathe a massive sigh of relief when I lay my hands on those final report cards.  And I swear, next year, we will do better.  We will stockpile pencils and supplies.  We will have mandatory homework time in a designated homework place.  I will have thought-provoking conversations about the troubles of today’s youth.  I will not swear when I talk about school policies.  I will have a family calendar noting all important dates.

I won’t do any of those things, though.  And I just have three short months to try to stockpile enough sanity to get me through another school year.  I don’t like my odds.

I Am Dying of Standardized Testing

May 20, 2013 2 comments

I bitch a lot about our school system.  I’m aware of this unattractive trait, but I’ve just decided to just go with it.  My latest gripe?  SOLs.

If you’re unaware, SOL stands for Standards of Learning, and also Shit Outta Luck, meaning that toward the end of the school year, you are shit outta luck if you were planning a life that includes fun, relaxation, low levels of stress or anything outside of studying massive study guides that may or may not cover the information on the test.  These tests are a much a measure of the quality of education in the school as the students’ ability.  Big Brother gathers these test scores to determine if the student is promoted to the next grade, and also determines if the school is doing well enough to, I don’t know, receive government funds, keep their teachers employed or avoid a governmental finger-shaking.  I’m actually not 100% clear on the consequences of low test scores, but I do know that most of my children’s teachers are freaking the hell out about it.



Here’s what I’ve got.  I have one child who has a brain like a computer, does not forget information (ever.  literally. ask him sometime about oceanic upwelling.), and takes a standardized test like a boss.  This one is also pretty high-strung and tends to shut down in high stress circumstances.  I have another child who is equally as brilliant, but does not test well and tends to forget everything she has ever learned in her entire life when someone puts a Scantron sheet in front of her.  When in a high stress situation, she starts throwing up and gets migraines.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going here.  I get that these tests are important.  I am willing to sacrifice my free time in the evenings to review all this mind-numbing information with these children.  I will make sure they get plenty of sleep and a good breakfast before the test.  I will find practice tests on the internet and force them to take them on Sunday afternoons, which is clearly just shy of cruel and unusual punishment, won’t someonecalltheauthoritiesplease!  My point it, I’ve got this.  I know how these kids learn and I know how they best prepare for testing.  I know that one needs all the math practice she can get in order to pass and I know the other one damn near needs medication to get through the essay-writing portion.

I also know that what neither one of them need is the incredible pressure that the schools put on these children.  There are ways, I am sure, to impress upon these kids the significance of the tests without crushing them in stress.  And I’m certain that our teachers are experienced enough and well-trained enough to understand the impact that this has on some children.  You want my kid to have a nervous breakdown?  Use the words “fail” and “test” in the same sentence, then sit back and enjoy the show.  There will be many tears and much vomit.

So, I’m okay with spending a whole night discussing 5th and 8th grade science, only to find out that virtually nothing we studied appeared on the 8th grade test.  I’m okay with signing off on my son’s math notes, ensuring that he studied.  (This was a lie, but considering that this kid has earned a perfect score on every math SOL he’s ever taken, I’m pretty sure he’s good.)  I’m good with you reminding the kids to get a good night’s sleep and I think it’s really rather touching when you give the 8th graders a juice and a snack on test day.  I am just not down with the stress-inducing lectures and I promise every teacher out there, for every scary speech you give my children about testing, they get three more at home contradicting everything you’ve said.

I’m just trying to keep the crazy to a minimum around here, you know.

Homeschooling by Accident

February 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Today my family has big plans.  Hubs and I are going to sit down with the boy and bang out a fifteen minute oral research project about the History of Video Games.  This is a research project that he was assigned no less than four months ago.  It was a topic that he chose.  In fact, I had to go to bat for him with his teacher to allow this topic, and promise to buy the research materials myself.  I did it because I thought maybe, just maybe, if he had a topic in which he has a real and true interest then maybe he would thrive.

I am a naive woman sometimes.

This kid hates research of any kind.  He has the kind of relationship with words that I have with numbers.  Simply writing a paragraph overwhelms him, because he wants it to be right, the first time.  He doesn’t get down with notes, rough drafts or rewrites.  So this often results in him staring off into the wild blue yonder while he is supposed to be doing something.  His teacher called me recently, gravely concerned about the lack of progress he has made and the looming due date of this project.  The boy is stressing all of us.

So, I thought about it, and I made a decision.  I’ll teach him how to write a paper backwards.  He has enough general knowledge of the topic (God knows he does) to know what he wants the final product to be.  So we’ll just start writing, and find the facts and figures as we go.  Sure, it takes a little longer to do it like this, but it’s zero hour.  He doesn’t like taking notes?  Neither do I, and I’m not 100% sure I ever, ever wrote a paper using notes and outlines and stuff.  There is no one “right” way to do things, as long as the end result is good.  So we’ll bang this sucker out with no notes and bring shock and awe to the classroom.

What a way to spend a day off.

What a way to spend a day off.

I find myself doing this a lot…teaching my kids.  I don’t mean to say it like it’s a bad thing, obviously parents should teach their kids.  I just mean that I didn’t expect to teach them, say, algebra.  I didn’t expect to have to teach both of my children the finer points of writing an essay.  I have taught them about multiplication, mnemonic devices and punctuation.  Frankly, I feel like what we’re doing here (gotta include Hubs, because really, I’m not teaching anyone Algebra.  Not if my life depended on it.) goes above and beyond the idea of “helping” our kids with their homework.  We’re damn near homeschooling them.

Why, why, why are we doing this?  Several possibilities come to mind.

  • My kids are weirdos and don’t learn like other kids.  Well, if this is true, then every kid is a weirdo because individuals do not all learn the same way.  I know that schools have ways of addressing this.  Also, I don’t mean to brag, but these kids are smart.  Generally you can explain something one good time and they’ve got it.  So, where’s the disconnect?
  • My kids don’t pay attention in class and prefer to use my precious free time to learn from me.  This is highly likely where one kid is concerned, but virtually impossible with the other one.  I mean, I know how they hate to see me relax and have time to myself, but I’m pretty sure there is at least some level of attentiveness in class.
  • Expectations.  One of my children, who shall remain nameless, has a healthy dose of arrogance confidence in his academic ability.  On more than one occasion, this has led to a reluctance to ask for help or even a teacher not realizing that he (or she.  But it’s he.) needs help.  I mean, once you’ve told everyone that you know everything, they’re not likely to expect you to need help with stuff.
  • It’s not them, it’s me.  This is probably the winner.  I find myself frustrated with the state of education and I worry about what will happen when my kids when they get to high school/college/real life if they don’t learn things now.  And by “learn things,” I mean learn the things that I think they should know.  This might be okay if I didn’t have impossibly high standards, but at least my kids will understand grammar better than three-quarters of the adults I know.  If it kills me, they will know everything there is to know about an apostrophe.
  • I have made enemies.  It’s true, I don’t have a reputation of being easy to get along with in the schools.  I make my opinions known, and I have a lot of opinions.  I have been known to say things in front of my children that I shouldn’t say.  (example: Your teacher is an a-hole.)  disclaimer: most teachers are definitively not a-holes, but the one in question absolutely is and it pains me that he doesn’t seem to know it.  I’m probably fostering some bad attitude here, but, you know me, just keeping it real.

Upon further review, it appears that I’ve brought this on myself.  So, why don’t we just give it up and home school the kids?  Well.  First, and most importantly, we have jobs.  Second, I have a kid who just signed up for Algebra 2 and French 2.  This is stretching my abilities.  And as much as Hubs is willing and able to teach the occasional missed Algebra lesson, I am certain he’s not up for teaching the whole entire subject.  Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you like it.  Third, isn’t this why I pay taxes?  So my kids can get a decent education?  If I’m paying for it, you damn well better believe I’m taking advantage of it.  And then I’m going to complain, start trouble and do it the way I want it done.

It’s the American way, no?

Eliminating Sick Days: A Guide

January 27, 2013 4 comments

I am something of a difficult mother.  I have high expectations of my children.  I expect them to do more than they think they can do.  I have been known to tell toddlers to “suck it up, buttercup.”  I don’t have a whole lot of softness in me.  This is not to say that I’m always harsh and demanding.  I have a couple soft spots, and I am capable of being warm and nurturing.  I just feel strongly about teaching these kids the virtues of sucking it up and getting through stuff without collapsing into a quivering heap on the sofa at the first sign of a sniffle.

Yeah, this only works on stupid parents who don't watch movies.  via

Yeah, this only works on stupid parents who don’t watch movies. via

Enter the child too sick for school.  This rarely plays in this house, especially not this year, when we have endured an entire semester of homebound school for the oldest while she battled gastroparesis.  I now have everyone back in school as normal, and, by God, they are going to GO TO SCHOOL.

Disclaimer.  My kids really are troopers and they make me proud.  Recently the only calls I’ve gotten from the school nurses have been because teachers have sent my kids there.  Please.  I don’t send fevering kids to school, I don’t send kids with strep or the flu or Ebola to school.  If they’re dealing with the cough, you can, too.  Everyone here is old enough to cover their mouth and wash their hands.  Don’t freaking call me at work for this ridiculousness.  If your fifth graders are coughing on each other, sharing drinks, or licking one another, then perhaps you have an issue bigger than my kid’s cold.

Anyway, the kids are familiar with my stance on this issue.  They have been told (jokingly?) that if they’re not bleeding from their eyes, they go to school.  I have developed the following guide for all other parents who just need their kids to man up already and go to school.  At 6:30 am, I am full of lies and trickery.  There will be people who tell you that it is wrong to lie to your children.  These are people who either do not have children, or prefer to spend their days with kind-of-sick children.  There’s no shame in my game.  I’m a mom.  I do what works.  (Don’t feel bad for the kids, either, they know I’m a liar.  They’re just not brave enough to call me out on it.)

General malaise

  • Was the kid sick last night?  No?  Then it must just be a little morning discomfort.  Once you get up and have breakfast you will be fine.  At the very latest, you will be miraculously healed by lunch time.  Just muscle through the morning and it will get better.  Certainly you’ll be fine by dinner time.
  • Was the kid up late last night?  Yes?  Oh, I know you’re tired, you have a rough night.  Once you get up and move around, you will feel better.  Would you like a Red Bull good, healthy breakfast to get you going?  Go on to school and you will be fine.
  • Are you feeling a little poopy today, too?  I know exactly how you feel, I’m not feeling well, either.  I know we can both get through the day, then we’ll have soup and rest tonight.  (Faking illness on mom’s part is acceptable for this approach.)

Sore Throat

  • Is there fever or spots?  No?  The air in the house is very dry, I bet that is making your throat hurt.  Come have some tea with $10 honey, that will help you, then you can get ready for school.  As a side note, I should mention that I bought the $10 honey for a special recipe and have since discovered that it’s a remarkable item for bribery of all sorts.  I suspect my children were honeybees in a previous incarnation.  And, I refer to it as $10 honey because that’s what the boy calls it, lest I accidentally give him “regular” honey.
  • Can the child talk?  Yes?  You just need a drink.  Come have some water and I’ll pack you something soft for lunch today with an extra juice box.

Stuffy/runny nose, cough, congestion of any kind

  • No fever?  Come have some cold medicine and a hot breakfast.  Here, you can take these cough drops and a tiny box of tissues to school today.
  • Congestion?  Would you like some Vick’s Vaporub before you go to school?  No?  Then you must be okay.  Have a good day.  (This only works if your children hate Vick’s like fire, as mine do.)


  • Sorry, parents, there’s not much you can do here.  I have, however, had some success with my daughter, since she currently vomits a minimum of a dozen times a week, on a good week.  I have been forced to send her to school puking all day.  Not nice, not pleasant, and makes me feel like a real turd, but honest to God, she’s got to go to high school next year and since her lame doctor insists she return to school, we don’t have many options.  Fortunately, she’s a good sport about it and the middle school nurse knows where I’m coming from on this.  Unlike the elementary school nurse, who chooses to make snide comments to my son about the choices that I make for my own children…but that’s neither here nor there.

No matter what the illness, the common theme is, just get through the day.  This approach is much more manipulative kinder than strong-arming them to school and it cuts down on a lot of calls from the nurse.  However, if you continue to receive calls from the nurse, I would encourage you to tell your child, “Do not call me today.  I will not come get you.”  (This is only acceptable if you are 100% sure that the kid isn’t sick.  Otherwise, you are guaranteed to get a call from the nurse reporting that your child has a fever of 118 and has contracted diptheria.  Karma’s funny like that.)  I have previously been known to have moments of weakness and let them stay home when I knew they really didn’t need to, but having a child miss an entire semester of school has hardened me a little.  I need them to go to school.  I am desperate for some kind of normalcy.  I am also desperate for children who grow up and manage to get themselves to work even if they’re feeling bad.  I want them to know how to suck it up and do what needs doing.  And if I have to get creative to accomplish this, then I’ll lie my ass off.  It’s for their own good, after all.

Five Reasons I am a Grump About Field Trips

November 12, 2012 3 comments

I just got home from dropping my son off at school.  At six freaking forty-five.  In the am.  You see, it’s field trip day.  His class is going to Monticello, the home of the illustrious Thomas Jefferson.  I got a pass on chaperoning this one, for a few reasons.  1. I have been on Monticello field trips, once as a child and once with my daughter.  There’s only so much Jefferson a person needs.  2. My son would usually rather not have me around his friends, as I am wont to do things like hug and kiss him, just to watch him squirm.  3.  I have alienated most people at his school this year, and it would just not make for a fun day.  While I do not enjoy waking a ten-year-old at 5:30, this is still one of the easiest field trips.  Even better is the knowledge that we have maybe one more year of this, then field trips will be history.  (ha. history.)

I have hated field trips for a long time, but when my children were younger, I felt obligated to go on at least some of them.  That has never made me hate them any less, either, but I don’t want to be that mom who won’t let the kid go.  We live in a part of the country rich with history and I can’t deny my kids an opportunity to see historic Jamestown, Natural Bridge or the Smithsonian.  I just don’t want to be a part of it.  In any way.  Not even in the drop off/pick up way.  Certainly not in the write the check way.  Allow me to elaborate.


  1. Some field trips are just stupid.  As I mentioned, I think historical field trips are interesting and educational.  I think a field trip to a boozeless booze cruise is a right damn waste of time and money.  Yet, that’s the field trip my kid took last year.  I went on that one and escaped early from the (docked) cruise ship with another mom in search of shopping and Starbucks.  My son was more excited about the NFL shop we found in the mall than any dumb dance party on a cruise ship.  I still have no clue whatsoever what the point of that trip was, but if I knew then what I know now, we would have saved our money and slept in that day.  I did get some fine Green Bay earrings that day, though.
  2. Other moms.  I don’t think it’s any secret that I have a hard time getting along with most people.  That’s my issue, not theirs, but it is what it is.  I am not good at small talk, I am uncomfortable around people I don’t know and there are just a lot of parents of my kids’ classmates that I just don’t care for.  The ones that I do get along with are rarely the ones going on the same field trips as I, because that’s how life treats me.  I typically end up sharing a bus with the fakey, loud, bossy moms who are planning every footstep their child will take that day and telling us all about it.  Look, I am already irritated to be here.  Can’t we just sit quietly and not pretend like we’re friends?  Because we’re not friends.  Our kids aren’t even friends.  Now, shhhhh.
  3. When I don’t chaperone…  Yes, I have trust issues.  That’s also not a secret.  I just don’t like sending my kid off alone and trusting a teacher or other parent to get him back.  Does this sound paranoid?  Maybe to you, but I had a five-year-old who wandered away from his group at the zoo, found another school’s field trip bus, and tried to ride who-knows-where with them.  This is not a child who can be trusted to stay with his group.  He gets distracted, he wanders off and he will not spend one second worrying about it, because he’s sure he’ll find a bus somewhere.  So, yes, I have some issues trusting that my kid is going to get home.  I would like to think that he’s now old enough to be a little more responsible, but one never knows.  My traditional parting words to this child on field trip day are, “For the love of God, stay with your group!”
  4. The bus.  Sometimes you have to ride the bus.  Most of the time chaperones are permitted to follow behind the bus in their own vehicles, but sometimes they’re not.  Gasp.  Riding a bus for hours with over excited children and their parents.  No, no, no, no, no.  Just hell to the no.
  5. Pickup.  Invariably, the school will provide a pickup time that is set in stone.  They lead you to believe that if you are not at school to receive your child at 4:30 on the dot, the galaxy will collapse in on itself.  Obviously I want to be there to get my kid when he returns, but the thing is that they never return on time.  Never.  Not even once have I ever seen a field trip bus roll in when it was supposed to.  I know things happen, there’s traffic, someone needs a potty break, or they have to hunt down the kid who wandered off at the zoo.  That knowledge does not temper my irritation and impatience when I’ve been sitting in my car at the school waiting for an hour and a half for the damn bus.  There is always a mom who gets a call from a teacher on the bus, at which point she will triumphantly shout, “They’re on the way, only 45 minutes away!”  Jeezy peezy.  How about I just start driving in that direction and yank my kid off the bus on the side of the road?

So, this afternoon and 4:30 on the dot, I will be sitting in my car at the elementary school, thinking of all the things I could be doing with my time.  I will likely spend the time honing my persuasive skills so I can convince my son that he doesn’t really want to go on the DC field trip next year.  We took a family trip to DC recently, during which he discovered that he dislikes museums and excessive walking, so I might have a shot.  That one is the worst.  Parents have to ride the bus, it’s a long trip with a lot of traffic, it’s really, really expensive and there’s not a chance in hell that I will send my kid to DC without me or his father to wrangle him.  Wait.  His father….  excuse me while I go formulate a plan.