I’m on top of the world, mum

Seven little words:  “I’m on top of the world, mum” was all it took to make me cry last night.

Yesterday was a spectacularly rubbish day.  Nothing in itself particularly disastrous but you know when you have one of those days where nothing goes right, everybody who phones you up is having a moan, you have a to do list that gets longer not shorter, and it is just a day where you think “aahhhhhhhh”.   It starts with a row with a doctor’s receptionist and whilst a lovely friend calls you to say “are you okay?”  the rest of it is full on stress.

I decided at 7pm enough was enough and I went out into the garden, sat in a chair with a Pimms in a tin, and found some Desert Island Discs on radio iplayer and sat there listening to Russell Brand, with my feet in the grass, grounding myself.  Literally.

But as I was grounding myself my son was getting up.   Getting up to start a day that he is not going to forget in a hurry.    He is currently in Kenya, on day 12 of a month long trip.   A trip that has already shown them hippos, rhino, giraffes and a million flamingoes.   Lakes, plains, mountains.

And today one big mountain.  Mt Kenya.  They have slowly been getting higher, getting used to the altitude, and the heat and this morning, at 2am Kenyan time, the same time as I was getting grounded, they got up, packed up their tents and started their final journey to the top.    From where at 04.07 this morning I got the above text.   Basically saying “I am on top of the world, mum”

Communication has been zero to date.   Nothing.  For good reason.  It needs to be managed and kept to “official channels”.  Not only so the boys concentrate on their surroundings but a few years ago 7/7 happened in London during a similar trip and many of the boys had relatives working in London.  Can you imagine managing the boys as their mobiles all exploded with the news “there’s been a bomb in London, is your dad okay?”.    There is a crisis team in the UK who are our point of contact should we need to communicate.    Certainly no BBM’ing from tents in the middle of the night.

This has been no easy task so far.   It has been a year in the planning, and twice Jonnie pulled out.  None of his “best” mates were going.  There are no en suites.   It is hot, humid, dusty.   Living out of a rucksack with only four pairs of pants for a month.    He would be without Twitter / BBM and Big Brother for a month.    Things that at seventeen you really don’t think you can live without.  Hell, at 43 I can’t live without them.  Well maybe Big Brother.

They are not only out there for their own gain, ie the trip of a lifetime, but to give something back.   A new roof on a hut for instance is a thank you from their school.   Painting classrooms of a local school.   Showing that not only are they out there to take away some amazing memories but that they understand the importance of giving back.

To the extent that they had to take power tools and drill bits in their luggage.   Tools that looked battered and worn and that we might readily replace as B&Q is only down the road.  But now they have learnt that there is no B&Q in Nairobi.

I can’t imagine how awe inspiring it must be to do this at seventeen.   How Jonnie may see the world differently when he gets back next month.   How things will have changed.

Well, his mum’s got an iphone for a start.

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  • Sounds a remarkable trip for him, he will come back with so much respect for others and all growed up, hope today is better for you xxx

    • I like to think of it as the first trip of a lifetime. Like the idea of there being lots !!

  • Ahhh, I remember when you were driving me back from Snowdon and you were telling me about your shop for his walking boots 😉 Soon came around didn’t it! What a massive achievement!! xxxx

  • This is the kind of post I hope I get to write about my son when he is 17! Lovely and full of pride! He is currently 3 so a long while to go. Tents, 4 pairs of pants, no technology and giving back. Wish every 17 yr old had the chance to experience similar. Would do the world good.

  • How amazing does that sound?! At 17! My sister went to Fiji in her gap year for a month (as did both of my cousins this year) and all have said it taught them valuable lessons. He will seem so much wiser on his return. x

  • That’s lovely 🙂
    A few years ago, I was having a rubbish day – I remember in particular moaning about the faulty handbrake on my Land Rover – when I had a text from my 18 year old daughter, on her penultimate day of working in Kenya for 2 months.
    She asked me to transfer her £300 savings to her current account so that she and her friend could pay for the hospital treatment of a local boy with a tumour on his eye. If he didn’t get treatment, he wouldn’t be able to support himself and his grandmother, but he would never earn enough money to pay for treatment.
    Amazing.

  • My 22 year old little sister is currently in Tanzania for 3 months helping build waterworks for a hunter gatherer tribe and I hope she is having the trip of a lifetime too. Well done on your son for doing it!

  • This made my throat stick. Just the text in itself is wonderful, as your boy obviously loves you so much. He’s on top of the world that so many people spend time on the bottom of, just because they won’t open their eyes enough to see, or try hard enough to climb to the top. What an amazing boy you have raised. xx

    • incredible isnt it? They say travel broadens the mind and that Africa changes you. Pity more people dont have the chance, or when they do, take it. You are right.

  • You must be very proud, and it sounds like a fantastic opportunity for him, and the others with him, and isn’t technology so damn amazing that he could text his Mum, right at that moment? (Sniffing hormonal, Mummy tears, I am!)

  • I wish I’d had (or created) opportunities like this when I was younger. Also, what a wonderful text to receive. It’s absolutely heartwarming to hear that kids love their parents so much and aren’t afraid to show it or share it.

  • What a fabulous young boy you have raised. And what a fabulous text, for him and you x

  • That text made me actually cry. What an AMAZING experience – I guess for both of you? Sending hugs lovely girl – he’ll be back before you know it x