Wednesday, 22 January 2014


This seat's taken...
This week's travels have taken Frenchie and I on a short plane trip to my home town of Coffs Harbour (NSW Mid North Coast, Australia). It's just a one hour flight, and after the amount of travel i've done now with kids, I still managed to surprise flabbergahst myself at the amateur error I made on this journey.

I committed the greatest travel sin. What's the number one item you should make sure you don't leave home without? More important than your phone, your keys, the baby formula... more important than your husband... the NAPPIES!!!

And, of course, this is the fatal error I made, during the flight! I am fully aware that if I had realised prior to take off, I could have bought some. But mid air, in a teeny-tiny little Qantas-link twin engine puddle-jumper, these galleys are stocked for nuts, water, cookies and that's about it, no spare nappies. And I don't need to spell it out to you how it was that I came across this revelation.

So, after amateur hour passed, and we survived the flight without the nappy actually exploding, it was off to see Granny. This is where the real expert swooped in and reminded me how it is done.

Gone are the days when you could just throw the kids in the car, perhaps propped up on a phone book, seatbelt optional and hit the road with a cigarette in one hand and the cassette player pumped to full volume. Our parents' restrictions were, shall we say, loose.
Grandpa duties, under control.

It amazes me then, when I see grandparents (especially Grandfathers!) rock up to airports nowadays, with child seats accurately hired or bought and correctly installed, little umbrella prams ($25 from Target folks!!) and even the portable cot set up at home - seriously, those cots are insanely hard to work out - worse than assembling Ikea wardrobes!! But this is exactly what my folks managed to do. Wow.

But it was more than the logistics. These people are over 70 years of age. They have seen it all, and now, they've earned a darned good rest. Then along come the grand kids. Screaming, throwing tantrums, food and toys in every direction. Tightly wrapped in cotton wool, even tighter wrapped in new-age parenting rules and all the do's and don'ts of a modern over-regulated society. These kids are precocious, with shorter attention spans and bigger demands than ever. These are the kids that learn how to use iPhones and iPads before they can even spell the words. And we expect the Grandparents to nail the tasks in one! It's a phenomenal challenge we set them. And yet, I am immensely proud to say that the Grandparents in question took the challenge in their (double-hip-replacement) stride.
Not bad for 70! Go Granny!
As I said, it's about more than the logistics. Because while us new-parents swoop in, knowing all when it comes to routines, self-settling, immunisation reminder apps, how to change a nappy with one hand and the latest organic travel food puree sachets, these are the people who remind us of the bigger picture. That it doesn't matter if baby gets their hands dirty learning to feed themselves, that it's really lovely to just let baby go nappy-free and feel the air on their bums for the first time in months, that a little bit of sand in their diet might just work like extra fibre at the end of the day.

Grand parents are there to keep us grounded. And what a magnificent job they do of it. So, the next time you shudder at the thought of a trip to see yours, and all the stress it's going to bring to a disrupted routine and the lack of attention to detail, think again. Because it's this break from the detail that reminds us how quickly our children grow, how important it is to let them play and get dirty and how lucky we are to have our children spend time in the arms of our parents.

So, advice for Grandparents. Sure, give it a go being all hip and organised, all strapped in and fan dangled with the latest carseats and highchairs. But most importantly, keep reminding us of the more important details, of the beauty of sunshine on our babies' backs, of just sitting and playing on the floor, of letting them fall asleep in our arms, of letting them hold the spoon, of leaving the shoes behind. And for this, we thank you for your endless wisdom. It will stand the test of time, long after the iPhones have been replaced.
Look Mum...Granny gave me a 'sand-wich'! 


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