Confession Ahead: I am a homebody. I love staying home. I also love that I know where all the bathrooms are – this is important when you have little people. I know where the snacks are and that lunch only requires reheating. I know that cribs and beds are close by for naptime. Home is so very nice.
Let me tell you a little about our last field trip:
I planned to take the kids to a wonderful homeschool art class at our local art museum. We would learn about Chinese art and symbolism. We would make dragon art projects and paint symbols. We would have a wonderful tour of an exhibit with an experienced guide who would ask questions and engage the kids. It would be amazing!
I prepared diligently the night before by packing the diaper bag, putting the stroller in the van, and laying out the lunchbox. In the morning I prepared a lunch for everyone and even packed snacks just to be safe. I filled our water bottles and put everything by the back door. We rushed through breakfast and piled in the car for our drive down town to the museum. I was so proud that we had left several minutes early and had even grabbed a book to entertain the kids while we waited for our class to start.
We made it a few miles from our house when traffic came to a standstill. I inched along at 2 miles per hour for seemingly no reason. A few miles down the road and we were back up to speed and on our way again. Several miles from the museum traffic came to a screeching halt. The kids were starting to get antsy and tired of our audiobook. I could hear lots of whining and complaining from the backseat. “He touched me!” “Her foot is on my seat!” “I dropped my blankie!” “I’m hungry! Can’t we eat lunch?” “Why aren’t we there yet???” Ok, I was trying to be positive so I encouraged them and patiently answered all their questions while moving along at the speed of 5 miles per hour. We finally made it to our exit and navigated the always confusing down town streets with their narrow roads and one-way streets. We arrived at the museum late to class rather than early as I had planned.
We walked into the little museum classroom which was already full and scrambled to find seats. The kids started in on the opening art project and didn’t have time to finish before the tour. I tried to entertain Punkin while helping both Ladybug and Bee with their art projects. Then it was time for the tour. We walked to another building and entered the exhibit. Ladybug immediately began throwing a fit and complaining. Punkin decided she would join the contest to see who could wail the loudest. Behind me two other homeschool moms were griping loudly about all things Christian while giving examples of why Christian homeschoolers were just awful. (Ha! And I thought the secular homeschool moms always complained that homeschoolers were never inclusive. Yeah right!)
At this point I am feeling discouraged so I took Ladybug and Punkin into another part of the museum which has a little alcove with bench. I collapsed on the bench and put down the squirming Punkin who chased after Ladybug who then turned around and shoved her down, prompting more screaming. I bribed them with some snacks and waterbottles. However, Punkin then picked up Ladybug’s water bottle by mistake, causing Ladybug to throw a full-out tantrum on the museum floor. At this point I quietly told the curator that we were going to step outside. We waited in the parking area for the rest of the group to come back to the classroom.
Once everyone got inside, they started the second art project. I tried to keep Ladybug and Punkin quiet while the instructions were given. I was running out of snacks and patience. Then Ladybug had to potty. I run her to the little bathroom in the back of the room. One of the museum workers followed me and rudely opened the bathroom door where Ladybug is sitting on the toilet, only to tell me that the bathroom was out of service. (Umm, signage would be helpful!) Then she told me I would have to walk back to the main museum to use the restroom. I took a bottomless Ladybug off the potty, redressed her, and started running to the museum, holding tightly to her hand while Punkin bounced away on my hip. Ladybug was howling that she had to potty. When we got inside the main building I realized that a high school class had just arrived for their field trip. The bathroom was packed with teenage girls chatting, doing their hair and makeup, gossiping, and generally getting in my way. I found an empty stall and crammed ourselves inside where I hoisted Ladybug onto the potty. We then pushed our way to a sink to wash our hands. We barely made it out of the main museum alive after almost being trampled by some huge high school kids.
Back in the classroom everyone was finishing up their projects and filling out surveys before the class was dismissed. I tried to fill out my survey with one hand while holding both Punkin and our entire stack of completed art projects. Then I’m handed a take-home project as I tried to walk out of the door. As I walked to the car I was hearing nothing but complaints from my crew who are hungry, tired, and basically grouchy. I stuck everyone in a car seat and climbed into my seat with a sigh. Curly handed out lunch items as I started the car. We were finally on our way home again. It was a great art class, the projects were beautiful, and the tour was impressive, but it doesn’t change the fact that my kids are all cranky and ready for home.
I carefully found my way back to the highway and merged into traffic. We rounded a bend in the road and traffic came to a standstill. At this point I could feel the tears. This was just such a long morning – one hour to make what should have been a 25 minute drive to the museum and now the drive home is not looking promising. I started to see lots of orange cones and big machinery. They had shut down all but one lane of a huge major highway and were forcing everyone into that one lane to inch through the construction zone that lasts for more than a mile. Thankfully the kids were occupied with their snacks as I tried to keep my sniffling quiet while I drove in bumper to bumper traffic. Forty-five minutes later we arrived home just in time for naptime. I declared the rest of the afternoon to be a movie and nap day. We all curled up with a movie and I think I even feel asleep. That morning was the longest year of my life!
Now, field trips are fun and as homeschoolers we have the ability to take wonderfully creative field trips any time that we choose. I think they are very important for kids to visualize and experience learning. They can be amazing! However, they are not necessary and they just might not be beneficial when the kids are all little – depending on the type of field trip. So, I’ve learned that I prefer to keep things short and simple for now. I have grand ideas and plans for when my crew can live without naptime and go more than 30 minutes between bathroom breaks. Until then, we’ll enjoy learning in our living room or at least take Daddy along for field trip back up. I just don’t enjoy field trips right now. I am not a field trip mom.