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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


(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.


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’.


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.

Ring Around The Rosy

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?


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.


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.


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


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


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.


22. And one will get smacked in the head.


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.”


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.


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.


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.

Sad Kids

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


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


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

Giant Pumpkins

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

Pumpkin Patch Selfies

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.


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.


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


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

51 thoughts on “The Recipe For Educational Calamity.

  1. Oh me, so been there. I have stood in the searing hot and wondered why in the world am I doing this????? I have my own little hobby farm and all my children want to do is go home and get cool. I know the family that owns this farm though and they really are good people, they just get swamped. We went to the Civil War re-inactment thing that had last fall and I truly thought I was not going to make it without cussing. I probably did, but my mother-in-law was with me, so I had to do it under my breath.

    1. I’m sure they’re great people, but they did pre-schedule all of those school groups on the same day and had five workers to handle well over 300 people. A bit of pre-planning and organization would have helped everyone have a happy pumpkining.

  2. #15 Cotton pickin- A Southern expletive! This owns me and from all I have seen posted on Facebook, I am totally absolved from guilt that I never took my children to the Old Bake-Yourself-in-the-Sun Farm field trip. Maybe the same people run Joe’s Tot Locker?

  3. Loved, loved, loved this, but especially #15! I’ve never thought of Cotton pickin as a Southern expletive, but it totally is! And I use it all the time!!!

  4. Well that looked awful. I’m not sure which moms were with you, but bless that woman in #13 and #14, carrying that kid on her back. He looks so big. I feel sorry for her if she had to carry him for the duration! He must be a runner the way she’s got him on lock-down!

  5. This cracked me up! I went with a homeschooling friend a few weeks ago to her pumpkin patch outside of Nashville. Now that our smallest kids are 4 and mostly no longer napping, we opted to leave around lunch time. We were late leaving (because we had 4 kids, of course). Then we got lost and spent an extra hour getting there. We finally arrived at almost 3 and immediately realized our good fortune; all the field trip kids had left and the joint was virtually empty. We only had 2 1/2 hours to play, but it didn’t matter because there were no lines. And since there were no scary crowds to get lost in, we were able to just let the kids run a little wild. Our mistake paid off big time. It was by far our most relaxed PP experience. So next year embrace the fact that Noah will most likely be able go all day without a nap, leave late, and enjoy PP heaven :)

  6. So glad you posted this. I had been contemplating taking our kids, but I think I will stick to the tradition we already have for pumpkin patch enjoyment. There is a church near my office that sets out tons of pumpkins. We take the girls there and take pictures of them trying to pick up pumpkins that are bigger than them. As an added bonus, the pumpkin purchase is a donation to the church.

  7. I agree – never thought of “cotton picking” in such terms before :) We grew our own pumpkins this year because I was sick of paying for pumpkins I could grow myself.

  8. 38: Despair when your cruel blog readers notice your grammar errors.

    I have never taken my kids to a pumpkin patch. This year my 6 yr old got the first birthday party for any of my 3. I managed for years to disassociate presents with Christmas and birthdays. All those social group events (in hell) that moms and the farms promote as so much fun and “The Best Day Ever!” I have managed to mostly avoid. I have been to a corn maze several times. That, I admit, was fun. So we will try and do that again this year. I’m not sure my kids know how pumpkins end up with faces. I kinda feel guilty about that….

    When my boys were 2 and 4 I took them to Chick day at a farm store. It was a major spring event (by our area standards) and there were several hundred people there just for the hour or so that we were there. There was a petting zoo, hot dogs and soda (no coke) and hundreds of new ducklings, goslings and chicks that were sooooo cute! My 2 yr old refused to stand in anything like a line and the first thing that happened is he cut in line in front of a bunch of other kids and then threw a flopping and screaming fit that landed him back in the car where he stayed, screaming, with my husband for most rest of the visit. My 4yr old didn’t want to touch to nice soft bunnies, or sweet little goats and clung to me in fear of the vicious creatures. I stood in line forever for the hot dogs and soda but they were so busy that they weren’t bothering to actually finish heating the hotdogs… So I got a cold hotdog that I wasn’t allowed to eat because I was pregnant and I misplaced the soda somewhere. I finally got my kid to pet a baby duck so there was some level of success. My husband was pretty adamant that we were not doing that again.

  9. You have such a talent for turning Great Misery into comic relief! I felt for you but couldn’t stop snickering the whole time I was reading. Thanks. At least your pumpkins-of-small-stature weren’t as hard to haul back to the car with everything else that needed carrying.

  10. Oh, to go through all that misery AND endure the heat, too! At least you were able to get a Frappucino for your trouble. Those pumpkin patches get cray-zee. Husband and I set out to visit one of the big local PPs on a Saturday a few years ago. We pulled in, he saw all the multitudes of cars, church busses, and kids everywhere, and he said, “Nope! Now, what else would you like to do?”

  11. Okay, the only things you left out from the version Laura told me are that they had five workers on hand for 300 people, and you had to walk forever to get to the bathrooms because one set was literally BOARDED UP. The pictures of the kids crying OWN ME.

  12. This is another ‘Americans are weird’ thing. Why did you go and see pumpkins? Surely it’s not that much more exciting than going to see a field of corn or a field of peas or something?

    How about you grow your own pumpkins then you can sit back and charge people to come and see them!

    1. For the adventure. Because you know us Americans, we ride off into the sunset bareback on a wild horse every night. After chasing down bandits and roping to the train tracks, of course.

  13. We’re heading to the pumpkin patch this weekend, but we’ll have three kids and at least 6 adults. I cannot image attempting what you did, but I imagine it would have gone over much better if the patch had been organized.

  14. Oh my word that was HILARIOUS! The pictures of the kids crying and staring blankly literally made me laugh out loud! And now I am questioning our decision to go to the pumpkin patch in a few weeks! But last year’s trip was our most fun and memorable outing all fall so I think I’ll still attempt it. Watch it will be horrible. :)

      1. The kids and I just reread this, and we all laughed. Granted, I didn’t have kids hiding in trees or a toddler in tow this time, so it wasn’t “as” traumatic for me, but I’m surprised how much I laughed reading this and remembering.

  15. This made me laugh and almost cry. It sucks when you plan a trip hoping it would be so fun and then it isn’t. Bad trips only makes getting kids out of the house much harder.

  16. My daughter’s Mommy-and-Me preschool is heading to a pumpkin patch on Friday. I’ve already been warned that our slotted few hours will be paired with a few other preschools. It is going to be crazy and chaotic. Luckily I will have my nine-year-old in tow so I will get plenty of eye-rolls, bored looks, and “can we leave yet” pleas. It doesn’t say fall until you drag your children out to crazy places.

  17. “Donkatized”…what a fantastic word! Many thanks for another hysterical story. Fortunately my pumpkin patch trips all went much better than yours….but I have memories of other awful field trips …….Your realistic but hysterically funny descriptions are wonderful.

  18. oh my goodness that was sadly hilarious!!! you really have a way with words and pictures :) sorry it was a bust. those pumpkins are crazy sad!!

  19. Oh my! Was this yesterday (Tuesday)? My little boy went to Old Baker Farm with his preschool…and I felt bad about being the only mom that didn’t go. Now I’m suddenly feeling quite relieved…

  20. Oh goodness this is hilarious! But honestly, I’m most amazed by the fact that you’re all in short sleeves. Here in Northern Utah, we’re all wearing boots and coats and freezing! I love autumn time with the trees and pumpkins, but I need to move somewhere the snow doesn’t ruin all that.

  21. I loved #8! Feel sorry for the girls, but still what a great description. By the way, where was this? My husband would like a chance to pick cotton. Don’t ask me why, but I think it’s ’cause he is a city kid.

    Sorry y’all had to endure that, but it makes me feel really glad that I have never attempted to take my kids to the PP before.

  22. Pumpkins in the heat seems… wrong somehow… Where are the coloured leaf piles?

    I wanted to say that here is ANOTHER reason y’all should come to Ottawa! We have proper fall weather complete with real pumpkins just outside my house as well as snow in the winter! And there are lots of farms you can go to where you don’t just see pumpkins but you can jump on air pillows, haunted houses, slides and crazy corn mazes.

    But then I got distracted by my cotton jealousy.
    SO COOL!!! Forget the pumpkins, I would have wanted a few cotton pods to bring home!

  23. Ooh, my kids are old & I still remember that. And we lost our minds and attempted it again with a moms of multiples group. Different patch, same result. My one nightmare is bees and that barn….yellow jackets all over. Ugh.

  24. HI-LAR-I-OUS!!! I was a sahm for 10 years so I can totally relate. I wouldn’t trade it for the world but thank GOD I survived!

    Thank you so much for the in-depth laugh – you are a great creative writer.

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