Tuesday was a full parenting day.
It was also a work day, but it was a field trip and a special night event that made it memorable. Of course, today, as I write this column on deadline day, I am suffering the consequences of far too much family time and less work time. Good or bad, I can always wake up earlier and work later, but can’t get back what comes with time with children.
As most parents of young kids know full well, there are days on the calendar that you circle ahead of time. You may highlight it because it involves you being somewhere at a certain time. It may be marked due to it involving being away from work. It may be targeted simply as a day to look forward to and not forget. It may appear as a reminder to ask your mom if she can arrange for school pickups and watch one of the boys if there’s a scheduling conflict.
Tuesday pretty much checked all the boxes.
Field trips have certainly changed over time. They were once time to spend with your kid outside the home and watching their socialization. It’s still pretty much that way, but the big difference between a field trip in pre-kindergarten and in fourth grade (as was the case with Beckett, 10, this week) is the kids want to sit with their friends and a few brief acknowledgements may be all you get as the parent chaperoning the trip.
I remember wondering briefly when I volunteered to chaperone this field trip – one that involved a canoe trip on the Pocomoke River — if anyone had ever gotten wet from a canoe capsizing. I never thought of it again until the morning of the field trip and quickly dismissed the prospects as silly.
It’s funny how the psyche works. I wonder if any of the other chaperones had the premonition I did.
On our first trip down the river, I was paired with two girls in Beckett’s grade in our canoe. All was going well for the most part. We were definitely hugging the shoreline more than we should have, but it was nice to see up into the marsh and explore a bit. Unfortunately, that penchant was our undoing.
As had happened a few times before, we came upon a low hanging tree limb. In previous encounters, we simply ducked under the limb or moved it above our heads. This particular limb was a little sturdier and lower. We weren’t able to limbo it. Foolishly, I leaned the same direction as the two girls who were in front of me in the canoe and over we went. Those lifejackets, which seemed so entirely unnecessary a few minutes prior, came in handy.
As luck would have it, one of the girls came up inside the canoe. She was fine and I was able to lift the canoe so she could join her friend on a nearby canoe. She was a little startled, of course, especially considering her hair was stuck on something inside the canoe. Being a boy dad unfamiliar with long hair, I wondered if I should just yank it free. Instead, I just slowly untangled it and all was good.
Then came the fun part of flipping over a capsized canoe and then getting back into it. There’s nothing graceful about that, at least for me.
To my surprise, the girls willingly rejoined me in the canoe, and we had many giggles about the absurdity of what had just happened. Soon enough we all got quite pragmatic about it, remarking how we were going to have to stay in our wet clothes the rest of the field trip. Fortunately, one of the teachers’ maternal instincts had already kicked in and she packed a change of clothes ahead of time.
When it was time for Beckett’s class to take the canoe trip, it was uneventful, which is exactly how I was hoping the entire day would go. Instead of toppling over, he and his friend engaged in some good-natured ribbing of me the entire time.
Later, I was told by a ranger that a canoe capsizes at least once a field trip. Suspicious she was placating me, I asked around if others who had gone on this field trip at Beckett’s school had ever gone over and I struck out with at least five people. I’m hopeful it was one of those things you never admit, as in what happens on a field trip stays there. I’m thinking that’s probably not going to be the case for my son and his friends, however.
After a shower, I worked for a few hours before Pam and I took Carson, 8, to see Paw Patrol Live! in Salisbury. This was essentially a musical re-enactment of the Nickelodeon show.
It was fun to watch Carson’s reactions during the show. Pam later said it was quite entertaining to watch me and a fellow dad who happened to be sitting next to me staring in disbelief as a pack of oversized puppies went about solving a mystery on stage. Bewildered was an adjective she used to describe our reaction.
After the show, Carson got a chance to meet a few of the stars, Ryder, Chase and Skye. After sitting through the 90-minute show and capsizing in a canoe earlier that day, the genuine smile on his face in the pictures reminded me all the hectic pace of the day was worth it.
For what it’s worth, I was asleep by 10 that night.