Pity The Parents Whose Boomerang Children Have Been Forced Back Home By COVID-19

One aspect of COVID-19 that is rarely mentioned on the news is the impact on families who – due to recent job losses – have had grown children return back home.

Some of you, I imagine, view the bounce back home of our Boomerang Generation as an opportunity to rebuild relationships, fatten them up and dry them out as one of the few advantages of this lurgy, but for others who have children like our second-born, Kurt, the predicament is a little more complicated.

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Some of you might remember Kurt – our ADHD, larger-than-life adult, son from my earlier blog posts – because he was one of the main inspirations for this blog. He was the child who launched so many parenting curveballs at us on his journey through the teenage years that eventually – approximately one year and twenty-eight days ago – he left us no choice but to evict him for his and our safety and for the sake of our own mental health.

We didn’t evict him, really. Fortunately, around the same time we decided that the only course left open to us was to leave the country, our son decided that he’d had his fill of us as well, which made it a darn sight easier to convince him to that independent living was a blast.

Anyway… four moves later, after several fraught dealings with landlords, numerous police visits, a tenancy record, and a steep learning curve when it comes to budgeting, I will admit that the experiment has been an interesting, if not convincing one.

Suffice it to say, our boy gave it his best shot, but once the restrictions COVID-19 were enforced and he lost his job (in hospitality), it was impossible not to notice the deterioration in his mental health caused by his isolation with only four walls for company for the foreseeable future.

Kids like Kurt need to talk connection, which is why (like many families out there facing similar difficult choices at the moment) we’ve made the tricky one to bring him home. Emotional ramifications aside, he can’t realistically live on benefits and pay the high rent still expected by Sydney landlords during this virus – however generous the government has been – and from our own financial point-of-view, his rental offering will help us buy toilet roll should it ultimately find itself the black market.

He would agree that our renewed cohabitation is not an ideal solution, but he assures us that he is not the same boy who left home a year ago. Hence, new rules have been agreed, boundaries reinstated, and the lock has been taken off the bar.

Needless to say, it’s hard not to feel anxious about this change when some distance had improved our relationship with our son, but I am trying to stay positive. I’m endeavouring not to show my resentment at having to sacrifice my bedroom – our choice – in an attempt to maintain our sanity. Anyone who knows someone with ADHD will understand that some of them are huge personalities with a tendency to be nocturnal, so a relatively self-contained space of the house seemed like a sensible option.

And noise was a driving factor in our Kurt’s original decision to leave. Our son is naturally exuberant, musical, and (I can only assume) partially deaf – although unfortunately his musical knowledge does not seem to stretch to the term sotto voce. Added to which, he has inherited my father’s Chris Hemsworth baritone voice that gets louder whenever he is excited – which is often – like a puppy dog. By locking him down providing him with a self-contained room, the hope is that his nightly visits down our creaky stairs to raid the fridge, use the laundry, play guitar or to organise a rave for the neighbourhood kids should be restricted.

Inevitably, there have already been casualties: the dog has lost her leftovers; there are some mysterious new drink stains on the carpet; and the addition of a hideous pink velvet retro armchair to my Hamptons living area. There was also a skateboarding accident that in normal times should have received proper medical attention, a disastrous midnight head shave into a Mohican, and a noticeable twitch in my left eye each time I hear the theme tune to Endgame.

I love my son and I can see that Kurt is trying his best to behave like a normal human being, but for us sleep is probably the biggest issue caused by his return back home. It has meant that the old man and I have been forced to share the marital bed again, and while I have tried to put on a brave face about it – by justifying my stoicism as a necessity of this war – there is a limit to the number of times I can listen to him toss, turn and sniff in bed next to me without feeling the desire to stab him.

There is only one guarantee in life: Everything changes

Some people are resistant to change – particularly from middle age onwards – while others embrace it. Some of us want to cram as many crazy, new experiences into our twilight years, while others take comfort from what they know.

On a personal level, I have always embraced change, which explains my itchy feet, numerous house moves, and embarrassingly full resume, but for many others change signals a threat to their safety. It explains (not justifies) the reaction of some people to immigrants or women in more powerful positions in the workplace.

I stole the title of this post from a piece written by Zach J.Payne on Medium. It seemed appropriate to discuss the comment as we race towards Christmas with its obscene display of overspending at the same time as bush fires rage around us and tv series such as Years and Years keep us awake at night.

But it is not only Australia’s archaic approach to climate change or our problem with overspending that has taken the bang out of the crackers this Christmas. It is also a tiredness caused by the never-ending murders and abuse of women at the hands of the patriarchy – in the last few weeks, another woman was burnt to death on the way to her rape trial whilst another died in a menstruation hut. It is a tiredness caused by the increase in mental illness in our children – that no one seems to be tackling with any seriousness, and a tiredness caused by tragedies such as the White Island eruption with its timely reminder of the fragility of our lives.

But perhaps the biggest source of my fear is what is happening on the political world stage right now, with the terrifying rise of the right, the possible impeachment of Trump, and the British election today. The scariest truth to come out of this year for me is that even democracies can be governed by self-serving lunatics.

It is really not surprising that the tinsel and fairy lights have done little to assuage those fears, when it is increasingly hard to feel any positivity about the state of the world – even from my position of privilege. The only thing that keeps many of us going is hope. It is the belief, however far-flung it feels right now, that everything does indeed change, and that in general, good beats evil. After all, the Berlin Wall did come down, fascism was beaten in two world wars, Irish women now have the right to abortions, and there are continued improvements in our treatment of serious illnesses – which means that in the west our longevity improves all of the time. That is, if we still have a world to live in, of course.

And on a micro level, we experienced one of those changes last Sunday, when our son joined us at our Christmas party.

As you know, Christmas is a special time for me. It represents everything I aspire to in terms of family, togetherness and belonging – even if our reality isn’t always that chocolate box version. But his arrival was a surprise. Why? Because we have organised many family events over the past few years that he has promised to attend and then been a no-show. He is, after all, a young man in his early twenties who is not comfortable with large groups – especially large groups of Boomers and Gen Xers who are aware of his struggles. So much so, (was it) only a few years ago that I truly believed that one day we might end up estranged, to be reconciled in twenty years time on one of those cheesy programmes on tv, or (worst case) at visitors time in prison.

Actually, that’s a lie, because my worst case scenario was when I thought he might not be here at all.

And yet, if anyone asked me twenty-two years ago if I thought I would find myself in this position, I would have laughed in their face. I mean…I’m far from perfect parent material, but I am a middle-class woman with privilege who tried (desperately) to tick most points off Dr Spock’s checklist.

But I had a child who was and is (very much) his own person. One who only now is growing happier in his own skin – although it is obvious he will never embrace the “system” he was born into – who also suffers from a neurological condition that makes life that bit harder for him. And while I may be a tad prone to catastrophizing, (which my friends will confirm), those fears about his future felt very real at the time. And so, even now, (and we’re far from out of the woods), it takes only the smallest gesture of love from my son to throw me into an emotional tailspin of gratitude and relief – much to my daughter’s disgust.

But as time moves on, I have seen that shit happens to everyone – it’s just that most people don’t feel the need to write about everything that happens to them :). That’s life. The good news is that (in general) we learn how to cope with the holes in the road that try to fuck up the suspension on the car. And as the journalist Jan Fran said when she was a guest on the Wilosophy podcast and was asked about the thing she is most proud of in her life – a huge measure of our personal success has to be how we REACT to situations and change.

It never ceases to amaze me how capable we human beings are in the face of pain and tragedy. Right now, in Queensland and New South Wales, homeowners are risking their lives to save their properties alongside volunteer fire fighters who will be giving up Christmas to help them. Those homeowners don’t know if their houses will still be standing tomorrow – all they have is hope. But they are coping, because they have to. Today, the families of those killed on White Island will feel utter hopelessness as the bodies of their loved ones are retrieved to be laid to rest, but one day they will find some meaning to their loss – because what else is there?

Everything changes and not always for the better, but we are more resilient than we think. 2020 is another year that will bring new change and challenge. That lunatic Boris looks like he will get back in, I have no doubt that Trump will find some corrupt way to out-manoeuvre the US judicial system, and Scomo will continue to pray to his god to put out the fires. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

So all the rest of us can hope is that other changes that come out of next year are for the better, and that more activists like Greta Thunberg and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez don’t give up and stay angry enough to lead them.

Isn’t It Funny How Our Priorities Change With Age?

The old man opened the vault last week. Last month was the first time he didn’t lose a ton of our money since he became an investor and it triggered un uncharacteristically generous response. Of course, I leapt at the opportunity to spend.

Photo from Sophie Elvis on Unsplash.com

I’m sure I must have mentioned that we’ve owned our current sofas for almost twenty-two years? Or that our television is so old it doesn’t fit through modern doors and has to be turned off manually? And that our dining set is from IKEA, circa 1800, and I bought it with my first pay after Kurt was born?

According to the old man’s philosophy, the money we spend is about making my life as miserable as possible “financial choices” i.e. nothing to do with an appreciation for antiques or sentimentality, although I believe that it also has something to do with the old man’s natural parsimony, his complete disinterest in what our house looks like, and my uselessness with money – as in saving money. That’s why – and I am embarrassed to admit this – I relinquished joint control of our bank account a long time ago.

I know…bad feminist!

Anyway, unsurprisingly, furniture has never featured highly on his list of priorities (unlike top-of-the-range golf clubs and wasted memberships at gyms), so the deal he offered me last week – to purchase two sofas, some dining chairs, and a new tv for him – could have knocked me down with a feather.

There were a few conditions, OBVS: I had to pick the furniture within an hour; it had to meet the practicalities he deems important ie. the color had to be a practical shade of neutral because of the Princess’s habit of wiping her bum and her spaghetti mouth on them; and I was NOT TO GO OVER BUDGET.

Sometimes, it really is like he doesn’t even know me!

And, honestly, I can’t describe to you the anticipation both of us felt as we travelled to the mall like a proper, grown up couple going furniture shopping. Although, then again, this grown up business does seem to be becoming a bit of a habit, if you remember here.

Of course, his generosity in terms of patience in the furniture stores didn’t extend as far as the family wallet. He lasted all of five minutes in the first shop before he had his first tanty and I had to send him packing to the tv store, which brought back horrible memories of Hawaii and our lifetime ban from Avis. Which left me an hour – negotiated up from half an hour – to find the furniture we will most likely wee and die on, before he changed his mind.

And I did it. The furniture had been ordered and is due to arrive before Christmas, and I am …well …not nearly as excited about it as I thought I would be, as I admitted to Tightarse the other night.

‘So if what would excite you if you could buy anything?’ he asked me, stifling a yawn.

Well… not the material stuff, anymore. We are lucky, we have everything we need. No, these days what gets me really excited is the thought of giving, having new experiences, learning about new stuff, the luxury of time (if I have the option), being a part of social change, and er…food. The prospect of taking the kids out to dinner and giving them free range to pick what they want from the menu – even dessert; shoving $50 in their hand when they need it – because I remember how much we appreciated the gesture from my in-laws when we were hard up; travel, education, and the freedom to do exactly what I want. All of those things excite me more than plush new sofas that someone will spill red wine on the minute I’ve unwrapped them – although, needless to say, I still made sure they will arrive before Christmas, in time for the family visit from the UK.

Isn’t it funny how our priorities change with age?

What excites you now?

It’s Okay To Man-Hug

Two men hugging.
Photo by Thiago Barletta on Unsplash

We caught up with some friends at the weekend and when the husband and the old man did that awkward shuffle as they greeted each other, our male friend launched into the story of how he had tried to hug his elderly father once, who froze and brushed it off.

‘I’m not much of a man-hugger,’ he admitted to him.

‘But did you like it?’ my friend pushed.

‘It was surprisingly quite nice,’ his dad responded.

What a truly sad world we live in when there are men out there that have never been hugged by their fathers, sons or close friends?

And then, we wonder why they are so emotionally ill-equipped.

Upon further discussion, it turns out that there are rules of etiquette when it comes to man-hugging. Both the old man and our friend agreed that while they hug their inner circle of close friends, they don’t hug the next tier of their friendship group.

‘But I hug everyone,’ I admitted, because I think that women do, in general, once they’ve met once or twice.

But the boys were adamant that it was only their tight circle of friends that got the special treatment. So – obviously – we made them man-hug on the spot, in front of us, which was when we witnessed something truly beautiful happen.

Of course, I’m generalising here. I’m sure that some men are massive huggers, but there is still that stigma associated with men hugging men.

In her book, Boys Will Be Boys, Clementine Ford claims it has to do with the stigma of what the show of affection implied in the past, and the need to prove “compulsive heterosexuality” – one of the issues of “toxic masculinity”.

And she’s right. If we don’t teach our boys how to share respectful, caring relationships with each other, how can we expect them to do the same with women?

She says: “It breaks my heart to know that men – and young men especially – are conditioned against embracing the pleasures of a physically-expressed platonic love for each other for fear that the authenticity of their man-hood may be challenged.”

So let’s change that right now. Any men out there – give your father a big, fat man-hug the next time you see him. And fathers – remember to hug your sons as well as your daughters. Finally, men – for God’s sake, hug your goddamn friends. It’s not a sign that you’re weak or that you fancy them, it’s a sign that you value them.

It’s OK To Be White AND A Man, Just Don’t Abuse The Privilege

 

nick-fewings-532590-unsplash (1)Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Evidently, certain people have a chip on their shoulder about the terrible onus of having white skin.

I agree that it is terrible to be discriminated and victimized for your race and gender, and Pauline Hanson’s motion in the Senate last week reminded me of the backlash that has risen amongst certain male ranks since the #metoo campaign gained traction. And let me be clear, I do not include men that have been abused in that statement.

And yet, what these whinging, self-indulgent groups don’t seem to understand is that while it is okay to be white – and it’s even okay to be a man, I suppose – right now, these fights are not about them. These fights are against white people and men that abuse via the privilege of their skin color and gender.

When feminists point the finger at the harm men do and talk about toxic masculinity, the accusation is not directed at EVERY man.

Let me say that again: When feminists point the finger at the harm men do and talk about toxic masculinity, the accusation is not directed at EVERY man.

It is directed at the men that abuse; the men that refuse to listen to victims, ridicule them or call them liars; and the men that don’t denounce abusers or stand up publicly for equality.

Isn’t it funny how the same people that use #notallmen or “it’s okay to be white” in their defense, are typically the ones that refuse to listen to the opinions of others or support a group that is working to create a mutually beneficial society between the sexes?

I suppose it is inevitable that when a race and gender have held power for a long time that feathers will be ruffled. I get that. I don’t like it when I am ridiculed for being a white feminist, but while I do not feel I need to apologize for my whiteness, neither will I endorse the behavior of certain breeds that are running scared of losing their privilege. 

I am not ashamed to be white. I have never knowingly abused my privilege and I am not a racist. And yet, I have benefited from a system that has always worked in my favor. Maturity has made me more conscious of that. And for the record, I do know that most of the men in my circle believe in equality, and would never harm a woman, but I also know that many of them are scared of change, and that fear breeds anger.

I have never been overlooked or stereotyped as a result of the color of my skin, hence I have never suffered from the social and financial ramifications that go hand in hand with such discrimination. However, I have been felt compromised by my gender.

And yet, I don’t believe that I have the right to moan about my woes in the context of the current climate. Not when refugees are still being caged like animals; not when women are still being killed in their own homes; not when people are still being judged for their choice of faith, and we watch them in shame, powerless in the face of governments that refuse to listen to us, the people that voted for them.

I will excuse Pauline Hanson’s latest shocking attempt to instill fear because she is a mockery to humanity, whiteness, women, and politics. But I cannot excuse the selfishness and arrogance of those who persist in putting their own agenda ahead of minorities at this turning point in history.

And this IS a turning point in history. We are marching for equality; we are marching for our rights and we are marching for what is right. There is no doubt in my mind that change will take time, and there will be many times when it won’t sit comfortably with everyone, but the tide is already turning.

A Tree Change For Your Act 3?

I’d never heard of the expression “tree change” before some brave friends of our did exactly that and moved six hours north of Sydney to the foothills of a beautiful inland town called Bellingen. 

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When you go for a dip and someone’s playing a f**king didgeridoo.

 

Tree changes are a real thing and another retirement option when we reach this middle stage of life with a limited amount of time left to get it right and find the secret to happiness and a better lifestyle. It’s inevitable that as the kids step closer to independence, our priorities change and the draw of freedom away from the ongoing constraints of city life becomes harder to ignore.

 

As opposed to a sea-change, a “tree change” is favoured by ‘thousands of Australians who are ditching the hectic city life in favour of a more relaxed pace in the country’s regional and rural towns. Housing affordability and a yearning for greater work/life balance sees many Aussie couples and families make such a tree change and reap the many benefits of flexible work arrangements. Better connectivity through technology and improved infrastructure enables them to work from home more, have a faster commute, or set up their own home-based businesses.’ (Realestate.com.au)

 

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Christmas markets in Bellingen

The old man and I talk endlessly about what he has termed our Act 3, because even though we don’t voice it, as non-believers we know we are approaching the final chapter of our lives, and we don’t want to f**k it up. Each argument discussion takes us one step closer to some clarity about what each of us want once those halcyon days finally arrive and we’re free to put ourselves first again.

 

So far, here’s what we agree on:

 

  • Neither of us want to be consummate travellers, and certainly not with each other, because history has proven that the combination of Mr and Mrs Anxiety on any form of transport where we are not at the controls is a recipe for disaster.

 

  • We came to Australia for a beach life and both of us find our peace by the water. The fluctuating temperature of my menopausal body means I need cool water close by if the old man is to have any chance of surviving our Act 3.

 

  • In reality, we did our sea change eleven years ago, when we first moved to Australia and I’m feeling jaded from starting over, so I want to remain in the environs of Sydney and downsize to a shoebox to save costs if we have to. I’ve had to reinvent myself and make new friends so many times, I don’t even know who I am anymore.

 

The problem is:

 

  • The old man’s plans involve locking himself away from society, preferably in a man shed with WIFI, where he can watch sport all day, live on a diet of Twisties, and only has to make limited conversation with his chosen canine companions.

 

Evidently, there are some things that still need to be worked out.

 

Our friends in Bellingen wanted a lifestyle change and bought “Moo River Farm” impulsively, set on 45 acres, which handily came with a house and an old dairy on it. They live in the house and have converted The Dairy into a sumptuous holiday cabin, sustainably, using local salvage. Their eye for design and detail is written all over The Dairy, from the romance of its four poster bed with mosquito net and bedsides made from local milk urns, to the copper sink in the en suite with taps formed from gas pipes. The house offers a restful, rustic decor in keeping with its surroundings and infused with touches of its local history.

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When The Princess forget she wasn’t a farm dog and had to be saved by dad.

 

Lush, green pastures are fed by a river that winds its way through the land. Committed vegetarians, (information they’ve been forced to conceal from their new farming buddies), they intend to grow their own food as well as small crops, such as garlic and macadamia nuts, which they will sell at the local markets. Animal life is abundant on the farm, and they exude a quiet confidence, safe in the knowledge that there’s no danger of them becoming sustenance. Pets that roam the land include dogs, chickens, cows and horses as well as the sort of wildlife Australia is famous for, I imagine, the kind that we refrain from bragging about on tourism sites.

 

Inevitably, it’s hard work to make money out of any new venture, and takes a huge amount of enthusiasm and passion to start over again at this time of our lives; but nowhere more so than on the land and in what can be an unforgiving climate. Although physically challenging, the change in our friends’ lifestyle and the way in which their world has already slowed down to the pace of their environment is evident, and it has fired up their interest and increased their knowledge about how to protect the environment; knowledge that they are passionate to share.

 

Now I’m not one to blatantly plug products on this site, but if you fancy a taster of this kind of lifestyle, you can find The Dairy at their website (here), or on airbnb, and trust me, the minute you enter this property, all the stresses of modern living evaporate and your heart rate quickly acclimatises to the slower, healthier rhythm of the streams close by… and you will lose weight…or maybe not.

 

Moo River Farm is a retreat of sorts, but far from cut off from civilisation. With a wealth of nearby water holes for dips on those HOT AF days, there is also the buzzing town of Bellingen to explore, offering an array of community-based activities, live music, a monthly market, boutique shopping, and a plethora of wonderful restaurants dedicated to healthy-eating foodies.

 

A green paradise, in contrast to the ocean paradise of a sea-change, a tree change would afford the old man the sort of privacy he aspires to, yet it would be close enough to a thriving community to give me the sense of belonging I would need to put up with him.

 

More food for thought.

 

Weekly Mayhem News – Change

It has been a week of change here in Sydney. We’ve been feeling the effects of a new prime minister and cabinet, a dramatic change in temperature in what is usually a temperate Spring, and the change in my husband becomes more pronounced and worrying each day.

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Martha Stewart, aka House Bitch, continues to go from strength to strength in terms of his domestic prowess. He woke me up with cookery book in hand the other morning, to consult with me about meal plans for the coming week. He is going to try out four new recipes – a welcome change from the fajitas, spag bol and curry that we have been served on rotation since he took over kitchen duties. We have put in a request that each meal contain at least one vegetable, before we all die of the scurvy.

I think he responded with something along the lines of, if we didn’t like it, we could lump it. Between you and me, House Bitch is getting a bit above his station so I may reluctantly have to issue him a warning. He also shrunk another of my jumpers. Just saying.

I was conned into buying Kurt some new trainers for him to impress some girl. Any other mums freak out about the cost of trainers, or is it just tight/living in the past/sounding like my mother, old me? I wouldn’t care quite so much if the new styles were vaguely innovative, but they’re nothing new. This generation has stolen our music and now they’re walking around in trainer designs we wore in the seventies. ‘Who’s Stan Smith?’ Kurt asked innocently, salivating over these old white tennis pumps I used to have. I gritted my teeth and reminded myself what a saint of a mother I am and how I will definitely be rewarded with 5 star accommodation including spa treatments in ‘good mother’ heaven as I parted with $120 for a pair of Adidas Superstars (whatevs), gritting my teeth.

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There was just no way I could persuade him into the Kmart equivalents – apparently they’re called Super Losers.

Hating buses and traffic lights with a passion this week. I do a lot of driving in my job and I can’t tell you how often I sit at red lights and wonder how much of my life I’m wasting. And while I’m on the subject of driving, I’m beginning to have psychopathic thoughts about those bully-boy buses who have their own lanes, yet still drive like they own the fucking road.

And as I mentioned, that general sense of loathing has not been augmented by the weather in Sydney, which has been truly revolting this week.

It has meant that I’ve only been able to leave the house when absolutely necessary. It’s been really windy and I have enough bad hair days to contend with, without increasing the odds. I’ve missed my walking therapy sessions with the Princess, though, who jumps up every time I get off the sofa, hoping that I will take her out. It breaks my heart to disappoint her, but obviously not enough to make me do anything about it. Dog-walking is something I will do if it coincides with my exercise regime and suits me, otherwise it falls under the duties of the House Bitch.

And talking of exercise, I’ve done bugger all. Again. And because I felt so guilty about doing nothing, and because the weather has been so shit, I’ve eaten a shitload. Especially Maltesers. Favourite meal of the week had to be a wicked Thai green curry packed with real vegetables that made me froth at the mouth due to the ongoing vegetable embargo at our house.

English: Thai Green Curry (แกงเขียวหวาน) as ea...
English: Thai Green Curry (แกงเขียวหวาน) as eaten in Ikebukuro, Japan. (グリーンカレー) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, all that chilli aggravated my Rosacea, so I’m back to walking around town with a bag over my head.

Wasted even more of my life watching the Bachelorette mid-week; mainly because I’d been reliably informed that the boys get their shirts off every few minutes. I’m still unsure about the whole premise of the series, although being the hypocrite that I am, I feel much more comfortable watching the Bachelorette knock those boys into touch than watching the bachelors work the girls.

Is any man who says ‘cool bananas’ really attractive, though?

Saw Julia Morris, one of the funniest Australian female comedians, at the theatre last night. In spite of the height of ridiculousness and on-the-floor disappointment of every bar in the State Theatre only taking cash when all I had was a measly $5 in gold coinage in my purse, I haven’t needed Tena pads quite as urgently in a long time, due to so much combined laughter and predictable bladder leakage. She would definitely make my list of perfect dinner guests.

How was your week?

The Final Frontier…..Maybe

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Marmite small v106 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As 2012 draws to a close, the New Year brings the prospect of auspicious change and new adventure to our dysfunctional unit of four.

The adventure kicks off with a trip back to the Motherland; the land that we try to forget, (at least until we catch a whiff of Marmite or watch an episode of Downton Abbey ….and fall to pieces in a nostalgic heap).

This trip is long overdue, mainly due to the tightness of the old man’s pockets, now that the cost has to cover four ‘adult’ seats in economy. As migrants, we have learned to conceal the innate homesickness that thinking about family on the other side of the world exacerbates, while we are in Sydney, but raw emotions will be brought uncompromisingly to the surface during our three week stay. Which is why these trips back create mixed feelings.

And so, after a 24 hour journey from hell, sandwiched between the ADHDer (who struggles to sit still for 5 minutes without drumming or kicking his feet into the back seat of the poor unfortunate in front of us), and the old man, (who finds that intoxication from alcohol miniatures is the best remedy for flying insomnia), I will no doubt alight from the aircraft, refreshed and looking as polished as Posh Spice, ready to embrace long lost relatives and old friends, (who mentally moved on from us a long time ago).

Our itinerary would test the organiser of a Royal tour. We will enjoy a brief respite at the old man’s family before being catapulted into another major voyage to the end of the earth in Brittany, France, made more anxious by the fact that the car we have rented (the cheapest in the ‘Budget’ car range) is not snow-worthy and a white Christmas is predicted. I am already anticipating a Christmas Day, buried in a drift somewhere on the autoroute between Calais and Caen, with only the perennial questions of the ADHDer to prevent us from falling into a hypothermic stupor.

Christmas week will be spent with my family, for the first time EVER. Dad has renovated the whole house to embrace his nomadic tribe who are flocking en masse from all corners of the globe to take full advantage of free grub and booze which makes up for the minor irritations of his prissy rules of having to remove our shoes each time we dare to walk on his off-white chenille rugs, being forced to consume alcohol 24/7 without respite, and play charades). The teens have been trained all year in how not to shovel food in their gobs, how to use a knife and fork properly, how not to sneak ‘like’ five times into every sentence, and they have been reminded to employ the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ appropriately, and on NO ACCOUNT use the F word, no matter how excited or anxious they become. Above all, they must pretend to share some form of sibling bond, nurtured (obviously), by our perfect parenting skills.

I have specifically requested that the ADHDer not express the first thing that comes into his head, but to think first, (especially if it pertains to something Grandad does not need to know about our home life or his appearance); and that he bore the pants off  instruct all my relatives in the finer mechanics of the modern guitar, rather than us, for a change.

My whole family will be there…….judging our parenting. Hence the old man will no doubt be on the defensive so I will have to make sure that he is adequately plyed with enough whisky to gag him. I give it 48 hours before we have re-booked Le Shuttle and are traversing the French countryside, hotfooting it back to the UK and the safety comfort zone of his sane family.

And then we head onwards to Surrey, where we used to live, to old friends who would have forgotten about us if not for my poignant reminders on Facebook. To friends who have rightfully moved on socially since we left, but who haven’t had the heart to de-friend me and have a vague interest, no doubt, in seeing if the madness of our migration during mid-life crisis worked out for us.

And we will both amaze and horrify them with the tale of our next new venture, of being on the move again,(the consummate explorers that we are), and they will nod excitedly while secretly thinking that we are barking mad.

Which maybe we are.

For some find comfort and reassurance through a sense of belonging while others are energised by change.

January brings that move, those changes, another fork in the road of life.  The excitement is in the not knowing whether it will work out, but not being afraid to try it nevertheless.

There’s no right way to live your life; you simply have to live it. ’To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before’.

The final frontier….maybe.