Friday 28 Oct 2016

Field Trip
Jennifer Flaten

I sent the girls off on an overnight field trip last week. The trip was a big deal, for one thing, it was overnight, and for another thing, it was expensive. How expensive, well after writing the enormous check to cover the cost of the field trip I needed to lie down for a while.

I recovered, although I have developed a twitch in my writing hand. It starts to cramp up any time one of the kids announces, “Guess what we can do?” On the one hand, I am pleased that our school district has such great enrichment activities. On the other hand, thank god school is almost over I don’t think my bank account can handle another field trip.

Recently, I signed the permission slip for the year-end trip. It is to the local water park. On the permission, slip there was a space to volunteer as a chaperone for the trip. Guess what I put? After laughing for a good long while about the fool that would say, yes. That’s right, no-in big capital letters.

Sorry but spending the day herding a bunch of soggy, hormone infested, swimsuit clad, pre-teens around a steamy hot water park is the ninth level of hell. The devil himself wouldn’t take that gig. 

Back to the overnight trip, part of the trip including stopping for snacks on the way to the destination-a mere 2.5 hours away-and stopping for lunch on the way home from the destination.

Apparently, children can’t be even remotely hungry for more than a few minutes, wouldn’t want a Donner party repeat.

Naturally, the large, huge, enormous check I wrote for the trip doesn’t include snacks or lunch. That requires pocket money. Now, when I first authorized this trip, I told the girls they would have to save some of their allowance and special occasion gift money to cover the pocket money for the trip.

Both kids agreed to this. Trip time rolls around and I ask the kids how much money they have to take on the trip. One kid, let’s call her the ant, answers that she has over $28 for the trip. The other kid, oh let’s call her the grasshopper, announces that she has $7 for the trip.

As tempting as it was to let the grasshopper see if should could buy snacks and lunch with seven dollars I didn’t. Instead, I hopped in the car and headed off to the bank because I rarely use paper money and I certainly wasn’t turning a debit-or heaven forbid a credit card-over to the grasshopper.

I handed the grasshopper $20 and told her to spend it wisely. I also told her I would expect her to bring back the majority of that money. After all, she only needed snacks and a light lunch.

Hmm, sounds good, except the lunch stop was at the mall. While I understand how desperate the teachers would be at this point in the trip to be free of the kids for a few minutes, was it really a good idea to turn 25 kids loose in the mall. Did you really expect them to buy just lunch?

Some how, the grasshopper convinced the ant to buy her lunch, thus freeing the grasshopper up to go shopping in the mall.

Upon their return, while they really didn’t have much to say about the leadership conference, they could tell me in detail, not only what they bought at each store, but what each of their friends bought. Oh, yeah and I got money back-a dollar in change.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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