A Window into Life in the Suburbs


"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Singing of a Wet Christmas

I'm singing of a wet Christmas
Not like the ones I used to know
See the torrents falling
And mud pools forming
Or hear drainpipes overflow

I'm singing of a wet Christmas
With every Christmas tag I write
May your days be merry despite
All the news that say there's no respite.

- Posted using BlogPress from my mobile device

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Not Just an Author of Children's Books 2

I'm not sure what it is about Sarah Palin and America's chattering class.
Seldom does a week go by when one doesn't hear some kind of negative spin on something she apparently said.
I'm not smart enough or politically savvy enough to know what her chances of becoming the first female President of the United States are like but when I look at her or listen to her, my simple-minded brain tells me that she's not that different from the many independent minded women that I know. who are raising families while being actively involved with the community.
Hence, I was heartened to hear recently that Palin cited CS Lewis as a source of spiritual inspiration. Because he has been one to me as well since I read Mere Christianity over 20 years ago. So yeah, she could do a lot worse. A lot worse.

That, however, was quickly picked up by a media personality insinuating that Mrs Palin is somehow bordering on illiterate because CS Lewis is merely the writer of children's fantasy fiction and no intelligent grown up could be (God forbid) spiritually inspired by child-like tales. Palin also clarified later that she was referring to Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters.



As I mentioned in a previous post, Lewis was no intellectual lightweight. However, he also loved fairy tales and fantasy. His Narnia tales contain biblical metaphors and allusions to spiritual truths for those who have eyes to see them. The Lion is the Christ figure... the Emperor, a designation for God. The episode at the Stone Table speaks Christ's sacrifice and victory over death and the principalities.

The Screwtape Letters, which was referred to, is based on a series of letters written by a senior devil instructing his apprentice on the finer ways of temptation. In so doing, he makes many salient points regarding human nature. The conversational style and the biting humour draws the reader in and makes the message more accessible.

Metaphors, allegories and similes are very helpful and can often help convey deep truths in a simple but effective fashion.
I don't think we should scorn children's fiction for its effectiveness in dealing with age old issues like good vs evil. Fiction, generally and fantasy, specifically gets right into the imagination and impresses  the mind with the ideas underlying the narrative... for good or for ill.
Jesus told parables using everyday objects and situations to teach his listeners heavenly truths. He used sheep, seeds, flora, money to tell stories about the kingdom of God and the character of God.

All to say, really is that word pictures aren't just for kids. Adults, I would venture to add, need 'em too.
Anyway, didn't Jesus also say :
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3 ESV)

Quite often it is the simple things of life that bring us closer to understanding heaven.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holidaze

A week and a half in (who's counting, right?) and I am so over the school holidays.
School holidays are, as the name suggests, for the schools. The people who work for the institutions... and the minions who are indoctrinated educated in them.
The school term, on the other hand, are the real holidays... for the jaded mums and the dads who, according to conventional wisdom, require about 40 plus weeks a year minus weekends to recover from the arduous task of breaking up fights and separating squabbling siblings in their spare time. Which of course occurs... daily...

In need of respite, I dropped the 3 year old at kindy and took the 9 year old to see Megamind yesterday, the animated film featuring a blue, hairless alien bad guy who becomes the good guy and ends up saving the day. The plot is not mind numbingly complex but is helped by decent dialogue, good voice acting and clever animated gadgetry.
Watching it reminded me of another animated feature I saw on the plane trip to Singapore... Despicable Me, another baddy-turns-into-a-good-guy flick.
Both surprised me with their projection of affability.
Neither glorifies the bad guy but the moral of the story is that individuals are responsible for the choices they make and heroes do come in all kinds of packages. The important ingredient that makes it all happen is lurrrrve... romantic, paternal or neurotic.
While there are definite thematic similarities between them, both owe a debt to different sources.
Megamind takes it cues from the superhero genre... particularly Superman but Despicable Me is a space age Annie-inspired tale.





Sensing that I was in dire need of some kid-free R&R, the husband, bless him, took the day off so that I could have some time out. Like a overworked maid on steroids, I've been dishing out a different kind of time out with a vengeance and surely it was time I had some of my own.

As soon as I felt remotely awake, I jumped into the car and headed straight to Borders and bought myself a cup of hot chocolate at Gloria Jean's. After gulping it down, I moved into the cookery section and did some shameless time wasting in the Cookery section and poured over Jamie Oliver's new book on 30 minute meals. Droolworthy as always and those glorious shortcuts... I, of course, covet the volume for my collection.
A complete omnibus of Pamela Travers' Mary Poppins caught my eye. I read a couple of chapters quickly and it occurred to me that I've never read the books and probably should. Hmmm... Inevitably, "A Spoonful of Sugar" pops into my head.

I left Borders empty-handed (apart from the stuff I brought in). Everything is annoyingly expensive. Then I headed off to the library to book some internet time. After which, I take a little walk to procure some groceries and some lunch. Sushi looked especially good when the hunger pangs asserted themselves.

After lunch I spend the rest of time in the library reading The King's Speech -- a tale of two men...  from different sides of the globe... two contrasting lives that intersect from sheer necessity. One, a shy, stammering second son who becomes king of Britain and the other an Aussie-born actor turned speech therapist on Harley Street. It's been made into a film and will be showing in the cinemas around Oz on Boxing Day.
No doubt, Colin Firth groupies will be out in full force when the occasion arises. But it looks pretty good on its own artistic merits.




When I got home I glanced around. Aside from evidence of McDonald's lying on the dining table, everything looked more or less how it was when I left. Well, at least it didn't look any worse.

Do They Know It's Christ They Sing Of

I love the o'l Christmas songs and I've been raiding You Tube the past week for some great renditions of various Christmas standards. Many of the world's greatest singers have made the obligatory Christmas album at some stage in their career and for some reason, we keep buyin' them. There's something about Christmas that sparks the musical part in the human soul. Whether it's northern hemisphere hits like "White Christmas", "The Christmas Song", "I'll be Home for Christmas" or traditional hymns like "Silent Night", "O Little Town of Bethlehem", Christmas festivities is as much about music as it is about gifts, food and tinsel.

I was thinking just the other day at the shopping centre that at this time of the year we hear plenty of good stuff. But as I wander from shop to shop humming the o'l favourites, I wonder... as the beautiful voices flood the airwaves of Big W... when the general populace hears something like this:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus our Immanuel.

Do they get it? Do they grasp the idea of the incarnate deity?
These are truths that we hold dear... truths that are meaningful to those who are followers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But more importantly, these are truths that form the foundation of our faith. Because if the Son of God had not taken the form of man, we would have no Saviour and no Christmas to sing about or celebrate.

No doubt the Christian message of hope must be believed with faith. But the message itself is grounded in space, time history.
God, the infinite Creator, invaded human history and took his place among finite beings to bring this message as a fulfilment of prophecy. But the message wasn't just cheering words to get over bad days but the Word, a member of the Godhead who set aside his glory to take his place among us. He came to save us from our greatest problem... sin...

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.    John 1:14  ESV

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cosmic Parenting

Lately I feel as if I'm going through an existential crisis.
Last night, I toddled off to bed early, exhausted by squabbling siblings, defiant gestures and fell apart emotionally. I was an emotional basket case.
No doubt, tiredness had a lot to do with it. But it suddenly occurred to me that my life was turning into a meaningless cycle of repetitious mummy sayings like "do this, stop that, come here, take turns..."
Scintillating stuff.
Pity the pay sucks majorly.

It also occurred to me how bad I am at this parenting thing... Really awful.
And that I'm losing the battle of wills.

I was depressed. I say, "was" because today I feel a tad better about my place in the universe.

Sometimes... no, not just sometimes. Quite often, I wonder why the Almightly, in his infinite wisdom, has seen fit to entrust me not with one but two children.
It's quite the mystery... not in the Agatha Christie kind of way but in the Job kind of way.
Of course, I'm not comparing myself to this long-suffering Old Testament saint. Goodness knows, I would have leapt off the nearest cliff somewhere in Chapter 3.
But it's about the cosmic question of the ages... "Why me?" A common question in such instances.
But then the "Why not me..." echoes in reply.

Having offspring is the most normal thing in the world to do. And yet, surely it is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult.
It requires so much of you... all of you... mind, body and soul... even when you're running on empty. How does one do it?

There's a hint of it in John 15. Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing."

Yeah, I knew that. Read it many times. Even prayed it out loud at prayer meetings.
But I've been going around like a parenting atheist. As if it's about me. As if it all depends on me.

The old Motown hit by Dionne Warwick, "Stop! In the name of Love." pops into the brain.
It's good to stop... necessary even... especially when all I do is "go, go, go."
Could explain why I'm going insane.

It really is grace... all of it...

Friday, December 17, 2010

They'll be Comin' Round

So I'm sitting in Funkee Monkees... an indoor cafe/play centre. Food has arrived -- a plate of mini-spring rolls and a couple of small pies. It smells good but I sense it isn't going to satisfy growing bodies.

I'm always amazed and amused by the boundless energy that children spend in such places. Up and down, up and down. Such regularity, such monotony. The sameness doesn't however bother the little ones.

A couple of little kiddies and their mummies are playing bumper cars with the cafe chairs. A novel idea... and I narrowly escape collision.

After 20 minutes the 3 year old catches a whiff of something wafting past the kitchen door. Now for her, the place has become really interesting.

Everything's ridiculously expensive these days and due to XYZ regulation, we're not allowed to bring our own food. The girls think that everything on display is gratis.

They spend the next 90 minutes pestering me for food at regular intervals.

When it's time to leave, I feel a little poorer for the experience.

"Do we have to pay?" the 9 year old asks naively.
"Yeah, this is not a charity." I retort a tad peevishly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my mobile device

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shop Prop

I do declare I have...finally...finished up my Christmas shopping for 2010.
Yes, indeed.

Little o'l me.

I've been telling lies (inadvertently) to various people the past 2 weeks about being mega organized and finishing my shopping. An empty boast it turned out to be.
In my defence, I had forgotten the Secret Santa thing that we do with our in-laws annually, but they hadn't gotten around to organizing the whole shebang, so I kinda... forgot.

Then earlier today as I walked past shelves of chocolatey goodness, I shamefacedly remembered that I hadn't given our wonderful kindy teachers anything.

Christmas shopping began in July with the Target Toy Sale and I picked up my last item at Angus and Robertson today.
However if I'm required to be strictly technical about it, I could point to the post-Christmas sales of the previous year as the start of my Christmas shopping.
My timeline is cyclical rather than linear.

I'm also one of those people who casually pick up presents all year round and by the time I'm ready to think about Christmas, I forget that I have a stash of goodies lying idly in a plastic bag accumulating dust in the study.

I blame the weather of course, but getting those gifts wrapped felt like a chore this year and by the time I got to gift no.3, I was ready to go for the bag option.
Except that I have 2 substantial rolls of paper left from last year that could easily last me another three Christmases. And quite obviously, I had to buy another one from Crazy Clark's for reasons of variety. Wrapping all of our gifts from the same roll would be so oh-so tacky.

Local Traffic

Note to self... Don't do pizza pick up after 4:30pm...
What should have been a 10 minute there and back trip took us half an hour yesterday afternoon. Cars that sit in the middle of intersections clogging up traffic flow, is fast becoming my number 1 road pet peeve.
No squabbling between the kiddies, thankfully, but the cheesy aroma emanating from the gaps of the pizza box was too much for the 9 year old who with her usual gusto, declared at 5 minute intervals that she was starving. Starving? Do children in our part of the world who devour far too many candy canes during the Christmas season know anything about starvation? I moralize... but to no avail. Alas moralizing about food doesn't seem to have any immediate effect

Christmas is a week and a half away and the roadworks around our area are still chugging along. Barriers add to the confusion when they're moved around from one week to the next. Traffic posts have gone up and golly, I know I'm going to miss the roundabout when the time comes.The end of an era... going the way of all major intersections. Projected time is "late 2010". "Late" could mean "dead" or the "31st December 2010". Let's hope it's the latter. If not, preferably before the beginning of another school term when traffic starts building up again.

In our part of the world, we take for granted these little things. Roads, traffic... A little out of sync and it makes all the difference between chaos and order. We expect people to behave themselves and do the right thing by everyone. We are afterall civilized human beings, aren't we? How we act on the roads say a lot about who we are individually and as a people.
When I was casually observing the traffic in Central Java, I was struck by the organized chaos that characterized the streets and major aterials. People seemed unencumbered by regulations and took responsibility for their own safety.

Am I envious? Maybe a tad. A teeny, tiny, tad.







I love living where I do... cleanliness, convenience to amenities/infrastructure, a higher degree of efficiency and yet sometimes I can't help wondering year after year if we haven't exchanged our most basic liberties for safety. So much so that bit by bit we have forgotten that we ever had them. From compulsory child seats to bicycle helmets... it's as if the State is the new Nanny. Those of us who have 'em can't be expected to be responsible parents without the all-seeing eye of the State breathing down our necks.

I don't have the answers... I want to live in relative safety and for my children to live in relative safety. For that to happen I know I must cede some of my personal liberty. But can we be safe from everything? And should our governments protect us from everything? Is that even possible?
I'm not sure I want any government to anyway. It's probably a hop, step and a jump to totalitarianism.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Zombieland

Been seeing life through a fog of late. It's to the credit of the Creator that human beings can still function when their vision is impaired and when the uppermost part of the human torso is functioning at minimum. I feel as if I've emerged from Zombieland... the home of the Undead... a place of no rest... perpetual sleeplessness... or the plain of the sleep deprived. Now and again the head feels as if it has gone two rounds with Rocky Balboa and then into a blender. Call it stress... or an overactive imagination  but I seem to be a victim of overstimulation or brain overload.


I was under the simplistic  impression that when one's children learn to sleep on their own, life returns to some semblance of normality. Of course when offsprings are part of the equation, life doesn't return to what it was Before Children.
Sleep becomes all-important when its a scarce commodity. And it can't even be bought.  Suddenly that 6 or 7 hours of continous slumber is the one thing that stands between sanity and despair. Even the littlest annoyances become insurmountable Goliaths... at least to a insomnia induced fog-beseiged brain.

No wonder sleep deprivation has been used as an enhanced interrogation technique if The Scarlet Pimpernel is to be believed. It is pure torture not to be able to sleep when the body is clamouring for it and when you have a child throwing a fit because you're not moving fast enough to please her.

Hence, it must be, I imagine, helpful to have a theology of sleep... to borrow terminology I recently heard a well-known Bible teacher use.
When one goes to bed with a mind full of cares, it is in overdrive "worrying about tomorrow"... worrying about things that may hypothetically occur... things that may not occur and things that are largely out of our control.
Why do we take our worries with us to bed? Gluttons for punishment certainly. Irrational attachment to the bad stuff.  Mainly it is because we do not believe or trust. We do not believe God when he says that he will take care of our needs. I can say this with the confidence of the expert...  and the specialist because I specialize in worrying about things I can't control.
In such moments, I find it helpful to recite the 23rd Psalm or Proverbs 3:5,6 from memory... it helps me to focus on reality from God's perspective.
My perspective is deeply flawed... coloured by my own inadequacies and my frustrations over my inadequacies. My perspective is limited... constrained my humanness and sinfulness.
But God sees all... He is outside of time and not limited by it. The beginning to the end.He is Lord over all.
Even sleep...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

CS Lewis: Not Just an Author of Children's Books

I've kind of change my mind about the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I still don't think it's as good an adaptation as the first film or even second film but it's primary importance in popular culture will lie in its flow on effect.
I suspect that it will encourage another generation of Narnia readers, but more importantly, another generation of  CS Lewis readers. CS Lewis, the popular Christian apologist and sometime social commentator. Hence, I want lots of people to see the movie and preferably pay for it as well so that we can get The Silver Chair and The Last Battle adapted for the screen also.



The Powerline blog had a great post Lewis' a couple of days ago. The post contains a great reading list and literature review which I'd like to encourage people who still read this blog to use as a resource.
One of my MOPS friends, Amanda asked me to recommend a couple of good reference materials to share with skeptical non-Christian friends. I immediately suggested Lewis' Mere Christianity, which has helped many people get their heads around the intellectual objections to the Christian faith.
Some of you might be thinking... I don't have time or energy to read... and I get that. I'd like you, however, to consider audio books. A CD or a downloaded MP3 can help take the monotony off your housework. Audible has a number of Lewis' books on audio and it's cheaper than getting the CDs.
I note also that our local libraries have stock of many audio books and for a minimum fee, one can put a hold on choice items.
Focus on the Family has dramatized the Narnia chronicles and The Screwtape Letters on audio and from all accounts they're pretty good. I believe David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) does the voice of Aslan in this production and Andy Serkis from LOTR fame plays Screwtape, the senior devil.
The Focus on the Family radio plays are available at your local Christian bookstore, The Book Depository, Amazon and Audible.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I'm frustrated with Hollywood. Yeah, nothing new here... And I'm tempted to give the third and latest adaptation of CS Lewis' Narnia tale a thumbs down. Well, almost.


Not because of Liam Neeson's comments, mind you. Call it bad timing, call it weasley diplomacy or mere unadulterated ignorance. I grant that the man's no theologian nor Christian apologist and he's one of the more likeable actors coming out of Tinseltown. Like most well-meaning public figures, he has bought into the postmodern relativist nonsense that Jesus Christ and Mohammed can be talked of in the same vein. It's becoming patently obvious why there's a growing number of commentators who are calling for actors to stick to their craft and refrain from offering opinions outside their limited area of expertise.

No it isn't about Neeson but I think his comments do reflect a certain attitude that Hollywood has about faith-based films.
It used to be that Hollywood was keen to make films that made money but I don't think that adage applies any longer. I lament the passing of an era of biblical epics such as Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments and The Robe. Still, the success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, or The Blind Side or even minor successes like Fireproof  should have penetrated the psyche of those who run the film making enterprises that there is a market for inspiring, Christian themed films.

It begs the question (at least for me) as to why Hollywood even bothered with the Narnia stories in the first place. Sure, they're great stories with fantastical elements... about age old themes of good vs evil... but I submit that these stories are good because they are driven by a strong Christian narrative. If the Christian bits, which is pretty much almost all of it, give the secular types in Hollywood the queasies, they should leave well alone.

I did say I was tempted to pan the film soundly but I won't because despite my misgivings about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, it has one important redeeming quality. It doesn't skirt the issue of evil and sin... although it uses other words like "darkness", "temptation" and has to invent some ridiculous Doctor Who-like gassy villain to symbolize evil all throughout the film.

I came to this conclusion while I was listening to Christian apologist Os Guinness talk about evil on a podcast and it occurred to me that somebody making the film at least understands that much about the Christian view of evil. That evil is borne inside of us and it is something we have to do battle with and we can't overcome it without the help of our Saviour.

On the bright side, the film can be used as a resource to talk to our children about evil. Not the very young children obviously. Some parts of the film are meant to terrify, according to the adult lady friends that I was with. I, on the other hand, am probably not a great person to judge how scary a film is on the Scare-O-Meter considering that I thought that the monsters were the best thing on Clash of the Titans.


But whatever the film lacks in dialogue, cohesion and acting, it makes up for it in computer wizardry and action sequences. For those who know the book well, that will probably not be enough but considering that it's a film made within the secular auspices of Hollywood, it could have been a lot worse.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Indonesian Adventure


Adventure is another one of those words... like passion and postmodern... that are overused and not understood. At least not in the same way by everyone.
It used to be that "adventure" had a an extra-ordinary sense to it. Not something you would do normally like you know... get on the tardis with the Doctor... or climb mountains or even a bit of travel in a neighbouring village/town/country.
Now everyone has adventures, in their own backyard or at the shopping mall... so the word has lost its potency... and has become synonymous with the word "fun". Like many of its predecessors, it is probably doomed to become a cliche if it hasn't already.

So I hesitate to invoke it in my situation. Except that my life is generally quite mundane... and I generally prefer it that way.
Going overseas with two children... one of whom generates hyperkinetic energy merely by licking a biscuit... would be a giant step for me... taking me out of my comfort zone. Short car rides to the local Domino's Pizza with the girls can turn into something maddening and explosive. Especially when we're talking about two small people who squabble when one of them looks at the other the wrong way.

So why did we go? Because a close family member was getting married in Indonesia... and was providing us the necessary financial incentive to get there. So why not? A once in a lifetme opportunity to do something a bit different. To visit another country, become the foreigner and be reminded about how the situation at Babel has become our legacy.

In the end, most of the really annoying stuff happened at the airports and at the back of the van. Yeah, the kids squabbled... over food, over space, over stuff... I suppose the Almighty had to remind us that the plane trip doesn't change the inner child all that much.
A pity.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Currency

The 9 year old asked for $4 today...  Not that that's unusual. At her age, she's regularly asking for money in the hope that she catches Mummy and Daddy in an expansive mood. Afterall, money appear to grow on trees or magically reproduce in parental wallets.  Anyway, the $4 is her contribution to a school break-up party which includes sausages, drinks etc etc. Well, I don't mind... saves me frying up a whole bunch of wontons this year and trying to tee in with the class teacher to come in at the right time bearing freshly cooked, piping hot dumplings. Cruncheee dumplings. Wontons are no good cold... awful... like chewing on rubber gloves.

The 9 year old, a throwback to her under-the-mattress-stashing ancestors, doesn't believe in wallets, purses or pockets. At least she doesn't think that money's safe unless it's in her hot little hand. Pleased as punch with her acquisition, she was rattling the gold coins in her hand in jolly fashion and my mummy senses could see trouble ahead. I cautioned her before the drop off to "put them in your pocket before you lose them". "Okay, okay... I will." She assures me knowingly, no doubt thinking that mum is sucha nag.
Sure enough... she managed to lose $2... (Oh for $2 every time a mummy prediction comes true) and now she wants me to bail her out.

Yeah... she tries... Yes, she does. She is persistent. Gotta give her that. (Wish she would apply the same kind of energy to school work though) But I gently remind her that she gets regular pocket money and that she can dip into her current stash (which is currently quite considerable) to make up for the loss. Surprisingly this little lady didn't protest too much. Tomorrow, however, is another day.

Before our Indonesian trip, we were advised that it would be prudent to have some US currency handy to pay for travel visas. So we procured some at Changi Airport (in Singapore) but not enough... as it turned out. The 9 year old was excited and curious... "I've never seen American money before... can I have a look?"
I thought a bit and thought... well, why not... it would be educational. So I pull out the different denominations that I had a fifty, a couple of twenties and some two dollar notes.
"Wow... fifty American dollars!" Her eyes lit up and she waved the bill around like a steroid ingesting cheerleader.
"Shshsh... keep it down... you don't have to announce it to the entire airport."

She's an artless child... and loud... Very loud. Not yet attuned to the dangers of real life.  But money is money... and even if she doesn't appreciate the value of money, she knows that money carries with it a certain power. Like the power to buy things. Things that inhabit her universe like lollies, junk, books and cute little toys.

During our brief sojourn to Central Java, plebs like us indulged in the fantasy that we were minor league tycoons. It is a testament to the strength of the Aussie dollar that $1 AUD could buy us eight and a half thousand rupiah. Relying on a couple of locals to steer me through a labyrinthic, dilapidated and stifling hot wet market, I stumbled on a couple of very nice T-shirts (Tassie Devil and Snoopy) for myself at a dilapidated (and stifling hot) wet market for 30 000 rupiah which works out to be about 3.50 AUD. And no bargaining (in this instance) was required either.
Cheap as chips.
But we are foreigners... travellers... passers-by. We come, redistribute what little wealth we have and go... In some areas, modernity hasn't completely taken a hold on things. In others, it's like waltzing into a parallel universe Westfield shopping centre department where the sales people stalk you and speak almost no English.
Money, however, talks big... cash, or Visa... the locals know that language. It matters little where you're from as long as you can pay.
Money is the great interpreter between strangers... and seldom lost in translation...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baggage


A week and a half later, I've finally mustered enough energy and courage to tackle the suitcases. A vestige from the recent overseas jaunt. It was fun filling them with junk but not so much having to unpack them. Didn't have the energy or inclination before... and nobody else volunteered to do it. Typical really... the dreary stuff... automatically designated "Mummy's Job". I hasten to add  however, that I did all the necessary washing the day we arrived home but the clean clothes, the books we took with us, the shopping, gifts, vitamins, antihistamine, and miscellaneous gadgetry like chargers were left to sit undisturbed. A few necessary items to take along on our trip. So saith the gadget addict, who would languish away in despair if she didn't have one or two at hand. Fortunately, as it turned out, I had the sense not to take the laptop with me. After this trip... I've developed an aversion to X-ray machines... a case of security overdose.


Yeah it's a cliche but curiously, suitcases are baggage both in the literal and metaphorical sense. No doubt they say a lot about the owner... even (or especially) when they're lying in the lounge area undisturbed by the hum and rhythm of life. We brought along 3 of varying sizes with us... and they contained items some of which mean little to others but mean the world to us. Because we had children to mind, I didn't want to lumber us with unnecessary weight... 3 flights there and back. From international airports to domestic terminals and vice versa. Carting suitcases, hand luggage to and fro only makes one so much more aware of our dependence on STUFF. From that point of view, we did do the unusually wise thing.

From time to time on this blog, I bray and lament about aging, lack of sleep and how that affects one's parenting. Whatever problems one might have in the ordinary course of life is exacerbated several times over when travelling. Clearly, it's an obvious thing to say but when you have children to think about, apart from yourself, the stress levels increase and that has ramifications for one's physical and mental health.

When the kids turn ratty on you in a public place, you feel the heat of two hundred judgemental eyes in the airport lounge boring in your direction. But there's no where to go or hide.

When you're driving in a car miles away from the basic amenities and you hear a little voice say, "I need to go to the toilet, mummy." You know that nature is your best bet.

The Squabbling Sisters are in conflict at the back of the vehicle you're in with four other people. The dispute is over who should sit where or who's turn it is on the iPod Touch. Glaring doesn't work and your parenting creds are on the line.

You're in the check-in queue and the 3 year old wants to do a runner. Oh yeah... it's all fun and games... but luckily you've got the Bright Bots harness strap to keep her in line.

Your flight's been delayed again... You scramble to find a place to sit... but settle on the cold hard floor in the airport lounge. You pull out the sticker books to keep the kiddies occupied and thank God that you made the necessary preparations for such situations.

The baggage that we carry in ourselves is not so easy to jettison... habits, sleep issues and parenting styles. But at the end of the day, adaptability is the name of the game.