Field trips have always been a little bit scary for me, and today was no exception.
See, the kids I work with--all 20 of them--are fantastic, trustworthy kids. I don't doubt for one second that if I tell them, "go sit down over there and don't move," they'll do it. They're not the kind of kids to get left behind somewhere because they weren't paying attention. But still, if a meteor falls out of the sky and beans them on the head, the responsibility falls on me...and that's nerve-wracking.
But today's field trip went without a hitch, even though it was a more complicated field trip that involved having all students meet at one of the junior high schools at 7:00 (early), then get, in several cars, to the other junior high school, then get back to our own school.
Oh, and I was driving some of them in a large school-owned van.
My day started at 5:00, when I woke up before my alarm, curlers in hair, wide-awake and almost-bushy-tailed. After breakfast, I donned my Wonder Woman get-up, and I was on the road by 6:15. I got to school at about 6:30 (not a lot of traffic that early in the day) and met one of my students who was getting a ride to the junior high with me. We climbed into the van--two petite ladies--and figured out how to release the brake.
"There should be a pedal or a lever on that side," my 17-year-old student instructed.
"Heh. Okay, well..." I climbed out of the van and peered at the floor in the semi-dark. "Oh! There it is! How embarrassing." She just laughed, as I muttered, "This is nothing like my Protege."
After another few minutes of fumbling, I figured out how to turn the lights on, the heater and defroster (it was cold this morning!) and even how to use the windshield wipers so I could actually see out the windshield. Wonder Woman was ready to roll.
(The real Wonder Woman, lucky thing, can fly, damn her.)
It was only a couple of miles to our first stop, and relatively easy, though I felt like I was driving a boat, and had my student cracking up as I apologized for driving like an old granny. Thing is, you push your foot down on the gas in that thing, and it wants to go...way more than tiny Rosie Pro does. But if you do that, the weight of that enormous body jolts forward rather uncomfortably. Slow and steady, etc. etc.
The performance at the first junior high was great--a gymnasium filled with kids cheered for us and their music teacher caught me as we hustled out to say, "Great song selection for this crowd!" My kids sang "This Is Halloween," and "Monster Mash" for the occasion, and The Beatles' "Drive My Car" from our recent Drive! concert, which was a perfect combo of fun, energetic songs for a young crowd who were already on major sugar highs that early in the morning. I mean, it's Halloween.
Getting from this school to the next meant driving a van full of teenagers, but we made it in one piece (though I'm sure anyone driving behind me through Granite Bay was unhappy with my stick-to-the-speed-limit progress). The second performance was even better, and a couple of choir parents on hand to help with driving duties were charmed by it. When we were finished, we loaded back into the various vehicles and headed back to our own school, exhausted but satisfied. Before I could even offer a pass, all of my kids hustled off to get to their 2nd period class so they wouldn't miss too much. As the attendance person in the office said, "You've got the responsible kids." Indeed, I do. I adore them.
I was left to climb around the van to make sure we were leaving it in the condition we found it (plus 12 miles on the odometer and minus a teensy bit of gas). I did all the steps to be certified to drive one, but I still kind of can't believe anyone actually trusts me to do it...because, if I'm completely honest, I'll mention here that while my feet do reach the floor...it's a little closer to not reaching than I'd like to admit. (I could reach the pedals, though.)
It makes me giggle to imagine that the next person who is likely to drive that van is a football coach for an away game...how some big, burly guy will unlock the door and climb into the van, only to find that one of Snow White's dwarves seems to have been the last person to operate it.
So I made it through another busy day of choir director adventures--my first full field trip at this school and my first time driving an enormous van full of chatty teenagers. No one ran screaming, so I guess I did a decent enough job.
Hey, I'm Wonder Woman. I've totally got this!