It was a cool, fall morning when I dropped my 5-year-old son Derrick off at his kindergarten class. Like every day, we walked to the door hand in hand, exchanged a quick kiss on the cheek, and he skipped off to play with his friends. As I turned to run for my bus to work, I heard his teacher, Ms. Picnic, yell. “One moment, Ms. Cheriyan!” as she came running towards me. I anxiously glanced at my watch; I couldn’t imagine what she wanted. “Have you seen the sign-up list for the class trip to the farm? We really need parents to chaperone,” she said.
“Oh!” I looked over at the list, “I’m not sure if I can get off work, but I’ll look into it.” As the guilt crept in, I could feel everything she was thinking (or at least what I thought she was thinking). I hardly ever had the time or energy to volunteer for class trips. As a single mom, I was burning the candle at both ends and just making it. Who had time to do more? I told her I’d get back to her by the deadline and rushed off to work. As I sat on the bus that morning, I thought about how much I wanted to go on the trip. But I was still relatively new at my job, under tremendous pressure, and I didn’t have that much time off accumulated. I put it out of my head as I hurried on with my commute, which included a short subway ride after the bus dropped me off at Port Authority.
While waiting for the train, a poster on the platform caught my eye. It featured a mom and her kids on a roller coaster with their hands in the air and giant, excited smiles on their faces. The caption read, “Use your sick days wisely!” I smiled because in that moment, I knew that was just the sign I was looking for. I was going on the trip—even if it meant I had to call out sick. Time was precious and kindergarten was flying by. Little did I know back then how fast the rest of it would go. The guilt I felt calling out sick would pale in comparison to the guilt I felt missing those precious moments that were slipping away. So… I did it! I took a sick day and served as a parent chaperone for the trip to the farm.
Needless to say, this turned out to be one of the best and most memorable decisions I’ve ever made. ‘Ms. Picnic’s class trip’, as I dubbed it, turned out to be a story in and of itself. I remember sitting excitedly on the bus with my son and his friends, singing songs and laughing on our way to the farm. They were so innocent back then—holding hands as we explored the grounds, gently cuddling and petting the animals, running in the mud, and of course getting into so much trouble! They were fearless, and they had the world ahead of them with endless possibilities for their future. As we rode the bus home with the sun setting in the distance, my son and his friends fell asleep in my lap. I looked out the window and could not help but to smile at the wonder of that priceless day.
Now that my son and his friends are young adults, we still sometimes take out the pictures from the trip and laugh about it, talking about each person and where they are now. I am eternally grateful that I recognized the importance of participating in the key moments of my son’s childhood. Lord knows I couldn’t participate in all of them, but I tried not to let the guilt of that overwhelm me. And I certainly cherished every moment possible.Leave a Comment