5 Jul 2012

The School Trip + why we go on them

There is basically one reason why we mothers go on school trips.


I used to be an office mum. Never did the drop offs, pick ups, nativity plays etc. School trips? You must be joking. Then, I worked at home. Great. Sacked the aupair and did it myself. At the school gates, every day.

But it’s not enough. No. Because your child is still greedy for your time and attention. They don’t want you on the phone, on the computer, tweeting, talking to anyone else or basically doing anything other than attending to their needs. “You NEVER go on school trips with me Mummy,” whined the youngest the other day. Well, I do. It’s just I have three other children, so you probably weren’t the beneficiary THAT time, or you have forgotten. Anyway, the pressure was on to sign up for the next trip, which happened to be to the Royal Mews.

Did I want to go to the Royal Mews last week and see things like this extraordinary large pile of kitsch, otherwise known as the State Gold Carriage, paid for by you and me, by the way, which is so gargantuan and overdone that you have to actually remove a wall in order to use it? I tell you, if you weren’t a Republican when you walked into the Royal Mews, you would certainly be one by the time you left. No, it was not my choice of things to do on a Tuesday morning. But it was the School Trip, and as such, rather lovely.

I had some emails to send and calls to make in the morning. Good, I thought. I’ll meet the class at the Royal Mews itself. Actually I arrived earlier than them. The trip began. We walked around the Mews. It was lovely being with my son and his friends. After we had gorged ourselves on carriages, landaus and the rest of them, including one Royal Carriage built for a donkey, and after the Royal Mews guide had expertly dodged some hilarious questions such as “Do the Royal Family have any carriages pulled by humans, Miss?”, we went off to have a picnic in Green Park. My son looked very satisfied that at last, here was I on a school trip, (along with about five other teachers and eight other parents).

The Picnic
All was well. Then I got a phone call from my husband. Who was a bit bored, and in Central London. “Let’s meet for a coffee after your picnic is over” he said. Great! Since I had forgotten to pack any food myself, I was quite hungry. Seemed like a good plan. The class was getting a bus straight back to the school in a few minutes.

I went up to the teacher (who is very popular, effective and runs a tight ship in the classroom). “Is it OK if I get off the bus before you get back to school?” He looked at me and laughed mirthlessly.

“You are the WORST parent I have EVER had on a School Trip,” he said. The penny dropped. Parents are invited to go on School Trips for no other reason than to share the load with the teacher. Unnecessary with this teacher,- and even if he was hopeless, (which he isn’t) there were, if anything, too many adults at the event. But still.

Mothers, listen up. If you don’t know it already, this is how it goes.

You must sign up for School Trips, since they are important for

a) your child, as evidence that they are Number One in your life

b) the teacher, who regards parents as traffic wardens, loo attendants, noisy child quellers and disciplinarians

c) you, to assuage maternal guilt that you’re not spending enough time with your child. Even though you have organised your whole LIFE around them.

Hey ho. Anyway, it’s the summer hols soon. Eight WEEKS of trips.

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