This week I spent most of my Wednesday chaperoning a small group of first graders to the zoo.
I am still somewhat sane.
This field trip proved to be quite popular in the parental volunteer department, so I was actually only responsible for one child other than my own, though he was a challenge. It will suffice to say that it is upon such occasions that I am reminded that some families have very different methods of raising their children, and that discipline, apparently, isn't part of their strategy.
It was lovely weather for the zoo, warming into the mid-eighties. We met at midday to distribute the sack lunches from coolers. Another memory-stirring event that left me wondering how in the world we all made it adulthood without teachers icing down our lunches on field trips, or insulated lunch bags and ice packs keeping our PB&J cool each school day.
My stellar memory of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and my grandparent's stories, indicate that meals were once carried to school and work in tin pails, or wrapped in a piece of cloth. I remember my father's huge metal lunchbox, with a place in the lid to affix the Thermos of coffee. The only insulated item being the Thermos. I sported the metal Holly Hobby lunchbox in elementary school when my food wasn't in a plain brown paper bag. And the bag ruled exclusively on field trips. I recall wrapping a can of Coke in several layers of aluminum foil for a field trip - I wonder how well that worked.
My kids have lunch bags with a gel liner that they freeze overnight. They have ice blankets and ice packs. They freeze juice boxes and tube yogurts to insure a cold treat at lunch.
How in the world did we ever survive our room temperature food and drink? Why aren't we all dead of botulism or salmonella?
Similar thoughts crossed my mind as some of the more, um, intense parents doused all the kids in hand sanitizer before the meal.
We are an over-tempered, over-de-germed, over-cautious society. And the irony that I made that observation at the zoo is not lost on me.