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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Travel Agent Within

You can take the girl out of the Travel industry but you can't take the Travel Agent out of the girl. It happens every time I have to do anything remotely like a tour guide. Such as escorting First Graders on a field trip to Windmuller Park to collect leaves.

The field trip notice did say "Walking Tour," so I don't know why some moms thought that there would be a school bus to transport us. Yes, the park is fourteen blocks away(twenty city blocks is roughly a mile) and though it was a little chilly, it was a beautiful day. It was perfect running weather and run I did. Round trip, even. Thank God, I wore my sports bra! Did you need to know that - probably not.

Zuki's class was the first to depart and so we lead the entire First Grade to the park. That's when the "tour guide mode" kicked in and by default, I was appointed Traffic Guard duty. That meant I had to stand in the middle of the street, hold my hand up in an effort to stop crazy livery drivers from running over our kids while they crossed. After the last kid was safely across, I had to run to the front of the line and start the whole process all over again. For fourteen blocks.

Was I grateful I had that extra cup of coffee that morning. It was Coffee Shop coffee, too - the elixir of the true New Yorker.

Once we got to the Park, Ms. Luizza handed out Ziploc bags and told the kids to collect leaves. After they were done, they would be free to play in the playground. Here's where the "all work" separate from the "all play." Some kids were feverishly looking for bright colored leaves, whole leaves, leaves of different trees, even. And then you had kids like Zuki.

They placed the mouth of the bag at the top of a pile and shoveled in as many leaves (and garbage) as fast as they could. Then they zipped up the bag, handed it to the teacher and said, "Can I go play now?"

Ah....No.

Finally, when leaf collecting reached a satisfactory amount, the kids were allowed to play. They ran into the playground, screaming with glee, bouncing off each other as if they only had thirty seconds to play at every station. I turned to the other Mommy-escort.

"Like they've never seen monkey bars before, eh?" I said. She laughed, stuck her hands in her pockets and made her way to a bench where she parked herself for the rest of the outing.

I should've done that. But, nooooo. Once again, the Hospitality Personality emerged and I found myself at the swings.


One of the teachers, in order to divert chaos and injury, decided to organize a system for the four big swings at the park. The kids would have to form a line and wait their turn, which would be delegated by the teacher. As she formed the line to the left, kids ran in on the right and jumped on a free swing until the teacher shooed them away and told them to wait on line.

Don't ask my how, but I found myself standing guard at that opening. My arm was the velvet rope that halted kids trying to steal a swing.

Yup, I was the Swing Bouncer.

I'd done a lot of odd jobs before, but Swing Bouncer was a first.

"Hey, where do you think you're going?" I asked kids who tried to bolt past me.

"I'm with him," they'd answer pointing to another kid on a swing.

"Yeah, right...get back in line." I said, my thumb pointed the way out. Too bad the kids didn't have sense enough to slip me a bribe. A piece of chocolate could have earned them a ride - I was starving. At least it was something to do, plus, I had a great vantage point to watch Zuki play with his friends and completely ignore me.

That's the thanks I get for putting myself in front of moving vehicles, policing the swings on an empty stomach and basically running a mini-marathon.

So Here's The Plan...


My Bag's Full 

The Line For the Swing Club

Zuki gets his turn

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