Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on June 21st, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 16 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 16

The chaperone: Krider accompanies his wife on an extended field trip


What is the definition of the word "difficult"? Difficult is a 14-year-old boy trying to stand still for five minutes. Not only is it quite difficult for any boy to accomplish, it could actually be the definition of the word "impossible." Fourteen-year-old boys move around a lot. I know; I used to be one. I was a hot mess, and I certainly don't miss being 14. It's an awkward age, and I'm glad to have it in my rearview mirror. In fact, the further from 14 I've gotten, the better my life has been.

My wife, she didn't mind 14. In fact, she surrounds herself with these strange 14-year-old hormonal, acne infused, creatures on a daily basis–by choice. She's a middle school math teacher, God bless her soul. She has a tough job that requires enormous amounts of patience. I would quantify it as superhero patience, maybe even more than superhero patience. You want to see Captain America fail? Have him explain the Pythagorean Theorem to eighth graders.

On the last day of school, when most middle school teachers head straight to the bar to celebrate another year behind them, my wife volunteered to chaperone 12 eighth graders to Washington, D.C., and New York. And, if you know anything about marriage, if she volunteered, essentially that meant I volunteered to chaperone too. For the record, I was never asked. 

"It will be a free vacation for us," she told me.

What I don't look for in a vacation, free or not, is trying to chaperone junior high school kids. Because of their age, they are a challenge to manage. Their ears are blocked with wax, so they don't hear. Their brains are disconnected from their spines, so they don't have control of their bodies. During our trip these kids managed to lose a subway ticket seven seconds after I put it in their hands, but before they went through the subway turnstile. They were able to lose their cellphone in the Capitol building where the Secret Service had to assist for two hours to find the phone. They managed to upset the airport security with a bullet on a keychain they just purchased in a New York gift shop. Why did they want a bullet keychain? Who knows, they are 14. The TSA did not have a sense of humor about it.

No matter how much "chaperoning" or advice giving I tried with the kids, they essentially ignored me. My job wasn't to tell them what to do; it was just to keep track of the 12 of them. For five days all I did on the East Coast was count to 12. I just searched for lost teenage kids and counted to 12, over and over again. It was incredibly stressful. The kids saw cool things like the Statue of Liberty, but I didn't see a darn thing, except the backs of 12 heads as I counted them with great determination. I certainly didn't want to lose somebody's kid.

The teenagers didn't really know what to think of me. They assumed their teacher was a robot that was stored in the closet of their classroom when they weren't in session. They didn't see her as an actual human being, and certainly not one with a husband, which is why they didn't refer to her as Mrs. Krider, instead it was a rapid fire, "Ms. Krider! Ms. Krider! I need a Band-Aid!" When my wife ignored their constant barrage, they started asking me questions.

"Mr. Krider! Where are we going next?"

"I actually don't know. Mrs. Krider isn't sharing the itinerary with me either."

My wife, whom I love, likes to keep things a surprise. She has the information and she will share it with the junior high kids, or her husband, when she decides it is appropriate for us to know. I realized quickly, I was just one more of the kids. She told me where to sit, when to get off the bus, and if I could go into the gift shop or not. She even told me when I had to go to bed. Kids are very perceptive. Once they saw I was in the same boat with them, they found an actual use for me. 

"Mr. Krider, can you ask Ms. Krider if we can all have some ice cream?" 

Finally, I had a purpose.

Ms. Krider said "no" to the ice cream. You can read more from Rob Krider or contact him at robkrider.com.

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