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Two weeks ago I tweeted, “What’s an emotion that encompasses scared and excited?” to which the brilliant PGP contributor Charlie responded with a grimacing emoji face. Ugh, millennials, can’t take ‘em anywhere, amiright?
Well, actually, with a signed parent/guardian permission slip and one emergency contact number, you can! My class is going on a field trip this week, hence the reason why I have been fluctuating between being so-happy-I-could-cry to being so pants-shitting-scared-I-could-cry on somewhat of an hourly basis. The weather is finally settling into something reasonably above frigid in the Northeast, so we’re taking full advantage of it and getting the hell out of the old schoolhouse. And it’s not just any old field trip to a planetarium or natural history museum – oh no, we go big or we go home. We’re going to the zoo. The. Mother. Fucking. Zoo. A major zoo, in a (very) large city… Hence my excitement one minute and my apprehension the next.
Why I’m Scared
My class is not the only class attending this trip – the other classes in the grade are also attending. Joining us teachers are the paraprofessionals… and also parent chaperones, including the one mother who hates my stinkin’ guts. I mean, this woman has found every way to somehow be a pain in my ass this year. From constantly contacting me over mundane issues (the scratch and sniff sticker her child received did not smell) to going over my head to email my supervisor and principal about the same mundane issues (her child did not get to ask a question at share for two days in a row, am I – the teacher – picking on the child?), I know that I will do something wrong in this lady’s eyes during the trip. The woman needs a hobby besides making my life miserable.
Another reason why I’m pretty much shitting my pants over this class trip is the fact that my class is full of some interesting characters with some very interesting behaviors… It’s no secret that the children in my class this year can be absolute hellraisers. Everyone in my school knows this to be true, but the poor unsuspecting people of the public do not. I keep having a vision of looking at the beautiful animals in an enclosure and suddenly seeing two of my boys waving back at me – I would not put it past them. Please, readers, pray, chant, send me good vibes, whatever you do, that my students and listen to me. I don’t want to end up on the news as “Harambe 2k18.”
Probably the reason why I am scared – no, terrified – the most for this trip is because this zoo has a very large reptile house. Look, I don’t fucks with snakes. Just typing that word alone has made me check under my feet to make sure that one has not magically appeared beneath me. Now, because of the fact that I have envisioned two of my rowdiest students somehow MacGyvering their way into an animal habitat, I know that I will be walking hand-in-hand with those two little darlings for the majority of the day. And their number one destination? The fucking snake house. (Again, I checked my feet.) I’m going to bribe the two kids with ice cream if they jet outta that circle of hell in under two minutes. Please watch out, I’ll be the one wearing my nana’s sunglasses and bowling people over to get out of that torture pit.
Why I’m Excited
I mean, we’re out of the school for the day. It’s a day to get outside and run – they can actually run! – around. This is a day that, for the most part, there is not a lot of academic pressure on me. I don’t have to lesson plan, grade, pre-assess, or post-assess. I’m grouping the kids (except for the two lovelies mentioned above) into little clusters with a parent chaperone. I’m passing the little darlings off to the Moms and the Dads who came along, and saying, “Peace be with you.” The trip day will be a day that I will not have to remind the youngsters to sit criss-cross applesauce or raise their hands if they want to say something. I will remind them to say “please” and “thank you” (the kids, not the adults… but some parents need to know this skill, too), listen to the chaperone, and that’s it. Have fun, see you at noon for lunch, deuces.
I’m also excited because we’re going to the zoo. The mother.fucking.zoo. Yeah, okay, zoos and aquariums and Sea World, and blah, blah, blah… neat, cool. Please get over it. I’m sure that something is at least somewhat legit or some animal rights activists would have closed every single one down by now; it’s 2018 and quite the time to be alive. Besides, don’t rain on my parade! I can’t wait to see the elephants and the bears, the tigers, the giraffes, the gorillas, and not to mention the lions. I mean, have you ever seen a lion in real life? Those big boys (and girls) are the epitome of the phrase “fucking majestic.” I am so stoked to see some of the animals, and I know that the kids are, too.
Because honestly the real reason that I’m so excited to go on this trip… the kids are excited to go on this trip. Many of my students do not come from high-socioeconomic backgrounds, so this trip is actually a chance of a lifetime for them. This trip is all the kids have been talking about for the better part of four months: when we came back from winter break, they shouted, “We go to the zoo this year!” We made a paper chain link countdown and have been counting down the days. The kids have written the zoologists letters, written stories, and made up math problems about animals and the zoo, not to mention made me cards and pictures about the animals and the zoo. Seeing how much they’re all looking forward to it has made me that much happier and excited for it.
Yeah, back in the day, rolling in the TV cart meant a great day, but going on a field trip meant it was going to be a fucking amazing day. So that’s what it’s going to be, an amazing day. I guess I’ll smile and briefly talk with the pain-in-the-ass Mom. I will give gentle reminders to be on best behavior, including using our nice words. I might even brave the reptile house for a few minutes just to see a few smiles. .