Election Night Hopes

SITTING on my lap, rubbing his eyes and clasping his beloved bunny, the Little Mister stayed up late to watch tv. He watched as thousands of people waved little flags in jubilation. He watched them singing, chanting, smiling, crying, and clapping. When the just-elected president walked on that big stage, he watched.

The thousands of people clapped their hands in celebration. The Little Mister, somehow aware this was the moment we had waited for, clapped his hands too. (Well, it was his version of clapping.)

It was his first election. He knew something was up because me and Tony had the tv on during the day. He sees the news occasionally, but this was different. It wasn’t just on for the headlines. And we were quiet, waiting, watching, transfixed by the screen in the corner. He crawled to sit beneath it. He looked up, eyes wide, and waved his hands towards it but couldn’t reach the newsreaders and experts and statisticians.

Hours after we had sighed with relief, he wasn’t quite ready for bed so he sat up and waited. A little superstar, up an hour past bedtime, he listened to the entire breath-taking speech. He knew we were listening, and he wanted in on it too. What did he hear? Perhaps he heard a brave man whose voice was filled with hope. A man whose voice was in those moments inspiring millions of people in every country in the world.

What did you hear Little Mister? Did you hear the desire for something better? For a world less divided and more stable? Did you also hear your Mama and Dada hoping for some of those very same things?

It wasn’t our election, but it didn’t stop us wanting so very much the better world we heard about. We want it for you, Little Mister. Because you, with your wide open eyes and whole-face smile, and grasping hands and precious cuddles and delighted squeals deserve the very best world we can make for you. We hope it is one which sees less of the destructive wrath of mother nature – one which is stable and calm. We hope it is one where you can have whatever you wish and work for – one which is open with opportunity. We hope it is everything your innocent heart hopes it will be. We hope it is filled with love and peace and joy. We hope it is safe.

 

Flightmares, time differences, and a little holiday

The flight-mares have begun. In fact, they begun quite some time ago. Taking a 13-month old to the other side of the world in a plane filled with other people who probably just want to get some sleep fills me with dread. So we’re having a practice run next week.

Well, we’re not going all the way to England, and we’re not getting on a plane just to experience the sheer hell of travelling with a mobile baby, but we are having a bit of a holiday-trial.

Earlier this year, in a moment of careless disregard for our financial situation, I booked us a ridiculously over-priced holiday. There were lots of reasons to do this, and apart from the idea of putting the Little Mister on a plane, the only reason against booking the trip was that neither of us really have much of an income at the moment. (But, look, I’m doing a little work like this here.)

So, we’re off to Australia. Despite living here in Godzone for seven years, I’ve never been, and I thought it was probably time to get there before we return to England in January. Tony has three sisters on the Gold Coast, and so what better place to take ourselves? The Little Mister will get to meet his aunties, uncles and cousins, and we will get to have a good old-fashioned family catch up. We’re staying in luxury (or so it appears from the brochure) and I can satisfy my craving for genuinely warm weather, a splash about in the sea and a very nice hotel pool (with cute separate kiddy pool) to make up for arriving in London in the dark depths of winter.

The holiday too was a surprise father’s day “gift” from the Little Mister to his dad, so of course, there didn’t really need to be any other justification for it. (Not only was it Tony’s first father’s day, but the present also takes care of a rather large birthday in a couple of weeks time.)

So, super holiday in the sun, here we come. But wait, it’s not like it used to be. Throw beach dresses and hat in suitcase, drink some wines on the plane, and spend five days behaving like there’s nothing in the world to trouble the soul. That kind of holiday, I fear, is long gone.

The only trip we’ve done with the Little Mister was up to Auckland when he was not even four months old. Of course he was a dream on the plane – any hint of a grimace and I fed him. It’s different now. This boy has places to go. How on earth is he going to sit on my lap for four hours?

It’s not only the confined space that worries me. It’s the timing of it all. Our flight is at 7am. Way to start the day, then, by waking up my sleeping child, bundling him into a taxi before dawn breaks, driving for less than ten minutes, and then expecting him to fall back to sleep at the airport for a bit. That’s before we even board. I have worries too about take off and landing. Will giving him a bottle help his ears? What if he doesn’t want one?

Then there’s the time difference. Should I start trying to make him go to bed later each night now – we still have ten days to go? And once we are there, will he sleep anyway given it’ll be a strange place? Recently he’s not been so keen on new, unfamiliar places….

At least its only a few hours on the plane, the time difference isn’t too bad, and we’re only away for five days. I’m sure he’ll be a trooper. It’ll be ¬†our first overseas holiday as a family of three, and we might not relax in the way that we used to while abroad, but I’m sure we will have an extra special time because this is how life is now. We’ll just try to forget the plane journey very quickly. And after all, it is only the practice run.

Leaving Godzone

THE BALANCE has been paid, the tickets are ours, and we’re off to England. Not yet, because of course we are no-way-near ready, but in a month not far away.

So, we will leave Godzone, for six months, six years, forever – we don’t know. We will go to a place where children don’t walk to school. Where parents must pass through security and metal detectors to get into their child’s classroom. Where teachers can’t hug their pupils. We will go to a place where the Little Mister will be surrounded by cousins, great aunties and uncles, family. Europe will be a hop skip and jump away, with its castles, ruins, history and stories. We will leave our big house and garden from where we can walk to the shops, the swings, the city, the sea, the zoo. We will leave this place as the barbecues of summer still sizzle, and we will wrap the Little Mister in merino and down jackets and shield his face from the biting cold that is the English winter. We will, next year, decorate a tree while the ground outside is frosty, the nights come early, and the fairy lights twinkle from late afternoon. We will visit Christmas markets, go to see the windows and lights in town, and later make a snowman with a big orange carrot for a nose.

We will spend the next few months running around trying to get ready to say goodbye. We will cry when we hug and kiss those we love here. We will pack boxes while he sleeps, scrub window panes while he plays, and call packing companies and letting agents when he is distracted. We will worry about money, about jobs, about our new life. We will worry whether we are doing the right thing. We are doing it all for the Little Mister.

Who, by the way, had his passport photo taken. This, my darling Little Mister, looks more to me like a photo of you about to start school at four. When did you get so grown up?

And then we were left alone

THEY came, they entertained; he laughed, he loved; they left.The Little Mister’s nana ji and nani ji have gone. My parents have left a quieter, emptier house behind them. And there’s a little boy here who I’m sure is wondering when they’re coming back.

They left two days ago, early on Saturday morning. Our weekend was hectic, the Little Mister distracted and excited by having Tony around. And today, we’ve gone back to our little routine of me and the boy at home.

It took no time at all for the Little Mister to fall in love again with his grandparents when they arrived. He was immediately at ease with them. They were so good with him, he was so happy. They changed nappies, calmed him, fed hid, put him to bed, picked him up when he cried and woke up, looked after him alone. He loved every second.

In the morning he would look at the door, waiting for them to come in. When he heard nana ji’s voice down the hall he would look up, excited, waiting. They played silly games all day. They tired him out. That bit was great too.

It’s a wonderful bond to see up close. And the Little Mister is very, very lucky. I won’t be sad for him that they are not here now though – because we will be there soon. I wonder though, how much does he really know. Is he wondering where they are? Does he remember that they played with him so much each day? Is he waiting for them to come back? Or has he already settled back into our little routine?

I kept him busy today, afraid that otherwise I’d find out he was really missing them. He was a gem, as Tony says. He got tired towards the end of Monday coffee group, but other than that, a gem. We went to the pool – he figured out how to splash, but didn’t like the water hitting his face. We walked in the sun – he slept. Their first grandchild, busy, happy, and not on this far side of the world for too much longer.