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Type-A Twitch – Part 2, The Movie Debacle

April 18, 2008

While I thought the Play Tryouts and Practice Schedule thing was disorganized, that was nothing compared to the Movie Debacle.

Some brilliant soul decided that it would be a great idea to commandeer several school buses to take the entirety of the sixth grade (about 450 kids) to the movies. Now, while I’m all about taking them on field trips to do fun and educational things, the movies was a bit of a stretch for me. The original intent was to take them to see something (can’t remember the name of it now) that aligned with their curriculum. I was good with that, although I won’t go into the budget shortfall last year and the financial ramifications of jaunting off to the movies with district transportation for the afternoon.

Then they found out that the release of that particular movie was delayed significantly. I would have just cancelled the trip at that point, saved the district some money, saved myself some sanity, and planned a different field trip with higher educational value later in the year.

Nope. They decided to take them to see something else instead. They tossed around “Horton Hears a Who” and “Spiderwick”. I’m a big fan of Dr. Seuss but honestly, I think that would have been a better field trip for 50 2nd graders, than 450 6th graders. “Spiderwick” maybe, although I know every, single soul in our household had already seen it and I really didn’t want to pay another eight bucks for a second viewing. Regardless, the school powers-that-be had spoken, and off to the movies they would go, just as soon as we signed the permission slip and ponied up the cash.

Shortly after the permission slip and money went to school, Daphne came home with the request that one of us assist in chaperoning the trip. She had already asked The Egg Donor (ED), who said that she was “starting classes” that day (which really means she doesn’t want to be bothered with taking the time off of work for her children–likely because she had already taken time off to spend with Letch), and due to her inability to participate, wanted one of us to go instead. I have taken time off to go with each of the other kiddos this year, so I agreed to go with her.

Through my prior bus-riding adventures, with Kindergarteners all the way up through fifth graders, I have learned that I like to take my own car and meet them there. That way, I still have sanity left when we actually arrive at wherever we’re going. So I drove… all the way across town (over 30 miles)… to the theater… attached to a ginormous mall… to watch The Spiderwick Chroncles with 450 sixth graders. What was I thinking?

It turns out that the teaching staff thought it would be a great idea to let all 450 kids get something from the concession stand, too. Did I mention that they arrived just 15 minutes prior to the movie starting? Yeah. And did I also mention that they did not limit said purchases to a pre-arranged selection? Like, if you paid six bucks ahead of time, you get a small popcorn and a small drink? That would be already set out and just waiting for each of those 450 kids to walk by and grab it? No…

That would have been too easy. Perhaps I have some additional knowledge that these people did not, because after all, My Hubby and I used to cater. I’m used to serving large crowds. But I really thought something like that would have been easy to figure out. Simple math. 450 kids divided by 5 registers divided by 72 different choices of things to buy equals a LOT longer than 15 minutes. So as soon as they opened the door to the theater, 250 of those 450 were already in line, backed up all the way to the door, so that the remaining 200 or so couldn’t even get in.

It took several teachers (and parents) almost all of that 15 minutes to determine that half of the kids should go into the theaters and find seats, rather than just wait in that extraordinarily long line. So, Daphne and I, along with her little group of friends, headed for the theater. Teachers rotated in and out several times, telling the kids that the lines were still very long, but that they would come in and excuse them by row once the lines had dwindled. That was a positive sign.

We waited. The 15 minutes was up. The movie started. 30 minutes into the movie, a teacher came in and excused our row to go stand in the concession line. It was still at least 10 kids deep at each register, but we took our place and waited some more. 10 minutes went by and we had moved about halfway. At that point, a little group of teachers and parents was gathering at the back of the lines. One woman (still don’t know whether she was a teacher or a parent) was particularly hacked off about this whole turn of events. She stood at the back, loudly making snide comments directed at the kids.

“All they care about is popcorn,” she said at the top of her lungs. “They don’t even care if they miss the whole movie.”

I ignored her at first, but she kept going, and it started to get on my nerves. Of course they care about the popcorn. They’re 12 years old. Going to the movies is an experience. It’s all about the Icees, the Nibs, the Goobers, the nachos, the Twizzlers, the Sour Patch Kids, the M & Ms, and yes, the popcorn. They were told ahead of time that they would be able to purchase concessions. They’ve all wheedled and cajoled the cash out of their parents, the other half of them has already had well over 30 minutes to enjoy their sugar and their salt. Why should this group of kids, most of whom had already seen the movie, NOT want to do the same?

“I guess they just don’t care that we’ve done all of this so they can see the movie,” she said again, and I had had enough. I turned to her and responded.

“There are teachers in there excusing them to come out her and get food and drinks,” I said. “They were told ahead of time that they would be able to do this. The other half of them has had the opportunity. It is not their fault that someone failed to account for how long this would take.”

She humphed, turned on her heel, and stalked back over to another group of teachers. Thankfully, she didn’t say any more. I was irritated enough by the obvious lack of planning for this whole deal. I certainly did not want to pay eight bucks for Daphne to come to the movies and have a miserable time because some ridiculous woman couldn’t understand the logistics problem she was seeing. It was most assuredly NOT the kids’ fault.

Anyway, we eventually got to the front of the line and got our popcorn, Icees, and whatever else. We missed about half of the movie. I didn’t really care. This little event was not so much about the movie, at least for the kids, as it was about the experience. I think Daphne enjoyed herself. That was what mattered to me.

When the movie was over, Daphne announced that we were heading to the Food Court in the mall for lunch. I was quite taken aback. I had a brief moment where I thought that Daphne might be out of her mind. Maybe this was just an attempt to get me to take her over there for lunch. 450 sixth graders? At one time? In the Food Court? That just seemed to me to be a recipe for disaster. Evidently, no saner minds won out on this one, and sure enough, all 450 kids, plus teachers and parents, headed right over to the Food Court.

Where. They. Just. Turned. Them. Loose.

The teachers all sat at one table while the 450 kids swarmed every food place they could find. For a school that requires a Driver’s License, swiped into their system, which runs a criminal history, prior to stepping foot inside the building, this seemed absolutely crazy to me. Daphne and I ran for the Subway line, so that she could get lunch in under five hours time. She got her lunch and we finally found a table.

“What time are you supposed to be back at the bus?” I asked her. She was going home with me, but she had several friends at the table with us and I wanted to make sure they made it there on time. She shrugged her shoulders.

“You don’t know?” I looked around at the faces of the other kids at the table. Blank. Every, single one of them.

“They didn’t give you a time? Do we even know where the buses are?” I continued.

Still blank.


When they were all finished with their lunch, I ventured over to the teacher’s table and asked.

“1:00,” one of the teachers answered. “They’re parked over behind the theater.”

“OK,” I said. “I’m taking Daphne home with me. Is there something I need to sign?”

One of the teachers pulled out a blank sheet of paper, handed it to me, sans pen, and said, “Just write her name on the back and sign yours. That’s all you need to do.”

While I dug in my purse for a pen, I contemplated the outright craziness of this entire endeavor. While I understand that the kids are in Middle School, I had visions of kids being left behind, leaving the Food Court and wandering the mall, of some stranger coming over to sign the paper, or just snatching a kid from the McDonald’s line while nobody was paying attention. The whole thing made my head swim. I signed the paper, passed the information from the teachers along to the kids at the table, and Daphne and I headed home. I worried for the rest of the afternoon about kids that might not have made it to the bus.

The next day, Daphne reported that everyone made it back to the school just fine. I don’t know if that was really true or not, because I imagine that she only knew about her little circle of friends. Either way, I certainly hope someone plans better for this next year. I think I’ll put it permanently in my planner to attend, because there is NO way I’m letting Velma, or Freddy, or Shaggy, go alone.

Stay tuned for the next installment, “Field Trip Forms – How to freak parents out by sending them home the night before”…

11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2008 9:23 am

    I think you and I would get a long VERY well on field trips!

    I have finally had to stop participating because the lack of organization was driving me to want to scream!

    There are a few teachers that I will be glad to help out because I know they think like I do. Plan… plan… check plan… re-evaluate plan… confirm plan… explain plan to others involved… GO.

    My son is going to Kings Island with the sixth grade this summer. No parents are allowed to go. I will say an extra prayer and hope he gets home safely because to date… the middle school hasn’t really made me feel all warm and fuzzy about ’em.

    Great post!

  2. April 18, 2008 9:42 am

    Oh. My. Gosh. Is this what I have to look forward to when Pinocchio gets to middle school?

  3. Tulip Girl permalink
    April 18, 2008 2:42 pm

    Ummm again, this is the school that you convinced me to send Son #2 to next year? Is there on box on the form that reads, “H$!! no, my student cannot attend this field trip?”

  4. April 18, 2008 10:10 pm

    Ahhhh, the joys of field trips! I think homeschooling looks pretty good in light of this fiasco! We had some awesome field trips with my kids and daycare kids while we homeschooled. And, no one got lost, left out or charged out the ying yang. I paid for everything, provided transportation and assistance, if needed. And, I sent permission slips home with the day care kids at least two weeks in advance.

    Are these your tax dollars at work here? Pffft!!

  5. texaskid permalink
    April 19, 2008 5:48 am

    Our middle school takes them all to a big LAKE in the middle of a huge PARK where hunting is allowed and they saw a cougar last year. Parents are not allowed to go with and the permission slip has a little part in it that says you won’t hold the school liable should something happen to your child.

    Needless to say- I have managed to get 3 of 4 of my boys mad at me for refusal to allow them to attend and number 4 will get his turn next year. 🙂

  6. April 20, 2008 8:14 am

    I’ll try not to muckity muck up your schedule!

  7. April 21, 2008 9:43 am

    Hmmmm.. maybe we should share our music list lol. I lost all my classical cds when my step-sister got annoyed with me unplugging my headphones while I slept, from my radio, and she broke all my classics. I had about 50cds. Now I am down to one… Thinking of getting another soon. iTunes is good for the classics.

  8. Noni permalink
    April 21, 2008 1:03 pm

    Only ten more years to go….hang in there! Actually probably only 5 or 6 years, as you probably won’t be called on much for field trips in high school.

    Then you will get to sit at home & watch the clock & chew your nails! Trust me, I remember the days:)

  9. April 21, 2008 7:41 pm

    450 kids? As in FOUR HUNDRED and FIFTY? I’m so tired my eyes are blurring and I was hoping I’d missed a decimal point after the 4.

    Egads. And hugs.

  10. starshine30 permalink
    April 21, 2008 10:12 pm

    Mouth gaping~what in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks were they thinking. If I found out later on that something like this had occured at my stepkids school I would be at the school throwing a fit.

    You handled it well, much better than I would have. I hate disorganization…and I worry and stew about kids getting picked up and not making home with the right parent, etc.

  11. May 28, 2010 7:54 am

    If I had a penny for each time I came to… Amazing writing!

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