the field trip

My kids have this thing that they do.  Whenever someone leaves our house after visiting, or even sometimes when I leave the house to go somewhere, they will run on the sidewalk alongside the car and “race” the car to the top of our street.  The person in the car will drive slow at first, so that the kids can keep up or even be ahead of them…and then slowly start to go faster so that the kids are finally trailing far behind.  My kids think this is the funniest thing to do — to “race” a car.  Such a kid thing to do, right?  Kids are so funny.
And yet today I “raced” a school bus.  Let me explain.
Aria went on her very first school field trip this morning.  Her Kindergarten class went to an environmental nature museum that is about a 30 minute drive from the school.  To get there they went on a bus.  A yellow school bus.  Aria had never been on a bus before, and this is what excited her the most about the field trip.
“I’m going on a bus!”  is what she told us almost everyday for the past two weeks.  For her, it was all about the bus ride.  I don’t think she even knew where they were going on their class field trip, and I doubt she even cared.  Just so long as they traveled by big yellow school bus.
After I dropped everyone off at school, I went home to a quiet house.  The baby was still sleeping, and I silently rejoiced at having a few minutes to myself.  I started a load of laundry and then began cleaning the kitchen after the breakfast mess.  In my mind I was thinking of all the things I could do while the baby slept: balance my checkbook, catch up on emails, clear away the house clutter that accumulates everyday…the possibilities were endless.
Yet, my mind kept going back to Aria.  This was such a big day for her, and I was feeling a little bad about the way the morning went.  I was supposed to wake up early and prepare a “big” breakfast for her because on their field trip they wouldn’t be having their usual 10:00am snack.  But instead I woke up late and she poured herself a bowl of Rice Crispies.  She was supposed to wear jeans, a short sleeved shirt, a light jacket in case it was cold, and closed toes shoes.  Well, because I woke up late she picked out her own clothes: purple sweats with a long sleeved shirt and her brown boots.  Brown boots with purple sweats?  I made her change to tennis shoes, but of course that made her mad at me because how dare I criticize her fashion style.  In the van on the way to school I realized that she didn’t have a light jacket, just in case it got cold.  So I had everyone search the car for any kind of jacket.  Sometimes it helps that my kids leave things everywhere, because sure enough A.J. found a jacket of Aislynn’s, and that is what we tied around Aria’s waist so she could bring it on the field trip.  It was huge, but it would work.  The morning was rushed, not at all like I had pictured her big day.  She gave me a quick kiss and hopped out of the van at the morning drop off, and I barely got the chance to say, “have fun on your field trip!” before the van doors slammed shut and she was skipping off to her line.  I drove away feeling….well, feeling a little sad.  It was such an important day for her, and I didn’t make a big deal out of it.
So as I did the dishes, I kept looking up at the clock.  Soon it was 8:15.  I knew the bus was supposed to depart at 8:15.  I thought to myself,  I should have gotten up early, taken a shower, had my camera charged and ready so that I could be there and take pictures when she boarded the bus and pulled away.  As it was, I looked a mess because I just woke up.  The last thing I wanted to do was to stand next to a bunch of Kindergarten moms when I looked like I just rolled out of bed.  Also, my camera…is it charged?  I doubted it.  And of course, it was already 8:15.  Even if I jumped in the car right this second I would probably miss the bus departure.  Nope, I should just forget about it and go on to enjoy my quiet morning.
But what if the bus arrived late?  Then they would still be there.  And maybe I could catch a few pictures.  Aria would be so happy to see me.  It would make her feel special to have me waving at her as they pulled away.  It would make up for the morning rush.  Should I try to make it? No, no…I’m sure I’d never make it in time.  Plus, I’m such a mess right now.  My hair, my clothes…
Buses do run behind schedule.  It happens.  And who cares what I look like!  Aria won’t care about that.
That’s it – I’m going!
I told Audriana that I was leaving, and I grabbed my camera, got my car keys, threw on my flip-flops and ran out the door.  It only takes one minute to drive down the hill to the elementary school, and when my car turned the corner I could see the big yellow school bus parked in the bus lane. I’m not too late! I saw a bunch of Kindergarteners standing in lines next to the bus.  I parked my car and hurried over to the lines, looking for Aria’s class.
And there she was,  waiting to board the bus in her purple sweats and with her older sister’s jacket tied around her waist.  She glanced up and saw me.  “Mommy!” she said, surprised.

I went up and gave her the biggest squeeze of a hug and I told her to have a GREAT time!  And I told her that I loved her and that I couldn’t wait to hear all about her field trip when she gets back!  She was so excited, and I was so happy that I was there to snap these pictures and capture the moment.

Getting on the Big Yellow School Bus!

Waving at me from the window

Big smile for mommy

And I stood there, taking pictures and waving at her.  And she never took her eyes off me.  With all of the excitement and all the chaos going on inside that bus full of five year olds, she kept her eyes on me and waved and blew me kisses…because I’m “mommy” and to a five year old I trump all that other stuff.   

And I was so glad that I was there!

Soon the bus started up, and all the other mommies stepped away a little bit.  Some even began walking back to their cars.  But me? I stayed alongside the bus, and as Aria looked down at me I pumped my arms up and down in a running motion, and I could see her start to laugh.  She knew what I was about to do.  The bus pulled forward and I started jogging next to it, then it went faster and I went faster…and before I knew what was happening I was racing a school bus down the street.  I looked up at Aria and she was laughing so hard.  The bus eventually won and left me standing at the end of the sidewalk, waving.   
I was smiling to myself as I walked back, and only then did I notice that the other moms were staring at me.  I guess I must have looked pretty silly.  “That’s just something we do in our family,”  I explained, as I passed by them.  “We race cars…and buses.”  
A few hours later, I picked her up from school and started asking her questions about her morning.  I was eager to hear all about her first field trip.
So…did you have fun?
What did you do there?
“We walked around and looked at flowers and things.”
Were you warm enough?
Was the bus ride fun?
What was your favorite part of your field trip? 
And she looked at me and smiled.
“When you raced the bus!”

Aria’s first time on a school bus ~ May 28, 2014
Years from now, she might not remember where she went on her first field trip, or who she sat by on the bus…but she’ll always remember her mommy running alongside the school bus, with no purpose other than to make her laugh.  


  1. Chris says

    I love this post. It brought a tear to my eyes. It’s the little, funny things we do that make our children so happy. Good one momma, for following your instincts and “racing” the bus!

  2. says

    I loved this post. It’s the little funny things that make our kids so happy. Way to go momma for following your instincts and “racing” the bus!

  3. says

    You are a good mom, but if you do the same thing in about eight years you well know you will get a great big exasperated teen “Oh Mom!”

    I don’t think that will stop you though.

  4. Martha says

    Such a sweet memory for both of you. Your children are so blessed to have such a sweet,loving, caring Mom.

  5. Steph says

    You changed it from your feeling like a mommy-fail to an actual mommy big-time win:) Very, very sweet. Thanks for sharing! p.s. Aria is adorable.

  6. says

    I loved this story! It made me a little teary-eyed. I wish I lived somewhere near you b/c I would ask you Mommy advice all the time. You are doing such a great job with a large family; it’s beautiful to see!

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