Tag Archives: Chaperone

Hey, Hey, Hayride!

Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay.

My first hayride at age nine in a creaky farm wagon — a 4-H outing — puzzled me. A novelty? No. Tractors prowled in fields surrounding our little Indiana town. My siblings and I rode in the back of a pickup at highway speeds, so burning up country roads at 15 mph didn’t shake me up.

Waving at farmers? Fun, but not extreme entertainment.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay.

So, why did chaperones’ heads swivel as we chugged along? Just because they were responsible for children who had danced around a campfire, waving unfurled metal clothes hangers armed with burning marshmallows. Just because we’d consumed 10 s’mores apiece, why eyeball us like tractor hijackers?

By junior high, though, I’d figured out that mass sugar buzz didn’t cause the adults’ angst. Even clothes-hanger-marshmallow weapons appeared less threatening. The big concern: harvest moons, starry nights and chilly temperatures invited major snuggling.

And more.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

Chaperones blackmailed into volunteering wished they’d signed up to dig the school’s new basement instead. But they yelled, “Heads up!” and bravely dug seventh grade babes and their current Numero Unos — generally six inches shorter — out of the hay.

Meanwhile, skinny nerds like me took extreme interest in local soybean crops.

Those popular kids were stupid. Embarrassing.

Lucky dogs.

By high school, few stared at soybean fields, and no one waved at farmers. Our choir performed a wholesome, cheesy song at fall concerts — “Hey, hey, hayride!” Privately, we chuckled. Dumb old people would believe we were equally wholesome.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

The old people — aka our parents — didn’t buy it. Later, when our own children reached adolescence, we didn’t, either. Surprisingly, though, hayrides no longer seemed popular.

However, recent years have brought a hayride resurgence. Given helicopter parents and predatory lawyers, are wagons now equipped with car seats and airbags? Or is everyone swathed in Bubble Wrap?

Yet, hayrides have evolved to scary, elaborate levels we 4-Hers couldn’t have imagined. For example, a Maryland “family” attraction offers haunted hayrides in which zombies assail the wagon, even crawl aboard. Also provided: refreshments, bonfires, live bands, plus a haunted hotel, haunted corn maze, and a haunted circus.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

Give me the boring version, with only a full moon, crisp fall air, and burning up country roads at 15 mph.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever gone on a hayride?

Field Trip

Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay.

As a child, it never crossed my mind that supervising a busload of screaming kids with unsynchronized bladders wasn’t a teacher’s dream. We must have pushed them over the edge.

We children celebrated with 30 choruses of “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall”— amending to “Ninety-nine Bottles of Coke®” when Teacher threatened to return home to soul-choking fractions, verb conjugations and Norwegian exports.

Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay.

I recall only two scenes from our trip to Indianapolis. First, the governor’s office, with its kingly desk and (gasp!) gold trim on the walls. Surely, this guy wore a crown.

Second, at the Indiana State Museum, an enormous stuffed owl stared with topaz-colored eyes. We remained a respectful distance away.

The final event overshadowed all others: the Dairy Queen. I ate my huge hot fudge sundae without sharing a bite with siblings.

Fast-forward a quarter century. I volunteered to chaperone my child’s class trip to Chicago.

I handled “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” with parental aplomb. My charges only got lost 23 times in the Field Museum of Natural History. It wasn’t my group who knocked down the dinosaur skeleton. I felt in charge — until we reached the Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower in 2009).

Image by Aprille from Pixabay.

I must have repressed this destination. I don’t like anything higher than one-inch heels.

No time for regret. We rocketed 103 stories up in the elevator.

Any rational architect would have designed small peep windows at the top. Instead, the area resembled a giant greenhouse.

“Come back!” I simultaneously gripped a railing and grabbed at my charges.

They escaped to the windows.

I yelled, “Don’t look down!”

“Isn’t that why we came?” A sensible girl cocked her head.

“Cool!” A nerd plastered his nose against a window. “That’s a cumulonimbus cloud formation below us.”

The wind kicked up. The building swayed like a giant Hawaiian dancer.

Hours later, I woke up on the bus. “Kids! Where are you?”

“We’re fine.” All four were eating hot fudge sundaes.

My daughter slipped beside me. My failure as a field trip chaperone shrank in the face of her loving solicitude.

“So glad you’re sitting with me.” Tears welled.

“Teacher said I had to thank you.”

I stared. “For what?”

“She knows she can finish the school year now. Compared to you, she feels perfectly sane.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you chaperoned a school field trip?