I’ve been filling out a lot of permission forms lately for the kids to take field trips. It makes me nostalgic. I used to tag along on all the trips, but not so much anymore. Not just because I’d embarrass my children — I’ve never let that stop me — but for a variety of reasons.

Model used to depend on parents to drive students everywhere they went. Parents = transportation = field trip. We were an essential part of the formula. The kids understood that without mom or dad behind the wheel they were stuck in the classroom — forever. Believe me, that was powerful leverage for good behavior.

Back then, the school paired parents up so there would be a driver and another adult for crowd control. Not that the little darlings would get into mischief, but it never hurts to be prepared. I always tried to clean out my van before an excursion—to remove temptations. But sometimes you just don’t see trouble coming. “Put that tennis racquet down — now!” my co-pilot yelled toward the back seat as we cruised down I-75. I have no idea what the child’s intentions were, but he was caught in mid-swing, before he could serve someone’s lunch out the window.

There were other close calls on our outings. One unfortunate child got stung by a bee while we picnicked in the park. Of course it was the child who was allergic to bee stings. They’re usually singled out by the insect world. The episode frightened the victim, plus everyone else who scattered, screamed and refused to return to the scene of the crime, leaving parents to pick up the pieces — literally, the pieces of sandwiches, chips, drinks and deserts trampled during the hullabaloo.

Some trips involved more controlled chaos — enough to make the Magic School Bus’s Miss Frizzle proud. The kids “got messy.” The annual trek to the pumpkin patch always coincided with the rainiest period on record. We slogged through corn mazes, tramped through the farthest fields searching for the perfect pumpkin, heaved the 10-pound treasure onto the hay wagon, then dragged it to the van. We removed mud-caked boots before boarding and carefully placed them in a plastic bag until we returned to school. With all the extra dirt we brought back, we could have grown our own pumpkins the next year.

My favorite field trip ever has been to the Fire Training Center. Everyone gets to stop, drop and roll on the mat as if their clothes were on fire. And the kids actually crawl out of a fake smoky building on their hands and knees. While escaping, they encounter a firefighter dressed in full regalia — looking and breathing like Darth Vader — so the kids won’t be scared if he tries to rescue them in a real emergency.

One of the best time travel spots is Fort Boonesborough. There were no child labor laws in the 1700s so the guides put the third-graders to work building a fence. Useful skills for that age. At EKU’s Maywoods, the kids sloshed through creeks, bird watched, identified trees and sketched wildflowers. On other expeditions, they’ve met governors, listened to an orchestra and crawled through caves.

Yet sadly, their clearest memories of these experiences are often the hot chocolate served on the Kentucky Railway train ride, the delicious donuts from the bakery by Constitution Square and what they bought in the Capitol gift store.

My own memories are fading some since parents are no longer the chief transporters. Students now ride buses unless they’re close enough to walk. For awhile parents could ride, too, and share the students’ anticipation before, and excitement after, the events. Then we were kicked off the bus — for liability reasons. We can drive separately and join the class later, but it’s just not the same.

Now there are some buses I don’t want to be on. Ones headed to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago, loaded with fifth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Great kids, but spending endless hours trapped on a bus with them is not my idea of fun. Add several days touring — keeping constant vigil, waiting in long lines, staying up late and getting up early — and that’s too much togetherness for me, especially when I have to pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege.

So, I sign the permission slips, leave the driving to the professionals and wait for a recap when my kids return. I’ll just have to find other ways to embarrass them in front of their friends.

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