Back in 2012, when I first moved to South Carolina and had more time to write, a started a little blog on another site. When I went back to work, my writing habits fell apart and I stopped writing on that site.
Last year, when I turned 42, I started this blog and promised myself that I would get back on the horse again and update it regularly.
I turned in a strong first post and then proceeded to not update this stupid thing again until today, when I was prompted to do so after re-reading a post from the old blog.
Today, I’m going to cheat. Instead of writing something new, I’m going to bring us back to the days of old (4 years ago), when i was a stay-at-home dad and was writing (books, short stories, articles, poetry, and blog posts) every single day.
Without further word, let’s go back to June 14th, 2012, when I wrote the following:
Let Me Set Your Minds At Ease…
Some of us have already had the little rugrats home for the last few days, or in some cases, the last few weeks. Others, like my friends up in Massachusetts, are getting ready for their last days of school as I write these words.
The end of the school year is a time of reflection for all of us parents. We look back on the last year and marvel at how much our kids have grown up, gape in awe at what they have learned, and have little flashbacks of our own childhoods when we were “that age.” In addition to these reflections, it’s also a time for something else.
End of the year field trips.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I have watched the Facey-Space and Tweety-Sphere erupt with comments, questions, descriptions, and tirades of outright disgust over the field trips that our kids have participated in and we, as parents and chaperones, have been subjected to.
Most of these comments and scenarios can be summed up in two statements.
“This field trip sucked.”
“Field trips were so much better, cooler, and more fun when I was a kid.”
Today, a friend of mine posted quite the tirade about the beach field trip his daughter’s class went on. Apparently, they were subjected to some extremely boring lectures about the plight of the Piping Plover.
Let me interrupt here by letting you know that I feel for you, man. I spent a rainy day on Isle of Palms beach last month doing what basically amounted to…well…nothing, while the parents and teachers attempted to stay dry while keeping the kids from being pulled out to sea by the undertow.
I want to start by commending the friend mentioned above, my wife, my other friends with kids, and all of the other parents out there who took the time out of their busy schedules to participate in these field trips. You and I know that it means a lot to our kids. Additionally, the fact that you are distressed by what amounted to a waste of time and resources is wonderful, because it means you have a passion for the education of your kids. And that is an amazing thing.
But now I’m going to let you in on a little secret that will hopefully set your minds at ease.
Here it is.
It’s not that your kids’ school planned a crappy field trip. It’s not even that field trips were better “back in the day.”
Field trips sucked when we were kids, too.
“No way, Dave,” shout out the voices from the crowd. “You’re wrong! My field trips were friggin’ awesome when I was a kid!”
Okay. I’m not going to start a fight over this one. Maybe, just maybe, you were lucky enough to go to a school that didn’t have crap-ass field trips like the rest of us. Maybe you got to watch open-heart surgery, or throw the opening pitch at a Red Sox game, or go to the moon or something.
I’m happy for you. My suggestion is to move your kids back to that school district as soon as humanly possible.
Most of us didn’t get those field trips.
Most of us got the Post Office, the local Grocery Store, or Plymouth Rock.
“Whoo-Hoo! Plymouth Rock! If we’re good maybe they’ll let us go to the Wax Museum, too!”
If we were lucky, we might have gotten to go to the Fire Station, or Police Department, or maybe the hospital, but come on, we’re 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old. It’s not like they’re going to let us see anything cool like the Emergency Room on Fourth Of July or the interrogation of a suspect.
We might have gotten a tour of the kitchen.
A fire fighter might have put on some safety gear.
Oh, and hold me back when I talk about the time I got to PUT A STAMP ON A LETTER AND PUT IT IN THE MAIL SLOT.
Anyone who has ever had to do a field trip to Plimoth Plantation in November at age 8, knows exactly what I’m talking about.
When I was a kid, the cool field trips didn’t start until Fifth Grade. That’s when we got to do things like the Boston Museum of Science and Old Ironsides. However, my recollections of those trips are that we were kept on a very tight schedule (have to be back to get the kids on the school bus) so we missed most of the cool stuff.
“You’re too cynical, Dave,” the voices from the crowd shout out again. “The field trips were definitely better. You’re just being an ass.”
The field trips weren’t better because we did cooler stuff, or had more activities, or went to more awesome places. The fields trips were better because we got to sit with our friends on the bus and miss the weekly math quiz. The field trips were better because maybe, we could buy something at the gift shop or mom packed a bunch of snacks in our bagged lunches instead of having to eat fish sticks in the cafeteria. The field trips were better because the field trips were 30 years ago and we want to remember them as being better.
Don’t believe me?
Think of everything else that you thought was awesome when you were a kid. Maybe it’s a TV show. Maybe it’s a movie. Maybe it’s some article of clothing. Think of how much you loved it as a kid.
Now think about it as an adult. As you are right now. It’s not hard to do thanks to Netflix, iTunes, and Google.
Remember getting up early on Saturday morning to watch “Superfriends,” or racing home in the afternoon to turn on “Star Blazers” or “My Little Pony” or “G.I. Joe?”
Remember that copy of “Colour By Numbers” by Culture Club that you had to have and listened to over and over again?
Remember that awesome barracuda jacket? Those argyle socks that you tucked your pegged pant cuffs into, maybe?
I’ve tried watching “Star Blazers” as an adult. It’s painful. I was never a Culture Club fan, but I’ve got a few cassettes from the eighties that I know I’ll never listen to again.
And forget about that barracuda jacket. I’ve got a skinny leather tie that I’ve been keeping for years as I wait for it to come back into style. I know I’m fooling myself, but everyone needs something.
Our memories of our field trips are no different than my hopes for my skinny leather tie.
These things are awesome because we remember them as awesome. We want them to be incredible because we made everything incredible. And we want our kids to have incredible memories too.
And you know what? They’re going to have them. Remember that rainy beach field trip I mentioned back at the beginning of this tirade? The one that I think of as the biggest waste of field trip time ever?
Maddie thought it was great. She got to ride on the bus to the beach, hang out with her friends, and run around in the rain. She seems to have forgotten all about the part where her and a bunch of the other kids were whiny and bored while they changed out of their wet clothes and waited for lunch at the picnic tables.
“So what are you saying,” the shouting voices from the crowd ask. “I should just suck it up and deal with the fact that my kids went on a waste of time field trip?”
No. Rant and rave about it. Complain to the teachers, administration, and the folks who run the tour location. Make your voice heard. As parents, we should expect more out of the trips that the schools are paying for. We should expect more from a day when the kids are not in the classroom learning.
I’m sure our parents did.
Just rest assured that we went on our share of waste-of-time field trips too.
And they were all awesome.