Last week, DD and DS1 ventured off on their Y7 residential trip. A week long trip to somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Ras al Khaimah. Months of building anticipation of a week long sleepover with their friends had finally arrived (I am sure no school for a week had nothing to do with their elation!).
Bogged down with the smartphone generation’s idea of camping equipment, DD and DS1 set off for school in the desert morning sun with their non-back breaking travel bags on wheels, with their sleeping bags neatly slung around the handle. There they would wait to board the coach that would whisk them away on a week of team building exercises and mental toughness challenges.
Incapable of adhering to teachers’ instructions to remain in their form groups, most students dodged through the growing gaggle in search of their BFFs to, I suspect, plan sleeping arrangements, pyjama parties and midnight feasts. The mood of the milling crowd of tweens on the pavement was a mixture of excited chatter and cautious quiet as it dawned on some that a 4 nights away from home also meant 4 nights away from Mum and Dad.
One week. One whole, school week. Sunday to Thursday. No phones permitted. No contact permitted.
Parents had been fully briefed to expect Facebook updates with some photos only after 8pm. It was made clear that the emergency number was for just that……real emergencies.
As a Mum I do love how my kids have the opportunity to experience such great trips with their friends. Lots of outdoor activities. Bonding. Making new friends. Learning new skills (even if some of those skills are unlikely to be called on in the future such as swallowing a fish eye without wincing or gutting the poor thing in the first place). If I am honest, I look forward to the break from yelling at them like a drill sergeant as I try to deliver them to their post school activities on time with sufficient food and water in their bellies to get them through it.
But then, when it comes to it, by 2pm on Day 1, withdrawal symptoms kick in, and I What’s App a friend who I know is feeling like me, so we can count down the hours to the Facebook update together.
It’s funny really. On any given day I don’t see my bambinos for around 8 of the 14 hours they are awake; sometimes even more if they have a playdate or someone else takes them to their activities. Yet, 6 hours after waving them off to camp, I wonder how I will sleep through the night let alone the next 4 without cracking, and devising a credible excuse to dial the emergency number.
Slow forward the next 3 days and we found ourselves on the same burning pavement, excitedly waiting to greet the desert wanderers. As I imagined hugging my babies, tears began to form, and I was thankful for my oversized sunglasses that hid any sign of emotion. When the coaches pulled up slowly to the parking bays by the pavement, I felt a smidge of panic. How should I greet increasingly self-conscious tweens who will be surrounded by their peers without embarrassing them and inducing the pre teen glare, whilst at the same time letting them know how much I missed them and how much I love them???? Cue another swell of tears.
Stepping off the bus, my tears dried and my smile grew. They looked taller, older. Perhaps those new life skills had made them wiser and more mature looking. One thing is for sure, judging by their rouge complexions…..applying sun block was not a life skill they managed to perfect!