I signed up to be a chaperone for my daughter’s zoo trip.
I thought, well, I don’t have any tiny kids at home anymore so why not? I didn’t really think about it as I signed my name.
Then I was like, “Wait. My daughter is in KINDERGARTEN. Could I really be around 5 and 6 year olds for hours first thing in the morning?”
But by then I couldn’t change my mind because I had already promised Natalie that I would be there.
Look, some parents LOVE to volunteer for school stuff. I do not. I’ll send in snacks and whatever they need but I am just not 100% comfortable to actually go in and DO stuff. I will do classroom stuff. But going in and helping with, say state testing? No. This is because I can be…well, look, I’m a yeller. And I understand that yelling is frowned upon in schools. So if I came across a belligerent child, it wouldn’t go well. Some parents are great at volunteering. And some parents are like me.
Anyway, we got a paper explaining what our chaperoning duties would be. I almost spit out my Diet Coke when I saw that we’d be responsible for FIVE kids. At the very crowded zoo. FIVE. So that would mean Natalie and…FOUR kids I didn’t know? FOUR kids I wasn’t allowed to yell at?
The paper also stated that we could go off on our own with the group. I’ve only been to the zoo once. I can’t read maps. I was worried I’d get us lost.
This is how I thought chaperoning would go:
--I’d be given the four loudest kids in the class.
--I’d be given four of the kids who had to pee every 5 minutes.
--I’d tell them to call me Amber and then be like, “Crap, most parents want kids to call adults Miss Amber. Or, blah, ma’am.” Then the kids would point out that I said crap. One of the kids would tell me I owed him 25 cents for swearing.
--I’d tell the group that we’d go see the bears. I’d wind up in front of the flamingos. I’d realize that I lost one of the kids. I’d yell crap and I’d be told that I owed another 25 cents. I’d find the missing kid crying with another parent who would shake their head at me and hiss that I needed to keep a better eye on everyone. “Sorry!” I’d yelp. “I’m not a Duggar. I don’t have older kids to watch the younger ones. It’s just ME!”
--I’d PROMISE that we’d wind up in front of the bears next time. I’d look at the map, think I was going the right way….and wind up in front of the monkeys. “Crap, these aren’t bears!” I would hand over 25 cents without a word and promise to watch my mouth.
--I’d give up on the bears and pretend that I meant to show them the monkeys all along. Another kid would go missing. He would be found in the bathrooms because he “really had to go and I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy getting us lost.”
--I’d announce that it was lunchtime—that was another chaperone duty—getting everyone their lunch. I’d crack open a can of Diet Coke and immediately be informed that soda was bad for you. “So are Lunchables, according to the health nut moms,” I’d respond, nodding towards the meal that mostly everyone was about to consume.
--I’d snap at a kid to stop shouting for no reason. “You’re boring. This is how I’m having fun,” she’d tell me. The sad part of this would be that it would be my own kid who would say this.
--I’d somehow get us all lost in the corner of the zoo that no one knows about. “Crap,” I’d shout. “At this rate, I’ll be able to buy the new GI Joe I want,” the kid who I keep handing over coins to will say cheerfully.
--I’d eventually get us back to the buses—an hour late, because I had to find our way out of the corner of the zoo that no one knows about. All the kids would be crying—well, all of them except for the kid who now has approximately $20 of my money thanks to my mouth.
I’m proud to say that it didn’t happen.
I found parents who KNEW where they were going. We did have a large group—8—but we managed.
My legs were killing me at the end and I worried I’d lose the kid I was in charge of—thankfully in Natalie’s class there were enough parent volunteers so the chaperones were only in charge of 1 other child. (In other classes, parents still had to watch 5. Gulp)—but I didn’t lose anyone.
I’m glad I was able to go. At one point Natalie hugged me and went, “I’m glad my Mommy is here!”
And that folks, is why I signed my name as a chaperone.