Thirteen kids in an old church van

I’d like to submit Today as yet another proof that college education courses do not thoroughly equip their students to handle the varied challenges that arise in the daily life of a classroom teacher.  Where was it that I was supposed to have learned how to parallel park a 15-passenger van full of screaming children on a busy downtown street?

Let me back up (no pun intended). In August, I put in a purchase request to take my class to a musical based on the life of Ben Franklin at our local theater. Last week I realized that the field trip was coming up TODAY! The lovely office angels had booked my tickets and reserved a church van for me to transport my students. I had fallen down on my job of finding parents to accompany us. So I sent out a last-minute e-mail requesting volunteers, and got one other mom, Robin, to come and to drive two students. That left me, in the church van, with the other thirteen.

We left in plenty of time because I knew that parking downtown was an issue. Robin kindly drove ahead of me and scouted out a nice available spot…not in a free parking lot, like I had hoped, but a nice parallel spot…between two SUVs. I gritted my teeth and tried to remember what I learned about parallel parking from Driver’s Ed (now 10 years ago). I did a great job on my driving test, in a little Ford Focus, but this long beast was another matter altogether (did I mention that the van also had a trailer hitch that added another foot to my length?) Robin stood in the busy street and tried to direct me, but all I managed to do was get wedged with my nose sticking out in the middle of the road.

Meanwhile, in the back seat, three of my boys were screaming that I am about to hit the car behind me, that I’m going to get a ticket for being too close to the curb, and that they’re all going to die. The other boys were screaming at the girls, who were attempting to sing a Taylor Swift song in two-part harmony.

Finally, I gave up. I pulled into the closest fire lane (nice and easy to pull up to the curb!) and ordered the kids out of the van. I handed the keys to Robin and let her take a shot at it while I took the rugrats into the theater. I was slightly vindicated when Robin arrived about twenty minutes later, informing me that the van was parked four blocks away in another spot. It wasn’t just me!

Unfortunately, I can only imagine the version of the story that is being told around my students’ dinner tables tonight. Let’s hope I don’t get phone calls.

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5 responses to “Thirteen kids in an old church van

  1. Hehe… had to come read this after hearing about it in person. You tell it so well!

  2. I would be so right there with you.

  3. wait.
    you have to be able to parallel park to pass drivers ed?
    dang it…

  4. This should go in a how-to book for new teachers — along with how to handle when someone puts a sticky-note on your back that reads, “Kick me, I’m an under-qualified English teacher.” Yeah — that happened to me today — in AP…

  5. it’s ok, Leslie, you’re homeschooled- you don’t have to take driving tests.

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