Lessons From A Field Trip

I was a chaperone for Nolan's second grade field trip on Friday. We went to the Washington State History museum in Tacoma. I've been there like ten times and took Nolan a few years ago when there was a temporary Mount St. Helens exhibit. It's a pretty cool place. These are the lessons I learned that day.

1. Nolan is not the worst kid in his class. Nolan can be a little difficult (he has sensory processing disorder and possibly ADHD - we're still trying to get that evaluation done), but he is a polite, inquisitive kid who follows every single rule and wouldn't hurt a fly. Other kids in his class? Monsters! I had the hardest time with just basic manners with my group of boys. They are loud and obnoxious, wouldn't stop touching every frickin' thing, constantly messed with each other, and talked back to me. I'm sure some of their behavior was a result of their excitement, but man! I was so grumpy and exhausted by the end of the day. And remember, I used to be a teacher! I don't know if the teacher's personality clashes with Nolan's, but she hardly ever has nice things to say about him. After witnessing the other kids in class, I don't know what her deal is. He's a dream!

2. Parents are crazy. The kids had to brown bag it for lunch. I make my kids' lunches every day so this wasn't anything special for Nolan. He had a typical lunch: bagel, almonds, granola bar, apple slices, water. One kid had a Lunchable. Another kid had chips and a grilled cheese sandwich wrapped in foil. He asked his dad to make it that morning because it's his favorite. How sweet! The last kid in my group had a 32oz Powerade, a granola bar, and FOUR TYPES OF COOKIES. I'm not kidding. He had snack sized packs of Nilla Wafers, Chips Ahoy, Nutter Butter, and these Oreo stick things that you dip into frosting. And that's it. Nothing but sugar. WTF? I just don't understand some parents. 

3. Don't cry in front of the kids. Most of the museum is about Native Americans, the road to statehood, industrialization, geology, etc. But one of the temporary exhibits was about the Japanese community that settled here in the 1890s and their contribution to our state prior to World War II. Then there was a large diorama showing the locations of Japanese internment camps across the country with little models of watchtowers and barbed wire. Nolan recently read about Anne Frank and concentration camps, so I did my best to explain it to the other kids and told them what happened in America at the same time. A woman stood behind the kids, nodding along as I was talking, She finally walked over to the map and said she was sent to a camp in Idaho. She then told us (well, me and Nolan, the other boys were onto the next thing) her story.

She came home from kindergarten one day and her mom said they had 72 hours to pack one suitcase each with whatever they wanted/needed. That's all the information they were given. Then they were taken from Tacoma to Camp Harmony at the Puyallup fairgrounds, twenty minutes away. About 7,000 Japanese Americans from Washington and Alaska were held there for four months. She was then put on a train to the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, where she stayed for two years. She said they lived in cramped quarters, had to wait in line for every meal, and a lot of people got sick, but she did go to school. When they were released, each person received $25 and a bus ticket home.

Whoa. I had tears in my eyes and thanked her over and over for telling us about her life. I turned to Nolan and said, "This is really important to learn about so we make sure something like this never, ever happens again." She smiled and said to him, "You are the future and I'm glad to share my story with you." Ugh, my heart broke and I had to keep it together for the other boys who were rowdy and annoying and ready to move on to the model train exhibit. I wish I had time to talk to her. I wanted to know how they adapted when they got back to Tacoma. Did members of her family join the army? Did they lose their house or business? How did she find peace? I haven't been able to stop thinking about her.

Camp Harmony


Misty said...

That's how I felt about Rory's kindergarten teacher. Rory got so many bad conduct marks. We were really hard on her because of it. It's been a breeze in first and second with zero issues. I think her teacher was tough on the kids in order to prepare them for the coming years, but come on! They're 5.

Jo said...

It is always great when your kid is not the worst kid in the class :) And I am sure Nolan is not the worst by a mile