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Field Trip Flip-Side: Letting go of an exceptional child

May 3, 2010

School field trips can be an exciting change of pace for kids, giving them a break from the traditional classroom setting and a chance to learn in a fun evironment. But as a parent of kids with ADHD, every field trip brings a certain stress. It builds in the days leading up, culminating with me spending the entire day of the trip on the edge of my seat, waiting for the phone to ring.

My 8 year old is gone on an all-day field trip today, and I will spend the whole day with one ear open, cringing every time the phone rings. I’m lucky in that my boys are very well behaved and don’t have any of the behaviour disorders that can accompany ADHD, but even still, the excitement of the trip, coupled with the lack of routine, can make it difficult for him to control himself. Add to that that I took him off his [3rd] ADHD medication on Saturday due to side effects (that’s a post in itself), and I’m particularly anxious about today.

That’s part of life when your child has an invisible disability.   There’s no just signing the permission form and sending it back.  First, I have to decide if  he should participate at all (the answer is almost always “yes”, the social stigma of being left behind doesn’t help already-challenged kids), then there’s the debate of whether or not a parent can and should attend.  This is challenging because both my work and his father’s don’t allow for a lot of flex time.  Then there’s at least one call to the teacher to find out exactly what the children will be doing, and to review with her that my son may need extra reminders about behaviour and rules in a new and exciting setting.  And that these reminders come best from her, and not from a parent volunteer who knows nothing about him.  Thankfully, he has a wonderful teacher who ‘gets’ him, and who will keep him close all day today.  She has assured me that the outing will be filled with hands-on learning and the kids will be kept very busy.  I am optimistic.

In my heart, I’m sure he’s going to have an excellent time; he’s been to this museum many times before and it’s one of his favourites.  Plus, he learns best in a hands-on environment and it’s going to be much more stimulating than a day at school, so I’m sure he’ll have fun.  Hopefully he has fun at an appropriate volume level, and brings back everything he takes with him.  I wish I could fast-forward to the end of the day, when he comes home full of stories about the bus trip, the science experiments, the fun he had with his friends, all delivered in his highly enthusiastic and animated chatter… but until then, I’m not far from the phone.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Troy permalink
    May 3, 2010 12:50 pm

    I totally understand your anxiety. My son had a field trip last week. The day before, he got sent home for getting into a fight. Turns out he did perfectly well. You do a good job reminding us to celebrate the “good days”, as we’re hyper-vigallant for the bad.

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