The Finish Line

Twin third graders’ field trip to the Philadelphia Zoo this week – the goal, on paper, was to choose an animal on which to do the end of year research project. The goal for chaperones was to tire out these excited monkeys and get them back on the bus safely and at the appointed time. In order to manage both goals, my co-chaperone WingMom and I raced our six boys all the way to the back, figuring it would be easier to get to the bus on time if we ended up close to the exit.
We managed to navigate six very busy boys to the back of the zoo without too many stops and we were rewarded amply – it was empty and we could easily get up close and personal with all of the exhibits, and (pro tip) it was easy to keep track of our charges because there were very few other people around. Moments later, we were in the otter/red panda area when a zoo official asked us to leave the area because THE RED PANDA HAD ESCAPED ITS ENCLOSURE. Zoo personnel were rapidly arriving on the scene – yellow jackets on bicycles, in golf carts, and on foot, with walkie-talkies and badges.
It was literally the most exciting thing to happen at a zoo since April the Giraffe finally gave birth. It was like Jurassic Park and Madagascar all in one, and our boys were … not nearly as excited as the other moms and I were. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? This was a BIG DEAL. Why were they not out of their minds?
It hit me a few days later. For me, with my days filled with work, pack the lunches, check the backpacks, meet the bus, wash the baseball uniform, pack the bags, unpack the groceries, move the clothes from floor to basket to washer to dryer to bedrooms and repeat x infinity, this was a big freaking deal. I was at the zoo with my kids on a work day and there was a wild animal on the loose. For my kids, every day is filled with wonder and excitement and discovery and different experiences and so this was just another in a long line of “guess what happened today” events. And there will be dozens more of them as we wrap up the 2016-17 school year and embark on the summer of 17. My goal at the zoo was to bring the kids back alive and on-time, and I think that’s my end-of-year school goal as well: race to the finish, survive the myriad pitfalls of field days, tag days, dress up and dress down and dress spirit and dress whatever days, end of year party days, last minute project days, field trip days, and last days – and get there alive and on-time.
See you at the finish line!