All you really need to know about me before jumping into this is that I hate doing shit with kids, so for the sake of my fingertips, let’s just pretend for a minute that there are already four paragraphs written in my usual long-windedly verbose style illustrating my hate for the pumpkin patch/kids/being around kids/riding school buses/moms/being a mom.
I somehow got suckered into being a chaperone for this year’s field trip. Last year it was mandatory that one parent accompany each preschooler, but they only needed 9 Kindergarten parent chaperones. I heard my disembodied voice saying, “Yes,” to the teacher’s aid and then vaguely recall her scrawling “Mrs. Robbins” onto the list of condemned parents.
(Never mind the fact that I am MISS KELLY not MRS. ROBBINS.)
A. The Sweetest Ginger
I arrived at the school in time to be cast out from the other chaperones. I’m sure I wasn’t missing much there, as I picked up pieces of their extreme Yinzer-garble. Most of the parents just kept their backs turned on me. I was OK with that.
As the kids began filing out of the classroom and ran over to their respective parent, the teachers began handing off the rest of the kids so that some parents had an extra child to be responsible for. I assumed (stupidly) that the teachers are hyper-aware of my utter irresponsibility, but apparently my facade translates to strangers as Put-Together Woman Bursting with Empathy because they paired me up with Nate.
Normally, I don’t know shit about the kids Chooch goes to school with, and I like to keep it that way. But Nate is notorious because his parents died in the beginning of the school year, one right after the other. Totally traumatic and devastating; I actually cried when I read the letter that the school sent home about the mom and hoped it was a mistake when there was another letter a day later about the dad. I never learned the details, but a Google search brought up their obituaries and they died a day apart from each other in the hospital so I imagine car accident is the safest assumption.
Good job giving this poor kid to the most socially awkward mom there, you guys. Good fucking job.
Nate put his pudgy little hand in mine as we walked out to the bus together. Some little girl said, “Nate, sit with us!” but he opted to sit with me and was a friendly little chatterbox for the whole 30 minute ride.
“I think I know where we are!” as we passed a grocery store. “My mom used to shop there!”
I smiled awkwardly, the diarrhea-face kind, hoping that topic would go DOA.
While we compared animal crackers with other (the owls were our favorites), Nate looked at me innocently and, in a way that was remarkably upbeat, asked, “Do you know where my mom and dad are?”
OMFG YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. SERIOUSLY? TO ME, HE’S ASKING THIS, OF ALL FUCKING PEOPLE? I desperately yearned for a can of that liquid rubber shit to plug up my tear ducts.
I didn’t know how to respond to that. If I were my friend Lisa, who went to school to learn how to talk to people about death, I’m sure I would have reacted in such a way that made lilacs spring up from a meadow. But me being me, I just whispered “No…” in a frightened tone and then bit my thumb.
“They’re in heaven,” Nate answered nonchalantly.
I do not hate this particular kid so I acted like that was the most wonderful thing, to have parents in heaven. I was three when my own dad died from a car accident, but I don’t really have much memory from which to draw any life lessons. I don’t even remember when I first really understood that my dad was dead. What did my family tell me back then? Knowing my mom, she acted like nothing happened.
I sat there in silence, trying to process all of this while Nate quietly sipped from his Capri Sun beside me.
We talked about Halloween costumes for awhile (he’s going to be some train-friend of Thomas’s that I don’t care about) and then he dropped this bomb on me:
“Do you think there will be big pumpkins at the pumpkin patch?”
I pretended to consider this. (I think that is what you have to do when dealing with children: pretend. A lot.) “I imagine there will be pumpkins of all sizes,” I said.
“Well, I want to find the biggest one and throw it up to my parents in Heaven.”
WHY. WHY WHY WHY WHY. The fissure forming on my heart reminded me that, OMG—I have a heart, and I suddenly felt inspired to give up my hateful blogging, love Jesus and adopt 18 orphans.
You guys, this kid kind of made me feel a little bit human.
B. The Worst Best Friend
My own kid sat with the boy who, one week ago, said to me, “I wish there were no Rileys in the world,” in a mean tone, in front of my kid, prompting me to have a little talkie with the principal because I’ll be damned if I’m paying to send my kid to a school where hate is something that kids can get away with. If he’s saying shit like that when he’s FIVE, what’s he going to be doing when he’s FIFTEEN? You can tell me I overreacted, but I’d rather nip that shit in the bud than blow it off and have something worse happen down the line.
(You should know that I’m not one of those moms who get all up-in-arms every single time someone blows a hair on my kid’s head.)
This kid, Anthony, is such a motherfucker that the principal already knew who I was talking about before I even said so. His mom was made aware of the situation (as well as the mom of another kid who appears to be Anthony’s sidekick in hate) and profuse apologies were made all around.
Now Chooch is calling him his “best friend” and wanted nothing more than to sit with him on the bus.
“Sit with Nate and me,” I pleaded.
“Anth is my best friend,” Chooch shot back, sliding into the seat across from me.
Anth? You have got to be fucking kidding me. This Anthony kid is such an ADHDick. Several times, I was forced to lean over Nate and hiss at Chooch to knock it the fuck off because Anthony’s mere presence was making him act like he was running on Pixi Stix and Starbucks. I really need to get him away from this Anthony kid before he starts verbally denigrading other children worse than I do to Henry.
Anthony’s mom is much older and has a weary face that screams, “I AM SO TIRED OF YELLING AT THIS FUCKING DICK ALL THE LIVELONG DAY.”
I kind of feel for her.
As soon as the bus pulled into the farm’s lot, Anthony was out of his seat and pushing kids out of his way, provoking one of the teachers to open her mouth and blow him back into an empty seat with nothing more than her militant tone.
It was fucking awesome. Everyone paraded past as Anthony (and his sidekick, who actually wasn’t doing anything wrong other than associating himself with this delinquent) sulked in his seat.
Somehow Chooch avoided punishment even though I’m pretty sure I witnessed him being a pushy asshole. It’s obviously because he’s a cracker.
C. Father of the Year
Henry met us out there this year and I was so thankful. Since I had Nate obediently clutching my hand, Henry kept an eye on Chooch, who was following Anthony like a puppy. Several times, Henry tugged Chooch back to us by his hood and gave him low-pitched yet stern talks about how he needed to not worry so much about Anthony.
Kindergarten and this shit is happening already. KINDERGARTEN.
Meanwhile, Henry completely skirted the $10 admission and not once did a farmhand approach him and ask around a straw of hay, “Sir, you ain’t wearing a sticker on your breast. Why?”
D. The Stupid Pumpkin Diorama Tour
I hate this part of Triple B! It is row after row of fictional characters with pumpkin heads. WHO THE FUCK CARES. And then they throw Moses floating downstream in a basket just on the off chance some douchey Catholic school kids happen to stroll on through and all the parents clap and laugh happily and it is so obnoxious.
“OMG Bible shit, you guys!”
This may have happened when I was there.
Nate loves Thomas the Tank Engine, so I took this photo for him. I figured I’d have it printed for his grandparents who bring him to school everyday, adding some shine to my halo. (Or, if I were Barb, I guess you could say my halo might then be all TRICKED OUT.)
It kind of made me sad how few of the dioramas he was able to figure out.
Which brings me to….
E. Aging Hipster Dick
One of the girls in Chooch’s class was behind Nate and me with her dad. I hadn’t been paying much attention to him until we approached the one diorama that stumps me repeatedly.
“Oh look,” he said to his daughter, “Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub!”
I laughed to myself because it was so obvious. Over my shoulder, I said laughingly to him, “I totally could NOT figure this one out last year!”
“Oh,” he said in this tone that was steeped with a bold combination of ambivalence and superiority. “I guess you just learned something then.”
No, this tone just did not sit well with me.
“Yeah….I guess,” I mumbled, and from that point on, motherfucker was on my radar.
From then on, nothing I did could drown out his ridiculously uber-serious reciting of every fucking nursery rhyme diorama we shuffled past.
Every time I was near him after that (which was pretty much always; god, go stand with your WIFE), I had to fight the urge to heckle-cough “Douchebag” in his general direction. Fuck off with your lame short-sleeved flannel. Go sit in your hybrid and listen to some Iron and Wine and leave the pumpkin-picking to the fuckers who care. (I am not one of those fuckers but I assure you I’d rather pick a fucking pumpkin than listen to anything on his iPod.)
On the hayride, he all but SAT ON MY LAP and proceeded to shout over the dirge of the tractor’s engine to his wife who was sitting FIVE PEOPLE away from him about how much he spent on apples at another farm.
“$8 for 8 apples! That’s practically $1 an apple!” he shouted in his deep dick-swallowing voice.
That’s not “like” a dollar an apple; it IS a dollar an apple.
Sometimes his wife would snap, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Because, you know, not everyone is trained to hear bored, husky tones over top of a chugging tractor pulling 35 screaming children.
He was so close to me that I feared I would disembark the wagon with the sudden druthers to wear a belted (vintage) tunic and swap out my photos of Jonny Craig for Colin Meloy. (Whom I do enjoy on occasion, but still.)
(Hopefully I don’t offend my hipster friends who are neither aging nor dicks.)
Meanwhile, I found myself having an enjoyable conversation with Momesis, and considering we also ran into each other at the playground in August and wound up chatting for 90 minutes while our kids played, I suppose I should just call her Amy. Besides, I now have a Dademy to replace her.
“I decided to tell him about how I didn’t know that was Three Men in a Tub last year. I was just trying to keep it light-hearted, you know how I do.”
“No,” Henry said. “I don’t.”
And this is why I don’t often initiate small talk.
F. The 5-Minute Hayride
Just like last year’s 5-minute hayride, now with an Aging Hipster Dick sprouting out of my torso.
G.The Pumpkin Picking
After sitting through the SAME EXACT program about DIRT put on by Mrs. B. in the School Barn, we finally got to head out to the small, forlorn patch of puny pumpkin rejects that’s there specifically for school field trips. I guess $10 a person only promises the adoption of a pie pumpkin.
This is my favorite part because it means it’s almost time to leave.
Nate was off getting his picture taken by the teacher, and Henry was too busy checking out the other moms bending at the waist of their mom jeans to be of any assistance, so I had to tiptoe through the mud while Chooch kicked disinterestedly at a pumpkin that maybe he might have wanted, who knows, what did he care. He was still sulking because I wouldn’t let him sit next to Anthony during the dirt assembly.
Nate came back from the school photo-op and Henry decided to actually pull his eyeballs off the MILFs’ applebottoms long enough to drag Chooch to the entrance while I assisted Nate in choosing a pumpkin. Of course, he picked one whose stem that was still attached to a 10 inch-thick vine and I unfortunately shorted the remote that turns my right arm into a hacksaw. Sorry, buddy.
He picked a comparable gourd and proceeded to immediately break the handles of the plastic bag he was given. I kept offering to carry it for him, but he stubbornly cradled his bag-swathed pumpkin in his arms, dropping it every three feet. It was fine. I wasn’t getting agitated.
No really, it was fine.
Just fucking dandy.
H. THE FINISH LINE
Henry got to drive home in the nice, quiet, CHILDFREE car while I was shackled to my chaperone status for one more bus ride into the horizon. I got to sit alone at least, while Nate, Anthony and Chooch all crammed into one seat. Nate quietly looked out the window the entire way home while Chooch leaned forward with his forehead pressed against the back of the seat in front of him. They were clearly tired. As were all the other children, except for Anthony, who was practically sitting upside down in his seat, singing “Georgie Porgie*” the entire way while his mom bitched about not having time to shop.
(*Seriously? My kid must be the only one in that class who doesn’t give a shit about nursery rhymes.)
When we got back to the house, Chooch threw up and I was really pissed off because that’s what I wanted to do.
I. Henry’s Day at the Farm
I decided to try and act like I genuinely cared about Henry’s pumpkin patch experience, but he replied to my initial text inquiring of his favorite field trip moment with a misspelled and curiously punctuated: “Your [sic] not interviewing me again?”
“No, just wondering,” I texted back. “Also, what kid did you hate the most and what mom was the most MILFish?”
Henry: “LOL, most MILFish.”
Me: “Seriously, answer me. Which mom-bitch did you want to poke with your pumpkin stem?”
He kept ignoring that particular question, which makes me believe it was Aging Hipster Dick he had eyes for. And he told me later that he “doesn’t hate any kids.” What the fuck is wrong with him?
Me: “When you pick pumpkins, what are things you look for?”
Henry: “Size and color.”
Me: “Like when you’re looking for dicks on the Internet? When you were in the SERVICE, did you ever cut glory holes into pumpkins?”
Henry: “Interview over.”
Me: “Did you leave some of the pumpkin guts inside to give it a nice, squishy vaginal effect?”
No answer. Obviously that means yes.