Last week my son’s fourth-grade class went on a field trip to the Museum of Life and Science. At my son’s enthusiastic urging, I had volunteered to be a chaperone. God help me.
When we got to the museum, all the victims parents were given stickers that said “I’m a Super Chaperone!” to identify them in case they attempted escape. I was placed in charge of five kids (God help them) and the teeming swarm of fourth-graders broke up into smaller groups to explore the museum.
I don’t know how accurate my sticker was. At the risk of giving their parents retroactive heart failure, I was not a terribly authoritative chaperone. I told them, “Stay in this general area.” When we went upstairs, I told them to stay on the top floor. Then I let them all go their own way and look at whatever they wanted to look at, and alternated my time between glancing at the exhibits myself, and doing head counts to see where my charges were. “One, two… three, four… there he is, five.”
When we went to the gift shop, some of my group were far more interested in the googaws and trinkets than others. While a couple lingered in the gift shop, I instructed the remainder to stay in the nearby play area where a bunch of Kapla blocks were set out. (“Kapla” is apparently Dutch for “really expensive little block of wood.”) At one point I let the two girls go to the restroom—at the other end of the museum!—while I kept watch over the ones in the gift shop and the Kapla area. The extent of my supervision was to tell them to come directly back when they were done.
So I’m probably not the best chaperone there is. I’m not entirely sure what the chaperoning rules are; some groups seemed to be very disciplined, moving as a unit from one display to the next. I just ain’t that organized. I figure as long as I come out with all the kids I went in with, and there’s no permanent damage to either the kids or the museum, that’s probably about the range of my child-watching skills. And to that extent I was a success. Take that, all you perfect TV moms.