Field Trip’n Part Deuce [Stay at Home Nerd]
*names, dates, and locations have been changed to protect the guilty
Click here to catch up on the first part of this field trip adventure.
“Don’t run,” I hear everyone over the age of 5 saying as the kids sprint, or toddle like a drunken duck in my son’s case, once inside. I don’t know what “don’t run” means. Is it literal, like everyone, I mean everyone except for me, thinks the kids should not run in this big park? If I were a kid I’d want to run so I let Oliver and my boy hit their stride. It’s easy to keep up with them, but we’re soon lost. I have a map. It’s useless. I’m not sure it’s to scale and I’m not sure where North is. I’m not even sure it’s a map as much as it is a picture of all the stuff we’re not going to do.
While I’m studying the map the kids split up in different directions. I can’t prove they planned it while I was distracted, but I have my suspicions that they did. My son is going downhill towards what appears to be a lake and Oliver heads uphill towards I have no idea what. This specific scenario was not covered in any training brochure or pre-game talk. It occurs to me that I could run down and pick up my son and fairly quickly turn around and go get the other kid, although then I’d be running uphill second. Maybe I should dash uphill and grab Oliver and then head downward with speed to pick up mine. I wonder if it’s appropriate to run while holding someone else’s kid. What if I fall? Time is passing I need to act.
“STOP,” I shout. They do. I don’t know why. They haven’t listened to anything else I’ve said. Maybe it was my tone. Maybe it was luck. Either way the next words out of my mouth are, “get over here”. They do. I tell them to stick together, but they’re already lifting up rocks and picking at plants. I stand around watching them for a while half wishing I found the rocks and plants as interesting as they do. Of course I can’t afford to be distracted.
Eventually we head out and meet up with a small group of moms and a tiny horde of children who may or may not know my son. They all have matching school t-shirts, but none of the kids in the new group say anything to my two tag-alongs. Unfortunately the same goes for me. I say hello and get a few polite hellos in return, but it’s obvious I’ve come upon a conversation that they don’t want to share. There’s a water fountain so I hold each kid up to drink as much water as they want and then I let them splash in the puddles and mud around the fountain. The conversation that I’m not privy to is about schools in the area.
Since my son is 3 years from starting kindergarten I’m not familiar with all the nuances of our school district and I’d actually love to hear what they have to say so I ask, “Do you all have older children in school?” Only one of the mom’s responds with a yes. The others have already decided to move on. There will be no follow up questions. Maybe I’m wearing the wrong shirt. We move on as well.
The two boys find large sticks, pick them up, and take turns swinging them somewhat wildly into each other. They don’t appear to be doing much harm and I’d just as soon they stay in the shade. The sun is out and we’re baking. That’s when it occurs to me that I didn’t bring a diaper bag. I don’t usually carry one, but this seems like a good time to have some water, some wipes, and some sunscreen. Oh well. We’re still pretty lost, but I’m confident that if we head down hill we’ll find water and we can follow the water back to where we started at least I remember reading that in a survivalist manual somewhere.
We do hit water and it’s pretty perfect for kids. They start placing leaves in the slow moving creek and I show them how they go under the little bridge and come out the other side. This provides endless fascination as they drop more and more leaves on one side of the bridge and then look at the other side. This is pretty easy I’m thinking when Oliver says, “Pee.” What the hell does that mean? Does that mean he peed? Does that mean he has to pee? We’re nowhere near a toilet. I don’t have a diaper bag, and I don’t think I’m qualified or certified to do anything in this situation other than find a teacher or assistant.
I do ask him, “Pee,” to which he says, “pee” again and I’m convinced that he hasn’t soiled himself. At least I hope so. We head downhill and it takes forever as they climb every rock and grab every branch. They may not be feeling a sense of urgency, but I certainly am. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go,” I keep chanting mostly so I feel like I’m contributing. When we finally do get back to the starting point other groups have settled in. I find a teacher’s aid and tell her that Oliver has to pee or peed. She tells me she’ll watch my son. “Watch my son while I do what?” I want to scream. But instead I just say that I don’t think I’m qualified to deal with this matter. Would some other dad or mom be in charge of changing my son’s diaper if I wasn’t there? I hope not as I vow to chaperone every one of my kid’s field trips.
Finally it’s time to eat. I head back to the car and grab my and my son’s lunch. I notice immediately that I forgot to bring us drinks. Oh, well. I also notice that our turkey and cheese sandwiches have melted under the noonday sun. There’s also a bag of warm grapes and some crackers. My son happily eats his sandwich anyway as the more prepared students are brought their lunches that were stored in coolers. Everyone seems to have a fucking Capri Sun except one kid who has coconut milk. I don’t ask. I’d like to say my son shared his grapes with the fat kid, but I’m pretty sure the fat kid was taking his grapes until I said, “stop taking his grapes.”
When the food is gone it’s time to leave. After watching parent after parent easily place multiple kids in mini-vans I know that my next car purchase will be a Mazda 5 for me or my wife. Sliding doors are simply too good to be true as I struggle to get two kids into their car seats while not dining the parked cars next to me. By the time we leave the park both kids are knocked out. The heat, the running, the splashing, the food have all done their job. I wake them up when we get back to the school and they stumble in like zombies. Once they’re safe and secure I go back and get the car seat. I drop it off and my kid is crying. Now that he’s up he doesn’t want to be there. That’s fine. I don’t want to be there either. I take him home and he takes a nap. I try to think of my first field trip, but can’t. There’s no way he’ll remember this, but I will. It was a challenge. It was stressful. It lasted forever and as I check on him napping I can’t help but think when will we do this again?
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featured image credit: circulating