I love a good field trip just as much as the next gal! Shopping, yoga retreat, tastings (wine or food)! School field trips, not so much. And so it was with reluctance that I told my daughter to add my name to the chaperone list to Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI. Just what I wanted to do with a day off from work- spend it with 31 fifth graders! I did get a little excited when my daughter said there might be ghosts at the mill! Would these spirits channel my energy and offer me some supernatural advice? Perhaps this trip wouldn’t be so bad?!
Alas, I wasn’t chosen as a chaperone. Two other moms got their names in before me. What if I had told my daughter upfront that I didn’t want to go on the field trip? Would that have hurt her feelings? Would she have thought I didn’t care enough? Part of being a parent is to make sacrifices for your children. So even though the thought of making small talk with other chaperones and keeping all those children in line wouldn’t have been my thing, I owe it to my daughter to support her. Yet, as a believer in conscious unparenting, I need to put my needs at least on par with my child’s.
I decided to analyze the situation some more. My child doesn’t really need me to go on her school excursion. She navigates well with most of the kids in her class. I’m really only needed for the end of the trip- the dreaded gift shop! Realistically, I could simply give her a set amount of money to buy a trinket that will eventually end up at the bottom of her sock drawer. Months from now she won’t even remember where she bought the souvenir.
If my child is pretty independent and I don’t really want to be a chaperone, what’s the problem? Was this guilt more about me than her? Is it that there aren’t many more field trips my daughter will want me to go on with her? Next year, she’ll be in middle school and I may become an “embarassment.” Are field trips one of the last stages in early childhood education? Is this the last opportunity for my child to show me off, put me on display before the dreaded teen years? Yes, there will be plenty of other activities we’ll do together. Our relationship will grow as she matures. I look forward to the trips we’ll take and the new experiences we’ll share, albeit without 30 other children joining us!
In fact, I did ask my daughter what we could do together because I wasn’t picked as a chaperone. She chose shopping, more specifically finding a new mini ipad case. The mall, lunch, and spending the day one on one with my child- now that’s a field trip we can both enjoy!