“No, no, NO,” Joe protested. “Please, please, PLEASE don’t invite my dad.”
“Why?” said I, wondering if there were a legitimate reason for the boy’s passionate plea.
“He’s so embarrassing,” Joe whined. “Please don’t invite him.”
“What will you give me not to invite him?” I probed.
“Anything!” Jay exclaimed.
His answer was too easy, too general so I probed a little more. “Anything….like what?”
“Like my cell phone,” he blurted.
WOW. Anytime a teen puts a cell phone on the line, it is serious stuff.
I invited the dad.
A few Fridays ago I took OPA’s almost-entire 8th grade (minus a girl who was on a cruise with her family and a boy who was grounded, 100 students in all) to the University of Utah’s chemistry, physics, and INSCC buildings where we extracted capsaicin from peppers of varying strengths, saw graphics of 3D molecules, and learned about the sun. For us, school started and ended at the train station that day. We rode the FrontRunner (train) to Salt Lake City and switched to Trax (light rail) green line and then red line to make it to the UofU. To get home, we did the trip in reverse.
I am pleased to report that I brought everyone home to Ogden that I took to SLC though I had breath-taking fears that such would not be the case at one point.
The UofU campus portion of the trip had concluded and I was on the Trax red line, headed west toward the FrontRunner station, surrounded by students when my cell phone rang.
“Hello, this is Teresa,” I said when I answered it.
“Mrs. Hislop?” queried an unidentified female voice.
“Are we supposed to be on the train?”
I gasped as I processed the implications of her question. Train? Which train? Trax or FrontRunner? And why was she asking? Did that mean she was not on the train? EEK! The connections were tight; if she was not on this lightrail train, her chances of making it to the station in time to catch the real train were small…. And what should I do? Should I get off at the next stop and find them? Should I put a parent on the hunt? And who was “we”? How many other students were with this child?
“Uh, yes,” I managed to say. “You are supposed to be on the train.”
“Oh good,” she said. “We are on the train but there are no parents in our car and we wanted to make sure we were in the right place.”
My heart slid out of my throat and back into my thoracic cavity as I gave her instructions about when and where to make the transfer from the Trax red to Trax green line. Phew.
Phew and pee-ew! Capsaicin is the chemical that makes peppers hot; it is used in pepper spray and hot sauces and can be very potent. As part of the extraction process, the students ground the seeds from several peppers, ranging in strength from green to ghost peppers. Ground pepper powder, when inhaled, can cause significant discomfort so the students had wore face masks during the grinding phase.
“Oh Mrs. Hislop,” said one student , his eyes watering. “This mask is killing me.”
I nodded empathetically; face masks bug me too.
He continued, “I’ve had to breathe my own bad breath for 10 minutes now and it’s awful!”
Also awful were some of the students’ eating habits…..
Bryce was eating a huge caramel popcorn ball for lunch.
“Dude, you should eat something healthy,” I told him.
“Oh,” he responded, “I had a bunch of Pringles but I sold them to Dave.”
????As if Pringles are healthy?
Absolutely NOT awful were the students themselves. In fact, they were absolutely wonderful. Absolutely. When taking a group of 100 junior high students on public transportation, there is an almost infinite number of ways they could misbehave. Those darling kids elected none of their irresponsible options. None. They were polite, respectful, cooperative, and responsible. Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.
Always, in the days before a field trip, I wonder why I do them. Why, WHY do I submit myself to the added work, added responsibility, added stress? Why, why, why? Crazy!!
And, always so far, at the end of the trip, I know why. I do it because the kids are wonderful. Really wonderful.
I hope so because I find myself in the “why” stage again. Wednesday I am taking the entire 8th grade to the North Fork Environmental Center where we will snow shoe, cross country ski, participate in a GPS activity, and do a lichen survey.