Of Field Trips and Spoons

So, last Friday I went on my first ever field trip as a chaperone. It was for TT – who is now in Second Grade. It was to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I’d never been there before, and as #1 Son missed this Field Trip due to the Pandemic closing everything in March 2020 I think we will all go as a family in the summer as a day trip.

She’s been desperate for me to be more involved with School-based activities since she started Kindergarten. So, after a mere seven years of being a parent in the Melrose schooling system I finally managed to get a CORI check.


A CORI check is the USA equivalent to a UK DBS (formerly CRB) check. I didn’t manage it before #1 Son was in 2nd Grade because as a Green Card holder I caused significant turmoil and confusion when I first asked in 2017. Then in 2020 the Pandemic hit and I just wasn’t mentally able to face the risk involved with being in a classroom with that many other people.


So in early May I was informed that I had been “randomly selected” to be one of the class chaperones.

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Now, initially I did genuinely believe that it was random. Honestly, it’s true.

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However it soon became abundantly clear that it was very definitely done deliberately.

Because TT was assigned to my group. And anyone who know anything about Field Trips, knows damn well that you do not usually have your own child assigned to you. But TT has her particular flavor of special needs, and without me there she would have almost certainly assigned to her Home Room teacher’s group. Which also included the absolute scrote* who has been relentlessly bullying her all year*. Which would have made the trip hideous for her.


*Yes I am working on a post about all of that, but as you might imagine dear audience, that post is taking time as I need to wait for my blood pressure spikes to calm down whilst composing it. Because I. HAVE. VIEWS.


So I turned up to school last Friday at 08:20 and as assigned my group:

  • TT – and she was thrilled – which was genuinely lovely for me.
  • R – One of TT’s current besties.
  • A – The only other girl. She was so sweet and kind.
  • B – whose mom joined us for the ‘free play’ part of the assignment.
  • S – who seemed to be strong buddies with B so that most definitely helped.

So one of the first things I did? Offered an introduction. I told them that I was TT’s mom and that they could call me that, or Mrs. TT’s mom or they could call me by my first name if they felt comfortable doing so and if that made it easier for them.

I then informed them that I am an adult with ADHD and that one of the ways that this might show itself is in anxiety if I could not easily see them at all times, so I would prefer it if they walked in front of me during the Field Trip.

But Mrs. TT’s mom we’re supposed to stay behind you, that’s the Field Trip rules

Don’t ask me to tell you which of them said that, it was in chorus!

However I then explained that whilst I understood that, for my own comfort and brain weasels (it’s amazing how much kids will accept if you make it funny!) I needed to be able to see them. And also that I needed them to regularly sound off on a roll call if I called for one.

And by the end of the trip? B and S would swiftly raise their arms and call ‘Here’ if they saw my head start to turn in either direction. Honestly they were total sweethearts and really well-behaved boys from start to finish. And yes I told them that often and praised them for helping me out.

So we headed out. Rather unsurprisingly the school bus we were assigned to was the one running late but hey ho. I have to admit I am now in awe of how their class teacher keeps them all in check. Her roll call is done numerically – each child knows their own number on the register and they shout them out. She also makes a game of it by seeing how quickly they can do it. And its really efficient.

She also has her method for ensuring both silence and stillness.

Mrs. O:

Hands on top

Class (whilst freezing in place and putting their hands on their heads):

Everybody Stop!

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There were also a number of bus-specific rules, which were followed with various stages of efficacy. The most important one being: Sitting on your Pineapples/Pineapples on bus seats.


Pineapples = butts πŸ€£πŸ˜‚


So I had planned to take many photographs to commemorate the trip, but there just wasn’t time. If I took my eyes off the group for more than 30 seconds at any point? One of them would vanish. And it was often R. So this is us from the bus ride to Harvard Museum:

So the first hour was free play within the main exhibits, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Glass Flowers
  • The Rocks and Minerals Room
  • Climate Change
  • Dinosaurs
  • Sea Life
  • The Taxidermized Animals

Yes these are not the official names, and I’m missing some out, but there was a lot to cover in a very short amount of time. You see, we were given an imformation packet, which inclided activitires focused around the Taxidermized Animals exhibit to try and make it fully educational for the kids. However, allow me to enlighten you on something dear audience:

There is no damn way to do that and keep an eye on five excitable children who all want to see different exhibits at the same time.

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Honest to goodness it isn’t. I somehow managed to ensure each child got to spend a decent amount of time in their expressed favorite exhibit, and we did manage to see everything on our list – but with no depth of inquiry time really. Highlights included:

  • Glass Flowers – they were astounded by the fact that each piece was hand blown/created but that lasted for less than 5 minutes before they were bored AF.
  • Rocks and Minerals – I managed to get them all to find their favorite stone, and kept them engaged with the Birth Stone case that the Museum had put together.
  • Climate Change – I forced them to do the interactive bits and read the main exhibits within this room because goddammit this matters for them.
  • Dinosaurs – enough said. Show me a kid who doesn’t like dinosaurs and I’ll show you a liar!**
  • Sea Life – TT adores sharks so this kept her on an even keel during a potential meltdown.
  • The Taxidermized Animals – I had some stories about some of them, comparing them to the Tring Museum of my own childhood, and the times I’d ridden a camel and seen Orangutans in the wild.

**I gained a lot of Street Cred with B and S because I love dinosaurs. They had what we all initially thought was a Mosasaurus – but it was actually a Kronosaurus – and the world’s only wall-mounted one at that. B and S were asking how I knew about them, and I explained that I had been re-watching the fourth and fifth Jurassic Park movies a lot recently. Thanks ADHD hyper fixations!


There are SIX Jurassic Park Movies????

B with his mind thoroughly blown!

I then explained about the later three films. Either he didn’t know that the three Jurassic World movies are part of the JP franchise, or wasn’t aware that those films even existed. Either way, I suspect he went home full of the news that not only are there more dinosaur films and that adults watch them!!!

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Then we took a break for lunch. At 11am. That honestly felt like cruel and unusual punishment. I have the utmost respect for teachers. I ended up cooking and eating my own dinner at 6pm that evening because I was hungry to the point of nausea.

The aforementioned little scrote randomly spent a lot of that time peppering me with questions. I promise I was civil, but I had very little desire to spend time indulging him when each new question caused my daughter’s face to fall more and more. She doesn’t like him (I don’t blame her!) and she does not want me spending time with him (again I don’t blame her). But in observing him I become more and more convinced that he has no idea that his behavior is causing him to be disliked. Because it wasn’t only my child giving him a wide berth.

After lunch came my only real chance to take pictures whilst we had an presentation about fossils and fossilization as a concept. It was truly fascinating. I did mention I liked dinosaurs etc. right?

This is fossilized poop. Yep, excrement. I have no idea how that occurs but I find genuine joy in the idea that we keep preserved poop simply because it’s millions of years old

After this, it was bathroom break and journey home time. And that led to a conversation between myself, TT and A that I was not expecting or prepared for. In the Ladies toilet was this:

Side note: Excellent job Harvard Museum – having free tampons readily available? Yes. Great. Good job. Keep it up! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

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However, TT was curious and wanted to know what they were. So I simply said ‘Tampons’. To which both TT and A asked: “What are tampons?”

Which, fair question. However, A is not my child. And is only 8 or 9 years old. And the thought of A going home and telling her parents:

TT’s Mom told me what tampons are today.

Quite frankly filled me with cold dread. That’s not something I want to have happen. Therefore I was completely honest and told her that they were something she needed to ask her mom about. That it was nothing bad, they were completely normal but that as she was not my child I didn’t personally feel comfortable discussing them with her, since her own mom might not want me to.

A couple of other adult women in the bathroom did compliment me on how well I apparently handled that situation so that made me feel better.

I explained to TT a few days later what tampons are. And she actually spontaneously said:

I understand why you didn’t want to tell A about those mom. I think that is something her mom needs to talk to her about.

Which again reassured me. I did tell her that when she and her friends are older I would be happy to talk to them about this type of thing. But from around age 13+ I think. I do want to be known as a Safe House for both kids and their friends overall but it just felt a bit young to start, especially as I’ve never met her parents so I didn’t know anything about them or their own personal beliefs.

So after that little interlude we were to leave. The bus actually arrived on time and we all piled on. And TT just shut down.

This happened as soon as the bus engine fired up πŸ₯ΊπŸ₯ΊπŸ₯Ί

I’ve suspected for a while that TT might not simply be ADHD. That she (and indeed both of them) are AuDHD. Now I’m certain. I literally watched the mask fall away from her and she was just done. She didn’t fall asleep – she passed TF out. You can see how pale she is in the photo. It sadly only last about 10-15 minutes, because the rest of the kids on the bus were truly hyped. They were wilder on the way back than on the way there. She had her hands clamped over her ears for the majority of the trip home. I’ve therefore informed the hus-creature that we need to get her a proper pair of ear defenders for the next field trip.

I was also completely out of spoons. I cannot cope with doing this again within this school year. I might be on the list for #1 Son’s Field Trip to NH on his birthday, but I’m not chaperoning Friday’s DPW trip. I cannot. It took me the whole weekend to recover! R was… a lot. He would get upset when TT just wanted to look at things herself. He spent a large amount of time during the talk portion of the event trying to get her attention. She had her hands over her ears asking him to leave her alone and let her concentrate because she wanted to learn. So he got upset and went to Mrs. O to tattle. But the teacher was thankfully on TT’s side on that one.

In addition? Poor A appears to be a true introvert, so it was also a lot for her as well. She was so quiet, shy and unassuming that I felt very worried about her. But letting her chill out on whatever benches I could find and checking in with her regularly kept her on an even keel.

When we got back to the school the kids had 50 minutes left of the school day so I wasn’t able to take her home with me. Her teacher did congratulate me on getting through my first chaperoned event and told me that I did an amazing job and should consider doing it again when I could manage it.

I probably will. Next year. I need a chance to recover. But TT’s sheer joy in me attending made it worthwhile. But for now?

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His first field trip

Well, overall it went much better than expected.

Daddy went with him on chaperone duty.

It wasn’t quite a full day, but there was a tour of a working dairy, a scavenger hunt and a scoop of ice cream.

He loved the scavenger hunt. Particularly as daddy had the brilliant idea to get him to take pictures of the things that he found.


We bought him a FujiFilm instant camera for his birthday – he’s been having loads of fun with it


So that kept him engaged.

He wasn’t quite as enamoured of the dairy. According to the hus-creature he did not wish to learn and was exceedingly sulky.

However he wasn’t the only child with a parental chaperone, and a number of parents decided to come along anyway so there was a ratio of roughly 4 children to one adult.

Oh, and I now have definitely confirmation that #1 Son isn’t the worst behaved in his class. According to the hus-creature:

Ok <child> is worse. They just screamed and spat at another kid

And attacked another kid’s food

Yeah ok #1 Son is not worst

Which is slightly comforting. I would like it though if he did not need chaperoning in order to participate in a field trip.

To end:

Here is my belovΓ©d catbeast refusing to let me sleep

School Events

There’s been a lot of things happening in the last couple of days with, for and to #1 Son.

So on Tuesday evening there was his second parent teacher conference. Now I’m pleased to say that I didn’t approach this one with as much trepidation as his initial one back in November.

I knew that there had been some improvements, and that was in both social and academic areas. Of course there were still issues, but what Kindergartener won’t have those?

I also took up his three exercise books that we’ve been working through to show his teacher that we’ve been trying to do improvement work at home on more than just reading.

He has 180 Days of Kindergarten in:

  • Math
  • Writing
  • Reading

The idea is that from the start of the academic year you do one page a day (I assume they mean workdays) and improve as the class and the year goes on. We only picked them up after the 100 days of school celebrations, but they are still worth doing.


I can’t say that he’s been totally thrilled with it but he does it with minimal fighting. Possibly because I mark it as we go along, and he likes to see how well he’s doing. He would do better if he just concentrated but neither me nor his father were particularly good at that either.

And when I say “do better” I mean the difference between getting 6 out of six and 5 out of six. He’s good at it really.

So our 20 minute conference time turned into nearly an hour but fortunately I was her last meeting of the day and apparently she is regularly in school until 6 PM as it is. The woman is a saint, have I mentioned this?

She talked me through his systems for taking breaks, how he concentrates (better than it has been, though there is obviously still room for improvement), and perhaps more interestingly the system she has devised for tracking his particular outbursts and what triggers them. Spoiler: there is no apparent pattern. Although the day when he has music as his “special” (Wednesday) seem to have more outbursts. This does make sense to me, as it’s a very noisy class and he gets overstimulated.

I also noted that he seems to work better in a classroom setting when he is buddied up with a female friend. And interestingly his teacher noted that he will play outside with his peers now and that when he does, it is normally with the boys! I think I don’t need to explain how absolutely ecstatic this information made me.

Don’t get me wrong, he does still have days when during recess he will just walk round and round in circles talking to himself. But that’s fewer and he’s playing with children his own age!

For the sake of brevity (and so that you, dear audience, do not die of boredom) I will skip over the academic stuff except to say that he is doing better and concentrating for longer. And I will now move to the most important part of the session where she told me something that made me literally dance around the classroom which was:

He is no longer the child causing her the most grief!!!

Okay so there is still the caveat of “for now” but let me have my moment in the sun here!!!!

They do want either myself or his dad to go with him to supervise in a couple of upcoming field trips, but I can’t really blame them on that.

All in all after the conversation I had with his therapist regarding playing with peers and her concern that he wasn’t, I left that meeting pretty much walking on air. One darn proud mama bear.

Then came Wednesday. Which was a pretty normal day. Except at about 11:30 I got a phone call from the school nurse. To tell me that my poor son had gotten into a fight with the playground. Not in the playground with another child oh no with the ground itself. And he lost. Except at about 1130 I got a phone call from the school nurse. To tell me that my poor son had gotten into a fight with the playground. Not in the playground with another child, oh no, with the ground itself. And he lost.

The top photos were taken just after he came home on Wednesday afternoon, and the bottom two were taken the next morning.

He still feeling very very sad and sorry for himself. I’m not surprised. It’s still sore and he still wants band aids on the grazes. I have no problem with this, as apart from anything else it helps prevent infection. He’s been talking about not wanting to play outside at recess and “keeping everybody safe”. Perhaps he will learn to look before he runs?

Honestly? I doubt it but it’s taught him a valuable lesson I think.

Today I went up to school for a Math Fun morning (!)

No really. The idea was that you would undertake different activities with your child and see what they have been learning.

He made me a chain link necklace – a rainbow necklace πŸ’—

He needed to take a 5 minute break in the middle of the work, and when there was only 5 minutes left of the session because he had run out of steam. So with the second I decided to leave a little early, as by the time he was done with his break it would be time for the parents to leave anyway.

He handled that fine. Also I ought to note that it was extremely noisy in the classroom, and he didn’t have one outburst. I was so proud of him πŸ’•

He also came home with this:

It is a “Rainbow Egg for keeping stuff in” πŸ’—

And finally, it seems that due to the late March snow, the Ida, Always author needed to cancel her previously scheduled visit. So, she will return at some as-yet-to-be-determined time, and his copies of the books will be signed!

Spring Break is now upon us, so stand by for stories of trips to the park, ice cream and lots of shenanigans…


IT MIGHT HAPPEN


Oh, and one other lovely thing. When he was dropped off by the lovely A this afternoon she left as normal, and then came back to ask if she could take him to the local ice cream parlour that we also frequent – because her youngest daughter (Grade 5, so aged 11 or thereabouts) and her friends wanted him to come with them.

Okay I know that the therapist wouldn’t have been as pleased as I was, but I was thrilled that he was able to socialise like that in a public place.

I’m one very proud mummy tonight.