The last time I remember riding a yellow school bus was coming home from a fraternity party in college. Fifteen or so years ago. Me, hazy and giggly, wearing a skimpy fake fur dress my date had made for me; feet muddy from dancing barefoot; hair wet and curling from beer rain; trying to shake from my memory the dirty-dirty song the girls had been instructed to memorize while pre-partying together before the guys arrived. (Thanks, men of DU. I still know all the words). And, of course, my date, who had turned the dance floor into a slip-n-slide an hour earlier and was still wearing his Viking helmet, probably passing out on my shoulder. Aside: Hard to tell from this story, but that guy was—and is—so great. One of my faves.
Today I rode a yellow school bus again. Aaaand, it was a bit different. This was my date, and I was chaperoning his class field trip:
Incidentally, it’d been even longer since I’d been on a field trip. I was excited. We went to the Chicago History Museum and I had five kids in my stead. We called ourselves Team Awesome. Some highlights:
-Riding on the bus next to Charlie, both of us radiating joy that we were having this experience together. We sat so, so close and smiled the whole way there. We had some fun conversations, and then we didn’t…
Him: What else do you want to talk about, Mommy?”
Me: I don’t really feel the need to talk. I’m just enjoying being with you right now.
Him: (smiling) Me, too, Mommy.
-Six children clobbering me with hugs at once. I almost fell over. So much love. My heart smiled.
-One of my best girls shared her peanut butter sandwich with me.
-I noticed one of the kids in my group had been in the bathroom a long time. When I went in to check on her, I found her dabbing her soaking wet hair with a paper towel. “I like having wet hair,” she told me. “It’s easier to comb and it looks so pretty.”
-A couple other moms were as excited as I was to be on the field trip, so we took a selfie.
-When faced with a giant, empty ballroom, some kids will dance and other kids will race. Both groups will be loud and probably get yelled at by a docent or security guard. I lost all control over them after about 1.5 hours.
-Charlie surprised me by staying close to me, listening exceptionally well and keeping his hands to himself almost all day. Until the fiddle music started and he kicked his buddy’s shin doing an exuberant jig.
-In the sensory room of the museum, there’s a kid-sized hot dog bun in which the kids can lie down, be the hotdog and have their friends put Chicago-style toppings on them. It’s only a matter of time before the boys spike onion pieces on their friends’ faces and the girls whack boys with the pickle spear.
It may be a while before I get to chaperone a field trip again, which is probably all right because today was every bit as exhausting as it was energizing. Ready for a long nap…much like I was after the last school-bus ride I remember.