When the concept of dragging a kidlet along on the Putty Rd adventure came up, I attempted to ignore the swelling panic that accompanied the thought of a long drive with a child strapped mercilessly into his booster seat. I can’t help it– it’s a bad, but realistic, habit of parents in general, I think. But after reassessing the situation, I decided that a driving holiday with the just–turned–five–year–old Chop might be, actually, quite an
awesome brilliant idea.
Turns out (thank the gods of country roads), I was right.
I get so phenomenally caught up in the whinging and whining that emanates from not one but two small children, all day, every day, that sometimes I forget what absolutely rocking little people they are. And how very much I enjoy their company. The Chop is, as we know, all too grown up and mature and deep for his age. It hurts my heart in places I didn’t know it had, watching him absorb the reality of the big, wide world much faster than anyone should have. But at the same time, it’s built a human being in miniature, who’s tough, smart, funny, easy going and very much an observer of the universe… a watcher of the god of small things.
Time slips by like salty water when you have little kids. There’s always all these things you mean to do, memories you will create… one day. When things aren’t so busy, when money’s not so tight, when your To Do list doesn’t look like the local phone book.
And then, before you know it, your oldest child is starting school in just a month’s time. He’s grown, separated from you in ways you can’t even comprehend. Become a person in his own right. And you’ve done a great job, especially if you happen to be doing it all alone… but some of those things you meant to do, some of memories that will last a lifetime that you’ve been meaning to create for him… they just didn’t happen. They got washed away, slipped through wet fingers before you could grab them and make them real.
Which is why this is so special, the chance to conjure memories like these– like go-karting, and metal men in the middle of nowhere, and riding above the vineyards in a helicopter– with my son and his favorite godparent. Because maybe, maybe, having recollections of his mother having fun, of mum laughing and stomping through bushland and being brave and real…. maybe that can balance, in some way, the memories he has of mum suddenly becoming a shell of a person, when the sky fell in. Of waking up in the morning to me sobbing, hastily wiping tears from my cheeks (”It’s OK, baby, Mummy’s OK. I just miss Daddy is all.”)
The Chop makes for cruisey company, excited to be a part of the adventure and doing ’adult things’. The idea of a hotel fascinates him. He asks the most entertaining questions (“If butterflies have babies, does that mean they have vaginas?” and “Why aren’t there balls in the hotel BallRoom?”). He doesn’t complain no matter how tired he is (although he does get very sick of me taking his photo). And, after the general structure of a road trip (lots of driving, playing I Spy for interesting things, staying in a different place every night and so forth) is explained to him and discussed in detail, he’s quite happy to chill out in the backseat and watch the world go by.
It’s different, mothering a boy child. It requires a certain pretense, maintaining the fallacy that you understand dirt and monsters and cars and fart jokes. But find something you both think is cool– a ferry punt to carry your car, a broken down bus in the middle of a gorge, a lonely go kart track where you’re the only drivers– and the connection is intense. They say something about men looking to their mums as an ideal, a silhouette of how a woman should carry herself. If that happens to be true, then I want my little boy to know that it’s OK to cry, especially she its raining…
But when the sun’s out, you’ve got to bask in it. And have some fun.