The joy of field trips…

Retrieved from Johnston’s Schools website

I came home tonight after watching a killer last set in my daughter’s volleyball game (please do not ask a whole lot of questions about the first four sets, ‘cause that score was kind of private) to which I heard the following anguished cry from Youngest not even five minutes after lighting the home fires:

“Mooooooooommmmmm….(heave, heave, sob, sob)…..I just….(sobbing) burned down my house on Minecraft…accidentally. And it was my favoritest house ever. And I just had made it…..(sobbing).”

It’s interesting how these funny little things follow me around- just begging for me to write about them. We were at the dentist today about a permanent tooth that Daughter had broken two weekends ago on a Saturday afternoon. How do you tell the inquiring dentist that your child broke said tooth playing “Abduct the Baby” with her little sister? It’s just not the normal excuse. And just for the record, the dentist did ask. (I was very vague). I mentioned this all to a friend at the store and she said that her child had also had a similar catastrophe, only to another part of the body while straddling the black bin in their driveway, singing at the top of her lungs.

I could just totally relate- neither one of us thought either occurrence was less than normal. But I guess the average person does not live this way.

So what this story is REALLY about is our school field trip today. Wow, just wow. Where do I begin…? For the record, the above stories were just my warm-up.

How does one frame a blog article about a field trip adventure in which a bus full of three kindergarten classes of children ages 4-5 is pulled off the road for an hour and a half because its crisis exits are screaming “Emergency! Emergency!” in a language all their own? How do you even start discussing bathroom issues? Or temporary bushes with prickles that can serve as the restroom when all else fails? Thank goodness for Kleenex.

All I have to say is this: to those passer-bys that saw a woman jumping up and down, touching her derriere, rubbing her belly and then doing scissors jumps/jumping jacks, you try entertaining 35 youngsters for an hour and a half on the side of the road. I dare you. It’s a game called Simon Says and kids love it. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Okay, seriously. I am just so thankful for the neighbors who saw me (obscurely, I swear) hiding in the bush with one Little Person and then kindly offered their “facilities” to the rest of the kiddos on the bus. Thank you. Words cannot express… I am sure I looked like a wild woman because at the time I was also trying to protect said child from the dog that kept barking at us from across the road. I was sincerely concerned for everyone’s safety, not the least of which was my own.

Back to the woman across the road. She was simply the best. And what she did was humbling, it was simply just too kind. (Now that I think about it, were we doing them a favor by removing ourselves from the bushes on the sides of their road?) At any rate, that woman deserves a Good Neighbor/Good Citizen award- she was amazing. Simply above and beyond amazing. She turned her television on, offered us her washroom (which we paraded in steadily for the better part of an hour, boots, dirt and all) along with water to drink from her kitchen faucet. And she trusted us enough that she left and drove off with all of us still on her lawn. I mean, really: where but the country would this ever happen. We then continued to enjoy the property, playing numerous games of Duck, Duck Goose and the afore-mentioned Simon Says until the Department of Transportation showed up in all their glory after having got lost a time or two on the back-roads of P.E.I. and generously fixed the bus

It was a time. A TIME I say. I sure had fun.

Needless to say, I had planned a full slate of activities for the day. I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. I had invited a professional chef to come into the school and bake apple pies with each of my students as a surprise for their parents. Boo hoo, ’cause that unfortunately never happened. But then again: the apples were not ‘all there’, shall we say, by the end of the day anyway (became the snack); even if they had been, cooking pies in a half of an hour would have been even an absolute miracle even for her and she’s one of the most amazing chefs I know.

So, it’s been a slice. A slice of every kind of apple I know, including Honeycrisp (which the bus driver ended up finding and picking for me after I had run all over the orchard looking for them during my five minute break (or I could call it my ‘break your neck’ as that’s my kind of luck), I spent my time aimlessly running around the orchard only to find these beauties were growing in the row marked “Jona Gold”. So that’s how they keep ’em a secret. Who knew.

Can’t wait for the next field trip.

Joy and Sorrow…on graduating from elementary school

As I pen words, it is a dreary, soaking-wet, rain-drenched evening outside my sitting room window.  We are all drying ourselves out after a torrential down-pour just moments ago, occurring just as we made a run for it from the van to the front steps.  This onslaught also occurring after we all had walked through a puddle-slick school parking lot to leave for home,  following the Grade 6 closing ceremonies, as that is where we celebrated seven years of completed elementary school education.  Our son is amongst the celebrants.

It is hard to put words to paper how one feels on such occasion, as I am sure there are as many emotions as there are mothers and fathers to feel them.  I am feeling mixed emotions at present- happiness mixed with a tinge of sadness.  Son is gone to a celebration at his friend’s house next door, a party at which I had volunteered to chaperone.

Apparently, he does not really want his mother there tonight. Not a real surprise, but I was a bit hurt about it all just the same.  This must be what coming of age feels like for a mother: sadness mixed up with hurt and bruised feelings with an ample dose of pride and love shown for my son’s achievements and new-found independence.  It is time for the mother duck to pull back and let her baby duck learn to fly.

I often wonder what is the secret to fostering character building and positive energy in one’s children so that they turn out to be those kinds of people that others call high achievers.  Young men and woman of excellence.  For we all want this for our children, but how is it that some children have those keys to unlocking the doors to success early on while others are always eluded by it?

I see in my son new behaviours and characteristics, things that make my stomach turn a little.  He is not as polite as I would like him to be, not as kind, patient or gentle.  And yet, do I point out these glaring omissions in his character or leave things alone?  I am not sure what course of action to follow.  It is hard when you mix the latter in with high expectations of a big night like tonight.  I have come up a bit disappointed with his lack of respect shown toward me this evening- his aloofness and sarcasm.

My son.  So much like his mother.  We are both quick to react, we have short fuses.  We are not naturally empathic.  For me, it has been a learned skill.  We are impatient with others, he is increasingly so.  We both are reclusive and introverted by nature.  We are neither gentle nor caring and nurturing in the way some people are born to be, naturally concerned for others.

But that is not to say that these character traits cannot be present, for I believe they can be.  In my own life, I have watched carefully the ways in which people respond to one another, the ways in which caring people show love and concern for each other.  I have tried to apply those same principles to my own life so that I, one who is not naturally inclined to be NICE, can indeed be a nice person in spite of myself.

And so too, can my son.  He has all the abilities.  He must choose for himself what course in life he wishes to take: a life of treating others with kindness and respect, particularly as it concerns those people in his closest circle of friends and family.   Or not to do so, and fail to understand the richness of a life well lived.  At present, he lacks the maturity to see that choosing the latter will burn many bridges for him, and may have already done so even in the present.  It is unfortunate to watch your child make mistakes when you know the way they should go.  We cannot live another’s life- even if that ‘other’ is our own flesh and blood.

And so.  I go anyway-  to the party.

I have made a promise to help chaperone, and chaperone I will.  I arrive, and I give my son a wide berth.  I try not to make eye contact, to not go in the same areas as him.  All the while, I notice the little things:  my friend’s son with his arm slung across her shoulder, the easy banter I have with Son’s classmates and friends, the gentle conversation between me and a sweet girl named J. that will also be moving on to Grade 7.  I notice that Son is avoiding me.  It hurts, for a time.  But, then I realize that this is his problem, not mine.  It is his issue, not mine.  And, I carry on- thankful that I can be a part of this evening that celebrates the life of my child and his classmates.

And by the end of the evening, I think Son realizes something too- his Mom is not as embarrassing as he thought.  In fact, now that everyone else is talking to me, he actually comes up to me at a point in the evening and asks me a question.  I could have been knocked over flat with a feather.

Which just goes to show that strange things do happen, wishes do come true and miracles are still possible.