I really do hate field trips. As a kid I didn’t mind them at all. Away from school for the day? Excellent. In theory, as an adult working with kids, being away from school for the day should still be excellent. I can see the benefit of these trips. I can see why we plan them. I totally agree with the awesomeness of a good field trip. However, it’s only awesome if I’m not going on the field trip. It’s visceral. When a teacher asks me if I want to help out on a field trip, my immediate and vehement reply is “Fuck no.” I kind of joke it off, saying that I just don’t want to be responsible for that many kids at once or saying that I get worried that people will think that they’re mine (judging me harshly for being a, clearly, shitty parent.) Here’s the thing… recently I remembered that there’s an actual reason why I hate field trips. This brought up two questions. One: Really? It’s not just a sort of jaded laziness on my part? Two: How in the holy fuck did I forget this? Before I worked in a school, I worked in Child Protection. Prior to that I worked in group homes for teens. It was in the group homes that I developed my distaste for field trips.
The home I spent the most time at was a coed emergency home. This meant that it was boys and girls living together in short term ‘stabilization’ placements. We helped get them settled and used to the group home thing before they moved to long term homes or with family. See the links in the previous paragraph for some idea of what went on at the houses. We worked on a level system for privileges. Level one, you were pretty much in your room. Level five, you had a fair amount of freedom to do what you wanted. With kids on levels 4 or 5 we would sometimes go on outings, on the weekends. I almost never got the opportunity to take kids on these outings as the more senior staff would snap them up. Well on this particular weekend, we discovered that I was the senior staff. There 4 kids in the house that weekend. One of them was grounded on level one and the other three had the levels for an outing. Not only that but I had some petty cash. The kids suggested a movie. Who wouldn’t want to go to the movies while at work?
So, I took these three kids out to the movies. Two girls and one boy. Let’s call them Mike, Lisa and Penny. Here’s what I remember. Mike was 15 and a bit of a redneck. He always wore a tank top and loved WWF (WWE now). Lisa was blonde. I remember that she could be really loud sometimes and was not very bright. Penny was 15. She made sure that she looked older as much as she could. She had a make-up obsession. This manifested most as compulsive retouches to her lip liner (this was the early oughts). She was also involved with some not-so-nice people. These other people were part of why she was in the home. We, at the group home, didn’t know much (or enough as it turned out) about this. She wasn’t allowed to use the phone and wasn’t allowed to tell anyone where she was living. She’d been with us at least a month before the outing. In the time that she’d been with us, she’d been well behaved and made no attempts to contact anyone.
At the theatre, there was no agreeing on a movie. Mike was adamant that he would not go see whatever girly movie the girl wanted to see. So I, in my infinite wisdom, I figured the girls could go see their movie and Mike and I would go see ‘splosions and such. Their movie was a tad longer than ours, so I figured this’d be good, as we’d be out first and find them easily.
I wish, I wish that I could remember what the movies were. I really think that this would add something to the story. But, alas, I cannot. Mike and I were waiting at the front doors. There were lots of people around, in the lobby. After waiting for a few minutes, suddenly Lisa runs through the crowd, sobbing and hyperventilating. “They’re trying take her!” she screamed.