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field trip
November 20, 2002, 6:02 pm

Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that I'm a teacher, not a student.

But Jess, you may whine, aren't you a little OLD to still feel that way?

Um, yeah, but see, not only do I teach at my alma mater, but I'm only a scant 10 years older than my children. I understand their jokes, their music (some of it), their emotions, and googly-eyes because I REMEMBER what it felt like to be them.

So today, I'm chaperoning a field trip to St. Mary's City, the oldest settlement in Maryland. St. Mary's City is where Lord Baltimore and his buddies ended up because they were fleeing the tyranny of the Church of England. They just wanted their transubstantiation like good Catholics, thanks, so they hightailed it out of there and crashed in Mary-land. And the tour is pretty neat; they take you from house to decrepid house. Colonial-like people are all dressed in period garb, talking in affected English accents while pounding cornmeal or sewing aprons and such. I'm happy the weather was so pretty today as it was an outside tour, so we would've been screwed if it hadn't.

So back to why I still think I'm a student. I was living the walking tour in a double life: one side of me was the smiling, positive teacher of the "oh-look-how-educational-this-is" persuasion, the other half of me was the perpetually-14-and-wanting-to-goof-off-with-my-friends-and-making-smartass-comments to myself the whole time.

One particularly egregious example was when the tour guide pointed out that one of the first "ordinary" establishments was raised by George Nuthead...come on! The guy's name was NUTHEAD! Puhleeze! It took all of my strength to not lose it in front of my kids.

I was keeping running tally: things I'm genuinely interested in at 24, things I'd find extremely boring at 14. I was pretty evenly divided down the middle, and I couldn't blame some of the kids for taking more interest in the pot-bellied pigs roaming about the plantation rather than the colonial dirt floor display.

When I was in 5th grade, I gained notoriety by being stung on the school bus by wasp. The next year, in 6th grade, two boys had a fistfight in our nation's capital presumably for my hand in "going out". My junior year of high school, I found 17 places to make out with my on again off again boyfriend in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. My senior year of high school brought about the second time of many that I looked down on NYC from the World Trade Center, and then shared a hot dog with my favorite teacher. It wasn't the "educational" implications of the field trips that made them so entertaining; it was the experiences themselves that stuck with me. The bus rides, the goofing off, the smell of the air that was so different during the school day when we weren't in school: that's what a field trip is all about. I'll do myself a favor and try to remember that the next time I'm snapping at a kid to stop making fun of a guide with a particularly nasal voice (she really did have one).

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