Master A and I have been staying with family for the past week just outside Chichester in West Sussex.
For three days he and his eight-year-old cousin have been off to a Forestry Camp. Each morning I have dropped them off at the designated meeting point, where they have clambered aboard a minibus and taken off into the deep, dark West Sussex woods.
For six and a half hours my understanding is they are let loose, given a very long rein, allowed to go wild (in my head I’m visualising a Lord Of The Flies style dystopia).
They have been making dens, crafting “weapons” – to date, Master A has whittled a mallet, constructed a bow and arrow, a grappling hook, samurai sword and a sling shot – and learning how to make fires – a boys’ own adventure.
• Also by Working Mum: The reason I've put on weight is standing over there
After the first day, Master A came home caked in mud, ravenous, exhausted – and with, er, badly cut fingers. This over-protective mummy was horrified, especially when he told me that the lacerations hadn’t been treated.
I ran to the get the TCP. While tending to my precious, the wannabe Bear Grylls proudly described about how he had acquired his battle wounds.
Turns out he mistook bracken for heather fronds while collecting materials to build a den. I’m sure he won’t be doing that again.
I thought about what he was telling me and pictured the scenario if I had been there – his extremely attentive mum. It would be such a different experience, with me constantly standing over his shoulder, stopping him from doing “dangerous things”, making sure he wouldn’t hurt himself – and, in the process, preventing him from learning, growing and having fun.
I have no idea where they go or what exactly they have been getting up to at Forestry Club.
However, when I see the children thrilled and empowered by the day’s adventure, I know whatever the formula is it’s a winning one.
Working Mum, just hoping the health and safety cotton wool pedants don’t get wind of it. You didn’t hear about this from me...