The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney


Francie knew she wouldn’t win any prizes for motherhood–she’d never aspired to any–but she hadn’t been this horrible, had she?

Oh, second graders. You are all so…you.

Today I spent a good part of the day chaperoning a second grade field trip to our local science museum. I use the term “chaperoning” loosely. My three charges were probably the best of the bunch; they led me around and showed me stuff and explained how gravity worked and almost just about earned themselves a dollar each for solving a brain teaser. Unfortunately, it was an impossible brain teaser. But they tried like the dickens. They even considered letting me take a snooze in the sun after we ate our lunch, but then we all decided we’d miss too much and the teacher might get angry.

It’s days like these that I appreciate teachers more than I appreciate a pair of jeans that actually fits. I mean, I put in one day and I’m on the couch with wine and my laptop, baring my teeth at anyone who dares come within 10¬†feet of me, or, god forbid, asks me to make dinner. And they do this every day! Year after year! And they smile a lot while they do it! Amazing.

I used to not be able to understand why anyone would become a teacher. I couldn’t imagine how crazy you’d have to be to want a job in which you’d be underpaid and routinely rejected. And then I realized, oh, I’m a writer.

I’m not that great about volunteering to chaperone. This is the first school trip for which I’ve accompanied B, and I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to make it on one of L’s trips, and T got just two out of me before he became an eighth grader and grew unimpressed at the thought of sharing a bus seat and an enriching¬†experience with his mother. I try to make up for my absences with dry wit and special treats, but I’m not sure it works. They don’t seem resentful yet, though B was awfully clingy today, which makes me wonder if he expected I’d slip away from the group and he’d find me an hour later, curled up in a tree branch reading a book. We are never sure what effect we have on our children until they are grown, until it’s too damn late to fix all those mistakes.

But today, I did okay. And today, that’s enough.




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