Famous Last Words

It’s not the jet-lag that hurts, it’s pushing through it. And maybe pushing through it could be manageable with a constant flow of coffee while you load the washing machine, fill the fridge, and get the suitcases empty – if it wasn’t for that one thing.

Children.

Jet-lagged children.

I’d been awake for too many hours when we touched down in Adelaide, and by the time I’d picked up the hire car, got us to the hotel, topped up my phone and talked to my mother, it was late. The first child woke at 2, the second at 2.30, the third at 3 and by 4 am, four out of five of us were wrapped in blankets watching Brazil play Mexico. Except the third traveller who has no idea what this condition “jet lag” of which we all speak is about.

At 6.30 we were dressed, packed up, and had stopped for coffee and hot chocolate in preparation for our drive to the beach. As I stood in line at the service station I looked over at the car to see my four little travellers, each of them with an unmistakable hint of excitement on their faces. They were talking about food. There was a discussion about who couldn’t wait for what, we decided a trip to the supermarket where everyone could choose something for breakfast and their favourite treat was in order.

It will go down as the famous last words of a mother. Followed by the famous last words of a child (who shall remain numberless).

“Don’t eat that Freddo Frog now, it’s early, you’ve already had a hot chocolate, it will make you sick.”

Within half an hour I was standing at the fridge unpacking the groceries when I noticed the faint call of my name.

With my head in the vegetable crisper I yelled “I’m unpacking the groceries! Come here if you need to talk to me.”

About a minute later I noticed it again.

“Is someone calling me?” I yelled out.

A child walked by. “Can you yell out at the stairs and see if anyone needs me – I could swear I heard someone call me”.

And that was when I heard the gentle love between siblings “OH GROSS! Muuuuum, you better come here – it’s everywhere.”

As I mopped up the vomit I was assured they’d be no more chocolate eating, ever. And there’s the famous last words of the eating Tim Tams today child.

The past two days have been a jet-lagged haze of doctors appointments, haircuts, and conversations which have involved me saying ridiculous things like  “Oh, you’re English, which part of Scotland are you from?” I stood inside the bakery and asked where the bakery was. And then carried on with my endearing ways by being that annoying person who stands in front of the pie warmer and asks which pies are left, several times, and then orders a pasty. I walk with a constant stream of apologies. Sorry for running over your toe with my trolley, sorry for driving on the wrong side of the road, and sorry for my child falling asleep across the doorway of your office.

Amongst all of this I have texted G with stabby fingers. Poor G. It is at this particular time of the year that everything becomes his fault. The front door won’t slide properly, the heater wasn’t working, the second little traveller’s most recent ear operation has gone the way of all others and we are now investigating further surgery. All of these things are of course his fault – because I am unreasonable, jet lagged and I miss him. I want him to be here, jet lagged and cranky like the rest of us.

And it is now at 1.00am with the wind whistling outside and the faint sound of crashing waves, with a clear head and sleeping children that I remember how lucky I am to have that annoying sliding door. How thankful I am to share ownership in the dodgy heater, and how grateful we are to be able to wait an hour to see a Doctor we trust. I spoke to a Doctor today who I trusted implicitly – not once did I see him refer to google for his diagnosis.

The ease of Australian life is not to be taken for granted.

Pushing through the haze of jet-lag, the crossing of time zones and the crossing of cultures – as the haze lifts and tempers even, it becomes clearer. Even with the vomit, the annoying door and the dodgy heating – life is good here. And I’m so lucky to be able to step back into this world on a regular basis for the reminder.

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