There is a great amount of respect and awe that is owed to the school bus driver. How they ever manage to get kids safely to and from school while enduring the high-pitched squeals and screeches is a mystery akin to how Santa Claus gets down all those chimneys in one night; it has to be magic. I know this because I recently accompanied my daughter’s class on a field trip to the zoo and rode on a bus with over sixty kindergarteners. If I had been driving, I would have been reduced to screaming phrases like, “Why don’t we all have a quiet contest?” and “I will turn this bus around right now, mister!” But that bus driver never even flinched. Like I said, it’s magic.
There was really no indication that going on a field trip with a bunch of kindergarteners would be such a drain on my central nervous system; there should have been a warning, such as:
Hello Kindergarten Parents!
We are looking for chaperones for our field trip to the zoo. Please be advised that kindergarten field trips are known to cause one or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, bleeding from the ears, diarrhea, laughing uncontrollably at words like diarrhea, lethargy, muttering philosophical questions like, “Why me?” incessantly, a nervous twitch triggered by the sight of a school bus, and most unfortunately, the complete avoidance of any and all sexual activity for fear of further procreation. If you are interested, please obtain a background check and a prescription for the sedative of your choice before the date of the field trip.
The Kindergarten Teachers
Like a good mom, I showed up for the field trip with a smile on my face and sunscreen in my eyes. I learned that chaperone must be French for pack mule because part of my duties for the day included lugging lunches around for the four children in my group. I plan on extending my personal gratitude to the mom who sent her kid to school with two oversized Lunchables, two quarts of Gatorade, and a bottle of water. Clearly little Flynn’s mom got the zoo confused with the Sahara but I’m sure I will be able to walk upright again in due time.
I should have known it was going to be a rough day when my own daughter didn’t want to sit next to me on the bus. I had just come to terms that I would be sitting alone, when a little girl with huge blue eyes asked if she could sit with me.
“What’s your favorite book?” I asked because this was a nonstop trip to the zoo and I wasn’t getting stuck with someone with no literary taste.
“Pete the Cat,” she said with a smile that went all the way to her eyes. I smiled too because I’m a big fan of Pete myself.
“You’re good. Have a seat, kid.”
I spent the next half hour answering twenty different variations of are we there yet? and whether or not there would be dinosaurs at the zoo. But we did share a brief moment of human connectedness when we agreed that vanilla is the best flavor of ice cream and that mint chocolate chip should have never been invented.
The best part of the day was watching the most ill-behaved child I have ever seen push the perimeters of good sense while his mother did nothing to stop it. He made one continuous fart noise with his mouth for the entire thirty minute bus trip, he screamed profanity at the penguins (completely unprovoked I might add), and in a move that really supports the idea of mandatory birth control, attempted to climb into the hippo enclosure during feeding time. All while his mother alternated laughing awkwardly and texting someone pictures of her feet.
I smiled at her and said, “Well, if he can’t make it as a composer of fart music, he certainly has a future accosting animals.”
Her smile changed quickly from pride to confusion as we all boarded the bus. There’s another birthday party my daughter won’t get invited to, but that’s what I secretly refer to as a win-win situation.