Being a mother didn’t change me. Unfortunately, I’ve always been an excessive worrier. So I knew what I’d be like as a mum and teacher.
But this is different. Being responsible for kids on a school trip is by far one of the most worrying things. Anywhere outside the comfort of your school premises is daunting! Looking after and being responsible for children who do not share the same blood or name as me often causes me to have sleepless nights, anxiety prior to the trip and want eyes in the back of my head. If you’ve ever looked after a child that wasn’t yours, you’d understand. It’s almost as if you look after that child more than you do your own.
Before the summer, I went on a school trip to the largest indoor theme park in the world. IMG world. As exciting as that sounds to a roller coaster lover, I was so anxious about going that I asked to be taken off the list of teachers attending. To no avail. ‘’You need to be there’’, I was told. I reluctantly got up that morning and dragged myself out of bed, wore my comfortable shoes and headed to school with a strong cup of tea in my flask.
I often look forward to the bus rides. They’re always fun. But this one was out of this world. The kids were so prepared for the journey, they came with food coolers, rucksacks full of junk food, portable wifi dock, portable phone chargers, speakers and music at the ready. So, before we headed off, one kid – who held the title of music boy – sat in his designated seat. (this btw is what we refer to as the passengers’ job title). Which meant, lucky for me, he was sat right beside me!
He already had a play list and aux cable long enough to reach and not be a health hazard. As soon as they played it, the kids began to dance. Hands clapping, heads bumping, each line of each verse being finished off with a very loud and emphasized last word. They all knew the lyrics. It was so entertaining. Although they all had their phones, it was decided that no one was allowed to record. I was happy with that, because the last thing I want is to be on my students’ snapchat story and Instagram pics hash tagged #IhateMyTeacherLOL. We had so much fun. We all forgot about our destination. All the while, food was being passed around and shared. Tobasco sauce at the ready. To be eaten with lightly salted crisps. I discovered a new favourite – Salad crisps. So light and delicious!
Emirati’s know how to party!
Anyway, I digress!
All the teachers were really excited about going. I don’t blame them, it’s a day out in the biggest and best indoor theme park! We didn’t have to stay with the kids. We just briefed them, exchanged important information, said we’d have lunch together, but they could enjoy their time alone. I on the other hand was anxious because I couldn’t imagine leaving one of my students. He’s special. As in, autistic special. And he loves theme parks. Though he doesn’t go on the rides. He told me it was his 1st time and he was so excited. That’s the reason I was anxious. I’ve been on two previous school trips with him where he found it to be quite challenging. The 1st was a book fair where he wouldn’t let go of my arm and kept whispering, ‘’Why are there so many people, Miss?!’’. The boys would tease him, and then I’d give them the ’I’m warning you!’ stare, and they’d immediately be quiet. He grabbed my arm and said, ‘’Miss please don’t leave me, I don’t want to get lost’’, ‘’don’t worry, I won’t’’ I reassure him. The rest of the boys laughed as he held on to my shirt so tight, almost making me lean to one side. I asked him to hold on to my bag, to avoid attracting unnecessary attention from his classmates. I had to keep a hold of him, whilst my eyes were on 15 other boys who kept trying to do a runner.
I have a mean stare.
The 2nd was a trip to one of UAE’s most historical sites. This was right up his street. Though, the dark atmosphere you usually get in a museum like building made him a little uncomfortable. He needed me by his side, which is fine, until his classmates were touching things they shouldn’t. So I had to run and sort that out before we get banned from such a historical site, until I heard him scream my name, ‘’Miss Nabila, where are you?!? I’m lost!!!’’, he was only a few feet away from me so I ran back. I found him in the corner holding on to his collar a little distressed with no one knowing what to do and how to calm him down. ‘’It’s ok, I’m here. You’re not lost. Look I’m here’’. He didn’t let go of me after that. Until he needed to use the restroom, where I had to explain I couldn’t go in there with him. So I asked my male colleague to go instead. I promised I’d wait outside holding his bags. He had an amazing time though, answered all the questions of the tour guides. He learnt so much. We had lunch together and he saved me a seat for the journey home.
In IMG world, I lost my mind! I was physically with this same boy, but my mind was elsewhere – with the other 20 students I didn’t have my eyes on. I told you, I’m a worrier. I wondered if they were safe, behaving themselves and if they’d eaten. I thought it was unfair to make them stay with me, so I reluctantly agreed to let them go at it alone. My student and I watched all the movies, 3D, 4D and 5D, maybe even 6D. I don’t even know. There were 5 or 6 in total. We then played one of those virtual reality games, travelling through a Dinosaur village with our goggles shooting all the dinosaurs. I snapped loads of pics for his mum to see.
Best. Day. Of. His. Life. By far!
I called one of my students who was the team leader, he reassured me everything was fine, ‘’yes teacher, we are fine, please Miss don’t worry, we are fine.’’ Only to find a few of them running towards in a hurry. ‘’Miss, Miss, the boys are fighting with another school!’’ Oh gosh, ‘’Ok, quick, tell me where’’. We ran about a hundred meters to find a big group of our students all hyped up. The other school had run off just before I got there. One of them broke the phones of one of our students, so everyone of course went crazy. Security had our students all backed up in the corner and the others had run away. I, and a few others diffused the situation and calmed everyone down. We followed up the incident and I became the party pooper. I know, I know! The boys hated me for about 2.5 hours. We rallied everyone up early and went to the meeting point.
Safety. Over. Anything.
Despite the ending, I enjoyed myself because I saw the smile on my students face. I hadn’t seen him like that the entire year. I wasn’t annoyed about not being able to ride the roller coasters with my colleagues. Because he finished the day by saying, ‘’Miss, I had a fantastically amazing day today, I can’t wait to tell my mother all about it! My brother will be so jealous!’’ as he handed me his last sweet he’d been saving all day.
I’d got home that evening about 7pm. An hour before my daughters bed time, where I endured a migraine, throbbing feet and back ache until the next morning.
But hey – I received the sweetest, most meaningful ‘thank you’ I’d ever heard.
Just another day on a school trip with my students.
What a roller coaster!