A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to accompany my eldest son on an adventure guaranteed to bring out the inner child in the most grown-up of grown-ups: A School Trip. The smell of the coach, the excitement in the air and the stifling heat took me back to my own childhood when my friends and I would argue over who was going to sit together (a decision usually made based upon who had the best sweets or the best cassette tapes for their Walkman). I must have gone on dozens of coach trips, so many memories came flooding back to me as I entered the carriage – trips to the Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, Regents Park, Hyde Park, Thorpe Park, historic churches, numerous theatres, countless art galleries, Baden Powell House (dedicated Brownie), the Lake District, Disneyland, the Austrian Alps… so many to recall. We would all sing at the top of our voices (poor drivers!) and always had the best time (even those of us who were travel sick). The only thing that had changed was that I was now an ‘adult’ … and the seats had seat belts … oh, and it wasn’t quite as much fun as I remembered.
This was my little boy’s first ever encounter with a real coach, he has barely even been on a bus; at least not with me. His little face lit up with anticipation; he could not wait to climb the steps and find a seat. As it happened, within just 10 minutes of leaving the school he began asking when we could get off and a very long and tedious countdown ensued. It also thankfully transpired that a coachload of 3 – 4 year olds and their mums & dads was not as raucous as I’d imagined it to be. In fact, the most boisterous moment came as we passed a popular fast food restaurant and all 30 kids excitedly yelled in unison, “McDonalds! McDonalds!”
A friend of mine innocently asked me if I’d gone on the trip to ‘help’, LOL. If anything I was more of a hindrance than a help. The visit took us to a woodland area suitable for outdoor adventure play and treks… enough said. I took along my ever trusty stool, which came in very handy; although it turns out that 4 year olds move about a lot and at quite a pace so I found myself needing to relocate my perch a few too many times. I also had my stick, which as always prompted the whole ‘what have you done to your leg?’ malarkey. The teachers were aware of my MS and they were pretty cool about it in showing just enough concern to let me know they were there to help but not too much that it became overbearing. The children had a wonderful time and there were enough grown-ups (in fact, more grown-ups than children) to ensure that I could take it easy while knowing that my son wasn’t missing out. I’ll be honest; I had been dreading this trip. I had so many anxieties leading up to it because of my MS – but they were mostly unfounded and my theory, that telling people you have MS and accepting their help, certainly worked on this occasion. Confidence officially boosted.