Last Friday, Garrett and Landon went on their very first field trip to the pumpkin farm with their preschool class.
"Mommy, are you coming with us?" they both asked with excited anticipation.
I have to admit that, in my head, I was going back and forth....I mean, giving up a whole 3 hours of freedom is a HUGE decision.
I had important plans for that 180 minutes. Really, I did. Some of you may not think that sitting on the sofa and staring at the wall is a big deal but it requires a heavy amount of concentation and stamina. Shocking, I know.
Landon interrupted my thoughts, "Come on, Mommy. Come with us!"
Sighing with abandon, I replied, "Okay, I'll sign up as a chaperone". I couldn't shake the feeling that I had just sold my soul to the devil.
The morning of the field trip, the teacher explained to me and my fellow chaperones that she had assigned each of us 3 children to be in charge of.
ONLY 3 kids? Please...this would be a piece of cake.
Except it wasn't...because 2 of the 3 kids she assigned me were my own spawn.
I thought I detected the faint sound of laughter but no one around me was laughing.
"You mean, you want me to be responsible for my own kids?" I asked the teacher. "They'll probably listen better if they're with another parent."
She responded, "They'll be fine"...which was really just teacher code for "Shut up and put on your big girl panties. You're the parent here!"
Then she pointed at a sweet, little blonde-haired girl with black-rimmed glasses who I'll refer to as A and explained, "A will also be in your group."
Okay, how bad could this be? A seemed delightful and I felt assured that if she was a good listener then my boys would probably follow suit.
Shit, there was that faint laughter in the background again...
From the moment we boarded the bus all the way to the pumpkin farm, I made desperate attempts at getting my boy's to respect bus riding etiquette..."Sit on your bottom", "stop kicking the seat in front of you", and "don't stick your head out the window or it'll fall off".
Finally, between gritted teeth, I threatened, "Do you want me to trade you to another group? Don't tempt me because I will do it!"
Each time I looked at A, she was sitting quietly in her seat, staring at me intently. I imagined she was thanking God that I wasn't her mother. If she had any doubts, Garrett and Landon were wonderful about reminding her..."She's OUR mommy, not YOURS".
However, something strange happened to A the minute we exited the bus at the pumpkin farm. I was positive that I could see the tips of two sharp horns beginning to protrude from her scalp, very similar to the ones on Garrett and Landon's heads.
The subtle laughter which had been taunting me the entire morning became a bit more obvious. I was starting to realize it was more than my soul that the devil wanted...he also wanted to make sure I had no shred of sanity left by the end of the 3 hours.
I spent most of the field trip herding my 3 charges together, chanting, "let's all hold hands" as I tried to keep them safe from being eaten by angry goats or falling backwards off the huge tractors set up on display.
Just when I thought everything was going to be okay, A announced that she had to use the potty. Landon stated he had to go, too. Damn it, there was that laughter again.
I asked one of the other parent chaperones to keep an eye on Garrett so I could take the two of them to the potty and off we went, in search of the sparkling clean, in-house bathroom.
Except there was no sparkling clean in-house bathroom. Nope...instead there were two dirty porta-potties at the front of the farm.
"Eeeeewwww", A screamed as she opened the door to one of the porta-potties. "It smells bad in here! I don't have to pee anymore!"
I imagined A pissing in her pants on the bus and then I'd have to explain to the teacher why I let a little 3-year old convince me that she didn't have to go pee, even after the child was doing a funny little dance and grabbing her privates with the hopes of preventing her bladder from spilling loose.
"Come on, A...I'll help you," I coaxed her, helping her pull her pants down. Placing her gently on the potty seat and begging her profusely to NOT touch it, I used my foot to keep the door open partways in an effort to breathe in some fresh air and keep an eye on Landon.
That's when I noticed that Landon was nowhere in sight. Crap.
I told A to sit tight (pun intended) and that I would be right back. I turned around and saw that Landon had already gone into the other porta-potty and was bent over the hole, examining the contents of what others had left behind.
"Oh. My. God. Eeeewwww, SOOOO GROSS!", I shouted, sounding more like a 5th grade valley girl who had just witnessed a bunch of teenage boys mooning her instead of a 41-year old mother of 4.
"Landon, get out of there!!" I demanded, grabbing him by his now contaminated hands and praying that I didn't puke right there on the spot.
Finally, I got Landon to go pee and gathered both he and A by the sinks to wash their hands. As I was helping Landon dry his hands, A spotted a brown horse and ran off towards it, with me bellowing behind her, "A...wait up. You can't just run off without me!"
Oh why yes she can....and she did, never once looking behind to acknowledge that she had heard me. When I did catch up to her, I noticed gobs of snot running down her face.
A dodged my attempts to clean her face, while she giggled mischievously. Now, not only did she still have snot dripping, she had clear white streaks across her face where I had attempted to wipe.
Sweet Jesus, I should've just stayed home and stared at the wall. Or done the 5 baskets of laundry sitting in my family room. Or stabbed myself in the eyes repeatedly with a couple of rusty nails.
I managed to get A and Landon back to the group in one piece. Landon spotted Garrett sitting on a bench and shoved him off of it, announcing, "That's MY seat". Garrett began to cry loudly, as he fell on the dirty ground.
And now everyone was staring at us. I tried to laugh and said, "It's always MY kids, right?"
One of the ladies from the farm was explaining to the kids how pumpkins grew when all this was going down. She noticed the identical twin girls in our class and asked, "Are they twins?"
The teacher said, "Yes...and we have another set of twins too", as she pointed to Garrett and Landon.
I couldn't help it and said, "Yeah, the two kids who act like they hate each other...they're twins". The lady shot me a look of sympathy...or maybe it was disgust. Couldn't be sure. Nor did I really care by this point.
Oh, but wait...the high point of the day was when the kids were subjected to a lady who worked at the farm who was showing the kids a mouse skull. Yes, that's right...a mouse skull.
But not just any mouse skull. This was a mouse skull which had been regurgitated among hair and other small bones by an owl who had painstakingly stalked that poor mouse for hours as it attempted to steal tiny bits of food on the ground.
The lady walked around showing the skull to the kids as she explained in a haunting voice, "Do you see these holes right here? That's where the mouse's eyes used to be until the owl ate them. Yes, owls eat eyes..."
All the kids were rightfully freaked out....except my boys, of course. They thought that was the coolest part of the field trip. Well, that and trying to escape from a moving bus out of the emergency exit window.
We made it back it to the school with all their body parts in tact but not before Garrett warned the little girl across from him to sit on her "booty ass"...while I shrank with embarrassment in my seat as that child's father stared at me.
And that, my friends, was the field trip in a nutshell.
So the next time you see that sign-up list for chaperones for a field trip at your child's school....think back to this post.
And then run...somewhere far, far away before you're reduced to a pile of quivering nerves, sucking your thumb and rocking back and forth in a musty corner of your basement.
However, try not to trip over all those other parents rushing to sign up...you know, the newbies with stars in their eyes, all excited about the adventure they're about to go on.
Don't judge them too harshly, though. We were once like them also...before selling our souls to the devil.