Field trips. They make up some of my fondest memories of my childhood. Growing up in the south suburbs, there are many wonderful cultural and educational attractions that are visited by school groups each year. One of my favorites was in about second grade when we toured the Jay's Potato Chip factory. I believe we did this trip more than once. I thought it was fascinating and the best part was at the end when they handed out bags of chips and pencils to all the kids.
In fourth grade, we took a trip to Lincoln Park Zoo. It was a memorable one because it was the only field trip that one of my parents ever attended as a chaperone. With a shortage of chaperones, the trip was in jeopardy of being cancelled. Luckily, a couple parents, including my dad, came to the rescue and we were able to go.
In eigthth grade, we spent the day in Chicago on a field trip -- shopping at the Water Tower Place, taking a tour on a Wendella Boat and eating lunch in Chinatown. We traveled in style on a coach bus. There were a couple other stops in between.
For a kid who grew up not far from the city, I didn't spend a whole lot of time there. My older sister worked downtown and in December I would visit her for the weekend and we'd bake a ton of Christmas cookies. On Monday, I'd take the El with her to her job in a downtown high rise and hang out there for the day. I loved spending time in the city.
There were a few times that our family ventured into Chicago for a family field trip. One was when I was around five and we visited the Art Institute. Another was when my dad took my sisters and I to a Cubs game. Another was when we went to the Chicago Historical Museum. I loved history and was amazed at all that I learned about the city. I remember purchasing a book of paper dolls in the gift shop that I played with for years afterwards.
Today I returned to that museum on a field trip with my son who is in third grade. It seemed smaller than I remembered, but just as interesting. I even checked in the gift shop to see that they still sell books of paper dolls.
This trip was much different than my last. This time I was seeing the place through the eyes of an adult. Not a seven year old who was seeing and learning all of the information for the first time. I was chaperoning a group of three boys. They skipped over quite a bit of the material and didn't spend much time reading signs or placards. They did, however, marvel over an exhibit that contained the first portable phone from 1973.
By 10:30 a.m. (their normal snack time) they were all groaning about being hungry. We stopped in the cafe and I bought snacks. Then I went in the gift shop where kids were whipping out way more money that I had and spending it on pop rocks and silly bandz. They were also taking pictures of each other with their iPhones. So, I guess my kids aren't lying when they tell me how deprived they are not to have such devices.
Later in the cafeteria, kids were scarfing down more junk food than I've seen in a long time. I can only hope it was a special treat for field trip day. One kid I saw had a lunchable, two large bags of flaming hot Cheetos, a big bag of cookies, chips, a juice pouch and a 20 ounce Mountain Dew. That's enough sugar, sodium and calories for like what -- a week? Oh, well. That's a topic for another blog.
It was also an entertaining meal as one boy double-dog-dared another to shove 21 flaming hot Cheetos in his mouth. He stopped at 8. His mouth was full and his eyes were watering. Then another kid took on the challenge. I think he cheated a little as I saw him chewing and swallowing a bit, but he managed to get 21 flaming hot Cheetos in his mouth, stuffing them into his cheeks keeping them there long enough to make me cringe. He'd already finished off his beverage and thrown it in the garbage. He played tough guy and said his mouth wasn't burning, but his face was saying otherwise.
On the way home, scattered in seats were kids so excited they couldn't sit still and others who'd had enough and were dozing off. It was another experience filed into their memories and I was glad to go along for the ride.