This summer I’m taking four students to London and Paris for an educational tour (emphasis on educational), and I’ve been feeling really good about my group. Three of them are from my Academic Decathlon team and one is a former student of mine; they’re all great kids. So much so that I’ve been struttin’ around thinking I’m going to have the easiest time chaperoning ever. “Piece of cake!” I said, “They’re great, they’re responsible, they’re conscientious.”
But at today’s meeting I was reminded of one important fact: they’re still teenagers. After explaining that our group would meet up with groups from Pennsylvania and Virginia, one of my girls asked, “Will I meet cute boys?” My other girl nodded to me and said, “Yes, Stu is going to pretend to be my brother, and I’m going to have him stand next to cute boys so I can take their picture!” Hm. This chaperoning thing might require some vigilance. “Well,” I responded, “make sure the boy is standing in front of the Eiffel Tower.” I heard a sigh, “Oh, will I meet British boys with blue eyes?” Lots of vigilance. I replied, “I’m going to be with you everywhere making sure you’re looking at the sights we’re meant to see.” She giggled. I glanced at Stu, “Will I have to worry about you, too?” “No,” he stated, “I won’t get my heart-broken.” “I don’t care about your heart, I’m concerned about you breaking hearts.” He laughed and his face turned beet red, so now he’s on my watch list, too. More vigilance.
I reflected on my own trip to Europe when I was fifteen and how some of my own photos were of my tour buddies standing near cute boys. And how my chaperones had to pull me away from too long conversations with French boys; how they pulled me away from Italian boys on Vespas enamored with my blonde hair; how the bus driver proposed everyday and suggested that we take off and leave the rest of the group behind; and how madly in love I was with the bartender in Amsterdam (he had dark thick hair, chiseled features, wore a wife-beater over his muscles, and acid wash jeans– what’s not too love? Plus he served me Heineken). How could I forget how I was like at that age and expect my charges to be different? I will leave my rose-colored glasses at home and pack my eagle eyes instead.