Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Tower

Today, I went on a field trip with The Boy's class to the Sears Tower. It was a field trip that is only possible in the city; it was very different from the field trips of my youth, which invariably involved a sack lunch and a big yellow schoolbus. Instead, 50 kindergarteners, 2 teachers, 1 aide, and about 30 other parents walked two blocks from the school to the Metra station and climbed aboard a fairly crowded train to Ogilivie Station. We disembarked downtown and walked the 6 blocks to the Sears Tower. I had charge of two kids -- The Boy and another little boy in his class (J).

It was great fun to parade through the city to the Sears Tower. There was a huge caravan of kid-parent-kid trios; our party took up most of the length of a city block. Our walk was primarily through the financial district, so we passed a lot of suits. They didn't seem particularly amused, but when the market is in the can, it may be hard to appreciate a bunch of little kids taking over the sidewalk.

It was gray and overcast so the Sky Deck wasn't particularly crowded, but there were a lot of turnstiles, etc. to go through before we could actually reach the big, bad elevator. We went through security, had tourist photos taken, watched a (really very interesting) video (by the History channel) about the Sears Tower's construction, and waited in line before we finally made it up to the top. Most of the kids were pretty hungry by the time we actually got to the top so it seemed like a very short visit up there.

The Boy's teacher, Mrs. Callaghan, had prepared a worksheet of things the kids should look for when they got to the top. When we initially got out of the elevator and out by the glass, The Boy was pretty scared. He did not want to go near the windows. J., on the other hand, was crawling under the railing to lean his body directly on the glass. The Boy warmed up to coming to the railing a bit later. He and I had great fun finding the landmarks from the worksheet -- Marina Towers, Buckingham Fountain, the United Center, Wrigley Building, Merchandise Mart, etc. My other little charge, J., pointed out the boats along the river and the trains. The field trip was the end note of a unit on community. The height of the tower allowed the kids to see just how big their community really is.

By then, everyone was hungry and the kids were having trouble maintaining a good behavior standard. We hauled back to Ogilvie Station to have lunch at McDonald's in the food court on the first floor. Unfortunately, it was 12:30 when we arrived and the food court was packed with office workers, so it was hard to get seats. However, we did manage to get all the kids seated and eating their McNugget meals. The Dad came over from his office to meet us and I dashed over to Arby's to get something for myself. I bought both The Boy and J. a cookie from Mrs. Field's to eat on the train, inadvertently sparking a trend among other parents on the trip.

We managed to score most of a car to ourselves for the train ride back. With full tummies, the kids' energy returned and the ride back was noisy with the energetic chattering of 50 happy kindergarteners. It started to rain just as we pulled into the station, so The Boy, J., and I raced back to school before the sky really opened up. It was a lot of fun.

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