My class is going on our very first real life, big boy field trip. Mama tucked me in real tight for sleep, but when I closed my eyes all I could see were dinosaurs around me. So I opened them. I slowly untucked my real tight blankies. I climbed out of bed, feeling suddenly cold in the dark. Mama turned on my night light and I use its green glow to find my way to my book case. Mama and Daddy used to read one story to me together before bed. I’m the librarian ‘cause I always pick the book.
But now….now it’s just Mama or Daddy at night. ‘Cause now there’s Lily. I make a face just thinkin’ about her. Daddy says she’s, “Goin’ through her screamin’ phase.” That always makes Mama scold him. That makes me laugh. At least I’m still the librarian.
I sit in front of my book case, look over all the pictures. Mama has me practice readin’ sometimes, but I like the pictures best. There’s the one with the raccoon who gets a kiss on her paw; I toss it aside. Then, I see the one where we say good night to the moon. But that’s not what I’m looking for so I toss it to the side. And I also see a llama in red pajamas, but I don’t want that one. I hear footsteps and freeze!
They’re Daddy’s big footsteps. My heart is pounding. My pulse races. How quick can I run to the bed and tuck back in? My eyes look over my shoulder at the bed. And then back to my books. I need my Dino book for the field trip. Daddy’s footsteps fade and I continue my adventure. After seven more books fall to the floor, I find it! My Dino book has a hard cover. And it has all the dinosaurs you could ever want to see. I look through the pages, memorizing them in the dim, green glow of my night light.
Mama comes in and finds me on the floor with my Dino book. She whispers, “It’s time for your field trip, Sweetheart.” I stretch and yawn and show her my Dino book. She promises to put it in my backpack.
Mama makes french toast sticks for breakfast. I want to pour my own syrup, but Mama says no. That makes me scream! But Mama won’t budge so I get time out and I have to go sit on the steps until Lily is done with her breakfast. Daddy comes downstairs. He ruffles my hair. He shoots me a smile and I smile back to make Daddy happy. Daddy gives Mama a big kiss on the lips, the kind Grandma always shoves at me before we’re allowed to open presents on Christmas Eve. My face responds, but Mama laughs, wipes off Lily’s cheeks, and tells me to come back to eat breakfast.
I ask to pour the syrup. Mama looks at Daddy. Daddy looks at Mama and he grabs the syrup. He pours a BIG pour. I love when Daddy pours the syrup. Mama gives him a finger waggle. She never means it with Daddy, but she always does with me. Like when I played pretend spa and got mud all over my hands, face, hair. I got more than a finger waggle that day.
Daddy smiles and he gives Mama another big kiss so I make a face. Mama laughs. I dip my sticks in the syrup, being sure to let each stick soak in the syrup just like Daddy taught me. I eat all my sticks! And Mama and Daddy are so proud. She scoops up my plate and leans across the counter so I can look into her black eyes, “Mandy’s gonna pick you up after school because Lily has to go to the doctor. Can you remind me what color her car is?”
“Blue!” I say.
“That’s right!” she says and wraps her cold hand around my cheeks smushing my face together.
“Mama! I’m a big boy! Stop!” I struggle to evade her kisses.
“My baby boy is going on his first field trip!” she beams at me, but I think maybe she’s gonna cry ‘cause she’s makin’ that face she always makes before she cries the big tears and waves us off saying that she’s happy. But how can you be happy and crying?
“Mama! I am five!” I remind her. She nods and waves her hands at me which means I gotta go get dressed. I race Daddy up the stairs and he helps me put on my cargo shorts and red t-shirt with the blue T-Rex on it. It’s my favorite. And we’re gonna go see the dinosaurs today! Daddy helps me brush my teeth and Mama buckles me into my booster seat. She parks and I race to unbuckle my seatbelt before she comes around and opens the big door of the van ‘cause I’m a big boy and I can prove it! She smiles at me when she sees me standing already. Lily squirms and begins to cry in her arms. She does that a lot.
Mama walks me to the classroom and gives me a big hug, but Lily feels so hot and wet and sweaty and so I don’t really like the hug. Mama’s hugs don’t feel like they used to.
Seth waves me over to show me his dinosaurs so I rush off to meet him at his table before Mrs. B tells the class to get started. He has huge dinosaur toys! I can barely wrap my hand around their squishy tummies. He has a T-Rex and a Velociraptor and a Brontosaurus and a Pterodactyl and all their mouths move and you can move the T-Rex’s arms up and down and they all have super sharp teeth. I think I’ll ask Mama and Daddy for some toys like Seth’s for my birthday. Seth says we can play dinosaurs after lunch and I ask him if I can have the T-Rex, but he says no. I’m about to tell him why I deserve T-Rex, but Mrs. B claps her hands and that means we have to be quiet so I go back to Table 3.
Table 3 is my table and Table 6 is Seth’s which means he is far away. He sits with Annie and Peter and Cassie. I sit with Alex and Macy and Meadow. Meadow is very annoying. Mama says that she isn’t trying to be annoying when she moves her paper onto my side of the table or when she forgets to put the cap back on the purple marker so it’s all dried out when I try to use it. But I don’t believe her.
Meadow waves to me and leans in real close to my ear, “My mom is coming on the field trip with us!” She points one finger at a woman who is very tall with long hair and a green dress on. “See?” asks Meadow, “See my mom!?” I try to scoot my chair over a bit-away from her yucky breath.
“Your breath stinks, Meadow. You should brush your teeth more,” I say in my best whisper voice.
“Jack? Do you have something to share with the class?” asks Mrs. B. I feel my cheeks turn hot like when Mama put me in timeout this morning. I ball my hands up and feel that they’re a little wet like Lily’s. I shake my head. Mrs. B goes back to discussing the rules of the museum. She says we’re going to have buddies at the museum. I turn as fast as I can to look at Seth. But then Mrs. B says, “You must be a buddy with someone at your table.” So I turn and look at Alex, but Alex is busy chewing on his pencil. He takes it out of his mouth and a long, clear, stringy bit of spit comes with it. So I decide I do not to be partners with Alex. I look over at Macy, but she’s busy reading a book and Mrs. B tells her to, “Put it away right now.” So I decide Macy isn’t a good choice.
“Wanna be my buddy?” whispers Meadow. I heave a big sigh. Meadow is smiling at me real big. So I just nod my head. We are lined up with our buddies at the door. Mrs. B reminds us to take our backpacks with our lunch boxes.
We stand outside in front of the big yellow bus! I love the big yellow bus, but I never get to ride it ‘cause Mama always takes me to school. We have to take big steps onto the bus and an old man wearing a blue cap waves hello to us. Meadow makes us sit at seat number 16. She says, “It’s the seat on the wheel and my big sister, Maggie says that it’s the best seat ‘cause we get to jump whenever there’s a bump! And that makes it a good seat. ‘Cause it's like a rollercoaster.” She makes a loud noise. It’s the same one Lily makes when Daddy gives her tickles. It’s very squeaky. I pull out my Dino book. This is gonna be a long ride.
It is a long ride. Meadow talks a lot. She tells me about Barbies. I don’t like Barbies. I look over at Seth across from us. He is busy showing his dinosaurs to Peter. He’s letting Peter be the T-Rex! I make a fist because I really want to be with T-Rex and Seth said we would play dinosaurs together. I rest my head against the window. But that makes it hurt so I sit up and try to close my eyes ‘cause Mama says car naps are the best kind of naps.
Except just as I start to feel sleepy, Mrs. B claps her hands. We finally arrive at the museum. There are big lion statues outside the front doors and everyone gasps. I can hear someone roar like a lion! I put my book back in my bag with a frown. I didn’t even get to look at the pictures once. The parents and Mrs. B help us leave the bus. I like that there were no seatbelts the whole trip because Mama takes so long getting Lily’s on and she makes me be quiet because she says, “I have to concentrate!”
Meadow makes us stand on the sidewalk by her Mom. A nice lady in a blue shirt gives us all stickers with a T-Rex on them. They are very cool. We follow her up the big steps. It’s cold when we get inside. I feel goosebumps immediately, and it smells a bit funny. It’s also very quiet, but as we enter I notice the big T-Rex skeleton!
Mrs. B tells us we need to whisper like we’re in the library which makes most of the kids use their indoor voices. Except Peter. But Peter is always loud. He is holding up Seth’s T-Rex toy in the air to see if the toy looks like the skeleton. He is asking all of us to look. Mrs. B reminds him to use his library voice and Seth takes back his toy. I am busy looking at the skeleton when I feel Meadow’s hand on mine. She’s pulling me away. I realize it’s ‘cause the group is moving forward so I start to walk with her. The skeleton looks just like my book. Meadow lets go of my hand. It’s not big like Mama’s. It’s not rough like Daddy’s. I kinda miss it. A little bit.
“This next area is free for exploration, kids,” says the lady in the blue shirt. She holds open a big, wooden door. When we enter we see huge dinosaurs everywhere. Some are even roaring or eating leaves of trees! I know they’re just pretend robots, though, because Daddy told me about the robots yesterday after story time. I immediately run over to Seth, who is standing in front of the T-Rex. His eyes are big like plates and his mouth is hanging open slightly. It’s a bit silly.
“Wait for me, Buddy!” calls Meadow, but I pretend not to hear. We get to wander around for like, two minutes before Mrs. B claps her hands and tells us we have to go onto an activity. I whine and stomp my feet. She says we might get to come back after lunch. I ball up my fists and follow the class to the special activity room. Meadow is already sitting at a table. Her sparkly pink shoes are floating in the air. Her Mom is right beside her.
“Sit with your buddies, class!” says Mrs. B so I wave goodbye to Seth and sit at Meadow’s little table. There are coloring sheets and crayons. “Alright, everyone gets a Triceratops color by number sheet,” Mrs. B says as she holds up her example, “And crayons. Now, each number on the page belongs to a special color.” Mrs. B points to the leaf on the sheet labeled with the number 1 as she says, “One is green. So pick any green you want and color it in.” “And number two is brown,” she holds up another crayon. “Black is three, blue is four, and five is yellow. There’s a reminder of what colors to use at the bottom of the sheet. When you are done with your drawing please turn it into me and I will give you a free coloring sheet,” Mrs. B promises as she grabs a stack of coloring sheets and I notice a T-Rex which looks really cool. The class has started talking and Mrs. B claps her hands, “One, two, three eyes on me!”
“One, two, eyes on you!” we shout back.
“Thank you. Now, we are practicing our numbers so if you get confused ask your adult for help, OK?”
“Ok,” we promise.
“Now, you may start,” she says with a big smile. I look down at my picture and start to color in the leaves of the plant. I use my crayon to outline the black edges just like Mama does because her art is always so pretty. Then, I color in the blue sky and start to work on the triceratops’ body and tail which are both brown. I notice that Meadow has a yellow crayon in her hand and she’s about to put it on the Triceratops’ body!
“Hey, Meadow,” I say, while not letting go of my black crayon which I am using to color in the spikes on its head. “The body isn’t yellow; the sun is,” I say while leaning over and pointing so she can see.
“Oh, thanks,” she says before setting the crayon down and changing to the brown one. I finish my drawing and give it to Mrs. B. She gives me a big smile and says I can pick a sheet to color all on my own. I pick the T-Rex. When I get back to the table, I notice that Meadow is almost done with her coloring. She leaves and I pick up the purple marker to color in my T-Rex. It’s a bit warm, but that’s ok. Meadow comes back and asks me what my favorite dinosaur is. I explain all the reasons why I love the T-Rex. It makes her smile. “Wanna eat lunch together?” she offers. I nod my head and hand her the purple crayon.
Meadow’s mom gave her chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Mama cut my PB and J into a T-Rex shape. I also get some fish crackers and a pack of fruit snacks. “Can I have some?” asks Meadow as she points to my fruit snack pack.
“Sure,” I say, “After I eat my sandwich.” I take a couple bites before adding, “And only if I get one of your cookies.” Meadow nods. We share our desserts just like we promised and she tells me blue fruit snacks are her favorite. I don’t tell her they’re mine, too. I just let her have all three. It makes me a little sad ‘cause this pack had three blue snacks and they always only have one, but it’s OK ‘cause Daddy says it’s important to let girls have their favorite flavor. That’s why he always gives Mama the red M and Ms, ‘cause they’re her favorite flavor.
After lunch we have to get back on the bus. The old man smiles as he opens the door. I race to seat 16 for Meadow. When she sits down I ask her what her favorite dinosaur is. Meadow still likes to talk a lot, but this time I listen the whole ride back. We have to cross railroad tracks this time and Meadow’s sister, Maggie, was right! It was so bumpy. Meadow screams so I hold her hand. It’s nice.
School is over when we get back. I’m a little sad when Meadow says she and her mom are going home. I watch her walk out the door, holding her mom’s hand. I have to wait at the door with Mrs. B. Mandy approaches and I say, “That’s my babysitter.” Mrs. B opens the door and I rush into Mandy’s arms. She gives me a big hug and we walk back to her blue car. She buckles me in.
“How was the field trip?” she asks once she’s back in the car, so I tell her all about the dinosaurs and Seth’s toys. “And how’s Meadow?” Mandy’s voice always gets a bit funny and squeaky when she asks about Meadow and she’s always smiling when she says Meadow’s name. I heave a big sigh. And I tell her the whole story. Mandy just smiles more when I’m done so I close my eyes ‘cause Mama says car naps are the best kind of naps and I’m really tired after listening to Meadow all day.