Field Trip to the Roller Rink

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again:  I hate field trips.

But I love my students, and they love field trips, so I make sure to take them on three or four a year.

The rule is, though, that I get to choose where we go. And if I want to visit a greasy bowling alley that reeks of stale beer and broken dreams?  Then guess what, kids?  We’re going bowling!

A few of them were upset when I stopped doing the traditional, annual boring field trip to our state’s capitol building and decided instead to take them to the local roller rink for the morning so I could sit at a table and drink coffee while they skated the limbo and played red light green light. They felt comfortable voicing their dismay because for some reason awhile back we stopped teaching that children should be seen and not heard.

“Wheatzie!” they grumbled. “We really wanted to go to the capitol!”

“Awwww, I’m sorry,” I replied.  “But you know what’ll make you feel better?  Stuffing those feelings of disappointment deep down inside of you, where feelings belong.”

They looked at me suspiciously; they had a hunch that this was bad advice.

“Until you get home this evening, of course.  And then tell your parents all about them and you can all complain about me behind my back.”

This seemed to mollify them.  They shrugged, nodded, and went about their day, looking forward to going home and commiserating with their parents about my bad choices and crappy field trips.

One of my 5th graders approached me the day I announced where we were going for our field trip.  Ugh,” he said, his voice heavy with disappointment, “I don’t want to go to the skating rink.”

“Listen, Brock,” I said, hand on my hip, “I’ve stopped trying to make you happy. I could tell you that I’m taking you all out for recess and ice cream every Monday from 1-3 PM for the rest of the school year, and you’d find a way to be unhappy with that, too.”

One of the kids whose desk is in close proximity to mine had been listening.  “But Wheatzie, you DID do that one time. Remember when Janie took first place in that art competition, and part of what she won was ice cream for the whole class?  So you took us outside for an extra recess to eat them and play, and Brock said he didn't want to go out because—“

“But I HATE sherbet!” Brock interrupted, both of us realizing at the same time exactly where the story was going.

“SEE?!” I said, my point proven because this actually had happened.

But if there’s one thing people closest to me know, it’s that I’m always right.  Some find my confidence in myself frustrating, even annoying.  But I don’t care because they’re wrong and I’m right.

And once again, I was right: The field trip was amazing.  The kids were sweaty, spent, and all smiles as they tumbled out of the dark skating rink back into the sunshine of the day to pile into cars and ride back to school.  Parents were complimenting me, too. “That was a great workout for them—they’ll sleep well tonight!  What a great idea for a field trip, Wheatzie!”

Yeah, I know.

And all afternoon after we got back to school, I heard this sentence on repeat: “That was the best field trip we’ve ever had, Wheatzie!”

Yeah, I know.

I don’t know when they’re going to start letting me rule the world, but the sooner, the better.



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