Getting the Sky

Of joy and semblances in Southern California

jen murphy parker
ENGAGE

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Encountering penguins

I recently accompanied my younger son on a week-long field trip to Southern California.

I wasn’t a chaperone exactly. More like his plus one. An accommodation by our very accommodating town — there to be my son’s roommate in the hotel and to be onsite if he had a seizure.

Being the only parent on the trip, made me feel like an embedded journalist traveling with an unreasonably big pop band.

If you’re thinking what a drag to be the only one with a mom on a cool school trip, you are alone. My son loved that I was there. He held my hand willingly as we strolled through theme parks, introduced me avidly, and generally hyped me to a very unimpressed tween demographic.

The plan was that I would follow his bus in a car to give him some semblance of independence for the ride. This is what we do for my son — we seek, we lend semblances.

Before it departed, my son staged himself at the door of the bus and gave every boarding kid a fist bump, as if he was off on a junket to get elected to some office or other, and this was his campaign team. Then he turned and boarded himself.

I watched his back as he climbed up the stairs and disappeared into the body of the bus, about to travel the furthest he ever…

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jen murphy parker
ENGAGE
Writer for

Jen Murphy Parker is a San Francisco-based writer exploring what exists in the middle - of parenting, of health, of life.