Remember those field trips in first grade where the bus smelled like urine, the children screamed songs and teachers were frazzled? Well, I just relived that experience when I chaperoned my grandson’s class to the aquarium.
Now, my grandson is perfect. That’s all there is to it. He’s handsome. He’s brilliant. He’s funny. And he loves me. However, every other first grader had either downed a high-octane espresso or snorted brown sugar before boarding the bus. Children were bouncing everywhere like Jell-O in an earthquake. The little girl sitting next to me kept screaming “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” I guess she was channeling my thoughts.
When we finally arrived at the aquarium (the longest freakin’ bus ride of my life), chaos ensued. Teachers and parents scrambled to herd kids into the facility while the kids did everything they could to try to get lost immediately. The little girl who had previously been screaming in my ear, made a beeline to the sting ray tank and proceeded to slap the rays as they swam by.
I finally restored a semblance of order by saying the sting rays were a rare kind of killer that ate the flesh of young children. Interestingly enough, that was also true about the penguins, the jellyfish, the starfish, the otters and every other creature we came across. I’ve probably instilled a fear and loathing to all things “ocean.”
And since we live in Utah, which, when I last checked, was hundreds of miles from any ocean, the aquarium lacked the “fun” aquatic creatures like killer whales, great white sharks and the Little Mermaid. Instead, we watched rainbow trout, river otters and shrimp from the Great Salt Lake as they lived in their natural habitat of a glass tank.
Kids get bored easily. Even when we’re pretending to hunt jellyfish. So we toured the facility twice and were just getting ready to watch them feed children to the small sharks when it was time to board the bus to go home. I volunteered to walk, but they insisted I get back on the bus from hell.
More frivolity ensued as the bus riders punched each other, fell off their seats, cried, slapped the people in front of them and threw their shoes out the window. And that was just the teachers. The kids were OUT OF CONTROL. I never remember acting that way on a bus ride. Of course, back then a “bus” was a wagon pulled by oxen. And teachers were still allowed, even encouraged, to beat us.
After I returned to the school, kissed the ground and headed back to my (quiet) car, I thought “That wasn’t so bad.” Hahahahaha! Just kidding. I didn’t think that.