2 Days a week Angry Baby goes to pre-school. She’s been going for a little over a year, and really enjoys it. Tuesday, her class took a field trip to the local Pumpkin Patch. Because the universe has a great sense of irony, her teachers asked if I would be a parent chaperone. I agreed to help.
The morning of the BIG ADVENTURE (!) arrived and I found myself cursing my helpful, volunteering ways. Ever the phony, I faked enthusiasm and asked Angry Baby “Are you ready for the field trip to the pumpkin patch?”
“OH YES, MOMMY! IT’S GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN! HOORAY!!!”
We arrived at the school, at our normal time, 9:00am and the trip was to begin at 9:20. “Thank you so much for agreeing to help, you can wait in the hallway with the other parents until it’s time to leave.”
Turns out, the “patch” was but a mere 3 blocks away, and several parents in the class were on board to hold tiny hands as we made our way on foot to the destination.
For 15 minutes, I stood in the hallway and retreated to the comfort of my cellular telephone. But not before I surveyed the other parent volunteers, there were 6 of us.
Our motley crew consisted of:
- A pumped up super buff dude, who looked like he was auditioning to be an extra on Sons of Anarchy. Accompanying him was his waaaaaay too perky for 9:00am wife, they were both in workout clothes (of course.)
- Some lady pretending she didn’t speak English, just to avoid interaction with us. Spoiler Alert: the jig was up later in the trip, when she answered a phone call and began conversing in English with a perfect, television announcer-like voice.
- Pushy alpha mom in yoga pants, in one hand a Starbucks, and the other her SLR camera.
- The 39-year-old grandma with both foot and neck tattoos, wearing a Nickelback t-shirt.
And last, but certainly not least…
Me. Hungover in sunglasses, cursing myself for volunteering in the first place.
Freshly showered and ravishing in full makeup, complete with REAL shoes (AKA not flip-flops,) I was exceedingly overdressed for the occasion. Those of you familiar with the CLASSIC holiday film, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” will understand when I say that, I was totally the “Todd and Margo” in this situation.
Left with my own thoughts, it suddenly dawned on me that I had both car keys and a cellphone but NO POCKETS. On a day that I was going to be holding children’s hands for safety, I was anchored down with my stuff and NOWHERE to place them. Luckily, I have no shame whatsoever, found a secluded corner and stuffed both items into my bra. It’s an old whore’s trick I perfected in college.
Suprisingly, after “Pocketgate 2013,” the waiting time flew by. Before Nickleback nana could sharpen her prison shiv, or musclehead could finish his Muscle Milk, it was go time. The kids emerged from the classroom and began to line up.
I approached Angry Baby to clasp her hand, “Hi sweets, are you ready to have FUN!?”
A puzzled look overcame her face, “Um, goodbye Mommy, see ya later.”
“Actually, I’m going WITH your class on the trip, remember?”
“Sure,” (long sigh) “I remember.”
I grabbed her grubby little mitt and the class made its way out the door. While the group was walking the short distance, Angry Baby was stone silent. I decided to lighten her mood with a joke bit that we do everyday in our house. I won’t bore you with the details, as it’s only funny in person, but I always start it with a set up, and Angry Baby usually chimes in with the punch line.
I said my part, it’s a line that I say multiple times a day, every time answered by my joking little cutie…only this time when her part came, she gave me a withering look that said, “How dare you do this to me in front of all my friends!?” She followed her death stare with, “No, just stop.”
The remainder of our walk I spent trying to avoid the icy cold shade Angry Baby was throwing my way. I’m shocked the sidewalks weren’t iced, girlfriend was so cold.
Finally, we arrived at the “Pumpkin Patch,” which really was just an empty lot filled with old wooden flats and a few (overpriced by my judgment) pumpkins. How we were going to make a full “field trip,” out of this dump was an unfathomable mystery.
They first lined the kids up and each took a turn throwing bean bags into a wooden pumpkin. As I descended into a boredom-triggered depression spiral, the sun began to beat down on my gorgeous raven mane. Alpha Mom started chatting me up,
“WOW with all that beautiful hair, you must be MELTING out here, I swear, it’s ALWAYS hot on Pumpkin Patch day, that’s why I put MY hair up this morning!”
As she talked about hair and weather for the next 5 minutes, she also feverishly snapped photos of kids throwing bean bags at the shoddy jack-o-lantern. I decided I should try to get a couple of photos myself.
Angry Baby thought otherwise, she refused to even make eye-contact with me at this point. “No Mom!” Ever the annoying parent, I pressed on, here’s the “best” of the bean bag toss pictures I took. As you can tell, she hates me:
About this time, Captain Cross Fit decided to start hamfisting his way into the game. His perky cheerleader of a lady screamed him on, “Go baby, GET IT!” Oh sure, he saw me snapping pics, but Cro-Magnon man didn’t care. Here’s a photo that proves it.
Mercifully, the beanbag foolery was over soon, and we retreated to a table, where the children were supposed to sing songs and read a pumpkin story. Little did I know, I was about to be in the middle of a photographic feeding frenzy.
Antelopes on the Serengeti, avoiding the death crunch of a predator’s murdering jaw, that’s what all the parents moved like once the children were seated. Apparently, the stupid d*ckbag toss was merely a warm up, at this table the “BIG DANCE,” took place. In perfect synchronization, each adult produced a camera and then began duking it out with the others to get the best “shot,” even fake non-English speaker got in on the act. Wolves on a gut pile, I tell you!
Being the rookie at this nonsense parade, I did what anyone with half a brain would have done, I retreated. Taking refuge on an old pile of rotting wooden flats, slick with the morning dew, I watched the battle royale taking place before my eyes. These people were crazy.
After things calmed down somewhat, I decided to take out my phone to snap a few, miracles of miracles, my darling little sourpuss managed to take a picture that didn’t involve scowling.
Of course, Alpha mom was pushing her way into all the pictures the entire time, while others chilled out, she never stopped the fight. Here’s photographic evidence of her dedication to screwing up everyone’s shot:
After the table activities were over, the kids marched around the “Pumpkin Patch,” where at the end of the non-journey, each picked out a tiny pumpkin to take home. Angry Baby was all business: she surveyed the available gourds, made her selection and quickly lined back up with her class. Other children were more, how can I say this delicately…contemplative about their choices. For 10 minutes in the beating sun, I stood there waiting on indecisive (but cute) kids. Angry Baby decided she was bored and began hurling her pumpkin at the ground for kicks. Finally, we began making our way out of the “Pumpkin Patch.” But just as my dreams of freedom began to take flight, they came crashing down, see, it was now the teacher’s turn to document our field trip.
Individual photos, class photos, photos of kids frolicking, photos of volunteers, photos showcasing the glistening sweat moustache I was sporting, she took thousands. Poor teacher had overestimated her students ability to endure snapshots, because as if on cue, a symphony of child whines, cries, and screams erupted. Every last kid in the group hit their limit at the exact same time. The group meltdown was breathtaking. Our once chipper parade of parents and angels somberly marched back to the school in silence. I then tried to strike a conversation up with Angry Baby.
“Did you have a great time at the pumpkin patch!?”
“Yep. Mommy, are you going home now?”
“Soon sweetheart, and then you’ll be back in school with your friends.”
And for the first time since the trip began, Angry Baby grinned ear to ear.
That’s how my first (and likely, last) time escorting Angry Baby on a field trip, ended. Between the boredom, blood sport, screaming kids, and blazing hot sun, it was hands-down the biggest scare of my Halloween season. ‘Twas truly frightening.
Consider my chilling tale of woe and fake pumpkin patches be a lesson to you all:
Never volunteer to help with anything.