I arrived home one day last week and literally the second I walked in the door my wife said, “You’re chaperoning her field trip next month.” The “her” she was referring to was our oldest daughter who, at that very moment, was screaming bloody murder from her bedroom because her pencil broke in half … or because she had been told to put her slippers on; I honestly can’t remember and also who cares at this point.
ANYWAY, it looked like I was chaperoning a field trip I guess! Should be fun, or terrible. I’m leaning toward the latter based on the amount of paperwork I have to fill out in advance. I completed about 12 forms—one of them was a reference form that reminded me I have zero friends; however, it made me smile to think of the school district contacting my current and former coworkers to see if I am fit to walk around a museum in the company of children. My wife dropped these forms off at the school and then they emailed her to say that I had three more forms to complete.
One of those forms was a Field Trip Chaperone Questionnaire, which is a real thing.
I tried to complete it at work but legitimately did not know the answer to the majority of the questions, and worried that my failproof strategy of “When in doubt, pick ‘C’” would put at risk my status as a chaperone, and send my wife through the freakin’ roof.
So I brought it home, and my inability to know the answers caused my wife great joy and a little bit of genuine concern. In my defense:
1. Who is a field trip chaperone?
Is this a rhetorical question? All of us … in our hearts?
A. Someone who oversees a small group of children assigned to them
Sounds pretty dope. A. The answer is A.
B. A parent or relative who is 18 years or older
Hmmm, tricky. So a 17-year-old rando off the street can’t help out at the zoo to get some community services hours for college? Seems hella ageist.
C. All of the above
So is this one of those “All of the above”s that’s mad obvious or trying to be tricky? I AM ALREADY LOST AND THIS JUST STARTED.
2. What is the primary duty of a chaperone?
To get paid, son! We get paid for this, right?
A. Ensure the safety of the students
If “safety” is in the answer, that’s the one. A. The answer is A.
B. Drive the students to the field trip location
Doesn’t seem primary, AT FIRST. But how are the students going to get there if I don’t drive them? This all becomes theoretical: If a field trip is at the museum, but chaperone Mike never drove the kids there, did it really take place? Answer: no. Answer: B.
C. Make sure the students have a good time
This is the primary duty of life, son. Upon further review, the answer is C. I am nailing this.
3. Who is not allowed to go on a class field trip?
Do people crash these things? What am I getting into here?
A. Younger children
What does that even mean?
B. Children not in the class
Me: I chose “B” because it made the most sense to me at the time.
Chaperone Control Board representative: Just to be clear, you’re stating that you believe children in other classes, from other schools—possibly more urban schools—don’t belong on field trips?
Me: Yeah, no, wait what?
Chaperone Control Board representative: (makes notes in ledger while shaking head)
Me: You know I’m calling out of work to do this, right?
C. All of the above
I hate everything.
4. What should a chaperone do if a student misbehaves?
Oh, so this is the part where I have to promise not to smack the chil’ren. OK fine.
A. Give the student a time-out
If by “student” you mean “my daughter” and by “time-out” you mean “removing from the premises entirely until backup arrives,” then, yes.
B. Ignore the behavior
It ain’t in me, son. Imma helicopter discipline dad, and if your wack-ass child steps to me or my friends, best believe we’re gonna have a problem. If you can’t handle that, maybe I’m not the right person for the job. But you know and I know—this makes me the PERFECT person for the job.
C. Close the proximity between you; if not effective, ask the teacher for help
“Close the proximity between you?” What is this, a maximum security prison?
Child: These dinosaur bones are STUPID! I hate dinosaurs—they’re POOPY!
Me: (on walkie talkie) Closing proximity on perpetrator, that’s affirmative, over.
Child: Get away from me! I hate you! You smell like FARTS!
Me: (on walkie talkie) This is a code blue; I repeat, code BLUE. We’re going to need at least three teachers on the perimeter, over. (ends walkie talkie call) NOTHING TO SEE HERE FOLKS, PLEASE PROCEED WITH THE PRESENTATION.
5. What does a chaperone do if a student asks for a cough drop?
Uhhhhhh, is this a normal occurrence?
Child: Hey, you. Psssstttt! Chaperone! Let me get a Halls.
Me: A Halls? Aren’t you like, six? You want some chamomile tea and an Epson salt bath while you’re at it?
Child: Listen, just hit me off with the cough drop, OK? I’m feening for that Halls.
Me: OK fine. Let me just pull one out from the stash of cough drops I always bring along to children’s field trips just in case this exact scenario plays out.
A. Unwraps one and puts it in their mouth
Child: Can you place the cough drop directly in my mouth?
Me: Uhhhh, what? No! Put it in your own damn mouth, what do I look like?
Child: But I’m just a child! My mommy cuts my eggs and feeds me like a bird.
Me: OK fine, sheesh!
B. Lets the teacher know. Only teachers can administer medications.
Sounds legit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If a third-grade teacher isn’t administering the flu shot, I’d rather take my chances without it.
C. None of the above
Failing the cough drop portion of the field trip chaperone questionnaire will be but the latest way I have disappointed everyone in my life.
6. What is on the list the teacher gives a chaperone to carry?
Serious question: How am I supposed to know this?
A. The names of the students in their group
Makes sense on the surface. HOWEVER, knowing these kids on a personal level might compromise my ability to aggressively close the proximity between us if such a need arises.
B. Itinerary for the day
8 a.m.: Drive kids to museum.
8:30 a.m.: Survey the premises for field trip crashers and have them deported.
9 a.m.: Distribute cough drops and other medications to children.
Noon: Lunch (place lunch directly in children’s mouths)
3 p.m.: Pick up “Chaperone of the Year” award in gift shop, purchase a cool-looking rock for $17.50.
C. All of the above
Well, at least I’ll always be a chaperone in my heart.