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.