Friday, October 24, 2014

Field Trippin'

     One of the most rewarding things a parent can do is to be involved with their children's school activities.  Whether it be joining the PTA or helping out during the Fall Festival.  Providing much needed assistance to the schools where our children are sent to learn is very important.  That being said, as a stay at home father and uber dad extraordinaire, the one event that can send chills down my spine is the field trip.  Sounds easy right?  Ride on a bus and go down to the old pumpkin patch and hang out with a plethora of 5 year olds for the day.  No problems there.  Not at all.  This will be fun.  Right?  That totally depends on what your definition of fun is, I suppose.  Field trips with young school age children can be an interesting study in not only human behavior, but continued sanity as a human being.  That is, of course, only my humble opinion.  It's almost as bad as trying to braid a 5 year old's hair, but that is another story for another time.  I love to try, but my skill set is limited, to say the least.  Is everybody in?  Is everybody in?  The ceremony is about to begin....commence the trip.

     The pumpkin patch- one of the last vestiges of the way things used to be.  A place where just for a moment one can get away from the hustle and bustle of modern day living and go and hunt you up a pumpkin.  Normally, these things are way out in the country anyway, and cell reception can be sketchy at best.  Throw in a combination of pumpkin patch and a fully functional farm with animals and all- then you've got a party.  Just don't get lost in the corn maze!  This particular story involves the following:  The aforementioned corn maze, pumpkins, farm, and animals on said farm.  Plus, pig races, big slides, packed out hay rides, and wild and wooly young'uns.  Yep, we've got it all covered.

     They say that half the fun is in the journey, and it can be even more important than the destination itself.  In this case "they" would be wrong.  Whether you ride the bus with a bunch of screaming 5 year olds or attempt the route to the farm itself it was a harrowing trip.  Way out in the country is an understatement.  I passed chicken coops, a pasture full of bulls (I really mean bulls here, with big ole horns and everything), various cow pastures (in fact there are probably more cows per capita in this area than any other living thing...true story), goats, pigs, and farmhouses aplenty.  Narrow roads led to the destination, but its exact location was not clearly defined.  It took everything that Google Maps and Siri had to find this place of fun and pig poop.  We did arrive, and hit the ground running.

     When one volunteers to be a chaperone of a field trip it normally comes with a few responsibilities.  In my case I was placed directly in charge of my daughter and another young lady.  This turned out to be more difficult than you would expect.  Almost immediately, Maddie's partner in crime took out running.  Fast.  Really fast.  I knew that I was responsible for her well being and safety so I yelled for her to stop.  No response.  Kept on truckin'.  She only broke stride when she heard a familiar voice tell her to.  That would have been the voice of the Kindergarten teacher.  Stopped her dead in her tracks.  I wish I had that kind of power, but I don't.  The teacher gave me a smile and went about her business.  Man, she was good.  I retrieved Madddie's buddy, and we were off to some jumping contraption deal that was obviously a pretty big deal with the 5 year old set. 

     We went down a big slide, attempted to traverse a corn maze- that almost saw a casualty or two and at least one meltdown, and finally ended up in a pig pen.  All the while I was holding two little girl hands, and doing my best to keep them happy.  Shouts of "I'm hungry," "I want to eat now," and I want this and I want that rang out from one side of the farm to the other.  Children, while all miracles in their own way, are not the same.  Demands were made and negotiations attempted during this arduous process.  Once upon a time I was tasked with catching criminals.  The dredge of society.  The bad guys.  However, I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Putting folks in jail was easy.  Taking care of kids every day is hard."  Factual statement.

      The hay ride beckoned.  Packed like sardines on a voyage of pumpkin retrieval was the setting for this adventure.  Bumpy ride it was, and I was surprised that everyone escaped without a head injury of some type.  Maddie was sitting on my right leg as I sat cross legged on the floor of a trailer being pulled by a John Deere.  Our friend and companion on the journey was on my left leg.  Two little girls sitting on top of my already packed in and smothered existence.  The joys of fatherhood are endless.  How did I get here?  Nevermind, I already know.  Pumpkins Ho!!!

     We survived lunch.  We survived the pumpkin patch.  We survived the slide.  Heck, we even survived the pig races.  All in all the day was a smashing success.  Fresh air, or mostly fresh, only a faint smell of animal waste.  Then as the day ended and I began to leave to start the trek back to civilization Maddie hugged my neck really hard, and said "I love you Daddy."  Then, to my surprise our friend looked at me and said, "Chris"- I told her to call me Chris, because if someone says Mr. Perry I turn around and look for my father.  "Chris, this was the best day of my life."  Mine too friend.  As far as you know.  We came we saw, we got a pumpkin.  That's all.