Back to top

Tales of the 5th Grade Chaperone

In the newfound era (i.e. my seventh grader would rather be dead than have me with his friends) I squealed with delight when my fifth-grade daughter begged me to chaperone her class field trip. Yes, there are many other things I’d rather do than ride a school bus (surrounded by lovesick tweens all day), but I plan to savor every last drop of my child still finding my very existence to be socially acceptable. For that alone, the day was a success.

We packed our brown-bag lunches, popped on our hoodies and off to school we went. Accidentally leaving my phone at home was a blessing in disguise (after a brief withdrawal and the sad realization that I couldn’t take photos).  I was present, body and mind!

It was fascinating to put faces to the names my daughter’s been sharing all year– to observe the social exchanges of friends, foes, and everyone in between.

Hormones were in full swing! The sun was shining, spring was in the air– I’m pretty sure ‘Dream Weaver’ played as a subtle soundtrack when a certain girl breezed past a curious boy– hair blowing just so. There were giggles, and eye rolls, and sighs. On this day, on the cusp of sixth grade, life was good.


The day went without a hitch, as we toured several beautiful and historically important sites in Lexington and Concord. I  now have a much deeper understanding of  New England’s role in the start of the American Revolution– but here’s what I really observed:

fullsizeoutput_905Phew! I’m exhausted after one day, and I was just along for the ride. These professionals are equipped for adolescent warfare. Educators, event planners, behavior specialists, mediators, comedians, EMTs, parents, friends, social workers–all with the patience of steel. Teachers play all these roles in one. Thank them!

Version 2

Not trying to be funny as this is a full Public Service Announcement. For the love of all that’s good, your child is ready for a little more self-care. Showers every day. EVERY. DAY. Deo in the morning, maybe even an extra stick in the backpack. Really.

Version 3 Seating arrangements, snack swaps, games, secrets, and songs– all worth a child’s weight in gold.

Version 4And thank goodness for that! Freckles, crooked teeth, ungroomed brows. They laugh and play and tell jokes, and are not yet too cool for school. Yes, there can be drama, but we’ve still got them! They care, they’re interested, and they are still so innocent. It is a golden, waning moment.

Version 5Kudos to the school for declaring this trip a ‘No Phones’ zone. That included no cameras, no video games and the like. What was most surprising is that the kids followed through– no pushback or sneaks. The kids were talkative (very!) and engaged. They asked questions and were respectful and kind, and ran around and played like kids should. Which brings me to my final observation…

Version 6 Not Kidding!




  • Amanda

    June 9, 2017

    ‘Dream Weaver’- perfect!💜 And you are SO right- the bus ride there and backwas always a Very Big Deal. Great post!

  • heliumdesign

    June 9, 2017

    Oh man, the deodorant thing. We’ve had to push that since last year. (I don’t remember using it til at least 7th grade). I don’t know why it’s a struggle. Why do they want to smell bad?!

    • The Sunny Side

      June 9, 2017

      I’m not sure they know! 🤣😖

      • Lauren

        January 24, 2018

        so funny!! I am a fifth grade teacher and just this week had my first, of several, deodorant talks! I tell them that their bodies are changing and it is better to start too early, than be the kid no one wants to sit next to.

        I so agree about no electronics on the bus! We tried it for a few years, and it was quieter, but now we are back to songs and shouting and laughter……….so much better!!

  • brian

    June 9, 2017

    He knows, we tell him daily, along with “chicks don’t dig the stank, yo!”

  • Beth Lewis

    June 9, 2017

    So, the deodorant thing….my sons 4th grade teacher isn’t allowed to tell them to wear deodorant because it’s considered a sexual thing. Good grief, why did I move down south? Also – chaperones aren’t allowed to ride on school buses down here. I’ve gone a field trip 3 hours away and drove behind the half empty school bus in my momma van! So stupid.

  • cmanningski

    June 9, 2017

    great post and you are making me reconsider not volunteering for field day. with all the other events at school at the end of the year, my email and time is jammed, but a day of observation and being present sounds joyous.

  • Nicole

    June 11, 2017

    Totally nailed it. I just went on not 1 but 2 third grade fieldtrips last week! Those teachers deserve a hero award and a Slow. Clap. They have total control, or can have total control within seconds. A simple clapping sequence or rhyme does the trick. I honestly don’t know how they do it all day, everyday. I would lose my mind. Thank goodness for teachers and their never ending patience.

    I would like to add one thing…
    I don’t know about your field trip but ours required us to cram in a snack on the bus. 🤢 All the smells combined was enough to send me over the edge. I found myself diving across kids to get to an open window. Where’s the barf bag when you need it?!?
    And another side note…bus drivers are also saints.

Share some sunshine— leave a reply!