Thing 2 and I went on her end-of-the-year class trip today, to Point Pelee National Park, which is the southernmost point of Canada. (Which would make it the Canadian Key West, I suppose.)
A day spent with 42 eleven year-olds is only for the foolish or the brave, I think. (There are not 42 kids in her class, thank God; it was all the Grade 5s from all the classes.) For the most part, they are normal, energetic, enthusiastic kids, entirely without malice or common sense; like a litter of puppies, they are. A few, however, are ripe for a first-rate ass-kicking, and believe me, Mother Theresa herself would deliver the first smack.
The kids couldn't really care less about the actual destination, I've come to realize, it's all about the bus trip for them. Maybe it's because this bunch don't get bussed to school, but the unbelievable glamour of a coach bus has them giddy with delight. They started taking pictures of each other on the bus before we had even left the school, and I'm pretty sure some of them had filled up their memory cards and depleted their batteries by the time we left the city limits. (And they are the most ridiculous pictures you've ever seen, too. Blurry, nightmarish photos of open mouths and tongues and idiotic faces. You'd think we were transporting a bus of mutant Orcs to Point Pelee, much like this:)
It was a beautiful day, and we had a nice walk down to the actual Point. There were plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" over the butterflies and ladybugs on the way, and we were able to get some nice shots of ourselves with the lake in the background. (I did hear one kid say, with some wonder, "so...this is it?") Here's the group, with Thing 2's dauntless teacher
waving. (You will notice that he is at the extreme end of the point, in an effort to ensure that nobody gets it into their fool head to test the warnings about dangerous currents and sinister shoals. Because one of them would, you know, and the rest of them would charge in like lemmings and drown we would have a major PR incident on our hands. ) Everyone took turns at being the southermost person in Canada for 10 seconds.
After lunch we went to the gift shop, which was the other high point of the day for the kids. What is it about a gift shop? I remember going to Niagara Falls or some such place when I was in grade school, and we were beside ourselves crazy with excitement about the gift shop. It was the only thing we were interested in all day, and I can't for the life of me remember why. Most gift shops are full of the most overpriced tchotchkes, all interchangable except for the name of the place plastered across them.
We also went on the Marsh Board Walk, which is a lovely 45 minute stroll through the acres of marshland, or a 15 minute sprint, if you are with a bunch of eleven year olds. The highlight of that event was the sighting of a water snake and some turtles, and the revelation that boardwalks that float on top of water freak out kids who can't swim. The kids were somewhat disappointed when the few wildlife that we did see scuttled off in abject panic when faced with a phlanx of shreiking school children. I have to admit, I considered the possibility myself a couple of times.
Back on the bus, and a long, noisy ride home, I was longing for some peace and quiet and the beer I had so thoughtfully put in the fridge for myself before I left, and Thing 2 turned to me and said with a sigh, "That was a perfect day. I'm so glad you came." And at that, I was, too.