Kids these days

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squirrelI’m either brave or . . .

I recently volunteered as a parental chaperone for The Kid’s field trip to a local farm. This is the second time I have done this, so apparently I did not how remember exhausting these things can be. Who am I exactly? The Kid is in grade 2 and there are just eight other student in the class. This is no normal class though; these students are “gifted.” This is also known as “too damn smart for their own good.” Or too smart for me, perhaps.

When taking a school bus as a kid the ride is a carnival. As an adult riding a school bus is an uncomfortable bone-shaking hell ride where every bump might as well be Mt. Everest on a bad day. Hitting a small crack in the road sent me bouncing off the seat like a superball off the pavement.

 

Once at the farm, the students looked at a bunch of goats and turkeys and chickens and admired the (bad descriptive writing alert) quiet serenity of soaring turkey vultures gliding gently overhead. The wagon ride was nice.

They took a tour through the fields, learned about growing pumpkins, apples, grapes, raspberries, corn and sunflowers. The lesson included a pleasant discussion about the sex lives of flowers, with discussion of “things that stick out” and “things that don’t stick out.” This new Ontario sex ed curriculum has no place in the classroom  because it takes place in the serene fields of Ontario. Damn, what an education system. I had no idea.

The kids were mostly well  behaved but there is always that one. You know what I am talking about, right? During feeding time at the trough the kids dive into their lunches like a panther going after an injured feral pig. My lunch included a Fibre 1 bar, because, you know, I take my fibre intake very seriously. So I start unwrapping the delicious chocolaty goodness and this kid looks over and says, “That didn’t come from a peanut-free facility.” I look at the packaging and sure enough it says so right on the wrapper! I’ll be damned.

In response, I wanted to say, “Shut your trap there, Poindexter,” but I am supposed to be a positive parental role model when really I wanted to put that four eyes in his place! This boy doesn’t wear glasses, but like Ryan Bingham in ‘Up in the Air’ it’s easier to stereotype and it works better for this story. Instead of being all rude and stuff, I got all passive aggressive, shrugged my shoulders, and said, “We’re sitting under a walnut tree, so if you have a peanut allergy you’re about to blow up like Violet Beauregarde in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ and proceeded to stuff that Fibre 1 bar down my pie hole.

Field trips sure are fun. When is the next one?

Who am I exactly?

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school bus

Here’s a story:

Last week I had the brilliant, or misguided, thought to offer my volunteer services to The Kid’s field trip to learn about nature and animals in the local area. We’re not talking about bears and lemurs or capybaras; we’re talking about birds and rabbits and raptors. Not the dinosaurs, no (!), rather the eagle-type bird, though a couple dinosaurs on the field trip would be cool. A field trip with dinosaurs…sign me up! Even better if those dinosaurs escape from the enclosures and go on a rampage eating lawyers cowering in the outhouse. That is field trip gold.

When I mentioned to a friend about proactively offering up my volunteer time to school to make some sort of difference to the community or something, she had this to say: “Don’t you think a field trip with a bunch of stranger’s kids would be the most annoying day ever lived?”

And she makes a valid argument. In case it’s not clear, I hate people. The annoyance and suckage factor is usually high and rarely is there an interaction with people that leaves me happy and encouraged by the experience. And children can be a proverbial hot mess. I have one, so I know. They smell, they talk back, they ignore and they are loud. And it’s true that parents only like their only children, and maybe not even that at all times. With that in mind I still decided to sign up for the trip.

Because we live in a predatory world it is necessary and appropriate to get a police check to prove that volunteers don’t have a criminal record, and something called a ‘vulnerable sector check’ to allow volunteers to be around children. I don’t mind children generally, until they start acting like little bratty shits and start talking loudly. Then it’s open season on my wrath.

So I go to the police station, hand over my $25, fill out some papers and sit back for the cops to find out that i have the most sparkling-clean record of anyone this side of Little House on the Prairie. Speaking of LHOTP, I hear a new movie about the Ingalls is in the works. Kind of a low-key and muted show to produce in an era where a movie needs 12.37 explosions per hour or Amy Schumer just to get noticed. I tell you this though. If Michael Landon isn’t in it I’m not fucking watching. I don’t care if he’s dead or been touched by an angel. Figure it out, Hollywood.

So back to the police check. A couple days later I get an email from the cops saying they can’t complete the process unless I come in to black up my hands (Thanks, Snow) with a fingerprinting. It seems there is some creepy perv in Canada that has either a similar name or birth date and fingerprints are necessary to prove I’m not a child molester. That privilege costs me an additional $25 unless I get a letter from the school telling the cops that I am getting the police check to volunteer, in which case the fee is waived. Well I still had not come to my senses and decided not to help out with the field trip and requested the letter. It didn’t instill me with a lot of confidence when the school secretary tell me that this situation had never happened before. That’s great, eh. This is the one time when you don’t want to be a trendsetter. Just my luck that I am leading the way in the child-molester-field trip volunteer race.

While I am clearly not this pervy person it’s still unnerving and I can’t stop thinking all Manitowoc, WI Sheriff’s Department. What if there is a clerical error and I end up in jail? I’m too dainty for prison.

The end result is I don’t get to go on this field trip. But before you get upset at my luck, I have another chance in May to be subjected to a busload of six and seven year old well-behaved darlings. I can’t let go the opportunity to leave this kids lost, cold and shivering in the woods so they be attacked by a bear. Or a raptor.