In the newfound era (i.e. my seventh grader would rather be dead than have me around his friends), I squealed with delight when my fifth-grade daughter begged me to chaperone her class field trip. Yes, there are many other things I’d rather do than ride a school bus (surrounded by lovesick tweens all day), but I plan to savor every last drop of my child still finding my very existence to be socially acceptable. For that alone, the day was a success.
We packed our brown-bag lunches, popped on our hoodies, and off to school we went. Accidentally leaving my phone at home was a blessing in disguise (after a brief withdrawal and the sad realization that I couldn’t take photos). I was present, body and mind!
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It was fascinating to put faces to the names my daughter’s been sharing all year — to observe the social exchanges of friends, foes, and everyone in between. Hormones were in full swing! The sun was shining, spring was in the air — I’m pretty sure "Dream Weaver" played as a subtle soundtrack when a certain girl breezed past a curious boy, hair blowing just so. There were giggles, and eye rolls, and sighs. On this day, on the cusp of sixth grade, life was good.
The day went without a hitch, as we toured several beautiful and historically important sites in Lexington and Concord. I now have a much deeper understanding of New England’s role in the start of the American Revolution — but here’s what I really observed:
Phew! I’m exhausted after one day, and I was just along for the ride. These professionals are equipped for adolescent warfare. Educators, event planners, behavior specialists, mediators, comedians, EMTs, parents, friends, social workers — all with the patience of steel. Teachers play all these roles in one. Thank them!
Not trying to be funny, as this is a full Public Service Announcement. For the love of all that’s good, your child is ready for a little more self-care. Showers every day. EVERY. DAY. Deo in the morning, maybe even an extra stick in the backpack. Really.
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Seating arrangements, snack swaps, games, secrets, and songs — all worth a child’s weight in gold.
And thank goodness for that! Freckles, crooked teeth, ungroomed brows. They laugh and play and tell jokes, and are not yet too cool for school. Yes, there can be drama, but we’ve still got them! They care, they’re interested, and they are still so innocent. It is a golden, waning moment.
Kudos to the school for declaring this trip a ‘No Phones’ zone. That included no cameras, no video games, and the like. What was most surprising is that the kids followed through — no pushback or sneaks. The kids were talkative (very!) and engaged. They asked questions and were respectful and kind, and ran around and played like kids should. Which brings me to my final observation…
This essay originally appeared on Medium.com and was written by Elease Colcord, the funny writer behind the blog The Sunny Side of Something. Find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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