We went to the zoo, zoo, zoo and mummy came too, too,too

Despite Joshua’s lack of sleep the night before, he enjoyed his school trip to the wildlife park : we set off from school in two minibuses, each laden with a careful balance of children and staff, with combinations that would create minimal conflict. I have enormous respect for the staff being willing to take 21 challenging teenagers, each having their own unique ways, out for the day. I could see the anxiety on their faces as children were repeatedly counted and potential incidents were intercepted.

We tucked into a picnic lunch straight after the baboon enclosure, and then everyone sat still and devoured their snacks.Joshua took one bite of his ham roll, then threw the rest at me, which became a theme of the day; later he had a cople of licks of his ice cream then he hurled it at his teacher, I saw it happening but was just too slow to intervene! His throwing antics create much amusement amongst both staff and pupils.

After lunch, we walked through the lemur enclosure and they made Joshua giggle for several reasons : they were close enough as they leapt between trees over out heads, they were not to small to see and I like to think that he recognised the creatures from his favourite movie, Madagascar. The sleeping tigers and polar bears who were play-fighting in their water, did not get such a good reaction from Joshua. We walked a long way, Joshua started by walking well but after a fair distance,and a fair effort, he declines, and needed his wheelchair. I thought that he might have slumped to sleep but he stayed awake and enjoyed the companionship, if not the wilder animals.

The school trip ended with an ice cream, which¬† was a messy experience, then all embarking back on the minibuses for a 90 minute drive home. Some of the children nodded off, but not my son who kept shouting ‘Monkey’ and ‘Movie’ out, louder and louder. we arrived back in school, just in time for everyone to grab their bags and catch their transport home, so it was timed to perfection. While it was a fun day as a visitor, as we shared a hot drink together, it was clear how draining such an expedition is. As a parent I am grateful that despite the organisational trauma and exhaustion that an outing presents, that class trips are still part of his timetable ,as I can see how much they get out of such a fun day out. At this school it seems to be a matter of planning out how a trip can be enjoyed by all safely, whereas previously, Joshua has missed out because his epilepsy became a reason why he could NOT do something outside of the confines of school. We much prefer this approach and he has benefitted from many outings as a result.

We’re all going to the zoo tomorrow..we’re going to stay all day!

I am lucky enough to be going on a class outing tomorrow to a nearby wildlife park as a volunteer. There will be 21 children and 10 adults going in school minibuses.I am really looking forward to it, it will be the perfect end to a hard-working week. I am hoping that the weather stays dry but that the eye of heaven does not shine too hot, or else that will add extra concerns about skincare from the sun. Some children do not appreciate seeing their mum on a school trip but fortunately Joshua is so used to seeing me around school, that he is unlikely to object to my presence.

I loved the first school trip that I went on with this school, five years ago. I was asked to go along so that I could be on hand to administer Joshua’s emergency medication if it was required. I was told that I did not need to stay with the class, just had to be close enough to be summonsed by mobile phone if I was needed. But I chose to stay with the class as we looked around a local park and took a land-train to a seaside town. Joshua behaved well so my medical experience was not called upon but it gave e a great insight into how the class operated and to get to know both the pupils and staff better.

I had thought up to that point that Joshua had been assigned to one teaching assistant , who would take care of him full time. It quickly became clear as we walked around the petting zoo that every staff member was familiar with every pupil, as they were constantly swapping about in a very natural, organic way. They each knew every child’s fears and foibles; so they responded like a team when an autistic boy had to be hurried past some peeling paint, as if he had seen it, he would have begun to pick at it until it was all off the lamppost. Another child needed reassurance as he walked in the gardens of the stately home, through a conifer tunnel, as he hated the dark. They knew which children should not sit together when we stopped for our packed lunch. It was all very impressive and was controlled so naturally, with no discussion, that it gave me even more confidence in the school, as as that time Joshua had only been part of the class for 3 months.

So I am looking forward to my day out tomorrow