The older my kids get, the less often I experience parenting firsts. Yet this week I encountered one of the most daunting so far. My first proper school trip!
I had helped out on one short and very local excursion a year or two ago, but this was a completely different proposition.
That one was a ten-minute walk from the boys’ school to a church. This time, however, I found myself on a coach with 60 kids destined for London at 7.30 in the morning.
I’ll readily admit that I didn’t sleep well the night before. I’m a natural worrier so was fretting about everything from actual scary scenarios to being puked on.
I couldn’t get to sleep for ages and kept waking up due to an irrational distrust of my alarm to sound at a different time to usual.
Still, oldest and I got to school in time. I was to be responsible for him and four of his classmates. This, of course, was what I was most worried about.
Being a dad of three kids with a penchant for running off in different directions, I’m familiar with performing several headcounts on days out.
That doesn’t bother me too much though. It’s easier to predict the movements of your own kids after all.
While I vaguely knew the other four, they were unknown quantities both as individuals and as a group. I was anxious about any of them wandering off or having accidents on my watch.
We had two stops ahead; the Tate Modern and the London Eye. I was looking forward to the second more than the first, simply because it would be much harder to lose sight of anyone!
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried at all. Despite being excited about their school trip and understandably a little cheeky as a result, the kids were all sensible.
This was put to the test when our coach got stuck in traffic and we had to walk from the Tate Modern to the London Eye. Although they were hungry and excitable, they were all brilliant and didn’t complain about the mile-long walk along the Southbank.
It was a long day and it’s fair to say that I enjoyed the experience more in hindsight than at the time.
In fact, the moment everyone was safely on the coach back home, I started to think what a good day it had been. Oldest agreed. “This is one of my best days ever, Dad,” he said.
It was great spending the day with him and his friends and I’ll definitely volunteer for a school trip again.
Have you ever helped out on school trips with your kids?