How do you feel about class field trips? Personally the idea of being trapped anywhere with over one hundred 8-10 year old students is somewhat intimidating to me. Up until this year I have somehow managed to avoid these situations as they usually conflict with my work schedule. Recently, however, my schedule has opened up and this year my daughters, clever as they are, quickly guilted me into participating not only in one class field trip, but BOTH. What was I thinking?
Last week’s field trip was with my 8 year old daughter’s class to the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, AR. The day started cold and rainy unlike the previous day, which had been sunny and in the low 80’s. As a result of our exploits that previous day which I am sure I will get to in another post, I had extremely sore feet and was very tired. Wet dreary days always put me in a bad mood but on top of being tired it made me enormously cranky. I was not looking forward to slogging through the rain and mud with a bunch of raucous children. Adding insult to injury, we had to climb a massive hill from the parking lot to even get to the Folk Center, which only added to my rotten mood. However, the rain had stopped so that was a plus.
To make things even better I learned that we were being put in charge not only of my own daughter but 3 other young ladies from her class as well. Normally this would not bother me as her friends are the sweetest most well behaved girls, but … see previous paragraph. We were expected to keep up with them and “herd” them around the Craft Village, which is home to over 20 skilled period artisans. I could see my day going downhill quickly and it was pretty low to start. Luckily, we had another mother and grandmother to help. Surely four adults could keep track of four 8 year old girls, right?
The only thing standing in our way now was actually entering the park. Parents were unable to buy their tickets ahead of time, yet the children already had theirs. But our group of kids couldn’t go anywhere without us. It was an exercise in futility and frustration to have to make kids wait while we stood in what seemed to be the world’s longest, slowest ticket line with only one cashier in attendance to take care of the 100 or so family member “chaperones”. Once tickets and maps were obtained we were on our way to immerse ourselves in 19th century Ozark Mountain living.
Our first stop was the one room schoolhouse where our girls happily tried out the antique desks and questioned how children of all ages could learn together in such a small space. The day continued with the girls gazing in wonder as they learned how to make dolls out of what most of us in this day and age consider trash. They were amazed to learn that they could make dolls or even angels for their Christmas trees out of cornhusks.
And the dolls made out of strips of rags went from scraps to beloved toys in mere minutes. They were all talking about making their own when they got home. And the day got a little warmer and brighter if only because I was experiencing it through the eyes of those four precious girls and their enthusiasm for everything they were learning.
As we continued through the park the girls watched blacksmith, stained glass making, and pottery demonstrations and even got to ride on a donkey powered merry-go-round. It was refreshing to watch our daughter just as entertained by playing with 2 sticks and a hoop, as she had been by the electronic device she usually has her head buried in.
At the end of the morning we parted ways with those endearing girls who had so revitalized my day with their innocent embracing of a time period long since past and unfortunately mostly forgotten in our every day lives. We took our daughter to a small café in town coincidentally bearing her name (sort of). We frequently refer to our own Peyton Jane as P.J. too. We had and amazing lunch of diner food. I won “Best Meal” with my order of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes with white gravy, and home-style green beans. But the real surprise was the abundance of Elvis Presley memorabilia in the restaurant. My youngest Elvis fanatic was over the moon looking at rare photos of Elvis as a teenager performing in Arkansas as well as copies of his high school diploma and wedding license. However her overall favorite was the fleece Elvis curtains on the front window. I think she would have taken them home if she could have.
I am so lucky to have spent this day with these wonderful 8-year-olds rather than moping around at home, tired and depressed by the weather. So maybe we all just need to experience a bit of life through a child’s eyes to make us realize how great things are.