Today my elder son has gone off on his school residential trip to Newquay. As he set off at 5.30am, I have to admit to a few pangs of anxiety but also excitement for him. I remember only too well my first school residential trip to Streatley (although I was only 7 at the time) – we ate loads of sweets, wore our cagoules all day despite scorching sunshine and had a field trip song which we sang endlessly on our return – well, until Graham in my class swore at the familiar first strains of the song – “not that b***** song again” – overheard by the headmaster… an error that I am sure Graham has never repeated.
So back to my son’s trip. The build-up has been going on for weeks – who’s sharing a room with whom; who’s sitting next to whom on the coach; should he buy a KFC or a McDonalds at the service station on the way down; does Lucozade count as an energy drink (banned apparently) and so it goes on.
My role, as usual, has been to ensure that he is provided with suitable clothing and footwear and to pack his Lordship’s bag for him. I have carried out this task with my normal sunny disposition, a minimal amount of complaint – just the odd muttering under my breath. Of course, as to be expected, my son has fully appreciated my input and has been unable to stop thanking me for all I have done.
The kit list provided by the school has though presented a few issues. I have tried to follow the instructions to the letter and hence have packed accordingly 7 pairs of underwear and 7 pairs of socks. I have done this in the full knowledge that 6 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of socks will return unworn. We were asked to pack black bin liners so that the boys can put all their dirty washing in a bag to bring home. Well, I am fairly certain that I shall be able to use those very black bin liners for their original purpose on his return as I have placed them in a side pocket which since he suffers from that all-male congenital condition “man eyes”, he is very unlikely to see let alone open and use. I did point the side pocket out to him and the black bin liners and he asked me to write “black bin liners” with a Sharpie on the pocket – I declined on aesthetic grounds and anyway it won’t make a blind bit of difference (I refer you back to congenital “man eyes”).
The kit list also gave rise to Deodorantgate. I am not thanking the school for this. The innocuous “wash bag containing – toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo etc” has unleashed a whole new beast in our house – Lynx “Africa”. I have so far avoided having to buy deodorant for my son – having judged it not yet necessary but since it was on the kit list my son with an uncharacteristic regard for detail and obedience told me that he had to have some. I duly bought his first deodorant but forgot to tell him that less is more. Consequently our house (and its occupants) are now gasping under a cloud of heady (read “headachey”) and intoxicating (read “choking”) eau d’Africa. Personally “Africa” is not what springs to mind on inhalation unless we’re talking part-hyena with giraffe dung or something. Anyway, teachers who were mad enough to volunteer to go on this trip with my son, beware the morning (and evening) spray – it’s powerful stuff.
As for the toothbrush and toothpaste, this has become somewhat of an obsession with me – I must have said to him at least 40 times this weekend – “don’t forget to brush your teeth” . Who am I kidding? There is no way that toothbrush will see the light of day over the next week let alone the meet the toothpaste. Anyway, it’s not as if my son brushes his teeth religiously when he’s home – if I’m brutally honest, despite my threats, he probably only brushes them on average 2.2 times a week.
Anyway, I hope he and his friends have a wonderful time – I know they will, the trip looks amazing. He won’t care if he’s wearing the same underwear every day and I’m not there to care and anyway if he does, less washing on his return for me. Silver linings….