• Erin Griffith

Chaperoning 3rd Graders at the Zoo...not a "crappy" Experience!

When I was a kid, there was nothing more awesome than when my mom chaperoned a field trip with me. I was a mamaholic as a kid and loved nothing more than having my mama with me. So, now it's my turn. My son begged me to chaperone his field trip to the zoo. I was one of the first parents to RSVP, so I got to ride on the bus with the kids. Lots of parents were chaperoning, but most drove themselves.

So there I was, sitting next to my son on the bus.

I checked my school email on my phone to make sure that everything was functioning normally at school, when the hair on my neck stood up. I looked up and around me. Twelve sets of little girl eyes were peering at me from over and around the green vinyl seats. One little girl (apparently the tribe leader) asked me in a very business like tone...

"Are you voting for Trump or Hillary?" Not wanting to show weakness in the face of the tribe leader, who I will call "Pink Jacket," I stated without inflection, "I don't like either of them, so I am undecided."

Pink Jacket nodded her head solemnly with all the wisdom of an 8 year old whose cartoons and bedtime rituals have been repeatedly interrupted by political debates and the news. "That's what my mommy says too." All the mini tribeswomen nodded their agreement.

She rallied quickly and asked, "Whose mommy are you?"

"I'm William's mommy." I stated.

"How old are you?"


"You don't look thirty seven." she said squinting her eyes, as if I trying to play a trick on her. "You look way younger."

"Well, bless your heart." I said, "Every lady likes to hear that she doesn't look her age." I realized at that point that I was in for the most adorable interrogation of my life.

"What kind of car do you drive?"

"A Jeep."

"Can I play with your cel phone?"


"Where do you work."

"The high school."

"Our high school?"


"What do you teach?"


"Do you like your job?"

"Most of the time."

"Yeah, that's what my mommy says too." she sighed.

Anyway...this went on for most of the hour long bus ride to the zoo. The end of the ride included all of Pink Jacket's tribe gathered around my cell phone staring at the GPS as we got closer and closer to the zoo. They kept announcing the countdown until our arrival like tiny little bus stewardesses.

Here are some photos from the zoo trip. I did not include pictures of any children other than my own because I don't want to offend anyone or get sued.

This is the zoo map. As the other members of my 3rd grade group pointed out..."Mrs. Griffith, you are not very good at reading maps." Touche 3rd graders...touche.

I like to call this "Group Hug Vulture" I know that he is just trying to warm up in the sun, but he looks like he's saying, "C'mon guys, bring it on in."

Funny thing when you are at the zoo with 3rd graders, there are all these beautiful exotic creatures from the far reaches of the planet and all the kids seem to see is poop. They seemed quite focused on this aspect of the animals..."look at its poop! Gross!"

The elephants did me a huge solid by actually dropping the worlds biggest deuce right in front of the kids! This may have been the highlight of their zoo experience. The texture, the smell, the overall amount, the physical exit of the poop from the rear end of the was the total poop experience.

I mean, nevermind that there is an adorable baby giraffe with big wet eyes and long black eyelashes literally feet from you or the largest land mammal on our planet! No, the kids felt it necessary to do a full poop analysis at every enclosure. Geesh!

Now, this picture demonstrates the full effect of animal camouflage. If you look closely, you may see the exotic rear end of a black rhino. I said to the kids, "Look at the black rhino!" The kids looked and looked and looked, and finally I said, "Well, look at his bottom anyway." This received a lot of giggles and shouts of "Rhinoceros Bottom! Rhinoceros Bottom." The rhino enclosure had recently been cleaned, so there was no poop to analyze, I suppose this was their consolation prize.

Now, this picture of my son shows a real milestone for him. I call it "Assured Clear Distance" because my son will touch snakes, lizards, worms, scorpions, large scary dogs, and insects. But he has always been afraid of farm animals. Especially goats. It made his preschool trips to the farm REALLY awkward, as his fear of farm animals kept him from going into anything that even resembled a barn. It was mostly the smells I think, but even at the petting zoo- it was a ""no go on the sheep and a definite (get me out of here before it EATS ME!) on the goats. He has never had a traumatic goat experience. Nor has he ever had a negative FARM experience. Here he is touching a granted, he is as far away as he can possibly get from the goat, but he is still TOUCHING IT!! I was so proud. I would have shed a tear, but since I was holding like eight jackets and five lunches at the time, I refrained.

This guy was the highlight of my trip to the zoo. A real komodo dragon. We walked up to the enclosure and this handsome fellow walked out from his hidey hole and lay down right there in front of us...belly down, feet out. He looked at the 3rd graders like my daughter looks at chicken they would be really delicious with ketchup.

My students were less than impressed.

"It's just a big lizard." they said.

"Yeah," I said. Then I explained, "He's really really slow. So he is not going to be chasing down his dinner. Want to know how he kills and catches his prey?"

"YEAH!" gasped a chorus of fascinated children's voices

"This lizard has a very dirty mouth. He bites his prey with his dirty mouth and lets them go ahead and run doesn't have to be a big bite, it can be a very small one. Then, he follows the prey. The bite eventually gets infected from all the bacteria in the dragon's mouth. The prey gets very sick and weak. When the prey finally falls over from illness, the dragon catches them and eats them! Grrrrr!"

"Whoa!" the children said, "Is that it's poop?"

"Yes. That is his poop."


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