Middle School Trip Chaperone Drama

Updated on October 14, 2018
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
11 answers

So, my son is a 7th grader and his class went to Kennedy Space Center yesterday. He asked me to go and be a chaperone. I took the day off of work to do this. I get to the cafeteria where all of the chaperones were meeting and they gave out the group lists. I had my son and another boy. Kind of odd, but OK. My son knew the other kid, but they were not exactly friends. The other boy's mom showed up and sat down with him. I introduced myself and she said that she was coming on the trip, but wasn't listed because there was a mix up. Again, no problem. I said, well it looks like you are with us.

After a 3 hour bus ride, we get to Kennedy and get off the bus. The first thing the mom did was tell us that she was joining up with another group. Again, fine. As I was trying to figure out if she meant for us to split up or if she wanted our group to join the one she suggested, she motioned to me to walk to the gate. The boys were hungry, so we went to get lunch first thing. The mom and kid did nothing but complain about how bad the food was. It wasn't great, but I also wasn't expecting Five Star dining at a fast food place either. We started walking around one of the exhibits and this mom literally walked away from my son and I at the exhibit without saying anything. At that point, that was fine with me because I didn't want to be around them anymore either. We didn't see them again until they got back on the bus at the end of the trip.

My son and I had a great time spending time together, but frankly I was annoyed by how this mom acted. I had never met this woman before so I don't believe it was anything I did. The only thing I can speculate is that she was angry that her son wasn't put in a group with the rest of his friends. I was brought up with manners and I would have never treated anyone so rudely. I used it as a teaching moment and told my son that this is why manners are so important and that he shouldn't grow up to be a jerk.

When I asked my son how groups were put together, he said that lists were posted in the cafeteria with the chaperone's name on them and kids had to sign up for a group. That being said, some groups had 8 kids and others had 1. I have no idea when chaperoning a school trip became a popularity contest. I checked the list and there were at least 8 other groups that either had 1 child or 2. Had I known how this other mom was going to act, I would have tried to join up with some of the other small groups.

Now for a question. How do you explain mean adult behavior? I think I made the best of a bad situation. I can't think of any way I could have handled it better without causing a scene. What would you have done in the same situation?

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answers from Cincinnati on

You handled it fine. I don’t know what else you could have done. The school or grade needs to have the teachers assign the groups in a different way. Middle school is so hard for both the children and the parents!

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answers from Santa Fe on

Weird. Sounds to me like that woman has no manners. Sorry you had to spend any time around her. You made the best of a bad situation and tried to enjoy the day with your son. What else can you do? Honestly, I think the way your kid's school handled the field trip is really odd and I would be tempted to talk to the powers to be at the school.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, that woman was rude. She may have wanted her son to be in a larger group, but where does that leave your son? In any case, she sounds like a big complainer, so I'm glad you ended up having more fun without her. Since she's a downer, I wouldn't be sad to see her go around the museum with other people. I kind of wonder how her son thought is day went with his mom awkwardly trying to join a group he wasn't signed up for.

I would say something to the teacher about the system for "signing up for groups" That really stinks. Some groups have about 8, and many others with 1 or 2? The teachers need to do their jobs and create the groups themselves, and not be afraid to tell the kids, this is how it is, and our word is final. They can survive one field trip not being next to 6 of their closest friends. Maybe they can allow the kids to mutually request one friend to be in a group with about 4-5 kids total. It should NOT look like a popularity contest. Also, the kids should not get to pick their chaperones. It makes sense that the parent volunteers have their own child in their group, but other than that, the teachers themselves need to organize the kids kids into groups. When my kids were a little younger, the teachers made groups, and they always kept 1-2 kids they knew were going to be a bigger challenge in a teacher or staff member's group too, so a volunteer wouldn't be put in any potentially difficult situations. The point is, they put some thought in beforehand, and it made everyone's experiences more enjoyable.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would have wished her well and let her go and enjoyed the day with my son - ALONE.

I'd let it go and be done with it. Sounds like you TRIED to be nice when basically given the finger. I truly would have wished her well and enjoyed the day with my son.

She was rude but why harp on it? She's not going to change. This isn't something that is going to affect your life in 5 weeks, 5 months or 5 years, right?

I'd BE VERY THANKFUL for just having my son. We went to Philadelphia and I had twins that were just beyond rude and disobeyed all the rules. When we got back? I told the mother how rude they were and how often they walked off on their own. They weren't happy with me. the mom was livid and apologized to me and the teacher.

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answers from Norfolk on

There's no explaining it.
I think of it this way.
While everyone has a reason for being here for some people their only purpose in life is to be an example of how not to be.

In my sons schools the chaperone list was finite - there was only so much room on the buses.
You could not just show up at the last minute - you actually had to attend a short chaperone class a week before the trip at least once per year.
The class explained the rules to everyone and got everyone on the same page of what was expected in the chaperone role.
The teachers would make up lists of who was going with which chaperone.
In general there was no wandering around on your own - all the groups followed the tour guides - chaperones are there to keep their assigned kids together and keep their behavior in line (listen to tour guide when they are talking, etc).

Your sons school does not sound like they have a good system for handling field trips in place.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

You are right she had poor manners. I don't think you need to explain 'mean adult behavior' to your son more than you already did.

I also do not like how this was organized. That should be addressed. I agree with another parent that there should have been a tour guide for the students and your job was to make sure the students stayed with the group. This event sounded like a nice day without any directions.

One year in elementary school my son had a teacher who did something similar within the class. She said the first day that the kids can pick to sit where ever they wanted. This allowed friends to pick friends and it also meant that some kids could feel left out or that pushy kids got to cling to another student who wanted his or her space from that person. This teacher had a nice idea in theory, but her class was chaos.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

What a strange way to organize chaperones. Our teachers always assigned groups evenly, so that each parent would have roughly the same number of kids. And letting kids pick their own groups, especially in middle school (?!) this is just asking for drama.

Beyond that, I wouldn't read into the other mom's behavior too much. Some people don't have good social skills, and some people are just shy or are introverts and they can come off as rude. This used to happen to me when I was younger, I was TERRIBLE at small talk (still don't love it, but I can do it now when forced) and I would hang back, not look people in the eye, and sometimes drift away from the group if given the chance. When I was in high school I was told by an older girl (after we did a project together) that she thought I was really nice, and that she always thought that I was stuck up because I never talked to anyone. I was crushed! But it did help me grow socially.

So maybe she was complaining about the food because she didn't know what else to talk about, who knows. Maybe she sucks at small talk. Maybe she was having a shitty day, a migraine, maybe she got in a fight with her husband that morning, again who knows. If someone is rude to me I'm more likely to pity them than to get mad, after all it's THEIR issue not mine. You know the saying: not my circus, not my monkeys!

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answers from San Francisco on

I have always taught my kids that when someone is being rude, either children or adults, it's got nothing to do with you. It's usually because that person is having a bad day or because they simply don't know how to be better.
I wouldn't dwell on this at all. There's no point in speculating about what motivates others to act as they do. Especially others who aren't a part of your everyday life.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

People do whatever they want to do, for whatever reason they feel like doing it.

It worked out for the best, that Mom and her kid were dragging you guys down. You got to do the trip with your son, one on one...Win for you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My school has a way they do chaperones! and their system works. Works well untill you end up responsible for your group and another's because the other chaperone is not able to care for herself let alone be responsible for a group of kids!!
I was able to handle all 8 boys and keep track of the other chaperone but not everyone can easily handle 8 rowdy kids and a mentally lost adult.
The way they had the kids pick groups is aweful!! They need to rethink that!
What you explained to your child already sounds good to me.
I also know some people are not very social with new people and will do their best to get away, she could of acted how she did so you would leave so she didn't have to be the one that left? Or maybe she's just rude like that an does not see a problem with behaving like a jerk

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

You should have called in out on it in front of the kids. The purpose of the field trip was to learn and have fun. Her negative attitude preventing both. If nothing else you should have said to her, "hey we are hear to have fun, lets do that."

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