We had a much anticipated field trip planned to our local garden center so that all of our American Heritage Girls could begin working on their gardening badge. Which is awesome, since I, being a notorious plant killer, am no help whatsoever. And while all of the girls enjoy this type of activity, the younger brothers revel in it with even more glee, because they are given ample opportunity to assault all of nature…using a pack mentality.
Envision if you will, 40 or more sweet A.H.G. scouts decked out in their best A.H.G. t-shirts, pens poised over notebooks, straining to hear the tour guide’s insightful information regarding all things plant-like. And then your attention might shift to the peanut gallery in the background, wherein all the little brothers, led by one simply called Jensen, the Velocaraptor, are roaring, while stomping through the puddles, threatening tender plants. They are obviously herbivores. Their focus shifts momentarily as they hear the guide discuss a carnivorous variety of plant, which includes the Venus Flytrap. But the moment annuals and perennials enter the fray, death and destruction once again take center stage.
Because relative quiet is preferred when little girls are in listening mode, the mothers of the little brothers herd our brood toward the miniature playground, replete with mud from a recent impromptu rain shower. All was well and good until the scouts needed the area adjacent for a live demonstration of planting, and the mothers attempted to corral the boy’s vocal excesses. To no avail. The tribe was too far gone.
And then it happened. Jensen came to the realization that it’s never really Fall in Florida. The heat, sweat, and surrounding POLLEN-PALOOZA irritated his atopic dermatitis to the point that he began rendering himself naked, in an effort to cool down. The other boys followed suit and began ripping their own shirts off. And for the record, Jensen would have gone much farther had I not stopped him. Even though his skin was highly enflamed, and he was scratching himself to the point of bleeding, he did not want all of the fun to stop.
When I informed him that we needed to leave, all heads turned to see who was murdering the little boy with no shirt. It is at this point when I usually gather him up into a football hold and make for the exit, avoiding all eye contact. However, I’ve continued to feed him over these last number of years and the child now weighs in at 73 pounds. He could carry me out in a football hold.
Since he was shedding clothes at breakneck speed, I was trying to determine what I would grab a hold of to help steer him away from all things public, and towards the van. My choices were limited. Later I learned that one of Cailey’s troop mates commented, “Look at the screaming boy in his underwear, I think he got into some poison ivy.” Without missing a beat, Cailey countered, “No, that’s my brother and that’s just his skin.”
I managed to farm out my younger daughter to my sister-in-law, and the older child was already hitching a ride with the rest of the older girls for a meeting at their leader’s house, so the coast was clear to vacate the premises.
The screaming continued (combination pain and dismay at leaving his tribe) long after I buckled him into the van and drove away. About a half mile down the road I realized that I had not given Emme her much needed back pack for her meeting. I turned the van around and headed back, just as the troop, siblings, and parents were convening in the parking lot. So they were able to enjoy a round of Jensen once again.
When I signed up for motherhood, I believed that events like field trips would be not only fun, but educational. The only thing that I learned is that sweat does not become me, and I might need to start pumping some serious iron. Oh. And that there’s not enough extra-strength Excedrin in the world to sustain me.
Field trips may be limited to enclosed spaces blessed with air conditioning. Replete with cocktails for the weary mother.