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Lessons to Live By: Field Trip Fail

Hi and welcome back. Today’s blog post is a tough one to write. It’s about something I’m kind of ashamed about. I probably wouldn’t have shared it with you normally. But, I’ve heard from a bunch of readers how my blogs have been helpful in talking about common “kid themes,” so I thought I’d ignore my embarrassment and share my story.

Here’s me taking a deep breath. Ok here goes…basically, I didn’t behave as well as I should’ve on a field trip, and I got in trouble for it. For the record, I wasn’t the only badly behaved one, but as my parents told me, that doesn’t really matter. I’m the only child of theirs who misbehaved.

That brings me to the very hard lesson I’ve learned: when you don’t behave as you are expected, you should either fix the situation (if you’re lucky enough to be warned) or be prepared to accept the consequences. In my case, I didn’t fix things in time, and now I’m paying the price for my bad judgment calls.

This is my story…

Phil-in da blanks

Normally, I’m pretty well behaved at school. OK, sometimes I’m a little chatty with my friends. But most of the time, I don’t cause problems.

A few months back, our teacher, Miss C announced that our whole grade was going on a field trip to Philadelphia. We were all really excited. Especially me. Even though I’d been to Philadelphia before, I’ve never gone with my friends. Ever since the trip was announced, my friends and I went into planning mode. We discussed who would sit next to who on the bus, what we were going to wear (this changed several times because of the weather forecast), and even what we would bring for lunch. Dinner, which would be eaten right before the bus ride home, would be the famous Philly Cheese Steak.

Let’s fast forward to the night before the field trip. My mom (with my help) made me a special lunch—a plain bagel with cream cheese—plus some watermelon and a bag of chips. They were the healthier kind of chips, but I didn’t mind. I’m pretty sure my mom had also thrown in a cookie, but that was supposed to be a “surprise.” My parents even gave me some money for a small souvenir.  

As you can imagine, I was brimming with excitement. When we boarded the buses, it felt like everyone was talking at the top of their lungs.  

My teacher, Miss C, jokingly said to another teacher, “This is going to be a long day.” She may not have been joking after all.

Little did I realize that we were all in for a long day. And I was partly to blame.

All joking aside

Other than being noisy and a little long (nearly two hours!), the bus ride was uneventful. I couldn’t wait to get out and get going.

Once we finally arrived, our first stop was Independence Hall. This is the building where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed. Since I’d been to Independence Hall before, I didn’t listen all that closely to the explanation. I probably should have. Instead, I was chatting with my friend, Jeffrey. I can’t remember exactly what I said. But whatever it was, it made Jeffrey laugh a little too loudly. Miss C came over to us. She told us that we were being disrespectful and asked that we please be quiet. Jeffrey and I nodded, but we didn’t quite get all the giggles out of our system.  

I’m pretty sure I made a joke about the “Liberty Smell” (instead of the Liberty Bell, our next stop). My joke made Jeffrey laugh again. I got a very sharp look from Miss C.

That was my first bad judgment call of the day.

Acting like a real ding-dong

With only one day in Philadelphia, we had a lot to cover. Perhaps it was because I woke up earlier than normal, but I couldn’t stop being silly. Since Jeffrey and I were seatmates, he was a captive audience (especially since we weren’t allowed to get up). We laughed about anything and everything.

When we got to the Liberty Bell, Miss S (one of the strictest teachers in our grade), pulled Jeffrey and me aside. She reminded us about the importance of being well-behaved.

“If you are unable to control yourselves, there will be consequences.” I just assumed that after Miss S spoke to us, she’d move on to another kid who needed a reminder. Because of another bad judgment call, though, I didn’t think the teacher’s warnings were all that serious. 

“Noodle, take my picture,” Jeffrey called. He pretended to hug the Liberty Bell. He wasn’t so close to the Liberty Bell that he could actually touch it. But apparently, that didn’t matter. Immediately, a guard rushed over.

“No touching,” he said, wagging his finger in disapproval. Jeffrey and I nodded. We scurried away, quietly laughing. And we ran right into Miss S.

“Noodle and Jeffrey, we are guests of Philadelphia. Your behavior is unacceptable. If there are any more incidents after this, you will both miss Field Day. Is that clear?” Jeffery and I didn’t need to look at each other, but I’m sure we both nodded “yes.” Jeffrey and I hurried to catch up to the group.

I didn’t think she’d follow through on missing Field Day. It was one of the best days of the school year. Worst case scenario, maybe the teachers would separate us from being seatmates. While it would stink, it wasn’t such a big deal.

Even though both Miss C and Miss S had been clear, sometimes it’s hard to resist temptation. It’s a shame my bad judgment kept calling me.

In tent-s guilt

After lunch (which included a delicious cookie!), our last stop before returning home was the Museum of the American Revolution. If you’re ever lucky enough to go, you’ll know that George Washington’s famous tent from the Revolutionary War is kept in the museum. When you see the tent, however, I wouldn’t recommend pretending to go into it.  

You see, I thought it would be funny if I did just that.

Unfortunately, I incorrectly assumed it was clear to everyone that I wasn’t really going to go in the tent. But it seems that the grown-ups didn’t realize that. So, while my friends thought it was hysterical, the teachers did not. I got sent outside with Jeffrey and Tommy who were laughing the hardest. We were told to wait with Miss S until the tour was over.

As we were waiting, the reality of my bad judgment calls set in. I didn’t think the teachers would follow through on making us miss Field Day. Jeffrey, Tommy, and I were amongst the best athletes. But as it turned out, the teachers didn’t care. Not only were we going to miss Field Day, but on the bus ride home, Miss C also wrote a note to my parents alerting them about my behavior.

Instead of sitting next to Jeffrey on the ride home, I sat next to my Spanish teacher, Senõr Gonzàlez (if you remember an earlier blog of mine, I have a history of chattiness in his class). I was glad he just let me sit in my sad silence.

For the two-hour ride home, I had nothing to do but regret my bad judgment calls.

Guilt trip

As soon as I got off the bus, the look on my mom’s face told me she had received Miss C’s note. I wish I’d hung up on my bad judgment calls.

“Noodle, please take me to Miss C and Miss S so that I can apologize,” was the first thing she said to me. That wasn’t a good sign at all.

I hung back while my mom talked to both Miss C and Miss S. I knew these chats weren’t like my mom’s usually friendly conversations with teachers. My stomach sunk deeper into my chest on the quiet ride home. 

Once we arrived home, my mom said, “It’s been a very long day. Tomorrow, you will get up early and write apology notes to the teachers whom you were disrespectful to. You can also expect no electronics for the next week. That should give you plenty of time to reflect on your behavior.” I knew that these consequences weren’t up for debate. Between missing Field Day, writing apology notes, no electronics, plus my own guilt, I felt terrible. I wish I hadn’t made such bad judgment calls.

Hall of shame

The next day at school wasn’t a happy one for me, either. While most of kids were still buzzing about the field trip, I just sat quietly. I’m pretty sure all the teachers knew about what happened. At least I wouldn’t get in trouble for talking too much that day.

I wish I could say the week passed quickly. It didn’t. It was long and boring. Without electronics, I had nothing to do once I finished homework and practiced piano. I was so bored that I organized my desk, closet, and bookshelf. My room had never looked better. I guess the one positive of my bad judgment calls was that I had plenty of time to clean up.

It’s a shame that I couldn’t have a do-over on my Philadelphia field trip day. If I could, I would have better appreciated that amusing my friends wasn’t worth the consequences. Bad judgement calls were the difference between being known as the funny kid and the funny-kid-who-got-in-big-trouble-on-the-field-trip.

Here’s some advice if you should ever go on a field trip (or anywhere else where your behavior might be tested): pay close attention to whether it’s the right time—or place—to be silly. And if you’re faced with a bad judgment call, my recommendation is that you don’t answer.

That was a lesson I learned the really hard way.

Until next time, be your best you.

Do you have any stories about learning an important lesson from an experience? Please share with them me in the comments section! 

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