A final field trip


In a few weeks, I’m going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Madison Junior School seventh grade class. I scored a coveted spot as a chaperone (I heard there were over 30 volunteers for something like 12 spots). It might seem like a version of hell on earth to accompany 100 12- and 13- year olds to an art museum that has tons of nudity and lots of places you aren’t supposed to touch (no relation), but I’m super pumped.

This is very likely my last field trip with my kids. After 7th grade, they don’t really need too many parents. And I’ve never been on the Met one. And the Met is my favorite museum of all time. (Yes, I grew up in Washington DC which has some very amazing places, but the Met just sat on my heart when I first saw “The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler” and no other can take it’s place).

I know that this will not be the lazy meander around the museum I have gotten used to — stop in the period rooms, pass through the choir screen in the Medieval gallery, take several wrong turns, end up at the perfect artwork for this very day (my older daughter and I found ourselves at a depiction of the last supper the when we were there the Sunday before Easter) and wind up at the Temple of Dendur.

This will probably include a group of kids, some things to find and questions to answer and a visit or four to the bathroom. Looking back, field trips are almost never what I thought they would be. They are usually extremely exhausting, loud and also some of the better memories with my own kids and their peers.

The first field trips I remember were in preschool. One time, we piled the kids in a series of family owned minivans and headed to an apple picking farm. I remember taking a wrong turn and realizing that a mom who had come from China only a few months earlier was following me. I was really impressed that she held it together and we got there just fine, imagining that wouldn’t have been the outcome if I were driving a minivan full of school children in China a few months in the future.

When they were little, we carried their lunches for them and brought things like tissues and hand wipes and band-aids. We all held hands and stuck together, except for one kid, there’s always one, who either loudly ran into the fray (easy to spot) or quietly lagged behind to admire a bug or a flower (potentially problematic, but usually one of mine, so I could guess what happened and find them.) We went to farms or maybe the post office, and later interminable theater based on their favorite book series. To this day I shudder at the mention of Judy Moody.

Later come the team building trips. Cool foggy mornings where the dewy grass makes your shoes and socks soggy for the day, spotting other people climbing walls or interacting with various types of rope challenges, avoiding bees, taking stung children to the infirmary.

Then come the amusement park trips. If a student in Madison plays their cards right, they could go to Six Flags instead of school on an annual basis starting in sixth grade. But those chaperone gigs either don’t exist or are nearly impossible to snag. Given my motion sickness and basic fear of scary rides It’s probably better I never went on one of those trips.

But before I let them all go — be it to a High School music department overnight trip or *gulp* college — I get this one last hurrah at The Met. I think I’ll get some hand sanitizer and bandaids and I’m scoping out the best bathroom stops now.