The 7 Worst Parts of Every Field Trip

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When the form comes home, there is that little section along the bottom asking for chaperones.

The options should be:

_____ Not if I was the last living, breathing parent in the universe after the apocalypse.


_____ I would rather walk barefoot on hot coals but I haven’t chaperoned all year so if no one else signs up then, yeah, I guess so.

I love my kids. I even love some of their classmates. And I bow in utter awe to every teacher on the planet … but chaperone duty is exhausting.

I know field trips are part of the curriculum and necessary and blah blah. But there is something about embarking off school grounds with other people’s kids that pushes my buttons. My Bad Mommy buttons. Here are my least favorite parts of every field trip:

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1. The Professional Chaperone: This mom is the first one to turn in her form with handwritten notes and exclamation points everywhere.

So excited!!

See you then!!

Can’t wait!!

This is her niche. She has been the field trip bomb-diggity since kindergarten, and she makes sure you know that before your butt meets the hard seat of the bus. She has snacks for the hungry. Wipes for the messy. And the patience of Mother Teresa. Which makes her untrustworthy to normal, slacker moms. No one loves other people’s kids this much without getting paid. You pop Advil anticipating the hellish group singalong she is sure to lead on the way home.

2. The Peeing Machine: Every class has one kid who spends the entire excursion in the bathroom. A tour including a fountain, or any running water, ups the urgency level. No one needs the bathroom this much unless they’re scheduled for a colonoscopy. The only thing worse than visiting germy restrooms is changing the pee pants of someone else’s kid. So you trudge off. With each return, the professional chaperone springs into action with the hand sanitizer clipped to her backpack.

3. The Interruptor: This child interrupts the tour guide with embarrassing, personal details that are related to the subject matter at hand. At a wild animal exhibit, for example, this kid is likely to shout, “A cougar can be a nickname too. My dad calls the lady next door a cougar all the time.” These admissions momentarily stun the guides and send teachers scrambling. The entertainment value increases if the child has a parent on the trip. #kidssaythedarndestthings

4. Lunch: Field trip lunches should be bubble wrapped and packed in padded envelopes. Instead, those flimsy brown bags are tossed into an old basket and the food looks like roadkill when it’s time to eat. Capri Sun pouches explode. Someone’s lunch disappears. A kid wants you to save his chip bag with exactly two Funyuns left. You forgot to pack anything for yourself so you grab a stick of gum. The only problem is the gum tastes like Funyuns from being in your purse with the leftovers.

5. The Lagger: On every trip, one chaperone has to be the “caboose,” a phrase surely coined by the first, overzealous professional chaperone. The caboose is JAIL. The worst version of solitary confinement. You miss every nugget of information, every demonstration and generally the only parts that make a field trip remotely interesting. You miss them because you are bringing up the rear with some kid who. Just. Will. Not. Walk. Fast.

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6. Counting: Losing your own kid is bad. Losing a kid that is not yours is really, really bad. Or a word that is worse than bad. So, you count. Over and over. You count as they get on the bus, each time you leave a location and each time you enter a location. Then you recount because no one stands still while you count. And if you pass a gift shop, then you need to triple count because, you know, all the shiny things. Just when you think you can’t count again, it is time to count for the bus ride home. The most stressful count of all. There is no recovering from the white-hot light that shines on the chaperone of a wayward child delaying the ride home.

7. Downtime: This is a classic example of a good idea totally hitting the skids. The teachers really, really, scouts-honor believe that unscheduled time is a good thing. But it always leads to chaos and tears. Sometimes the tears are from exhausted chaperones that need an unscheduled Starbucks. The kids chase pigeons, pretend to sword fight, play sweet-or-sour with innocent passersby and generally suck the oxygen out of their environment until it is time to push and shove their way to the bus.

That bus might as well be a spaceship carrying these alien children back to whatever planet they came from. Oh, and that includes your kid, whom you see in a totally new, bratty light.

Each and every time you survive the chaperoning experience, you confirm that teachers have earned one-way tickets to heaven. Because the fact that they have your kids for seven hours a day is the only thing keeping you out of parenting hell.

Related post: 7 Reasons Why Road Trips With Kids Are Hell

I’m Not a Terrible Person, But I Freaking Hate Box Tops



Once your child hits grade school, they are immediately introduced to the ‘Box Top.’ I’m quite certain that on the first day of school, the teacher introduces herself, assigns each child a desk, and then immediately drills into our children’s brains the importance of THE BOX TOP!

“MOM! It helps our school!”

“Box Tops are helping us save for a new gymnasium!”

“Box Tops will get us to Sea World!!”


These are all (possibly untrue) things my child has blurted out while perusing the grocery store aisles.

Now, look, before you presume that I am some asshole mother who doesn’t want to support her child’s school (well, I am an asshole, but I do support my child’s school), allow a lady to explain…

My child has a mysterious skin condition. No one can figure out what the hell causes her itchy, problematic skin eruptions. I’ve spent a boat load of cash on Western medicine, and every alternative measure you can imagine.

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Essential oils? Check. Steroid Creams? Check. Blood Tests? Check. Food Allergies? CHECK.

Now, have you ever seen these Box Tops on the top of any organic product? I’ve scoured the aisles of every store and they are on about four organic food products. FOUR.

The one thing that has proven best for my little McScratchin’ daughter is sticking as closely to an organic diet as possible. It is annoying, expensive, and frustrating. However, she is my child and I sort of like her, and, more so, kind of want her to be comfortable… so, organic it is for this family.

Organic = No Box Tops


I swear, I feel as though General Mills and Sea World are ganging up on me. Sea World must have telepathically read my mind when I watched Black Fish and knew I’d never return to buy a churro and watch the Shamu show, so they’ve set out on a quest to get me with the evil Box Top.

So, in order not to be a complete jackass parent, I’ve now resorted to hitting up Costco to buy the things that DO have Box Tops that won’t cause my child to scratch her skin off — like Ziploc bags. Each Costco trip, we swipe up enough Ziploc bags to package about 6,000 sandwiches, and we destroy each box as soon as we get through the front door.  My young one then has her 12 Box Tops to take to school the next day, and the world is a happy place. If there is ever a Ziploc bag shortage, phone me up; I’ve got you (and the rest of the continental United States) covered for at least a few years.

Recently, I’ve realized I do not have enough room to store any more annihilated Ziploc bag boxes. I’ve taken it a step further and started hunting for Box Tops elsewhere. I have started looking, of all places, on eBay! Genius, I know…

Currently, I am in a bidding war with another lady for 500 Box Tops. I am in the lead and holding strong at $42.00.

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After I placed my ‘highest bid’ on these cardboard cut-outs that seem to equate to gold, I decided to look up what the actual value of the box top is.



Had I known that each package I purposefully purchase because of said ‘Box Top’ was only equating to a TEN CENT donation, I’d toss my kid a dime every time we walked passed a cereal box that had a Box Top stuck to the top of it. I mean, really, wouldn’t it just be easier to hand your kid eight dimes each time you hit up the grocery store?

You don’t need to answer that, because I already know it would be.

So, seeing as how I lost the bidding war with BoxTopMom4310 on eBay, I am taking the wrinkled ‘in case of emergency’ twenty-dollar bill out of my wallet, driving straight to the bank and asking for precisely two hundred dimes.

I should be good for at least the next year. That is, after all, two hundred Box Tops.

Related post: 9 Moms Found at Every Elementary School

The 6 Stages of Doing Homework with Elementary Kids

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When I was in elementary school, I swear to you, the most work I ever did outside of class was remembering to bring my Valentine’s cards to school on the right day. And I feel like first grade consisted mostly of show and tell and learning to color between the lines. Please tell me I’m not alone here.

Our days were not filled with reading and writing and Common Core algebra before we could even tie our own shoes in the same way they are for our kids now. And there certainly wasn’t any homework — real, legit, pencil-to-paper, due-date-specified homework. Given what policy makers today have determined is necessary to master in the early grades, it’s a wonder we didn’t all grow up to be completely inept, nonfunctioning members of society.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad my kids are learning, and they’re genuinely excited about it too. But the homework. Dear God, the homework. It is quite possibly one of my least favorite nighttime rituals, this doing of homework with my 6-year-old. And if you’re a parent of an elementary-aged child as well, I’m guessing you can relate to these stages of doing homework with your kids.

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Stage 1: Acknowledging the Homework

This stage starts out pleasant enough. You ask your kid if he has homework, and he says “no.” Fifteen minutes later, you ask him again. Still no. A full two hours more pass in which you repeatedly question your child about homework, each inquiry met with yet another “no.”  You finally tell your kid it’s time to get ready for bed, at which point he announces, “BUT MOMMY, I HAVE TO DO MY HOMEWORK!”

You channel Buddha with every fiber of your being, fighting back strong urges to lose it on him, and calmly tell him to go get said homework before you start eating your own hair.

Stage 2: Finding the Homework

After sending her to retrieve her homework from her backpack, your kid returns empty-handed, claiming she can’t find it. You stomp upstairs after muttering something about how she needs to use her eyes a little better. You unzip her backpack, expecting the homework to be right there on top, only to take one peek inside and discover that HOLYFUCKINGHELL, it looks like an Office Depot diarrhead in there.

You ask your kid how long it’s been since she cleaned the thing out between hauling fistfuls of worksheets, construction paper, and glue-stick-soaked art projects from its depths. When she tells you she just cleaned it out yesterday, you conclude that elementary schools everywhere are single-handedly killing ALL THE TREES.

Stage 3: Starting the Homework

You bring the homework you found under eight pounds of photocopies back downstairs and find your kid engaged in some Very Important Task he couldn’t possibly participate in yesterday when you suggested it. You tell him it’s time to do the homework instead, simultaneously pressing his invisible whine button in the process.

Four nags, three threats, and one thing you won’t ever repeat again later, and you two are seated and ready to do this thing, but not before the baby shrieks/the dog needs to go out/the pot boils over on the stove/the house catches fire.

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Stage 4: Doing the Homework

Once the crisis du jour has subsided, you and your kid begin going over the instructions. The farther down the page you look, the sweatier your palms get. She really is only in first grade, right? you think, stumped as to how you, an adult, could be having such trouble understanding what the fuck it is a child is supposed to do here.

Instead of admit to your ignorance, you ask her what she thinks she’s supposed to do, praying to every god you ever learned about in high school sociology that you’ll figure out what “write a number bond followed by a number sentence” means before your inferior show-and-tell-color-between-the-lines education starts to show. A half hour later, as the two of you are still working on number one and talking at each other 10 decibels louder than when you began, you seriously contemplate calling your local legislator and telling her you’ve got a number bond for her, along with a really good suggestion as to where she can shove it.

Stage 5: Finishing the Homework

After just three temper tantrums, one of which was yours, you and your kid finally finish up what should have been a 10 minute task in a cool hour-and-a-half. A sense of accomplishment washes over you and you begin to smile, daydreaming about the glass of wine that awaits you as your kid heads upstairs to change into his pajamas. You’re mere seconds away from fermented ecstasy when, out of nowhere, your kid announces he’s ready for you to kiss him goodnight but, oops, not until after you help him complete one more paper he forgot he has to do.

OHMYGOD I WILL KILL ALL THAT IS SACRED IN THIS WORLD! you scream internally, setting your wine glass down and trudging over to the table once more. You don’t even bother asking him how he was able to find this paper, and right now of all times, when he couldn’t find the other one to save his life. You just want to get this thing over with. NOW. Before you have to add homicide to your criminal jacket.

Stage 6: Recovering from the Homework

Finally, three gray hairs, a Xanax, and 25 minutes of sight words later, the homework’s finished and packed safely back in the book bag. For real this time. You escort your kid to his bedroom, tuck him in, and make a beeline for the wine. Only this time, you skip the glass and head straight for the whole stinkin’ bottle. Homework is hard, dammit, and you deserve it. All 750 glorious milliliters.

Related post: Homework Sucks

10 Commandments of School Drop Off & Pick Up

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Taking the kids to school in the morning and collecting them again in the afternoon are quite possibly two of the most harrowing events in a parent’s day. But they don’t have to be. The gods of kid carting have spoken, people, and they demand that we follow these 10 commandments of school drop off and pick up:

1. Thou shalt drive in the correct direction. Not the opposite direction of everyone else. The correct direction. The one is driving in. The clearly posted signs and brightly colored arrows are not suggestions. They are requirements. And all the parents waiting patiently to enter the fire lane, push their kids out the door, and exit the fire lane in an orderly fashion thank you for adhering to them.

2. Thou shalt not park thy car wherever thou please. Those white lines painted on the parking lot pavement are intended to house cars between them. Don’t park on top of them. Don’t take up a space enclosed by more than two of them. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t park anywhere that doesn’t have them (I’m looking at you, dad who thinks the middle of the drive is his special spot).

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3. Thou shalt not drive like an Andretti brother. This is not the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is a school zone, and as such, there are little people not paying attention to anything they’re doing and walking directly into traffic everywhere. It’s great that your car can go from 0 to 60 in a nanosecond, but not here, Speed Racer. Not here.

4. Thou shalt not treat the drop off and pick up lane as thy personal social gathering. You may have forgotten to RSVP to Susie’s birthday party or have a really-cool-super-fun-time story to tell Braxton’s mom, but now is not the time or the place to scream out your window and halt traffic by carrying on conversations with others. Move it along, Chatty Cathy. Better yet? Facebook that shit. This is the 21st century, after all.

5. Thou shalt recognize that there is a line for dropping off and picking up. This isn’t a free-for-all. The same rules of etiquette that apply elsewhere in society also apply here. If you see a line, for the love of God, get in it. No cutsies. We mean it.

6. Thou shalt get thy life together BEFORE dropping off or picking up thy kids. Packing backpacks? Signing permission slips? Dispensing lunch money? Yeah, I’m not on top of that shit either. But once I’m on school property, forget about it. I’m not the only person in the world trying to get rid of send my kids to school or take them home today, and neither are you. So stop acting like it.

7. Thou shalt get off thy phone and halt thy Tweeting and Instagraming and Pinteresting and Facebooking until AFTER the deed is done. Nobody cares about that dinner recipe you just stumbled across or what color the snot coming out of your toddler’s nose is anyway, but they especially don’t care when you should be focusing on other things. Things such as PAYING ATTENTION TO DROPPING OFF OR PICKING UP YOUR KIDS.

8. Thou shalt not form a blockade preventing other parents from entering the school or locating their children at release time. Some parents, particularly those of younger children, have to actually go into the school to release and collect their progeny. This process runs a lot more smoothly when other parents avoid gathering into impenetrable body walls comprised of self-absorption and I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-anyone-else-but-myself-itis.

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9. Thou shalt hold the door for fellow parents if thou can. Many parents are herding unwieldy toddlers and carrying inexplicably heavy infant seats in addition to their school-aged children and all their crap. If you can help them out by holding a door or two, please do. It’s not a contest to see who makes it out alive the fastest.

10. Thou shalt not let everyone and thy brother exit school grounds before thee. Being polite is one thing. But waving every bus, car, motorcycle, and Radio Flyer between the school and the next town in front of you only serves to back up the already congested line even more. Treat that shit like a 4-way stop. Give one, take one, people. We’d all like to get home before tomorrow.

Related post: Random Thoughts From The School Pick-Up Line

The 12 Teachers You’ll Find in Every Elementary School

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You’ve seen them. And if you haven’t, you’ve heard about them.

Every teacher in your child’s elementary school has a reputation.

And just about every one of them falls into at least one of the following categories…

1. The Veteran. Has his/her shit together. The perfect balance of discipline and warm fuzzy. Has somehow managed to survive thirty years of teaching without burning out. You pray your kid has him/her.

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2. The Fashionista. This one cannot possibly make enough money to pay for her wardrobe. All the little girls love her.

3. The Bombshell. Her skirts are short and her heels are high. She shows lots of cleavage. All the little boys love her. And so do the dads.

4. The Overachiever. She’s the one heading committees and volunteering and applying for grants and cutting crap out by hand. She will get married, have kids, retire, and become the overachieving stay-at-home mom that all other moms hate.

5. The Doormat. The substitute who covers her class has more control over the kids than she does.

6. The Dude. Every day is a party. This teacher throws the football around in the classroom. He never gives homework. He doesn’t necessarily prepare the kids for the next year, but the moms don’t care because he’s kind of hot. All the kids want this teacher.

7. The Musician. This is the uber talented classroom teacher who plays the guitar and can turn every situation into the opportunity for a song. The kids love her. The other teachers are jealous of her.

8. The Hard Ass. You do not fuck around in this teacher’s classroom. Parents either love him/her or hate him/her.

9. The Sports Fanatic. This teacher has pennants and sports paraphernalia everywhere. Every math problem revolves around a team sport scenario. All the boys want to get this teacher.

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10. The Cheeseball. You know her. She’s got the apple sweater and the apple name tags and the apple earrings and the apple coffee mug and the apple pencils and the apple bulletin board and the apple manicure and the apple necklace and the apple purse and the apple totebag and the apple lunch box and the apple license plate and the apple…

11. The Curmudgeon. This is the cranky teacher who refuses to acknowledge the passage of time. He or she still writes out homework papers by hand, doesn’t have a class website, and will never make any effort to assimilate into the 21st century.

12. The Cool, Young Teacher. If you’re going to get a new(er) teacher, this is the one  you want. She’s fun. She’s progressive. She can handle anything. And she eventually becomes…

…the Veteran.

Related post: 9 Moms Found At Every Elementary School