Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get on the bus!

Sapphire had been counting down the terms, weeks, days and – finally – hours until the official commencement of her school camp.

She started packing on the Saturday when her friend Juliet was over, dusting her hands with satisfaction at her efforts.

“Do you mind if I check what you’ve packed?”
The hurt expression was enough for me to hastily wave my hand at her and say, “Oh never mind, I’m sure it’s fine,” and instead make a mental note to go through it all when she was at school on Monday.

Monday: Hmm. I was sure the note said no lollies and no electronics, so the chup-a-chups, musk sticks and Nintendo were taken out. I also decided that the lavender toilet spray was a tad unnecessary as well, and why a sachet of Sea Monkeys and three buckets of play-doh were included was a mystery......

Tea time, Tuesday night: “Mum the teachers say we can’t take a suitcase but just our school backpacks. If we can’t lift it ourselves, we can’t take it.”

(Me, sighing). “Well, if they send home a list entitled ‘What your child MUST bring’ and include a thick sleeping bag, pillow, warm winter jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, bathers, towel, sun hat, spare shoes, thongs, spare jacket, three t-shirts, an extra pair of trousers, reading book, note book, pencil case, camera, linen, waterproof bathroom bag, asthma inhalers and spare underwear, then you’ll need a suitcase.”

10pm, Tuesday: “Mum all of my clothes have to have my name on them.”

“Get back into bed NOW! ------ No, this chocolate is for your Dad and me, it has alcohol in it ----- I’ve written your name on your jacket and sleeping bag but I’m sure ----- no, don’t interrupt ------ I’m sure that no-one else in your class or dorm or canoeing clutch is going to have a farting dog t-shirt, blue cord jeans with snowflakes on the hem or a hot pink cap with a laughing kiwi bird on it, OK?”

At 11.30pm: The dishwasher was on; Milly had been taken outside for her last sniff at Skipper’s hutch and wee in the grass and was now circling around and around in her beanbag by the telly before settling down. The doors were all locked; Love Chunks was cleaning his teeth and I was going to check on – and kiss - what I hoped was a peacefully sleeping child.

She sat bolt upright as I crept in. “Mum! We have to bring our recess and lunch tomorrow but Mrs Larkins says it needs to be in a paper bag that we can throw away and it must have our name written on it clearly and a water bottle that fits in our bag or is a disposable one. Do we have any disposable ones? You said you don’t like buying them so can we just buy one for me to use for tomorrow from the corner shop on the way to school tomorrow?”
(Me, pushing her gently back down): “Sure, fine. Lie down now.”

Wednesday dawned at 5am for an excited Sapphire who found the four hour time-frame she now had for getting dressed, feeding her rabbit and eating breakfast was a bit long.
“Can I take my scooter up and down the street?”
“No love because it’s 5.45am and the neighbours’ll think a tram’s escaped and about to crash into their windows.”
“Would the shop be open for us to go and buy a bottle of water?”
“Not yet.”
“Why don’t we make some muffins?”
“Because I’m going back to bed for another hour or so and you’re going back to bed to read your book. Quietly.”

At 8.30am, we shut the gate on Milly’s puzzled face. “Sorry girlie, but there’ll be too many kids there at the gate this morning and dogs aren’t allowed on school grounds,” and set off to the sounds of her anguished howls.

Dammit, Sapphire’s suitcase did weigh a ton, but at least she would only have to lug it from the bus to her dorm and, right now was gaily swinging her bag of lunch, lasso-like, over her head. No doubt her saladas would be dukka crumbs by the time she got around to eating them.

9:15am found me home again, ruffling Milly’s ears in apology and promising to take her out for a walk later on that day. Two nights of childlessness meant that it was time to make some arrangements - whoo hoo!

I walked into the bedroom to find my address book and saw this note on my pillow:

Clutching the letter in my hand I found myself wandering into her room, looking at the bed which looked like she'd just leapt out of it; the colourful chaos of pens, paper scraps and crayons on her desk; her most favourite rocks and pebbles lined up in a row on her shelf alongside some Wallace and Gromit figurines.

God I missed her.


Cinema Minima said...

I LOVED school camp. You've captured the youthful excitement beautifully.

Catastrophe Waitress said...

I'm a nervous wreck with the way the school drip feeds information to me at the last minute, with their requests for throw away lunch packaging, party food for a spur of the minute parties, requests for money for school trips or visiting skipping rope experts running tutorials. Jeeze!

Enjoy the leisure time, Kath!

Lidian said...

This brought back memories for me...Our girls had school camp in grade 6 and have had school trips since then too. Total panic, then - oh, how much I miss them.

And the school instructions are so detailed and last-minute here, too.

Benjamin Solah said...


Brought back memories for me too. Sapph is so sweet.

Oh and I remember my mum so panicked about packing everything so perfect.

Rowe said...

Yep, miss them as soon as they go, then wonder how the time went so quickly as they walk back in the door but always glad to see them safely home again.

River said...

Schools amaze me. They send a list of stuff your kid needs that totals about 3 tons in weight and expect them to bring it in a small carry-on bag.
I love how Sapphire leaves you little notes.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Man. I loved school camps too, but as an adult I wonder just how in the hell the teachers cope - sleepless nights, over-excited kids, midnight dorm raids, someone crying because they're homesick and the inevitable broken collarbone of some kid who does something stupid...

Projectivist we went out to dinner at Hellenic Republic on one of the two nights we had free and the other night was takeaway and a DVD. Pretty nice all round.

Lidian, are the school instructions late or is it that our kids sit on them until the last minute? My vote is for the latter.

Benjamin, I dunno if perfection was what I was going for - just a kid on the bus, not likely to catch a cold and ready to start having three days of relative peace.

Rowe, she got back 3 hours ago and spent two of them excitedly chatting to me about everything she did there. Now the tiredness is getting to her and she's in her room doing some drawings and I'm recovering from the verbal onslaught with a goof off via the blog and a glass of riesling.

I love it too, River. Trouble is, they make me cry!

Cat J B said...

Aww, she's such a sweet child! Our school camps were roughing it in the NZ bush, stinky and unwashed and under canvas. Now they're in dorms??

Terence McDanger said...

I loved that, very nice, yourself and Susan on Stony River are in cahoots today with this daughter thing. She seems like a smashing kid, I always say it every time I read a post about her.

How she turned out so well with a chocaholic Mammy who sticks pens up her nose, well, I'll never know.

Baino said...

Wait until she turns 22 and says 'hey I'm pissing off to South America and the US, Canada, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia . . .camps a doddle. Jeez she's got nice handwriting tho! I was never a camp perfect packer but they always went off to the Snowy Mountains with a 1kg tin of milo! Instant adoration.

Anonymous said...

make the most of it when she comes back she will be adrenalin filled want to tell you all about it in great detail then fall fast asleep because of the lack of it over the last few days, at least that is what my youngest did and it was certainly good for her confidenc and getting to know the outdoors


Spicybugz said...

I don't know what school camp is, but I hope she has a lot of fun, and I hope you don't miss her too much while she is away and enjoying herself.

Ariel said...

Awww, that's lovely. LOVE that letter. What a kid.

F has started making his own school lunches and we found him sneaking lollies in for snack the other day. Even the good ones (which yours quite obviously is) need a wee bit of spying on!