Field Trips Save Childhoods

, , , , , , | Learning | October 13, 2018

In elementary school, there were two kids from the same household that we all thought were “weird.” Both brother and sister were rail thin to the point where their heads looked more like skulls wearing tight skin, and the sister was losing hair. I didn’t recognize it as a sign of abuse. (In addition the fact that I was a child, my disability causes me health issues that look like neglect.)

There were always bruises on them, and they had black eyes, and rope burns on their wrists. They were absent all the time. The boy would frequently lose his temper and kick and bite. The girl was timid at times, loud and socially awkward at others. Both had horrible grades and the boy couldn’t read, while the girl read at a low level.

We did isolate both as a result. People were afraid to talk to the sister, even. Some hated and bullied them. I wasn’t very popular, either — my bullies weren’t as bad but I was afraid the bullies would join forces — so I stayed as far away as possible.

In fourth grade, we had a field trip coming up. My mom volunteered to chaperone it. They had so many volunteers that they split the class into groups of two. I was absent the day the groups were decided, so I got stuck with the sister. I complained to my mother in private. She told me that I should just give the girl a chance.

Half the kids went by bus, while the ones whose parents had volunteered were driven. We met up with the sister and everyone split up. Being on our own was actually really nice. I realized she was weird the same way I was. She was so happy getting to explore the Cultural Center, saying she never got to go anywhere but school and church. We had a lot of fun together.

Looking back, I don’t think Mom enjoyed the trip as much as I did. She kept asking things that I now realize were red flag questions. When Mom drove me home, she asked me a few more questions. Mom spent a lot of time on the phone when we got home.

I didn’t see the siblings at school after that. The teacher made a comment about them “changing homes,” but wouldn’t explain. If you’ll allow me to toot my mom’s horn, I’m really proud of her. The first time she saw this kid, she knew, she verified, and she took action. It’s like that old slogan: if you see something, say something.

 

Don’t Lecture Him About His Forgetfulness

, , , | Romantic | October 3, 2018

(My husband and I just had an adventure that was 35 years in making. He is smart, but scatter-brained, and often forgets things overnight. Before he had a smartphone and me to keep schedules, things were tough for him. When he was in grammar school, his class was scheduled for a field trip to an astronomical observatory. My husband, an astronomy geek, was looking forward to it, but he forgot and went to normal lessons, while the rest of class was already on the train. Well, at least everyone had a good laugh about it. Then he went to high school… and the scenario repeated itself to the last detail. So, thirty years later we decide to treat ourselves and go on a trip, ending at the observatory. My husband is ecstatic, despite a bout of migraine, and keeps repeating that he finally is going to see the lecture. So, we buy the tickets, sit in the lecture hall, the chair rests lower themselves, lights go dim… and my husband falls asleep, waking up after the lecture, rested and refreshed, but none the wiser about the lecture.)

Husband: “Why didn’t you wake me?”

Me: “I tried. But honestly, you clearly needed a nap.”

Husband: “Well, I am clearly cursed. God doesn’t want me to see the lecture.”

(Pause.)

Husband: “What was it about? C’mon, people will ask me and I will look like idiot! Again!”

Biology Requires No Translation

, , , , | Learning | June 19, 2018

(It is several years ago in high school, on a small class trip from the USA to the Mediterranean. We have just arrived at the Vatican and are enjoying the tour when I notice a tiny spot on my best friend’s jeans; she has started her period, and is not prepared. At this point in her life she is incredibly shy. I discreetly point this out to her, and her face goes pale. We immediately excuse ourselves to the bathroom where she enters the stall to try and salvage what she can while I start to ask other patrons if they have spare pads or tampons. They each shake their head if they speak English, or ignore me with a sad shake of their head if they don’t. Desperate, I head out the door, and find a little Italian cleaning lady with her cart. I clearly look as though I have something to ask, so she looks at me, and I take a shot.)

Me: “Excuse me. Do you have a pad, or tampon?”

Lady: “…?”

Me: “For, um… for a period?”

Lady: *gives me an apologetic look, but still clearly has no idea what I’m asking*

(Not being as shy as my friend, I throw caution to the wind, put on the most desperate expression I can manage and point to my crotch. The lady’s eyes go big, and for a moment I’m horrified that I have offended her. She starts nodding vigorously, and laughs.)

Lady: “Si, yes!”

(Relieved, I returned to my friend with a pad, who thanked me profusely. She was mortified but amused by what I did, and she tied her jacket around her waist until we could get back to the bus and use her Tide pen. Today, I still say to her, “Remember when I broke the language barrier to save your jeans by pointing at my crotch? You’re welcome.”)

A-Mounting Humor

, , , , , , | Learning | May 4, 2018

(I am a student teacher. Today, my class is on a trip to a fire station. The RCMP — Royal Canadian Mounted Police — officer is talking about bike safety, and starts answering questions from the students.)

Student: “Were you alive in the 1920s?”

RCMP: “I’m not sure how to take that. No, it was a bit later.”

(The RCMP officer gets back to his presentation. The following remarks happen in the next five minutes.)

RCMP: “Well, back when I started policing, in the 1920s, we used horses and tractors.”

RCMP: “During the Crimean war, which I fought in during the late 1800s, we used our swords to catch bad guys. Then we would ride to the police station on our horses.”

There Is Snow Way You’re Going

, , , , , , | Learning | April 4, 2018

My teacher for Intro to Bioscience Technologies has scheduled a field trip to Genentech for his two classes in December, which my class is very excited about. But on the week of the field trip, the teacher finds out there’s only space for 40 students. He decides to let the other class period go, and reschedules mine.

Fast forward two months. The field trip is finally happening. The morning of, I wake up and look outside to see several inches of snow and ice. School ends up being cancelled, and the field trip is again rescheduled.

A month later, it’s March, and the teacher looks up the weather forecast. The weather has been perfectly pleasant for months, so we’re not really worried, even though there’s a chance of snow on Friday.

Friday morning, I wake up and see… snow. Lots of it. I check the school website, and it’s not cancelled. I live in a rural area at a high elevation, so I often get snow when most students don’t, so I have to miss school… again… on the third rescheduling of the field trip I was looking forward to. The class goes without me.

I think the universe really didn’t want me to have that field trip.

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