field trip

I went on a class outing with Kaitlyn… and survived.

This morning her class took their monthly trip to the town’s library. Last time they went, I volunteered to go because Kaitlyn had been begging me to. I instantly wondered what I’d gotten myself into. I’d hoped that the teacher had forgotten… that maybe this morning I’d just say my cold was too much to bear. Yesterday when I picked Kaitlyn up after school, the teacher reminded me and I couldn’t back out.

So this morning I helped zip up coats and hit the road to la bibliotheque. The kids are paired up and have to hold hands while they walk through town. I fell in behind the group, not sure what I was supposed to do. I also didn’t want to cause a fuss by holding anyone’s hand, because I knew that would start an argument. The teacher walked at the front of the line, leading the way, telling them when it was safe to cross the streets. The assistant walked in the back, spending the entire time either answering a question posed by the littlest girl who was with her or telling a lolly-gagging pair ahead of her to hurry up and keep walking.

The library is only open in the morning for school groups. It’s a good way to make sure the kids don’t bug someone in there honestly trying to get some peace and quiet. Because even using their quiet voices, 20 3, 4 and 5 year olds are loud.

As soon as we walked in, they ripped off their coats and put them on a couple of chairs. Then we walked over to an area set up for the librarian to read to a group. There’s a little set of risers so the kids can all see… and chairs for the grown-ups. I was really relieved someone else would be doing the reading. The librarian sat down, put on a pair of white gloves, and presented the class with the book she’d be reading today. (One book? What a rip-off.) It was about a little prince who moved into a little castle next door to his parents’ castle and was scared because there was a dragon… his daddy told him there’s no such thing as dragons… so the little prince put on a suit of armor and told the dragon to get lost… and the dragon left and walked next door to his parents’ place. That’s where the book ends. After she finished reading the one book, she was done. The teacher told the class they could pick some books to look at, and to be sure to remember where they went to put them back.

One of the American girls who is friends with Kaitlyn came up to me carrying a book and asked me to read it. I asked her if she was sure and she said yes, so I dove in. It wasn’t too hard. Then she kept going and getting more books for me to read. And they weren’t easy books. They may have been for a small child, but not small enough. I struggled. I asked her to please go find a book with shorter sentences, fewer words. She just sat there and said “read it.” She had sort of a Donald Trump tone about her. It really started to wear on my nerves. Then another of Kaitlyn’s friends started bringing me books. Hers were much easier. But the two girls fussed over which books I’d read. So I’d sort of gloss through the hard book then pick up the easier one. A couple of French kids sort of slowed down as they passed me, listening to me struggle. Whatever, none of them offered up any help. And Kaitlyn and her friends can’t read, so I couldn’t ask what any of the words were.

Finally, the teacher announced it was time to go. I made the girls put their books back and then I went and helped get coats on and zipped. A little boy who is new in the class asked me who’s mommy I am. He asked me the same question yesterday. I guess he hasn’t figured out who the loud American kid who refuses to speak French is. For the walk back, everyone was supposed to hold hands with the same person they walked to the library with. The two girls I’d been reading to had been paired up, but now the easy-book girl screamed and refused to hold the hand of hard-book girl. I don’t know why. The teacher just changed the pairings to stop the yelling.

When we got back to the school, Kaitlyn didn’t want me to go. I was afraid that would happen. She didn’t want to come home with me; she wanted me to stay and share the rest of her day. It’s really kinda sweet. I’d love to if I could but it would be far too distracting.

The teacher thanked me for going along. I told her I wasn’t sure if I’d really been any help and she assured me I was… but I think she was just being nice. That’s ok, I’ll take nice.

I have to say, I don’t know how those two teachers do what they do all day long. Wiping noses, scolding, settling arguments, running to the bathroom, constantly telling people to hurry up. Then I realized that pretty much describes my job in the newsroom.

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