Three out of four - Madden children agree
I must be doing something right because three out of four Madden children agree that asking mom to go on a school outing isn't such a bad idea. The one exception is my 14-year-old daughter who would rather wear hand-me-downs than be seen with her totally uncool mom.The first school trip I was allowed to make was one to Six Flags over St. Louis with my oldest child and his physics class. I try my best not to deliberately embarrass my children, but sometimes things happen that simply cannot be helped. Case in point, my proclivity for directional confusion and chaos. On this particular day, I was told to simply follow the bus, a big yellow school bus, I might add. "This should be easy enough," I thought, mentally recollecting getting lost either coming or going on every trip I had ever made to St. Louis. So, just in case, I gave the physics teacher my cell phone number.At about the halfway point we stopped for a quick breakfast. Afterwards, I was once again happily following behind a big yellow school bus when my cell phone rang."Mom, where are you?" asked my very anxious sounding physics student. "Why, I am right behind the bus," I said as I waved to the children on the big yellow school bus in front of me. "No, mama, you aren't behind us," explained my totally exasperated son. "You're following the wrong bus." It was then I learned that this trip to Six Flags was being taken by about half the schools in Missouri and that my simplistic thinking that following the big yellow bus to St. Louis would be as easily done as said was faulty. Well, at least we were all going to the same place. On the return trip my son rode home with me. I think he was afraid I wouldn't make it without him.The next school trip I was invited on was to the Springfield Zoo with my first-grader. Since I rode the bus with the students, things went very well. Everyone cooperated and there was no need to make any extra stops along the way, no bumps or bruises, and a good time seemed to be had by all.I was assigned a group of four children and we spent a couple of hours looking at a lot of interesting animals including lions, and tigers and bears, but oh my, the turkey exhibit is the one the children will probably never forget. I have to admit this was a first for me. I had never considered turkeys an animal worthy of the zoo. After all, they're edible. Not one to miss an opportunity for silliness, I gathered the kids around me and with the most solemn expression I could muster whispered, "Now, you should know that turkeys are very sensitive birds and we don't want to hurt their feelings." The children were listening intently. "So ... we should never, ever, under any circumstances say the word ... 'Thanksgiving' in front of them!" "Oooh," they said, seeming to understand, but children being children it took about three seconds for one of them to begin yelling at the top of his lungs, "Thanksgiving, thanksgiving, thanksgiving." We all joined in, laughing ourselves silly at the turkeys' obvious lack of concern.In a couple of weeks, I will be accompanying my fifth grader to a school competition in Knoxville, Tennessee. He says he wants me there, but only under the condition that I not attend any of the planned social gatherings for the competitors. In other words, be there, but be invisible.If he's lucky, on the way to Knoxville I'll end up behind the wrong bus and no one will notice.Barbara is a freelance writer who lives in Willow Springs with her family and their big, black Labrador Susie Belle.