Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: What did I sign up for?
Vail, CO, Colorado
Have you ever gotten yourself into a situation that you thought was a really good idea at one point, but then you started questioning your sanity?
This is where I find myself today.
When I signed up a year ago, chaperoning my son’s eighth-grade class trip to Washington, D.C., and New York City seemed like a fabulous opportunity. Seeing two of the country’s most fabulous cities. Touring the sites and memorials. Being in the places where so much of our nation’s history has occurred.
The idea of it appealed greatly. In theory.
Then the reality began to sink in. Six days with 32 kids. More accurately, not kids but teenagers -14-year-olds, with all their hormones and angst and drama and undeveloped frontal lobes.
Flash back with me for a moment to eighth grade. Did you feel that shudder? Were you just overcome with a sense of dread and horror?
Even if you were a popular kid, middle school was a social and emotional minefield. And if you happened to find yourself with the less-popular crowd, it was a master class in awkward.
Now come back to present day and put yourself in a bus with 32 of them. You with me now?
This fact alone stopped short most sane parents. Therefore, I have deemed this the Self-Torture Tour of 2012. A sort of penance for all of my parental sins over the years.
There are several other forms of retribution encompassed within the trip.
First, I am not the hands-on kind of parent volunteer. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes sort of helper.
When The Teenager was in first grade, I made a boy in his class cry when I was helping with reading groups. This is when I learned I should not be working directly with the children. So to be literally immersed in them for six days will be challenging. I hope I don’t make anyone cry on the trip.
Second, I do not have the energy of a 14-year-old. And from the looks of our itinerary, we are going from first light to well past sundown. I hate to admit this, but my energy levels have diminished somewhat in recent years. I eat right, I exercise, but I’m not taking Geritol every day. Perhaps I should start.
I fear exhaustion, of not being able to stay awake for all the tours. Will my group have to come find me, asleep in George Washington’s bedroom at Mount Vernon? Or will they leave me behind when I miss our subway stop in NYC because I dozed off with the train rocking me gently in that dim, underground environment?
Third, but somewhat related to the flagging energy levels, I don’t know how much touring I can physically take. Mentally and emotionally, I’m ready to go. But just how I’m going to feel with the amount of walking, sitting, standing and bus riding we’ll be doing – that’s the unknown.
It’s nearly impossible to train for this type of endurance race, but in a last ditch attempt, I went on a marathon power-shopping excursion in Denver last weekend. After four hours in the car and eight hours in the mall, I could barely stand up when I got home. My feet hurt, my back ached, and my head was pounding.
So I’ve already added Aleve, heating pad, Epsom salt and Ben-Gay to my packing list. And I even shopped for the unicorn of shoes: stylish, cute “comfort” shoes. I hope the shoe gods forgive me, for I crossed the threshold of stores such as Clarks, Easy Spirit and (gasp!) The Walking Store. The search was in vain. The unicorn eluded me.
And, finally, let’s not forget about the heat and humidity of the Northeast summer. It presents a multitude of issues, starting with wardrobe challenges. How does one dress for the city when touring every known monument in stifling heat and oppressive humidity? Can a Colorado woman absorb that much moisture? At least my skin will look good.
With equal part excitement and apprehension, I’m off on the adventure. If I can still manage to put fingers to keyboard at the end of the day, I’ll report in from the road next week. Bon voyage!
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.