Recently, I accompanied year 7 on an excursion to a nearby wildlife sanctuary. The excitement was palpable as we lined up for the buses, plastic bags containing lunches slapping against knees and, occasionally, each other.
“Miss! When can we get on the bus?”
After boarding the bus, ensuring that those who suffer from travel sickness were up the front, but out of range in the instance of vomiting, we were off. Even though we only had a half-hour trip ahead of us, the cleaning products that had been used on the bus seemed to tap into something within me that caused an instant and horrific headache.
This was not helped by the loud singing and chatting of the students behind me.
“When will we be there?”
“Oh my God! That’s my primary school!”
“Miss, can we eat our lunch yet?”
“Are there lions there?”
“Haha! You’re an idiot!”
“My Dad works there!”
“Give me my iPod back!”
“Miss! Miss! Grace has my iPod!”
We arrived at the sanctuary half an hour before it opened and caused a panic amongst the sanctuary staff. We promised to entertain the students in the car park until they opened. Most students consumed all of their food during this time, meaning they had nothing left when lunch rolled around a few hours later.
Our first encounter was with the reptiles.
“If I have to touch a snake I’m going to fully lose it. I have a full-on phobia of them.”
Not very surprisingly, there was a snake. A large python. The staff had clearly dealt with hysterical snake teens before, as they draped the python over me and left it there for the session. Um, shouldn’t someone have checked with me?
“Oh my God, Miss! Aren’t you like totally freaking out right now?”
Yes. “No, I’m fine.”
Harley, the snake, kept turning his jewel-like eyes to my face, clearly sensing my anxieties.
I thought that when we finished with the reptiles, there would be no stressful situations to be encountered. I was wrong. The sanctuary had several pairs of Cape Barren Geese that were all either nesting or with young. This made the males extremely aggressive. At the teacher-guided Wallaby Walk, we encountered every male goose on the property. They knew we had food for the wallabies and they also knew that they had to protect their offspring. This made for extremely confronting encounters.
“Miss! There’s like some massive duck running up behind us.”
“Oh my God!”
As any good teacher would do, I placed myself between the students and the irate goose and guided them back to the wallabies. This happened a further four times before we worked out that the best solution was to dump a pile of wallaby pellets on the grass and leave the goose to it.
Come lunchtime, there was the realisation that eating all of their lunch in the car park was a bad idea. On the plus side, those without lunches were left alone by the geese.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.