(Note: if you want to hold kids attention on an outing, do NOT have them facing into the sun!)
Stay at home mothers volunteer for all kinds of shit. Even if you’re a work-from-home-stay-at-home kind of mother, you still volunteer for all kinds of shit, mistakenly believing you can be in two places at once. And so it was that I found myself giving lifts to a whole bunch of kids who were going on a school outing.
This is my idea of hell. Herding snails is easier than herding kids. Fortunately, I herded a car full of boys (no high pitched, screechy girls) who are at the age when they try to make their voice sound deeper. There was mostly just a low murmur of dude this and dude that.
What I discovered in the car ride, is that kids are a bit like old people. They are able to have four completely independent conversations with four completely different topics. It would seem that they’re not too bothered with appropriate responses or even giving the illusion that they are even listening to the other person. I want to be 10 again.
While we’re speaking of listening, it occurred to me that in order to get kids to listen to you on an outing, you should ideally be, well, a bit entertaining. The very nice gentleman from National Parks had a dry sense of humour, which sadly went right over all the kids’ heads. He also had a little bit of what I call “outdoorsy snobbery”. You know, like when he asked the group what kind of bird makes that ‘ka kaaa ka kaaa” noise and some poor child said ‘a dove’. You just wait for that small snorting noise that the outdoorsy person does through their nose, which in outdoorsy speak means “As iiiffff”.
I also had some insight as to why my kids keep saying that school is boring. It is. And quite frankly, the Cape Dune System can’t really compete in the interest stakes when compared with skateboarding or big wave surfing. It’s just the way it is. I realized that for kids, listening at school is like being stuck at a dinner party with the most boring person sitting next to you and demanding that you not only listen to them, but you also LOOK AT THEM while they’re talking.
The worst part is that the boring person doesn’t even realize that they’ve lost your attention. They ignore the fidgeting and the whispering (if necessary, only to yourself) and pretty much carry on regardless. Obviously, I hear you say, school isn’t entertainment, its education. But so is the National Geographic channel and they manage to make the self-mating ritual of and earthworm sound quite exciting.
Of course, Mr. Outdoorsy Pants didn’t really care if the kids were listening or not. He passed grade 4 a long time ago. He just wants to get through the outing unscathed and with his dunes intact. Not much hope of that I’m afraid, what with children unintentionally shedding things – jerseys, juice bottles, shoes. How can they not know that they have one shoe missing? Do you know how many one shoes I found?
All I’m saying is that where kids and outings are concerned, you’d better have a plan of how you’re going to sound more exciting than what is in their lunchbox.
Some parents went all healthy and packed liquid sustenance only...
Even though he was outdoorsy, the moms felt the french exchange student made the outing worthwhile...