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There are many sacrifices we make as parents, and so it was that I found myself planning on taking a vacation day – a gorgeous spring Friday – to go to Ship Island in Mississippi on a field trip with my daughter’s class instead of attending the first Friday of Jazz Fest.

Although I love her (and her friends) beyond expression and am happy and privileged to be able to take the time to spend the day with her, it’s still hard not to contrast what the reality of the field trip will look like versus the sun-soaked fantasy of a day spent with friends at Jazz Fest.

What I will be doing: Getting up at 5:30 a.m. to make sure my daughter gets to board the school bus on time, then fortifying myself with grease- and carb-forward breakfast foods and lots of coffee before following the bus in my minivan.

What I could be doing: Sleeping in, followed by a leisurely brunch with Bloody Marys before making my way to the Fair Grounds.

What I will be doing: Staving off motion sickness on the ferry with Dramamine.

What I could be doing: Choosing which bands to see while drinking a beer.

What I will be doing: Eating a hot dog from the island snack bar or maybe a PB&J that I packed the night before.

What I could be doing: Eating crawfish bread or mango freeze or spinach-artichoke dip or cochon de lait po’ boys or or or …

What I will be doing: Listening to fifth graders shriek and bicker and gossip.

What I could be doing: Listening to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

In the end, of course, I will end up exhausted and sunburned either way, and I know the Ship Island trip – a school tradition, a rite of passage – will end up being something Ruby and I will bond over and end up cherishing as a family memory for years to come.

But for those of you heading out to the fest, I suspect you’ll be having more fun than I am. Stay safe, stay hydrated, remember your sunscreen – and eat some extra crawfish bread for me!


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