Friday, November 11, 2011

School Trip

Our eldest boy has gone on his first ever school trip away from home. I’m not talking about a day terrifying museum staff or a day leaving chewing gum under the pews of a big city cathedral. I’m talking proper sleeping-away-from-home-for-several-nights and eating-food-that-has-not-been-specifically-catered-to-his-extremely-discerning-palate.

It is a momentous occasion in the life of a child. And a parent. It feels like that first big developmental step towards full independence and eventual adulthood.

He’s ten. In some ways he’s older than his years. In some ways younger. Like all ten year olds I suppose.

He’s bright. He’s developing a nice line in cheek that will stand him in good stead in later years.

But nevertheless you worry.

A week away from home is a long time. What if his DS batteries run out? What if he loses his asthma inhaler? What if he doesn’t like any of the 16 choices of sandwich fillings that the adventure centre offers him?

He’s a fussy eater, Goddamit. Maybe we should have snuck a few tins of tuna into his backpack along with all the “emergency crisps” and the “fail-safe chocolate bars”?

He was braver than I was at his age, I’ll give him that. My first trip away from home was a hike to farmhouse a mere 2 miles away where we stayed for a paltry 3 nights. I cried like a baby on the first morning, didn’t like the food when we got there and was convinced my room was haunted simply because the branches of a tree were hanging down right outside my window.

My boy however demanded the coach driver keep his two bags together like a seasoned traveller, settled into a double seat on the coach like a pro and immediately plugged himself into his DS like he was still on our living room couch.

I’ve a feeling he’s going to go far. Literally. Probably backpacking around the globe and making himself head honcho of the global village.

Meanwhile, the wife and I are looking around us, unsettled by the slightly emptier nest that he has left in his wake. The house seems quieter. The biscuit tin looks depressed at the reduced opportunity for human interaction. The PlayStation is sobbing like a betrayed lover.

We are seriously considering hauling a stray kid in off the street and paying him to talk over all the TV programmes we’re trying to watch and complain about the amount of vegetables on his dinner plate. If he can throw in a few pre-teen tantrums and refuse to honour the bedtime curfew even better.

Our boy has left home for the first time.

It’s only been one day and his mum and dad are already homesick.



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31 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Well, it's an early taste of the empty nest syndrome for you. Now you'll be able to empathise with all the mother hens that watch their chicks leave the coop.

Suzanne said...

Ah Steve - a big milestone.It is a really strange feeling, great that they are spreading their wings but slightly unsettling for parents. I bet that he has an amazing time, and may even come home and actually appreciate it and you (for about an hour);) He sounds like he will thrive on the experience, and will hopefully come home will lots of tales to tell. Lovely post.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I ran away from home at the age of 11 and stayed a night out on the moors with passport and all the possessions I could carry before I came crying home!

But it remains a seminal experience in my development. The sad thing is my parents hadn't even noticed I was missing until the morning!

Being Me said...

Awwwww, sweet post! You know what, I have an inkling he's going to be just fine (at least on the food front). There's nothing else for it: you'll have to just fall on that biscuit-sword and cajole the Playstation until his return. I hope you can manage it...

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: you saying I'm just an old cock?

Suzanne: from the photos on the school web site they've been having a whale of a time from the off. I daresay the PlayStation will get a big hug when he comes home!

Laura: that's a singularly large parent fail - not to notice when their kids run away, albeit temporarily!

Being Me: me and the biscuits are involved in a fight to the death. I'm mortally wounded but, damn it! I'm going to take them all with me!

Alienne said...

He'll have a brilliant time and, if he is hungry he will eat whatever he's given, even if he doesn't like it much. I currently have one daughter away at university and the other one has gone off to Bristol for the weekend to see her boyfriend so I am home alone (apart from 3 cats and dog). As it happens, one of my sisters is coming down tomorrow for the weekend, and there is a big family party for a cousin's 60th so I won't actually be on my own for long! Just enough to appreciate it without getting lonely.

Steve said...

Alienne: this is what we've being saying to him. When you're starving hungry even cabbage becomes tasty! Enjoy your peace while it lasts... and then enjoy the noise and hullabaloo!

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

Aww a lovely post. I bet he eats everything he's given, behaves like a trooper and is having the time of his life.

x

Steve said...

Very Bored in Catalunya: I'm hoping he's going to come back as a mini Ray Mears. There's loads of jobs to do in the garden...

MOTHER OF MANY said...

Bless, he's growing up :)Enjoy the a peaceful few days,I am sure he will have an amazing time :)

Steve said...

Ally: I hope so... finding ways to enjoy yourself outside of a computer game is to be applauded!

Snucking around anonlike said...

Snuck?
.....snuck?
SNUCK!...ye gods, man it even rhymes with truck... er.. Lorry, I mean lorry, sorry.

Anyhouse, Steve - I don't want yank your train of thought but I simply must protest!

Fink off the brish languish, mate -the history, the grandeur, going, going... bloomin'eck! Anyway I hope I'm getting thru to you, old buddy.

Steve? Steve, please put that taser down... ecological pepper spray you say? How thoughtful of you :)

lunarossa said...

I'm sure he's having a great time! Has he gone to one of those adventure places where they have the "leap of faith" and all those lovely activities like kayakin, archery, eating mashmellow over the cam fire etc.? Ma daughter went last year and she didn't want to come back home. I suppose everybody thought thather household was really miserable. Enjoy the "sound of silence". Ciao. A.x.

Steve said...

Snucking: I think of the English language all the time, mate, and I love her elastic, flexibility and her eternal capacity for procreation and exotic conjugations... snuck snick snack... sheer poetry. Now hold still while I taser you. I love gadgets, me.

Lunarossa: 'tis indeed one of those adventure malarky places - making fire the primitive way, roasting your socks over an open fire and stringing up your teachers like something out of Lord of the Flies. Just the way childhoods are supposed to be.

Keith said...

A very poetic post Steve. You make me feel the little temporary gap in your world.

At least you'll get to have all the hot water to yourselves for a while.

Steve said...

Keith: and the biscuits. Don't forget the biscuits.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Oh Steve, this is such a poignant post especially as my twelve year old is off to camp next week - not for the first time. It's such a paradox that they drive you mad around the house but you miss them like crazy when they aren't part of the household.
So glad English kids still learn to make fire. For some mis-guided PC reason NZ kids don't do any of that on camp here. Adventure by the mile, but survival breeds arsonists or is bad for the environment - or something.

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: learning to make fire is a defining moment in anybody's life... and one which I am still to have...

Marginalia said...

Good for you. The sooner you get him out into the wide world the sooner he can be earning a crust to bring home to fill your depleted coffers.

I've a chimney that needs sweeping. Why not send him over.

Steve said...

Marginalia: capital idea. He can work a loom as well and I reckon with a few lessons he'd work out fine down a pit. Nothing like a coal fire after all...

English Rider said...

As long as you know where he is and who he's with etc. both you and he should get through this. This, and subsequent trips, will stand him in good stead when it is time to take a bigger step away from home.
My poor son-in-law had never left home before he joined the Marines. Boot-camp and homesickness combined are too much for anyone. It made everything so much harder.

Steve said...

English Rider: I agree. A few trips like this when I was young would have changed my outlook on life and my self esteem completely - both for the better.

Mark said...

Ah yes, it is you they are training up though. But strangely as teenagers they still come back, especially if cash is required.

On that note, a mate told me recently, about his son asking for some cash. He queried, 'what for?'

'I need to buy more condoms', his son replied.

Now how do you respond to that!

Steve said...

Mark: suggest he bulk buys? Gets a job? Secretly envy his effortless virility?

Fran said...

This was a great little piece, Steve. I really enjoyed it. And recognised it all. Is he allowed phone contact with you? When ours went on junior school trips, they weren't allowed to because it usually generated full scale panic when they rang home reporting that there was a malaria epidemic or some such nonsense. Anyway, enjoy the quiet while it lasts ...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Steve - you haven't yet learnt to make fire? That explains why when Brits come and buy a house here they can't run the log-burners that many of us use to offset electricity costs. I often think of setting up a wee business teaching people... well, How to Make Fire! (And drive a logburner).
PS the kids had a fine bonfire on Guy Fawkes night here. Only discovered afterwards that the reason they had it so good was cos one of the boys found my winter firewood supplies - Aargh.

Steve said...

Fran: yep, the school does not allow the kids to ring home - they've found it makes any homesickness far worse. They're allowed to send a postcard but that's all!

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: yes, it's a huge gap in my education. I'm often tempted to enrole in a bush craft course - bush god Ray Mears used to run them but I daresay he's busy with TV commitments these days!

The Sagittarian said...

Oh I remeber those days!! Almost like the first day of school...the first steps away indeed. You have a choice...RUN or um I forget what the other choices were...

Steve said...

Amanda: run should just about cover it!

Trish @ Mum's Gone To ... said...

I think my son was a similar age when he went on a long activity weekend with the school. Husband and I decided to go away ourselves so we wouldn't sit in the house moping. But it didn't stop me whittling about him being away.
He had a fab time: yours will too.

Steve said...

Trish: the most noticeable thing is how quiet the house is!