I Lost A Kid On A School Field Trip: The Pressure of Volunteering is Intense

School field trip

I’m not sure there’s anything more mortifying than having to turn yourself in to a teacher especially when you’re a volunteer parent on a field trip and have to admit you lost a kid.

Yes, I lost a kid. (Spoiler alert: he’s fine.)

I make a point of going on one field trip a year with my son’s class. He’s delighted I come. It’s special, to him, because usually I’m at work. But, I suck at field trips. Obviously. Like I said, I lost a kid. And the scary thing is; I only had to take care of TWO children, one being mine!

The school field trip was to the Ontario Science Centre, which I figured was a good field trip to join. I hadn’t been there in forever, it’s indoors, and parents didn’t have to go on the school bus (which, I think is sort of unfortunate, since I find five and six-year-olds to be pretty entertaining conversationalists. Then again, I was quite content in an Uber with another mother, so we didn’t arrive with headaches.)

When the teacher told me which kid I had to look after, along with my son, my heart literally sank, while also starting to beat rapidly. I couldn’t believe my luck, or rather, un-luck. He was the same kid I had to look after during my annual school field trip last year when I went to the Toronto Zoo. I hate to admit this, but I lost this kid, last year, too. Yes, yes, yes, I lost the same kid twice on field trips. After panicking for a few minutes, another mother who has no trouble yelling at other kids thankfully ran after him and yelled that he had to stay with the group. He FINALLY listened. (So I didn’t have to tattle on myself, thankfully!)

I don’t like yelling at kids that aren’t mine. I find it entirely uncomfortable. I don’t like being responsible for other children that aren’t mine. It’s just…so much pressure! It’s definitely too much pressure for me. The weird thing is: kids, even if I’ve just met them, like me. A lot. It’s not that I don’t like other people’s children, it’s just that I’m a little (a lot!) terrified that a kid is going to get injured, cry, throw up, or have an allergic reaction on my time. The days leading up to volunteering on a field trip make me so anxious that my back hurts, I’m so tense.

The fact that I was paired up with the same kid I lost last year, seemed like a bad joke. Or maybe some higher field trip power was giving me a second chance to not screw up! Here’s the thing: The same kid I lost both last year and this year is a runner. He ran off last year at the zoo, as fast as a cougar. If you have a five-year-old, you’ll understand just how fast they can run, like they are training for a marathon. At one point, I even wondered if the gift shop sold some sort of bright coloured hat so I could find this kid easier. I got more exercise chasing this kid all morning than I’ve had in the last three months.

The floors at the Science Centre are massive, with rooms and caves everywhere. So within an hour, I had probably said ‘Come back over here!’ to this kid no fewer than 85 times. By the time I got home, my voice was hoarse. And, I kept asking myself, why was I paired up with this kid again? The teachers must know what this, let’s say, ‘animated’ kid is like. And they know how laid-back I am.

I turned my head for maybe two and a half seconds, when I realized the kid I was in charge of was nowhere to be seen. I immediately panicked, asking another mother to help me find him. Since there were about 393 other schools there, also on field trips, I felt like I was looking for Waldo In Where’s Waldo? Except, I felt horrible too, because I was a parent volunteer. All I really had to do was not lose him.

I get an ‘F’ when it comes to Volunteering on School Field Trips.
The kid I lost? He’s fine.

I yelled out his name. I ran around the entire 6th floor. All to no avail. After ten minutes of sweating profusely (and inwardly swearing profusely) and running around like a headless chicken, I knew I had to tell on myself. It was the only, and smartest, option. The sooner I knew this kid was safe, the sooner I would feel like…not puking. Was I mortified to tell the teacher that I lost a kid? Yes. Was I worried I’d never be asked back on a field trip? Yes. Was I worried the teachers would think I wasn’t up to the task, or was a complete idiot, that I couldn’t take care of just ONE other kid? Yup. All of the above.

I found one of the teachers and admitted, ‘I’m so, so sorry. But I lost (name of kid.) I can’t find him.’ I was blinking back tears, which I hoped the teacher didn’t notice. I am, now, I admit, a Field Trip Failure. To lose a kid once is one time too many. But twice? This amazing teacher found the kid within 20 seconds, like a drug-sniffing dog at an airport. She could just sense where he was. (Let’s give thanks to all teachers. How they watch all these kids every day without losing one? I bow down to you!)

I learned absolutely nothing at the Science Centre. When you are with boys who just want to run and run and run and don’t care about learning anything, you spend your entire time chasing them, making sure they are in your vicinity. None of the boys in my group learned anything, either, except that the Science Centre is big and an awesomely fun place to run around. They had a wickedly fun time. I, however, actually laughed inwardly when I was saying goodbye to the teacher, and she mentioned there was an upcoming field trip to make maple syrup.

Was she kidding? I’m still traumatized! I don’t think I could handle losing a kid for a third time.  Like I said, I get a ‘F’ in Field Trips. I may deserve an ‘A’ for Effort, though?

So, moms? Yay or Nay to field trips?



Leave a Comment