Two weeks ago, I was on the sixth grade science field trip to San Diego. And as much as I loved being there with Hallie – it was really quite eye opening. Here’s a few take aways from the trip:

1. I was surprised how many kids had cell phones (most of them) and how many were on them a good portion of the trip. I sat on the bus near one boy who was on his phone the entire time. He didn’t talk to anyone. He didn’t participate in the games they played on the bus. He had his head down and I can’t even tell you what his face looks like because I only saw the top of his head. One girl was reading text messages to me from girls from the other bus who were being mean to her. Have I mentioned I’m not a fan of smart phones at such a young age?

2. The majority of the trip was paid for before ever loading the bus. The kids had to manage money for one lunch at Sea World, a dinner at a fast food restaurant on the way home and any souvenirs they might want, they recommended about $30. They even had a log at the beginning of their exploration book to keep track and budget their expenses of the trip. Some kids brought well over the suggested spending money – and spent all of it at Sea World on over priced trinkets. One girl in our group spent all her money at Sea World. Then borrowed $6 to make sure she had enough for dinner on the way home. However when we went to Seaport Village after Sea World she just had to have the small glass full of pink sand and sea shells, so she spent the $6. She was out of money.  She thought it was unfair that she couldn’t buy anything at the aquarium, it just wasn’t fair that every one else seemed to be buying the things they wanted and she couldn’t. I was a little confused and frustrated. I don’t expect 6th graders to manage money perfectly – there is definitely a learning curve. But they were given tools and as chaperones we continued to remind them and help them along and some were just oblivious. But I want it. You don’t have money. That’s not fair, I want it….it made me really stop and evaluate how we teach about money at our house.

3. It’s interesting to watch your kids with their peers. I often see Hallie spending time with her close friends but I haven’t really seen her outside of that small peer group. This trip I was able to observe from afar how she interacts. She’s quiet and reserved. She doesn’t seek attention and doesn’t want attention. She’s a rule follower and it makes my mom heart proud to know that. She is helpful without being asked.

4. Like Hallie, I’m a rule follower and I expect others to do the same. What I recognized on this trip is that we don’t always expect kids to follow the rules that we set. For example, as we were nearing the end of our trip, we made one final stop to eat dinner. Before unloading, the guide set down some rules. One being, the kids absolutely could not have soda or ice cream on the bus. She reiterated this rule several times. By the time we got in line there was a large group already in line placing and receiving orders. Every one of them had soda or ice cream. The guide was in line and the kids behind me asked her why everyone was getting soda. The guide made an announcement and reminded everyone they couldn’t have soda. But the kids behind me noticed that she wasn’t taking the drinks away, so they ordered drinks as well. Hallie wanted a drink, but also wanted to follow the rules, so she went without. One of the few who went without. As I watched all the kids walking to the bus, I pointed out to the guide, that she was going to need a large trash bin for all the drinks, but she insisted she would make them throw them away. She didn’t. 80% boarded the bus with the sweets and drinks and the kids that followed rules looked at them with envy, probably thinking to themselves they should’ve broken the rule too. It made me realize, we’re not doing our kids any favors by making rules and then not following through. Either don’t have the rule at all, or follow through. Kids shouldn’t get used to breaking rules because they don’t apply to them or because they’re the exception. They will always want to be the exception.

5. Spending almost 20 hours on a bus full of 6th graders is not my ideal mode of transportation – but I had a great time and I would love to go again with my boys.