05/28/2013 06:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The First Grade Field Trip: A Running Diary

Scott Shamberg

I am a big Bill Simmons fan. One of my favorite bits he does is the running diary. He did his first one in 1999 while watching the ESPYs. It ran on AOL but, ironically, was the main reason ESPN hired him.

He does them now for big events -- drafts, playoff games... even Wrestlemania. So, as I drove to my son's school the other day to act as a chaperone for his field trip to the zoo, I said to myself, "Self, this is a big event! What about a running diary?" And here, my friends, is the result of that epic internal brainstorm. Any additional commentary as I look back on the work as a whole is called out as such to provide more perspective and/or entertainment

8:30: Running diary today of the Sherwood 1st grade field trip. #mrmom

8:40: Gabe practices armpit farts while Mrs. Walsh is out of the room. Shows good form. I asked him if Mrs. Walsh let him do it. "No, she's always out of the room." Touché.

9:07: Drew a solid team. May be a little short upfront, but we are spry.


Historical footnote: I got my son and two other boys for a total of three. Some of the other groups were as big as five or six. Made me wonder if I lacked trust as a chaperone. Final conclusion? Probably.

9:20: The first "how much longer?" is heard from three rows back. This is followed shortly by a "Gabe has a girlfriend," shout-out. The boy takes it in stride.

Historical footote: He really did. His body language was all, "Yeah, I do, but it ain't no big thing." I like that from him (especially since male pattern and hereditary baldness will set in eventually). But for now, he's the BMOC.

9:40: A student, Sarah, falls asleep and continues to slumber in spite of "Wake up, Sarah!" chants and her head banging against the window. Good sticktuitiveness.

9:50: Donald proudly shows off his Dr. Pepper. Aluminum foil for temperature control not present. This may be his downfall.

9:56: Impressive re-route by bus driver to avoid traffic. Incidentally, Gabe informs me the driver's name is Gus, the same as a pet gerbil I once had.

Historical footnote: My brother Todd and I buried that gerbil when he died. A week later, I dug it up out of curiosity. This greatly upset my brother, who still calls me out on it to this day. I tell Gabe this story on the bus and ten seconds later, he is holding court. "Yeah, buried him and then dug him right back up!" Proud parental moment, outside of some awkward looks from other chaperones.

9:59: A girl on the bus has some toy dolphins. Gabe asks, "Can I hold the fat one?" Urge to yell "that's what she said!" successfully averted as we arrive at the zoo.

10:22: What is the rule on telling another person's kid to wash their hands?

10:32: We are on a record pace for animal viewing. Quantity > quality.

10:53: "We need to find animals that don't cost tickets." The reality of zoo financials... cool animals aren't free.

Historical footnote: I did consider buying tickets to the stingray exhibit, but decided against this, as spending cash on your group is clearly outlined as against the rules in the chaperone handbook. More on this later.

11:15: Decision made to take an early lunch. Cookies go first.

11:26: Pace has slowed as a result of an impromptu game of tag.

11:33: "It smells like animal home in here. And fish." I had to agree.

11:54: We take a "shortcut" through the gift shop. These kids know nothing about merchandising or store traffic patterns.

12:07: Donald's shoelace problem has worsened. We have gone to double knotting. There is no turning back.

12:22: The inevitable has occurred. "My legs are so tired."

12:48: I shun the 'no cash' policy and we hit the carousel.

Historical footnote: I would have stuck by the letter of the law. I'm all about the rules. But then a pack of girls ran up brandishing slushees, and I'll be damned if any pack of girls was going to outshine my Three Musketeers!

1:01: Other parents make purchases with evidence (balloons) and now there is chaos. Rookie mistake. One boy says, "I didn't even ride the carousel, Gabe. I only saw animals!"

Historical footnote: See, I included the slushees in the actual diary. I made a choice to go with the carousel because even when the boys blurted out, "We went on the carousel!" with or without the optional "Nah-nah-nah-nah-NAH!" at least there wouldn't be a paper trail. Then the same pack of girls ran up with balloons. Now every kid wants a balloon. Need to be smart about this sort of thing, people -- experiences, not material goods. No paper trail. That is all.

1:15: Failure to finish lunch is causing an increase in whining as we get on the bus. Elle's pretzels are coveted as if they were the last of the rations.

1:28: Traffic jam making cemetery breath-holding nearly impossible. We need O2 tanks on standby.

1:42: 'So and so' and 'so and so' are apparently sitting in a tree. With all of our progress, first grade razzing has stayed the same. Circle of life, huh?

Historical footnote: It really is amazing that the stuff first graders do on the bus hasn't changed. Wheels on the bus is still the song of choice. Although that might be because one of the teachers thwarted an earlier effort at a "Thrift Shop" sing-a-long. This movement may or may not have been started by my son.

1:51: Earlier kudos for Gus may have been premature. Very curious route home takes us through Bensenville.

1:54: Earlier kudos for Gus definitely premature. He just turned around. He is lost, no joke.

2:04: Appear to be back on course. Parents' anxiety level > kids whining level. Beads of sweat appear near Gus' brow.

2:13: Reroute takes us by Allstate Arena. Not one kid within earshot knows who Megadeth is.

2:23: We just passed Willow Rd. and Zachary starts talking about Yiddish, which leads to "my Grandpa knows Yiddish." I couldn't make this up -- and I'm not.

2:39: The first of the parents has fallen asleep. Soon, he will be hit with something as the kids are approaching the breaking point.

2:44: I make my biggest contribution of the day, routing Gus through the Jim Beam HQ parking lot and around Lake Cook Rd. traffic. I am hailed as a hero.

Historical footnote: So, the thinking as we sat in a parking lot near the airport as Gus got on what I assume was a CB radio was that the bus company was giving us a route home to avoid traffic. That proved untrue, as even when we did get back on course, we went directly through the traffic we were supposedly trying to avoid. At this point, I was struggling to understand why he wasn't looking on his phone for either directions or traffic patterns. I chalk this up to school budgets. 1:45 minutes on the bus. But no harm, no foul.

2:51: We arrive back at school. Best field trip ever.


So, there you have it, my first official running diary (as well as my first official rip-off from Bill Simmons). All in all, a great day. I proved myself a worthy chaperone, served as GPS for a bus driver (why don't they have them?) and, most importantly, got to see my son in an element that I normally wouldn't see.

By the way, take a look at the boy in the first row next to the girl with the orange balloon. See the way he is looking at it, like a lion ready to leap? Experiences > material goods. The First Grade Field Trip was a great experience.