Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Field tripping

This is field trip week at my kids' school, apparently, because my daughter went on hers yesterday and my son has his on Thursday. That takes care of grades 1-3, so I'm guessing grades 4 and 5 are heading out today or tomorrow. The schools must just rent those buses by the week.

It took three buses -- not sweaty old schoolbuses but sleek, air-conditioned tour buses with videos in the front and bathrooms in the back -- to transport my daughter, her third grade classmates, and all the other third- and second-grade classes to the Bronx Zoo. There are closer zoos, but I suppose if you're going to spring for the fancy buses you might as well drive them somewhere.

I tried to find out whether my daughter liked the zoo, and what she did there, but of course that sort of information is top-secret from a third-grader, and distributed on a need-to-know basis. So I resorted to specific questions: Prettiest animal? Fish. Ugliest animal? Lion. Biggest animal? Elephant. Smallest animal? Fish. Love those fish.

Her least favorite place in the zoo was the World of Darkness display. Her favorite place was the gift shop. Ahhh ... she may be adopted, but she's my daughter, alright.

When my son takes his field trip, I won't have to pump him for info, because I get to go with. As Class Mother, it is my privilege to spend two hours each way to drive with a bunch of first grade kids and my son's special-ed class to some Crayola factory the next state over. Again, there must be fun places closer by. The buses better be good.

Endless bus rides with small children aside, I do enjoy going on my son's field trips, if only to see how he interacts with the kids and the staff. There's no way to really spy effectively in the classroom, but field trips are perfect for stealthy observation. If I'm lucky, the teacher will make his aide deal with my son's behavior and I'll get to know some of the other kiddos. Otherwise, if I'm having to wrangle Behavior Boy on a day when routine is out the window and chaos reigns, I'll worry that the other grown-ups are busy observing me.

And that's scarier than the World of Darkness any day.

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