NEW can be overwhelming.
So when I was invited by my daughter to be one of the chaperones for her 8th grade field trip, I was flattered. While I realized that this year has already proven to be dramatically more positive for her than last, I wrongly assumed that the last person a 13 year old would want on a field trip would be her mother.
Enter: New cheerful kid.
Upon hearing that the field trip would be a walking tour of the Strip District, I did a little dance. (I have no shame.) I also began to dream of cheese. (And, um, spending time with my daughter and her classmates, of course!)
There are several perks to having one's child attend a private school. One is the smaller class size. I believe there are about 20 kids in her entire grade. Thus, my "group" consisted of my daughter, her friend, and their homeroom teacher. The second perk? Getting to know this teacher outside of parent-teacher conferences and email dialogues. We chatted about food, jobs, travel, etc., never once mentioning school topics. Third perk? That woman KNOWS the Strip District of Pittsburgh!
Our formal tour took us to several locations that are mentioned in the novel "Macaroni Boy". And although this class had read the book a few years prior, the tour content was no less interesting, for it provided the perfect backdrop as we walked and talked about Strip area as it was in the '30's.
After the tour, the Strip was ours to explore for a few more hours.
Wholey's Fish Market, Penzy's spices, Mancini's (complimentary breadsticks), Penn Mac, Sunseri's, Pittsburgh Popcorn Company, Peace, Love & Little Cupcakes, Reyna's. If you live here, you know the culinary delights of which I speak!
One of the highlights was taste-testing several varieties of feta cheese from Stramooli Brothers. The Macedonian was the overall winner. There was popcorn to try, biscotti's to pick up, hats to model, gifts to purchase, and the maple-glazed/bacon donut incident. This health nut knows how to shock her kid.
We laughed. She hugged me in front of her friends. Not usually physically affectionate, I'm not even sure she realized that at one point she was holding my hand. Not once did my daughter communicate that I was being a bit over-the-top. No eye-rolling, or "Mom, stop it!" And, trust me, I know myself. I can be . . . well, a lot . . . It would totally be understandable to receive the fish-eye from my teenager - a non-verbal signal for me to take things down a notch.
Instead. We simply enjoyed the day together.
I asked her afterwards why she wanted me to come along.
"Normally when a parent comes on a field trip, it's awkward, right? But it's not awkward with you. You know?"
Um, no. I didn't know.
Did anyone record this statement? Anyone?
I teared up.
She giggled and gave me a hug.
And asked if I'd come on the next one.
Will there be more cheese?
Joline Pinto Atkins, an actress who also uses the web as her world-wide stage, can also be found writing at The Cuppa Jo, and Beaver County Times online as the Health and Wellness blogger. She is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 13 and 9, who are both named after authors. Passionate about fitness, she is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and sweats out any daily angst by exercising at home, longs for good books, is a redeemed coffee addict, will never get enough of the Gilmore Girls, and won't share popcorn with anyone. Even her own family. Follow Joline on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!