The Recipe For Educational Calamity.

The Pumpkin Patch Field Trip of your Nightmares.

Yield: 15 Exasperated Mothers and 58 Screaming Children.
Prep Time: Longer than you can possibly conceive.
Calories: Certainly enough will be burned to justify mass chocolate consumption for the following seven days.

Directions:

1. Wake your children from their restful slumber in order to arrive on time. One of the main reasons you homeschool is to avoid this necessity, but it’s a field trip. So it will be worth it, right?

2. Drive an hour to a beautiful farm. Acres of cotton, corn, Christmas trees, and supposedly Pumpkins – although you don’t see any. Quickly snap endearing photos before you regret your whole life.

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3. When you arrive at 9:15, there will already be a line twenty feet wide and a quarter mile long of people wafting here and fro looking for their field trip group. Do not be distracted by the frantically waving arms somewhat akin to the sororities in the stadium student section trying to stake off their territory (minus the stiletto heels and upper-thigh-length dresses.)

4. Do not be discouraged by the fact that despite the gargantuan mass of bodies already waiting, there are four more school buses pulling in. School buses that were clearly seating five butts to a chair.

5. Pay no heed to the fact that all of the 4,362 students that disembark from those busses have Matching 2013 Custom Chevron Pumpkin Patch Field Trip T-Shirts. It’s true – perhaps your group would have been better served if you’d had MCCPPFTTSes, but you can’t fix that now, can you?

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6. As you make it to the animal pens and hear through the grapevine that your group’s Pumpkin Picking has been moved back by an hour, distract yourself from your already-bored children by watching the massive gaggle of parents taking photos of their MCCPPFTTS-Clad classes. And realize that the whole colony of them just cut in line.

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7. Don’t ask the question of why your otherwise-responsible six-year-old shoved a plastic baggie through the chicken wire and into the baby duck pen. Just go get someone to help before a Duckling chokes and croaks in front of the children.

8. Do enjoy watching your two nieces get too close to the Donkey, who will loudly and with great moistness HEE-HAW in their face, sending them screaming, running, crying, knocking each other down, and granting them a fear of donkeys for the rest of their lives. Donkatized.

9. Use the Hay Maze liberally, distracting your children from the infinite waiting at hand.

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10. Please note: Hay Maze Distraction lasts a maximum of five minutes.

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11. Take this opportunity to use the still-panicking niece’s super-fun wagon as a distraction. Pay no attention to the sad boredom emanating from your children’s faces. Especially since you had been selling this day as The Most Fun Part of Fall!! all week.

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12. Score yourself a moment’s break by sending your child on a mission to collect Guinea Fowl feathers. And give yourself a tally mark in the “educational” column.

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(This will unfortunately not secure peace from your much whinier toddler, so don’t expect to get to check Twitter or anything.)

13. At 10:30, you will see stirrings within your group. Jump up expectantly, hoping to see a pumpkin. Follow the crowd, which will lead you to an educational talk on cotton picking. That neither you nor your children can hear.

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14. And since they can’t hear, they will of course talk and play loudly, thereby assuring that no one else can hear. Distract your daughter with cotton pickin’.

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15. Cotton Pickin’ is not fun. That’s why it’s used as a southern expletive. Your child will then start a loud game of Ring Around The Rosy. Encourage her to move away from the crowd of Moms who are attempting more of an educational focus than you.

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16. Meanwhile, your rapidly growing-in-discontent toddler will be folded over, taco-style, in your lap whimpering incessantly. Did I mention that this field trip will take place on a painfully and unseasonably hot and humid day?

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17. Despite your Lap Sad-Sack, try and help your Sister-In-Law find her son when he hides in the corn field. And then in the cotton field. And then in the tallest Christmas tree he could find.

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18. After the Cotton Message, head back from whence you came. And observe the line. And begin making bets on which Homeschool Mom will be the first to cuss.

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19. Meanwhile, your children will notice the Corn Cob Toss. IMMEDIATELY CURB THEIR CURIOSITY.

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20. Unfortunately, it’s between the Corn Cobs or the Line.

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They will pick the Corn Cobs.

21. One will stand on one side. One will stand on the other side. Both will participate in the fast-flying Cobs. You will flinch.

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22. And one will get smacked in the head.

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23. It is now 11:30. Two hours and fifteen minutes since you arrived, and Zero Pumpkin Sightings. More children will begin to crack. Mothers will attempt to go to their happy place. One child will be overheard saying “Mom, when we pray at bedtime tonight, let’s not give thanks for this trip.”

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However, God will grant mercy to your tormented souls and direct you to a shaded picnic area.

24. You will begin to feel the effects of dehydration, and your children will be begging you for food and drinks even more fervently than they already have for the last two hours. Unfortunately, the Pumpkin Patch Officials confiscated all of your nourishment when you arrived and placed them in a hidden picnic area. The fact that your brought your nicest thermal lunch bag is the only thing that will keep you from running away from this Evil Psychological Experiment. So you have no choice but to parch and die.

Break the news gently to the children.

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25. The Pumpkin Patch Officials will spot your City of Refuge and instruct your group to get out of the shade and come stand in the hot and sticky line. Begin placing bets on which Homeschool Mom will be the last to cuss.

26. Offer to watch everyone’s children while the mothers attempt to hunt down their hidden food. This way you do not have to move your quickly perishing body more than it can stand. Meanwhile, make your daughter watch the children.

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27. While the mothers are gone, the tractors with the trailers for the hay rides to the pumpkins will arrive. And you will have in your care a mass of children and a choice: To Pumpkin or not To Pumpkin?

28. Blessedly, the rest of the mothers will hear and come awkwardly sprinting, being thrown off-balance by their giant coolers for which they now have nowhere to put. Pile all of the children on the trailers and enjoy basking in the Magical Gleam of Autumn twinkling from their eyes.

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29. And, at 12:07, you will spot your first pumpkins. The joy will be palpable.

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30. Watch as the children spring forth with glee, running with fervor into the invigorating fall heaven.

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32. Take comfort in the enormous size of the pumpkins, making it worth it that you actually paid good money for this trip.

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33. Entertain your toddler on the way back with selfies. Because otherwise he will slip off of your lap and into a catatonic state.

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34. Find the barn loft in which they hid your food. Take note of the dark, dank, 100 degree setting in which they commanded you to eat. THEN RUN. FOR YOUR LIVES.

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35. It is now 12:56 pm. Your cooler bag is ten times heavier than you remembered, and your entire body is searing in pain from supporting your cranky toddler for the last 3 1/2 hours. But his legs will quit working at the beginning of your quarter-mile walk back to your car.

Don’t blame him – blame the pumpkins.

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36. Treat your educational anguish with a Frappuccino. Just don’t set it comparatively next to the pumpkins.

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37. Skip steps 1-36 and buy your freaking pumpkins at Lowe’s.