I haven’t been on a school trip as a helper before. Largely because weirdly I never chose to make myself available.
But things have changed and I am embracing all the freedom that being at home without children most days affords. I am listening to year 2 children read once a week, and volunteering for school trips. Of course it does depend where they are going. There is no chance I’m going to Cleethorpes on a bus with fifty children, especially if I’m not being remunerated.
Anyway I figured I could cope with a castle that wasn’t that far away so volunteered.
The coach trip wasn’t too bad (“it’s not a bus, Phoebe’s mummy” – I seem to have forgotten all my Transbus training) . This was despite having to play ‘eye spy’ and ‘guess what I am’ all the way there.
“I spy with my little eye something beginning with b”
“Yes blue begins with b but it’s not a thing. What thing begins with b?”
“No not blue. A thing. What’s smaller than a tree?”
and “I’ve thought of one”
“Are you a giraffe?”
“No. Can you ask a question to find out more? Like am I a zoo animal?”
“Are you a zoo animal?”
“Are you an elephant?”
“Are you a zebra?”
“Are you a cat?….”
It was touch and go with some queasy stomachs, and that was just the adults, but we made it there relatively unscathed.
The day itself it can be split into three sections:
1. The castle. It’s good, everyone seemed to like it. It is a bit tricky to hear what’s being said by the guide whilst trying to stop children from actually blowing over, but overall good. A small castle but interesting.
We went into the keep. It turns out you make quite slow progress going up lots of steps with 26 small people. And we’ll have to go back as a family to see the view from the roof as no one was risking flying children, even if Phoebe was determined to see Mary Poppins on a cloud.
2. The dressing up. Once we ‘d worked out which way on the costumes went on this proved very popular. Phoebe was a lady and for a short time afterwards had delusions of grandeur.
3. Other. As a helper you are given five children to look after. It is a little challenging when one of the children is a sunglasses wearing dynamo and two are the slowest walkers known to man but it went ok. I didn’t lose any of them and no-one cried. Win.
If there are two toilets, 50 children who must try to do a wee and it takes two minutes for each child, how long do you spend waiting outside toilets? Twice? I’m setting it as a maths puzzle for Tilly.
And for future reference I cannot last all day on one cup of tea. Also I am not as healthy as school children. They ate apples and drank milk for snack and I was desperate for a packet of hob nobs and a coffee.
The journey home was fairly uneventful. Several of the children had collapsed into exhaustion, and Phoebe and her friend played imaginary vigorous pass the parcel for at least twenty minutes. Then we sang Nellie the Elephant.
One last point. It is probably one of the great questions of all time but why does it take so long for children to get off a bus. So long that the weather changes from sunshine and we have to walk home in the hail because they didn’t get a flipping move on.
Overall a good day and we’ll be going back as a family because Tilly will love it too. As will Grandma and Grandad.
I take my hat off to reception teachers and teaching assistants though. That’s another one crossed off my career options…