Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No Running in the Biltmore House

By Sheilah

Another year, another volunteer for anything and everything. Just got back from the all-day field trip to the Biltmore House. Rain, fog, 4 hours on the interstate. Oh joy. The kids were little charms, but I wasn’t. They had to be. The tour guide kept them, kept us all, in line. In a strict line, bellying up to the velvet rope so the other visitors with their lovely ear buds and self-guided tour could linger, listen, maybe even learn something in a leisurely way. Not us, no, we were ushered through with a 30-second spiel on each room and then outta there. Why not let the boys linger and lovingly stare at the library’s ceiling with its nudes? It was some great art, and they would have learned something I bet. And I want to hear more about the secret rooms; better yet, let us tour them. I mean at $40 bucks a pop plus the gas and time and multi coffees, give me a second here.

Too much to ask. It’s a public school field trip, on chartered buses, and there is no time. Rules rules rules. I hear in the old days parents packed their paneled wagons with as many kids could stack on top of each other and drove them across county lines without fear of liability. Imagine that. Probably stuffed them full of homemade goodies chock full of nuts and other allergens, and no epi pin in sight. The horror. Now the rules, since 9/11 I hear, mean a bus must be chartered, for insurance sake, if the trip is long. And no parents may ride, and no parents may follow the bus closely, and no parents can bring snacks, and no parents can enjoy it at all.

I’m sorry, but I had to work late last night, and 4-5 hours of sleep will kill a person easily. Charles Kuralt. Diane Sawyer’s probably next. It’s been established that too few hours of sleep will do you in. And it’s not good on field trip days when you can’t just jump in the car in your pjs and deposit son at school. No, you must shower and drive 2 hours, avoiding the 2 charter buses at all times. Through the rain and fog, up the mountain. Smile. You’re not a room mom this year, but you look like one.

Last year’s trip to the zoo was more fun. Let’s face it, I always get 4 boys to keep track of, because I have a son. And 4 boys is a zoo. So add 4 boys to a zoo, and you really get something resembling a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there. By mid-day through that trip, I’d put my hand up to one kid, as in, “Speak to the hand.” I was afraid I’d say something snotty. He deserved it. But at least they ran and lingered and enjoyed themselves. Why in the world take four classes of 4th graders to an enclosed mansion? America’s castle? What were they thinking? You can’t run, touch, ask questions, raise your hand, eat, or potty. It’s kind of like work. We were so hot and tired and hungry that Dylan and I kind of propped each other up through the two-hour tour that lead us nowhere. No pictures allowed either.

Needless to say, the bus trip was the best part for him. The seats were plush, the snacks available, the movies running, the friend beside him, the toilet working. A toilet in a bus--I mean that really is something.

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