Surprise: You have been selected as today’s field trip chaperone!

This morning after getting my big kids on the bus and to before-school seminary, I came home and snuggled back under the covers. I woke the elementary kids up with 20 minutes to get ready for school.

Hunter’s sleepy voice asked, “What’s today?”

“Monday,” I replied.

“No, what’s today?”

“May eighth”

“Yay, it’s my field trip, Mom!”

Crap! Six simple words and my dreams of snuggling back into bed vanish. I’m chaperoning this field trip!

Hunter told me I won the chaperone lottery 2 weeks ago, but since I’d returned all permission paperwork to school, I had no idea when it was or where we were going.

“Couldn’t you have mentioned this any time over the weekend?”

“I forgot.”

“Do you know where we’re going? Or how long this will be?”


I started texting SAHM friends for babysitting help and emailed the teacher asking about when to meet and where we’re headed. That should give me an idea how long this field trip will be.

Hunter was sure I could also give him a ride to school, but there’s no way I could make arrangements and be at the school in less than an hour, so I sent him and Sophia off to catch the bus.

The teacher emailed back! She says she sent a note home with Hunter last week but she guesses I never saw it. (Typical! Thank goodness I adore that boy!) The field trip is a walking tour to historical buildings in town and it’s just for the morning. I need to be at the school by 9:00. If I can’t make it, let her know. I emailed back that I will be there. It’s taken me a year and a half of volunteering to win the chaperone lottery, he’s thrilled, and I won’t miss it!

Passavant House sign
A beautiful day for a field trip

Meeting time was in less than an hour and a half. My friend Toni texted back that she could take the girls at her place, 8 minutes away, on the other side of town. She’s a lifesaver.

I showered in a couple minutes but took time to blow out my hair. I don’t want to embarrass my kid by being the sopping-wet-hair chaperone, even when he gives me short notice.

Knowing Toni’s youngest child is 17, I snatched a few building blocks, filled a sippy cup, grabbed snacks, diapers, and wipes, and dumped everything in a cardboard box while the girls slumbered. I woke them by changing their diapers and clothes in one deft move. Loaded the girls and their supplies in the van before they knew what happened.

Road construction delayed me in two places during the 8 minute drive. I think I may not recognize this town by the end of summer. We arrived at Toni’s with the girls still rubbing their eyes. Poor Juliette burst into tears as I gently pushed her into the house so I could close the door on my way out.

I got to the school on time: Hallelujah! Slapped my name tag on, and 3 other mom chaperones and I headed toward the classroom. On our way down the hall we met Hunter’s teacher with two straight, silent lines of children marching alongside her. One of the chaperones’ said “hi” to her kiddo, but got no response. My kids had warned me that they are not allowed to talk in the hallway, but this was impressive compliance with the rules!

In the school lobby, my assigned handful of students followed Hunter to stand beside me. Hunter was grinning ear to ear and trying unsuccessfully not to jump up and down. His excitement at my presence spoiled me more than I could ever spoil him.

Hunter field trip close-up
Hunter stands outside the Passavant House

My phone vibrated and I saw a text from Toni with a photo of the little girls playing happily. My last bit of worry melted and I was ready to have fun with these schoolkids. Hunter introduced everyone to me and we left the building.

We walked a few blocks to the Passavant House and the Buhl House. Great docents, great artifacts, and interesting history.

Here are the highlights:

Creepy Artwork: On the wall of the drawing room at the Passavant house hangs artwork made of human hair gathered from hairbrushes. It’s delicate, intricate work, but I had to keep swallowing so my gag reflex didn’t kick in. Although it’s typical of crafting styles a hundred years ago, I’d have gone without one of those little beauties. Fallen hairs belong in the trash!

Best Hands-on: In the upstairs library at Passavant House the kids used a glue gun to melt a wax stick and set an old-time letter seal onto a piece of folded paper. They used a stamp marked “P” for Passavant but because it was fancy calligraphy with loops and swirls they couldn’t identify which side was up. Cursive script, behold the wretched children struggle to unravel your mysteries!

Sing-Along Fail: The Buhl House had a foot pump organ and a talented docent played a few notes on it to illustrate it’s operation. She then invited the kids to join her in singing all the verses to “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. Yeah. . . no. The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews was released 10 years before I was born. The kids could sing along to something like “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. or “Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid.  C’mon, y’all, that ol’ organ could probably even pump out “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. Let’s do this right!

Best Party Trick: The Buhl House houses an old store display counter just inside the front door. The cash register is underneath the center of the display and there’s a trick lock to open it. Four slots for fingers, but you only press with certain three fingers. The docent told us the lock can be changed to a different series of fingers, but he doesn’t know how. Each schoolkid tried it. I love old secret hidden locks, drawers, boxes, rooms, passageways, etc. Hey, anyone up for a game of CLUE?

Hunter unlocks the cash register
Hunter unlocks the cash register at the Buhl House

The field trip was interesting and well-staffed. The kids in my group were well-behaved and attentive. Their teacher joined our group for the tour, so maybe that had something to do with it. I suspect she was keeping an eye on me after my urgent email earlier! With no injuries, no damage to the historical sites, and only one child sporting melted glue gun wax in his hair, I call this one a win!

We walked back to school. I said goodbye to my boy and sped over to Toni’s to pick up my little girls. They didn’t seem ready to leave! Thank goodness for fabulous friends.

This morning’s surprise had a happy ending: another “Supermom” and Super-boy moment in the memory book.

You can visit the Passavant and Buhl Houses as a family or other private groups for a small fee. Visit them online for hours at

I’d love to hear about the surprises your kids have sprung on you! Or your recent field-trip-chaperone adventures!



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