Week Twenty-Seven – Made a compass (or the very last time I’ll go on a school trip)

I was hoping when I volunteered to go with my daughter’s year to a survival workshop in the woods I would get to do something I hadn’t done before, like foraging for edible mushrooms, whittling an arrow head or maybe digging a toilet but that wasn’t to be.

There were a lot of activities we’d done before as a family – den building, lighting fires, toasting marshmallows (and for that I know I am incredibly lucky). One thing I hadn’t ever done was to make a compass so in the spirit of the blogging task I’ll throw this in. I very nearly wasn’t involved at all because I had to escort a child to the toilet but we ran back so as not to miss the excitement. Here are the instructions:

Take a needle (all self respecting survivalists carry on in their backpack, along with a cup, a magnet and some water).

Rub the magnet in strokes along the needle over 50 times.

Fill the cup with water and balance a leaf on top. Put the needle on the leaf and watch it spin round.

Get out your Iphone and check the compass you’ve made is actually pointing North. Of course this negates the need to make a compass but it’s good fun nevertheless.

Hold on though. While this is something I’ve never done before (and was quite interesting), there was something bigger at play here. I don’t know whether the last time you do something can technically count as a first time – let’s not worry. It was definitely the first time it would be the last time I would ever go on a school trip.

It was the last time I would stand in the road and help stop traffic to avoid children being run over. It was the last time I would traipse a considerable distance at a very slow pace grumbling at kids who appear not to be able to do anything more than shuffle. It was the last time I would ever have to wait for sixty kids to go to the loo before they started any activity.  Hopefully it was the last time I would witness multiple boys dabbing.

Of course my daughter stopped holding my hand on school trips long ago. She wants me there and yet doesn’t really. I don’t problem solve for her. I’m not needed to open her crisps, help her with learning or even protect her from an angry cow.

Even though it makes me a little sad to understand all this, nevertheless I feel privileged to have gone on her last primary school trip. I may not be needing how I used to be – certainly my role keeps shifting – but that is because she is growing up. Growing up into a thoughtful, caring, funny young woman. This was another rite of passage for us both, but I expect more poignant for me than her.

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