Is chaperoned even a word? It sounds weird. Well, either way, it’s what I did today. I went along on a field trip for my son. I passed out papers to kids, I supervised and walked them around a museum. It was a lot of fun overall, but also extremely challenging for me. From the get-go I was out of my comfort zone because I rode the school bus with a gang of fourth graders. Buses are loud, fourth graders are loud, it’s all loud. And since my cochlear implants can only process a handful of noises at any given moment, it was all just a bunch of gobbled-gook to my brain. But the bus ride was really the easy part.
Once we arrived at the museum, I was in a little more shock. It’s just hard walking around unfamiliar places, and even harder when you are with a bunch of people unfamiliar to your specific needs. I mean, on the outside I look completely normal. Well, except for the cochlear implants, but I think most people assume that since I have them, I have no trouble hearing the way they do. I had not tried to explain to any of the adults that I could only see clearly within a small field of vision eight or ten feet ahead of me, or that in loud situations I need to be standing near the speaker, within lip-reading distance. So when the person in charge is talking to the group, I have no idea what they are saying. When they say something funny and everyone is laughing, I stand there feeling rather idiotic. I mean, I never know if what’s being said is important for me to know or not. They could just be giving a history lesson, or they could be giving instructions for where to go and when. If it’s the latter, I would kind of need to know, since I was being put in charge of a small group of children. In hindsight I guess I should have done a better job educating the teacher. But, all anxieties aside, I managed and we all had a good time. Luke and another student both helped me to know what was going on, so there wasn’t much problem there. Also, we were given thorough hand-outs detailing the schedule and location of each segment throughout the day.
So I guess you could say the day was bittersweet. On one hand it was fun, and really awesome that I was able to be there to support my son and his class – he had begged me to chaperone – and on the other hand it was bittersweet. I felt a lot more impaired than I usually do. It was a big stretch out of my comfort zone and away from my physical capabilities. But I think Luke understands that, as he is an empathic kid, and he appreciates that I had the courage to do it. He knows I only do it because I love him.