I have repeatedly refused to chaperone the Peanut’s field trips, even when they were on days I wasn’t particularly busy at work and could easily have done so. The thought of riding in an old school bus with a bunch of screaming second graders holds about as much painstaking appeal to me as teaching my parents how to program their DVR.
Unfortunately, the Peanut’s most recent field trip happened to coincide with her seventh birthday. In the course of asking my lovely daughter what she wanted to do on her "special" day, she looked me dead straight in the eye and said, “I want you to chaperone my class trip.”
Damn, this kid is good.
As far as I can tell, the primary job requirement of a parent chaperone is ensuring that no child gets lost or left behind. Secondary responsibilities include poking straws into milk cartons, breaking up fights, wiping boogers, and fielding questions.
Lots of questions...
"Why do you wear sunglasses indoors?"
Because your pink Hello Kitty sweater is searing my corneas.
"Why are you wearing all black clothes?"
I’m mourning the loss of my childhood.
"What did you bring for lunch?"
Grilled iguana, a couple of corn dogs and a shrimp cocktail.
"What do you do for a living?"
Play drums in a Justin Bieber cover band.
"Where do you live?"
In a van down by the river.
This Guantanamo-style school bus interrogation literally went on for about fifteen minutes and ended only when the little midgets decided that my answers were wholly unsatisfactory. Suddenly, they turned their backs to me and yelled out to my daughter, “Hey Peanut, how come your dad is so weird?”
To which my daughter yelled back, “He’s not weird. He’s just goofy.”
Sarcasm is lost on the young.
To add insult to injury, the field trip was to see an experimental dance troupe. Had I known this beforehand, I would have faked my own death. Don't get me wrong. I am all for supporting the arts but spending two hours watching dancers reenact the anguished pain of a butterfly via interpretive movement is more than a man can bear.
In all honesty, I was hoping to catch a quick nap during the performance. Here's what I did instead:
(1) Smack three boys in the back of the head for talking loudly.
(2) Comfort a crying girl being mercilessly teased by two mean girls.
(3) Enact revenge on the mean girls by telling them that they were ugly.
(4) Learn the latest incarnations of the time-honored clapping game, Miss Mary Mack.
(5) Realize my shortcomings as a chaperone, leave the theater, and smoke a cigarette.
Apparently, the school has plenty of eager-beaver moms who are more than willing to volunteer for these trips so I'm fairly certain that my inaugural chaperone experience may have been my last.
Maybe I'll join the PTA instead.
Or maybe I'll do what a buddy's dad used to do whenever he was asked to volunteer for anything. He'd immediately whip out his checkbook and say, "Ok, whom do I have to write the check to make sure that I never even get asked to volunteer for anything again?"
Of course, this was the same father who once said to my friend, "I didn't even talk to you until you were three years old. Why? Because you had nothing interesting to say."
Humble thanks to the folks over at Babble for naming me as one of the Top 50 Dad Blogs and also the Best Written. When I first started this site, there were very few men writing about their experiences as fathers. It warms the cockles of my soul that there are now enough to actually compile a list. I hadn't heard of many of these sites before so I'm eager to check them out. You should too.