A fish out of Water

The little travelers are having a fantastic holiday, but every now and then I catch a glimpse of uncomfortableness while they navigate their new surroundings. They are travelers living in a non traveling world. I’ve enrolled them in weekly activities with children who are in the midst of their routine, children who have arrived from school or home. The little travelers are rotating the same two pair of tracksuit pants, jeans and long sleeved shirts while sharing a room full of bunk beds in a familiar but not everyday address.

It’s important to them to fit in, to be the “same”. When you’re eight you may love your individuality, but the last thing you want to be is the weird kid who didn’t get the joke. “What’s a bickie?” someone will whisper in my ear. “Just shorten every word and you’ll be fine – biscuit, bikkie”.

“That explains breaky” giggles the third traveler.

If I was to describe the organizational habits of the third little traveler it would probably be easier to just mention that I find it necessary to check he’s remembered to wear his underwear before the leaving the house. He’s a very relaxed child. T-shirt on back the front?

“Doesn’t matter – I like it better this way”.

Huge hole in the bum of your jeans?

“No-one will care Mum”.

During the school year I think he managed one, perhaps two weeks of handing in his homework on time. This of course was homework that he had completed, but then somehow misplaced from the dinner table to his backpack. I found it under his pillow, I found it in the garage, I found it dripping wet next to the bathtub. “Thanks Mum! I was looking for that”.

From the moment we arrived at our first set of swimming lessons our newness stood out. We had to ask where the change rooms were, we weren’t sure which end of the pool to head to. Was it lane six to the right? Or lane six to the left? The little travelers eyed off the children who arrived in bathrobes over the top of their bathers, I could almost feel them telepathically questioning their lack of robe wear. Surely I would have realized that the bathrobe could have provided the camouflage to make them blend, they could have been just like everyone else. I watched them all wander towards their respective lanes for their first lesson and remembered the awkwardness of not knowing anyone, not understanding how it all worked, wanting somehow to return and begin at week three.

It wasn’t until the third little traveler was standing by the pool that I realized he was wearing his bathers back to front. My heart melted at the predictable cuteness, but I prayed that no-one would notice. I then realized that he wasn’t actually wearing his bathers, he had his younger brother’s bathers on. I was now the mother with the small child in the long shorts and the tall child in the short shorts. Due to our mismanagement of beach towels (they are all in the Qatar house) I was also the mother of the children carrying mismatched bath towels. So uncool. I know this because I was told.

Today I swore I’d have them more organized. I followed the third traveler out of the change rooms and gave him a good looking over before he went off to his lesson, bathers were on the right way and tied at the front, goggles were in hand. We’d made it. I watched him wander off to his lane and then noticed the fourth traveler by the side of the pool – his pants were on inside out and his goggles were upside down.

I looked over at G and giggled at our aquatically challenged family. How hard is it to put a pair of bathers on? It was at this point that I discovered the third traveler, not only didn’t he have a beach towel, he didn’t even have a bath towel.Β He’d brought along a bath mat.

Next week we’re getting changed at home.

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  1. My son went to the dentist the other day with his pants on inside out. I didn’t notice until too late and he was really embarrassed when the dentist noticed too. He also frequently forgets to wear jocks. You can be a fish out of water even when you aren’t visiting.

  2. Anonymous says

    That last bit about the bath mat cracked me up!


  3. I think your third traveller is my first son’s doppleganger!

  4. wotisunique says

    I took my third child to the doctors once (actually, not so long ago). The Dr lifted MissT’s dress up to check on her tummy & we all got a surprise. No knickers! Apparently she forgot. That can happen. Right?

  5. A fun read until the end. Then it was hysterical. I almost (almost) wish I was doing this all over again, so I could really remember what happened.

  6. We’re still in the swimming nappy stage of our swimming lessons…and the only time I didn’t have a spare was the time he decided to fill it :-/ Some serious scooping required lol, not to mention wrestling a wet nappy off and back again!!

  7. Melissah says

    I can so relate. have just moved back to Australia after 9 years in Singapore. My 12 year old started school in January and it has taken us 6 months to get the UNIFORM right. This is a UNIFORM meaning everybody has the same sox,shoes,kilt,blazer,jumper and shirt. Apparently,everybody stares at her because her clothes look different.Apparently,her skirt isn’t the right length,the jumper too big ,the shoes too shiny. Oh and on casual day her clothes wern’t the same as everybody elses. In Singapore the only place to buy clothes that aren’t disney is either Gap or Zara so off she went to casual day looking like a gap/ zara catalogue. She came home and said that we had to go and buy clothes at some cool stores that her friends had told her about- Target and Myers!

  8. My kids are constantly forgetting things and wearing a strange arrangement of clothes. They have all gone through a stage of wearing their pants back to front, shoes on the wrong feet and tops inside out. The little one even wears different shoes, one thong and one runner! If they don’t care, I don’t care.

  9. I just choked on some of my lunch! Hilarious.

  10. So cute!

  11. After living three years with other “expat kids” our middle little has decided to go the speedo short route (the long speedo type shorts for swimmers). Yeah, that doesn’t quite equate when you go back to the United States and everyone else at the community pool is in board shorts by Tony Hawk.

  12. I was an expat kid. I remember moving back to Australia at age 11 and being asked who I liked better; Madonna or Cyndii Lauper. Had no idea who either were and felt super uncool. Took me a couple of years before I overcame the blip in my popular culture knowledge and felt more sure of myself.

    Overall though, I think it made me a more rounded person. I’m not uncomfortable with new things; makes change in life easier to work with and I appreciate fresh perspectives.

    Never did turn up at the pool with a bath mat though. Classic!

  13. Love this, giggling at my desk πŸ™‚

  14. Anonymous says

    This reminds me of when our number 2 child was doing his Holy Communion – as we were sitting nice and quiet in the pew only to have him lean over & whisper my pants are on back to front! We could only hope as he went up to read his prayers no one else would notice! I’m sure he never wore boxers throughout his 1st year of school under his uniform – poor teacher as he loved to sit up the front of the class on the mat with his legs crossed…. very relaxed.

  15. Anonymous says

    You really made me laugh Kirsty

  16. Could be worse… Doodlemum ended up having to wear her 9 year old’s swimmer… http://doodlemum.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/after-the-horror/

    Must be something in the air

  17. The bath mat made me laugh out loud, reminded me of the time Andy forgot his towel for the gym and had to dry himself with his sock – Andy however, was 29 at the time…

  18. Oh, this is all SO familiar! I remember well the trepidation I felt even about the smallest things when we would return to the US for a visit from the Philippines as a kid. Not knowing exactly how everything worked was so intimidating, and more than anything, I just wanted to blend in. As an adult in a new country, this still rings true, and I just do my best to figure out what the norms are for the sake of my child. But I never seem to really get it right… Thankfully, she has more social confidence than I do!

  19. Nz to Perth says

    Hubby and I have laughed ourselves silly over this post! So cute.

  20. This is all ahead of me – so cute πŸ™‚

  21. My son came home from soccer today wearing his pyjama top under his soccer uniform.

  22. OH my lord. I laughed so hard. Third traveller sounds like an absolute delight. πŸ˜€

  23. Too funny! My son 5 dresses himself and always back 2 front, inside out etc… And no undies of course… Too funny!

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