I had the week off work. So in a moment of guilt over being â€œthat parentâ€ (weâ€™re the ones who never attend any of the preschool festivities), I decided it would be a wonderful idea to chaperone the pre-K excursion to the pumpkin patch â€“ their first field trip ever.
â€œWeâ€™re going on a magic school bus!â€ their teacher enthusiastically declared. â€œItâ€™s just a regular bus,â€ she whispered to the parents. I wasnâ€™t sold. All the evils of a school bus combined with 60 4-year-olds? Sure sounded like a job for Mrs. Frizzle to me.
I arrived the morning of our great adventure and was instructed to load up on snacks, juice boxes and wet-wipes. Done. We learned there would be one adult responsible for every child â€“ likely due to their innate ability to worm their way into trouble â€“ except for the muppets, they were both mine.
As the parents walked down the hallway to collect their respective charges, Search and Destroy leapt out line to lunge at me. â€œMommy! Youâ€™re here!â€ Ah, thereâ€™s that guilt I was missing. Because who could ever forget hearing, â€œMommy, how come you didnâ€™t come to our Christmas party?
A half-hour after our scheduled departure time, weâ€™d finally loaded up the majority of tiny peeps onto the big yellow bus. (NB: Preschoolers think the bus is an amazing novelty; related, preschoolers still fit in school bus seats.) â€œIâ€™m hungry,â€ announced Destroy, disrupting me from the revelry of remembering the bullying torment I endured during my childhood adventures of taking the school bus.
We finally arrived and were immediately shepherded toward the corn maze. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was no actual â€œmaze,â€ merely a cornfield with corners â€“ and bee pollination facts at each turn. While the muppets flirted up a storm with their girlfriends, I walked along whispering, â€œIf you build it, they will comeâ€¦â€ (The boys are 4. Itâ€™s never too early to start embarrassing your children. Especially when youâ€™ve been blogging their entire lives.)
Alas, dear Search was not interested in learning about honey production procedures. He wanted to know when we got to pick out our pumpkin. I distracted him with a snack.
From there we headed to the hayride â€“ the quintessential fall festivity to celebrate the season. Unless youâ€™re a California boy and itâ€™s 90 degrees at 9 a.m. Despite Pumpkin Peteâ€™s automatronic informational acoustics, Search spent the entire ride screaming, â€œPOKEY!â€ as bits of hay breached his basketball shorts.
You know what parents judging me? Yâ€™all had one kid to deal with. I had two. This means my odds of having a well-behaved child were double yours at any given moment.
After the tractor pull was a ride on the train, followed by an instructional video on how to grow pumpkins. This could also be considered the â€œrideâ€ where parents try to corral preschoolers trying to escape the viewing tent in search of the precious pumpkins just outside their reach. (Or, in the case of my darling boys, partnering with their havoc-wreaking musketeer to rock the hay bale benches in a quest to discover if it were possible to make them disintegrate. It is.)
Finally the moment of truth arrived. The purpose of the pumpkin patch field trip. It was time PICK YOUR PUMPKIN.
All the little ones were herded into the â€œsugar sizeâ€ patch â€“ a small enclosure bearing produce small enough for the wee ones to carry themselves.
Search and Destroy marched out carrying their prized selections.
And then it happened. Search dropped his pumpkin.
So much excitement leading up to this point, only to end with a child covered in the goo and guts of his chosen gourd.
Standing shell-shocked in the slime of an exploded squash, Search took a moment to gather his bearings before releasing an almighty wail
(For those following along from the beginning of our preemie journey â€“ good news. His lungs can most certainly fill to capacity.)
The very nice pumpkin people quickly replaced his pumpkin puree with a brand new pumpkin prize. Whether this was due to a wailing decibel heard across the greater Bay Area or their innate generosity will never be known. My guess is more the desire to shuttle all the little ones back onto the bus in preparation for the next Groundhog Day go-round of pumpkin selections.
The entire excursion was only two hours. All were exhausted. Search and Destroy passed out in my lap â€“ the adorableness rendering any misgivings moot. There is something special about the magic of this age, even moving parents to sympathize with the pulverized pumpkin.
Preschool teachers do not get paid enough. And I was only contending with my two.