Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Something is wrong when a field trip with 30 five year olds is the most relaxing experience of the week

Today I went on a field trip to a farm with lots of five year olds by mistake.

I was dropping off Thing 1 at school last week and noticed that their school trip to a local farm would be cancelled if they didn’t have more parent helpers.

My mouth worked before consulting my brain and soon I was undergoing security checks and being recruited as a parent helper.

If you’ve been brave enough to read my Seven things you don’t know about me post you will know that I have a hefty science/zoology background. I’ve also worked with most farm animals. The truth is that I get on better with animals than people. The type of people I have most problems with are about five years old.

But enough of this. I am now a stay at home dad so it’s important to leave my comfort zone behind and interact with very small people who are not related to me. So I turned up carrying two rounds of sarnies in Thing 1’s Ben 10 lunchbox. I wasn’t nervous but was expecting a serious headache in the next hour or so. Boy was I in for a surprise.

A day spent with a big group of very small people is actually much easier than a day on my own with Thing 2. This was partly down to the fact that they were a great bunch of kids, but also the Jedi mind-shift skills of the teachers. Amazed, I was.

I didn’t hear a raised voice from the adults all day. It was calm tones and simple instructions that got quick responses. My highlight was a small group of children getting a bit rumbustious in the woods. I was about to do my best scouse ‘calm down’ routine when a teacher appeared and softly said something along the lines of “I don’t think I like this behaviour”. Job done. Instantly.

We got very wet and had some close up interactions with animals - including an impressively friendly barn owl called Albi. Afterwards the kids ran around in the woods in the pouring rain to let off steam without adult intervention and they loved it.

On the way back on the bus I realised I was the calmest I had been for some time. Life has been a bit interesting recently and I am always tired as I tend to dream all night instead of sleep. Suddenly I felt drowsy instead of tired and tetchy.

My mind drifted to a quote from one of my favourite films B.Monkey - a film completely unsuitable for a primary field trip being mainly about sex and dangerous relationships. However, the male lead character is a primary school teacher and he recounts being on a bus on a school trip when one of his pupils asked him when the trip started. He explained that the bus ride was an important part of the trip; it was not all about the destination.

Thing 1 was cuddled into me, tired after an exciting day. He asked me. “Is it over yet?” I find myself quoting from an unsuitable film on a packed school bus and feeling ridiculously calm.

Life is not all about the destination. Sometimes you need to need to take a detour and enjoy the trip.

Note: Thanks go to the teachers for such a well organised event and sorry if I just plodded along and waited for instructions. Also to the two young ladies who were in my charge alongside Thing 1 who never erred further than the ‘right side of monkey’ (as one of Thing 1’s teachers describes it).

I should also point out that the images are stock photos and not taken by me. The big give away is the blue sky in the background of the cow photo!

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