Just for a change I thought I'd post about the kind of thing I used to when I started this blog.
Last Tuesday I had the happy job of accompanying my son on only his second school trip. D had been counting down the sleeps until we travelled to the Chinese Gardens with his little classmates and was very excited. The excitement, I think, was borne not out of the Chinese Gardens themselves (he's been there a handful of times before) but the means with which we would get there. Not, as I assumed, by school bus. Oh no. By public transport. Now as we all know, public transport in Singapore is a breeze and taking a four year old boy on there poses no concerns on my part but taking nineteen excitable boys and girls on board may be a slightly different matter. Fortunately (for everyone concerned), I was not solely responsible for the entire number an indeed each child was required to have a parent or guardian in attendance. This was quite reassuring and I think everyone felt pretty confident that everything would be simple. That was, until, Mrs P. (D's class teacher) herded all the parents outside (to howls of derision from some of the kids in the class) to give us the a detailed blow-by-blow account of how the morning was going to unfold right from the point of leaving the sanctity of the school playground to the point where she could relinquish responsibilities once we were back on school turf. Don't get me wrong, I really like Mrs P. and think she's a fantastic teacher, but the calculated way in which she was telling us everything started to put the wind up us wide-eyed parents. I felt it was likely to be more of an education for us than for the kids by the sounds of things!
Anyway, briefing over and hand-in-hand with our charges (at all times, a very clear stipulation) we were handed plastic zip-loc bags of coins. All named with the mode of transport and the person (me or D) that had to use it. Now, I'd assumed we were just going to use EZ-Link cards as per usual but, oh no, we were paying cash. A first for me and for most of the other parents (those that had ever used public transport). And also, the kids would be paying. We queued for the bus which leaves from just outside the school gates, on the opposite side of the road. Lots of excited chatter from the kids. I took the bags of change form D and appropriated the amounts between us. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing (I guess they had been prepped at school). So, as the bus approached, 41 rustling plastic bags were opened to the tune of 'hold on to it tightly' and we boarded the bus. The look on bus captains face said it all. 19 kids all being lifted up to reach so they could deposit their coins then grab the ticket followed closely by their guardians doing likewise (without the lifting in most cases) and shouting 'go and sit down'!
Then the walk down to the gardens themselves, over the bridge ('look at the water monitor lizard, daddy', being one of those expressions you never thought you'd hear from your offspring, but now do with surprising regularity) and on towards the pagoda where we stop for snacks. Well, most of us do but one of the dads has left son's snack-pack in his school bag (not required for this trip) and son is very, very hungry. 'D, can your friend have some of your snack, please?'. 'No', comes the reply! Well, you know who your mates are!
After finishing snacks (and sneaking out some of D's leftovers for his mate) we wobble across the stepping stones and on towards the other side of the park. There's some moaning about tiredness starting to break out and we are on a mission to get to the car park where the school coach is waiting (I wasn't aware we were getting the coach and am somewhat relieved, thinking we were on for the return trip on the MRT/bus). Still time left for the kids to break rank and charge over the bridge giving Mrs P. mild palpitations as she knows the other side is very steep. Amazingly all the kids negotiate it with no skinned knees or crying and we are nearly home and dry. Just the head count on to the coach and we are there. Homeward bound. And tired out!