Today was the kindergarten field trip. And I think this anecdote sums up the experience quite nicely:
One little friend, who'd been having a rough morning, finally ran out the door of the nature center, across the path, past the picnic tables, headed into a field of weeds (and possibly poison ivy), and down toward the parking lot. His response to my attempts to get him to come back (first rational, then stern) was "I don't want to be near those bad boys and bad girls!"
All I could think was "you're not the only one, my friend".
*** *** *** ***
But let's start at the beginning when we were boarding the one bus that had been sent for 4 classes with 20 students in each class, two-three teachers & four parents per class. Squished to the back of the bus my co-teachers and I were trying to convince ourselves it was going to be perfectly safe to stuff the kids 4 to a seat, with us sitting on the floor.
Finally the bus driver did the math and called for back-up, which thank the Lord came quickly.
And we were off. Other than our initial panic over the bus we were off to a fairly good start. The children squealed with excitement at every truck that drove by us and couldn't take their eyes off the machinery doing roadwork along the interstate. As our drive turned into the country shouts of, "horses! horses!" filled the bus, along with a few "DEER!"
My friend, (the same one who began our story) looked at the deer and said, "yeah, I killed one once". (note- where I student-taught this was common. The boys all got rifles for the 6th Christmas. In my current suburban location, with these little city children- not so much). "yeah, I hit it a bunch of times" he went on explaining in gory detail about the deer even though I'm pretty sure he was making this all up.
Behind us I heard my co-teacher asking a child if they needed a bag and the unmistakable sounds of gagging. My deer-slayer went on with his story as I tried to zone out both the story of blood and the coughing sounds behind me as we weaved our way over the winding roads. Turning around I could see our car-sick friend with big tears rolling down his usually happy cheeks. "I hate field trips" he announced. Looking for something to distract him I told him to push on his wrists on the pressure points. (I have no idea if this works or not but it gave him something to do other than gag).
So, we arrived- one friend clutching his wrists, another curled up in the fetal position while begging for the bathroom, and the deer slayer still mumbling. Off the bus I wrapped my arm around my car-sick friend to comfort him and put my hand right on the damp sleeve of his shirt, covered with little specks of something.
"Friend, did you get sick?" I asked and he shook his head. "What's this?" "Nothing" "Can we take your top shirt off?" "NOOOOOO"
And then the very nice nature center leaders asked us to line up and quietly walk to the nature center, being very careful to stay on the sidewalk so that we wouldn't disturb the ant hills they were going to teach us about later. The first class managed to follow these directions perfectly, leaving ant hills undisturbed for the pure educational experience we'd driven out to the country for. Our class. Not so much. There was no line. It wasn't quiet. And maybe three children stayed on the sidewalk.
With the ant hills crushed and dead ants along the path I prayed they had something else to share with us on the trip. I think they did- at least, it looked like they were putting in effort to teach us other things, but I'm not sure any of us picked up on it. We were too busy leading the escaping children back to the group. They tried to play games with us- our kids ran about the room, ignoring the five adults giving directions, ignoring the rules of the game and of course only punishing the three children who actually followed directions and were trying to play the game the correct way.
Grant it, I missed a large amount of the trip following the deer slayer who attempted a jail break numerous times, once announcing he was going back to school and headed for the parking lot. Another time, when I said I was going to have to call the principal he looked at me and smiled, "You don't have a phone".
D*** I didn't.
We survived, with my sick friend clutching his wrists, one teacher with a firm grip on the deer slayer, more than a few dead ants, and me, using my very ugly Ms. Viola Swamp voice in front of a whole bunch of parents and a volunteer.
In retrospect I wonder if it was as bad as I think it was. Did they really do that? Did they really run away from us and ignore directions? Or did I make it worse in my head? Was I imagining things?
We're in the midst of our state testing as well as our county assessments. Our schedules will be upside down for the next few weeks and teaching is out the window while we give test after test. The tension is high, especially for a school that didn't make AYP last year (we missed it by 2%). Perhaps it's my own anxiety that's rubbing off on the children. Perhaps I'm making it worse.
I'm considering taking a page out of the deer slayer's book and just staying as far away from those kids as I can tomorrow. Really, I think he was the only smart one there.