Early, one Monday morning, I try desperately to psyche myself out. Chaperoning a group of squirming preschoolers, on a field trip to a turkey farm, falls in the same category as having a root canal.
You might have fun.
I step out my front door filled with trepidation, shuffle in slippers to pick up the newspaper and instantly go into weather shock. The forecast north wind is strong enough to topple high profile vehicles.
Gotta’ stop watching that Weather Channel.
I had repeatedly asked the paperboy to leave the newspapers on our wraparound front porch.
I reach down next to the shale steps, trying to retrieve my paper from behind my wife’s prize rosebush.
I instinctively suck my thumb and wonder if I should accidentally mow over the bush when my wife isn’t looking. Just an option.
“Honey, only got time for coffee,” I call out as I step back into the warmth of the log cabin house.
Seeing her heading my way, right hand extended to offer me my favorite mug, I continue.
“Guess ya’ read my mind.”
“Duh! Every morning you drink coffee and read the sports section.”
The sarcastic tone subsides as she smiles and gives me a peck on the cheek.
Wincing, but not because of her display of affection I ask, “No way I can renege on my offer to chaperone Samantha’s class?”
“She’s really counting on you. Don’t you dare back out now!”
“Okay, I’m going. How bad can it be? We go to the turkey farm, listen to the farmer’s yarn, drink hot cider and return to school. Right?”
“Well, something like that.”
I go through the early morning routine of coffee and paper before I shower and dress. I sing in the shower today, because Auburn wins again!
“Samantha, time ta’ go.”
“Daddy, I wanna’ bring Dora.”
“Okay, but she stays in the minivan.”
We make it to school, nearly on time, and I small talk with other parent chaperone dads, relieved that I am not the only man who was stuck with the job.
“Children, Children,” says the first year teacher as she claps her hands. “We will use our inside voices and line up behind Arnold at the door. No pushing!”
Once outside, children stay with assigned chaperones and pile inside modes of transportation. In my rear view mirror, I see two darling girls and three mischievous boys, teasing the girls.
“Daddy, do turkeys fly?”
“Do turkeys fly? Do they?”
“Don’t think so. No, never saw a turkey fly.”
“I’ll ask teacher.”
The owners of the picturesque turkey farm are expecting us and make city slickers feel right at home.
This really is kinda’ neat, puts me in the holiday spirit.
We learn that the owner specializes in turkeys during the holiday season but also raises a variety of other farm animals too.
“Old McDonald had a farm....”
The teacher leads her hyperactive class in the familiar tune, to keep their attention, as the farmer allows the children to feed and pet the animals.
The boys hold their noses when they run toward a pigpen, as the girls step back from the repugnant smell.
“Teacher,” says Samantha, pulling at the hem of her teachers hoodie, “Do pigs fly?”
I cannot help but laugh along with the children and other chaperones. I am soon impressed with the teacher’s tactful answer.
“Samantha, pigs might fly, but do you think they really need to?
Puzzled, my daughter looks between wooden slats, into the pigpen. Studying the sows with piglets sloshing in mud puddles, she searches for the right answer. Slowly, she looks back smiling and confident into the face of her young, yet wise teacher.
“No, just need-ta stay here, don’t need ta fly.”
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