. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: What Do You Mean, "Billy Fell Off a Cliff..."?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What Do You Mean, "Billy Fell Off a Cliff..."?

So I am on the annual science field trip to a local hiking area. I'm not alone. Three other teachers and at least 10 parents came along too. Oh...and two busloads of excited hikers under four and a half feet tall.

It started off wuuuunderfully! Why? I wasn't riding on either of the school buses! This counts as the single greatest day of my life. Have you ever been on a school bus loaded with students on their way to a field trip? If you haven't, gather about 50 kids around you and have them ear-piercingly scream nonsensical gibberish at you for about 45 minutes. Then, right at the end, have one of them throw up on your shoes.

That is a field trip bus ride; and THAT is what I avoided by volunteering to drive my own car so we would have a vehicle in case of an emergency. Smart, I know. While my peers bounced around in those giant, yellow, scream-machines; I drove in silence and comfort, sipping a latte and waving at the sad, little smudged faces pressed against the tinted rear windows of the buses. Those were the faces of the teachers. The kids were too busy pointing out every McDonalds and Taco Bell they saw and doing everything short of grabbing the wheel to get the drivers to stop at one. (So I heard. I wouldn't know firsthand, would I? I wasn't there!!!)

I arrive at the hiking site, relaxed and ready for the long day ahead. My already-weary coworkers tumble off the buses atop an amorphous blob of students. I wonder if by riding on top of that wave of youngsters they felt they appeared in charge or didn't have the energy to care? Surprisingly, they did have enough energy to enumerate the many ways in which I now "owe them" for not partaking in the bus ride.

Let the hiking begin! We each took our assigned groups and followed along behind our Naturalists. My job was to remain at the back our line and border collie-like herd the students together and run down any strays. The phrase, "It's like herding cats" has never rung more true.

Everything tramped along smoothly until little Sarah's shoe came untied. Evidently, even in fourth grade, there are those who still struggle with the whole shoelace thing so I bent down to help her. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a young man approaching, hopping on one foot down our sloping trail.

Me: You ok?
Hopping Boy: Yup!

Hopping Boy begins to gain speed.

Me: How about we not hop down the hill. Two feet on the ground, please.
Hopping Boy: Ok

Hopping Boy continues to hop only now it's uncontrolled hopping and he's rapidly gaining momentum down the hill.

I figure I'll be done with this shoe in a jiffy, and then I'm gonna grab Hopping Boy by his sticky little hand and tether him to me for the remainder of this trip when I hear:

Shrill girl's distant voice: Billy fell off a cliff!!!!
Me: Who's Billy?
My Entire Group (in chorus): That boy hopping on one foot!
Me: What do you mean, "Fell off a cliff?"
My Entire Group: says nothing and silently point straight ahead where our slope ends and sky begins.
Me: Oh, shhhhhiii...oooooot

Let the panicking begin! As I race down the hill, I envision my face on the five o'clock news plastered up there with other teaching failures like the lady who put duct tape over her students' mouths, and that sub who tied kids to their chairs. My career is finished! What does a washed-up teacher do when she can't get hired to teach? Maybe I could become a principal?

What I didn't stop to consider was a nine year old's willingness to exaggerate the reality of any situation. How many times have out-of-breath students raced to me at the end of lunch to announce that Soandso had been hit by an errant tetherball and was now clinging to life and gushing blood all over the map of the United States painted on the blacktop, only to find Soandso with not so much as a scratch on his face? THAT is an everyday occurance. Why didn't I consider that as I raced down the hill?

With my heart in my throat, I arrive at the edge of the precipice and peer down, down, down...

...about a foot and a half and find Billy in a heap on the ground. He was fine.

More importantly, I was fine! I still had a job...

...and the Billy's sticky hand locked in my vice-like grip for the rest of the trip.


Anonymous said...

Oh my Gosh! I have had many adventures on field trips, and I know the feeling of almost losing a student. I just wish my stories were as funny.
I'm really enjoying your blog!

askthehomediva said...

LOL…I so enjoyed your post…Definitely agree with the bus. I always find a way to drive by car. Of course, traveling with high school students has an entirely different set of "challenges."

I'll be traveling with my crew to the state journalism convention in April… let's hope it's uneventful. Imagine spending the weekend…in Austin…with a dozen or so teens. Definitely not for the weak of heart…

Anonymous said...

you must have been shiiii-ooooting bricks.

Edna Lee said...

You're shhhiiii-ooooting right I was!

The Bus Driver said...

I know i'm late to this party but that is definitely funny!