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Field trip creates lasting memories - and spilled milk

November 02, 2007|By LISA PREJEAN

At some point or another, every parent should have the experience of going along on a school field trip.

Watching your child interact with friends, seeing teachers in action and participating in the activity can create lasting memories.

And so it was with great anticipation that I accompanied my daughter and her friends to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. This was the first field trip we've had together. It was quite an adventure.

Through February 2008, Maryland students in preschool through 12th grade are admitted free to the aquarium for field trips scheduled by a school. The dolphin show is included if it is available when the reservations are made.

Seeing the dolphins was a highlight of the trip. They are beautiful, graceful creatures. I marveled at the skill of the trainers who worked with them.

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The children sitting with me were disappointed that we didn't get splashed even though we were in a "splash zone," but I was secretly glad. Who wants to be wet for the rest of the day?

Actually, if I had known what was coming, I would have welcomed the splash.

Let me back up to lunchtime. The aquarium has a cafeteria where lunches can be ordered in advance by field-trip groups. Our group was quite large, so we divided the orders by classes. Each class was designated a table. On each table were the orders placed by that class ... give or take a few drinks, some sandwiches and an apple or two.

As teachers began distributing the food, we realized a few things were missing and a few things were extra.

My daughter tugged on my sleeve.

"Mommy, where's my milk?"

Realizing that there was no milk on the table, I approached the woman who seemed to be in charge.

She said she'd send someone out with the milk, so I went back to our table to help hand out the rest of the lunches.

A few minutes later, my daughter asked, "Mommy, did they bring my milk?" I shook my head and again asked about the missing milk.

After this happened a third time, a worker pointed at a cooler and said, "Just get it from there."

By then, it was almost time for the dolphin show to start, so my daughter took a few swigs from her milk jug and pushed it in my direction.

"Will you hold this for me?" she asked, without waiting for a reply. I stuffed it in the paper bag with her half-eaten bag of chips and followed the crowd to the dolphin arena.

By the time the dolphin show was over, I had placed the paper bag containing the remains of her lunch in a drawstring tote on my shoulder.

It remained there as we viewed the animals and exhibits in the first two levels of the tropical rain forest.

Once we reached the third level, though, I felt something cold and wet against my side, and it wasn't an animal's nose.

I looked down to see a steady drip, drip, drip of white coming from my bag.

The lid had come off of my daughter's milk jug and had saturated everything. My cell phone was swimming and wouldn't stop vibrating. I didn't think that was a good thing.

I took everything out of the bag, wiped it with tissues borrowed from a friend and tried not to let the smell get to me.

Spilled milk has no place in a tropical rain forest.

I was relieved when we left that hot, steamy section and toured the coral reef exhibit.

I had to laugh each time I pulled something from my bag. The milk had seeped into the case for my glasses. The change purse of my wallet was speckled with white. My keys stuck together.

Each time I reached in my bag, I discovered more milk.

When we were lining up to go home, and I pulled a pen from the bag. I clicked it, and milk squirted out with the point. I had to click my pen several times. It was quite funny to watch. (Obviously, by this time I was weary.)

My conclusion: It's always better to laugh than cry about spilled milk, especially when you're on a school field trip.

For more information about the National Aquarium in Baltimore, go to www.aqua.org on the Web.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com

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