Tag Archives: cubs

Feeding Life Lessons to My Kids.

This being the second week of the school holidays, I’d personally like to turn all the life lessons I have ever read into some kind of breakfast cereal and shovel it into my kids quick smart whether they’re hungry or not. This is what parents did back in the Victorian era and it seems like a much better idea than being glued to electronics, especially when the outdoors is so incredibly beautiful, serene and finally sunny!!

Moses wasn't too happy with his peoples either.

Moses wasn’t too happy with his peoples either.

I know ramming the Ten Commandments down their throats might seem a bit “old school”, “traditional” and potentially a form of social control. However, perhaps deferring to a higher authority is what I need. After all, as soon as their father arrives home, the little mischief makers do exactly what they’ve been told and fall into line. Don’t you think calling on God’s almighty divine intervention snap them to attention even faster than: “Do you want me to go and call your father?”

While I absolutely adore: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran whose poetic language just flows like heavenly music, The Ten Commandments cut straight to the chase and pretty much cover all the bases. I also like the sense of hell fire and brimstone, which is infused in the “thou shalts” of the King James version as well.

Perhaps, I should start using a few “thou shalts” of my own around the house:

  1. Thou shalt listen to your mother.
  2. Thou shalt do your chores.
  3. Thou shalt wipe your own backside.
  4. Thou shalt not fight with each other or with your parents.
  5. Thou shalt not whinge, whine.
  6. Thou shalt accept: no means no!

You know I actually felt quite empowered by the “thou shalt”. I think I shalt add it to my arsenal.

Our kids do scouts and as everybody knows, the scouting motto is: “Be prepared” and a big part of it involves being able to pack for camp. This is, as it turns out, an incredible life lesson. Scout’s does a fabulous job preparing kids for this by providing a packing list for each and every camp, which even has a visual diagram. It is hammered into the Scouts that although they can have assistance, they must pack their bags themselves. Moreover, as I still have lingering chemo brain myself and have never been good at packing light anyway, I find the whole thing too stressful . Yes, I know. Even though it might be a very good life lesson for me as well, I’m avoiding these packing nightmares like the plague. I am now getting to the point of tough love too! You don’t pack it, you deal with it!!

As you might have gathered, I’m over it. Maxims like “flogging a dead horse” and “pushing shit uphill” definitely come to mind.

"Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything's going my way"-"Oklahoma".

“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything’s going my way”-“Oklahoma”.

Anyway, while I’m waxing lyrically about life lessons for the kids, I need to consider a few for myself. It’s a sunny day in paradise and what with all the rain we’ve had, these are precious…particularly as we head towards Winter.

So without further ado, the kids and I are off to walk the dogs along the waterfront before the tide comes in. After all,

The tide waits for no (hu)man!

Edmund Burke

Stay tuned for part 2. How could I write just a few paragraphs on such an inspirational topic?

L is for Life Lessons in the A-Z Challenge. The letter L official marks our halfway point. Hurrah! Not that I’m wishing it was over but it is called a challenge for a reason. It’s challenging!

XX Rowena

Homeward Bound: Palm Beach to Ettalong.

No doubt, all weekends away end up feeling like Cinderella’s horrific crash landing after the ball. You’re back in rags, your coach is a pumpkin and both you and Prince Charming are so quite what you used to be.

My weekend in Palm Beach was no different and once I’d polished off that divine chocolate cake and all that luscious chocolate sauce, I was on borrowed time and the clock was really ticking.

Tick-tock..tick-tock…tick! TICK! BZZ!!!!!! Game Over!!!!!

space_invaders_wallpaper_game_over_by_shadowbott-d5rxcn6

However, as the rain and wind whipped around, a lingering doubt emerged. Could the ferry service actually be cancelled?

If so, how on earth was I going to get home?

No ferry would stretch the 30 minute journey home into an extremely long, arduous, meandering journey involving 2 buses, 2 trains and not only a packed lunch but also dinner and possibly even a midnight snack.

This was obviously a serious concern!!

However, as if I would travel all that way when I could just stay another night and wait until the storm cleared! Yeah, right!! I could just imagine how well that would go down! There I was living it up in Palm Beach while Geoff had been at work and taxiing the kids around and then he’d be having to take time off work as well to get them to school. Yes, I’d be extremely popular!!

Indeed, it could even be grounds for divorce!

We’ve been on some pretty ragged rides on the ferry before, crossing the high seas where the waves loomed like skyscrapers overhead and our beloved ferry felt more like Scuffy the Tugboat, seemingly tossed like a salad in the ferocious  surf.  Of course, the kids who have a real penchant for melodrama, were freaking out about sinking, drowning and, of course,  even dying while the ferry plowed on through the drenching rain and heavy winds. Ghostly white and sitting on our laps wrapped up in our arms, the kids are vowing never to catch the ferry again. That was a few years ago now before they became intrepid sea scouts!

The ferry service was cancelled for the rest of the day after that.

I was concerned about the ferry being cancelled on Sunday too.  Sure, I know we’re not crossing notorious Bass Strait of Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race fame but the weather still gets wild enough. Wild enough to cancel the ferry. That’s right. There comes a point when even the most intrepid Palm Beach Ferry Captains hang up their hats and stay on terra firma.

However, I’m in luck. The ferry is running and although the weather is a little rough and wet, it remains quite civilised.

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf...so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf…so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

A friend from Church drops me off at the wharf with 15 minutes to spare where I can enjoy watching some people fishing while the sun sets. I am reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. However, the keen fisherperson is a woman and she knows her stuff. With the precision of a plastic surgeon, she wraps up a cooked prawn in some plastic netting salvaged from a bag of fruit and pushes the hook through. That prawn won’t come off without a fight, so the fish will have to work a bit harder tonight if they want a free feed!!

At 6.15pm, this is the last ferry and in contrast to yesterday’s rowdy party atmosphere, the ferry is almost empty. There’s just a few weekend stragglers on board and pure silence. You could even meditate it was that quiet. Talk about a contrast!! We all sit inside…even me who is all but always out there on deck pushing the limits with my camera. Too wet, too windy and way too bumpy tonight. Time to take it all in through the rain-stained window.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

As the ferry started approached Ettalong Wharf, I was looking out for Geoff and the kids and really looking forward to their enthusiastic greetings: “Mummy! Mummy!” and finding out how their scout camps went. These are the sort of exciting moments you live for as a parent: warm, gutsy hugs, smiles, laughter and a thousand stories all spilling out at once. That’s the thing about going away. As much as you protest against the homeward journey, we all know: “There’s no place like home!!”

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

However, when the ferry pulled into the wharf, there was no one there. The wharf was empty, deserted and not even a sign of our car anywhere. No enthusiastic waves. No hugs. No Mummy!!! Just the sun setting over a deserted beach and the sounds of the wind and the surf.

I knew I was being a bit ridiculous, especially after it was me who actually went away for the weekend. However, there was this residual small voice which I’d thought had disappeared long ago:

“Nobody loves me!”

It’s not that I’m looking for sympathy or even a chorus of: “where were they? Why weren’t they there to pick you up? How dare they!” I mean…it’s not like I cried or anything. However, after building up the big greeting all the way home and really looking forward to seeing the rest of the family, I did feel a bit sad, forgotten and (drum roll)  ABANDONED!!

Serves me right for going away for the weekend without them. This was karma and a taste of what it’s really like to be alone.

As it turned out, the family wasn’t far away and had got held up at scouts. Geoff and the kids had been unloading boats, kayaks and all sorts of paraphenalia from their weekend competing at the Sirius Cup at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach. That’s all. Nothing sinister!

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister had had great fun and made it into the finals for the C2 at the Sirius Cup, which means a 2 person canoe. We were so proud..particularly as he’d overcome his fear of sharks and other nasties and gone for it!! Miss had done really well at her Cub leadership course too. However, there are unfortunately no photos.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

It’s been a fabulous weekend. Absolutely fabulous!!

Geoff even managed to watch the Grand Prix! Unfortunately, it wasn’t Australian race champion, Daniel Riccardo’s day.

Boo who! Tomorrow…it’s back to yet another manic Monday morning. I’m going to need a pretty strong coffee to get me going. It’s going to be like raising the Titanic.

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

xx Rowena (and a few extra kilos after that chocolate cake!!)

 

Catching the Palm Beach Ferry – the Perfect Antedote for a Rough Week.

Last week might not have been the worst of times but it certainly wasn’t the best of times either.

No matter how medical tests pan out, they still put you through an emotional and organisational wringer. Moreover, I won’t even mention what we all could have accomplished if we hadn’t spent an eternity on hold… waiting. That just adds stress on top of stress because you can’t help thinking about what else you could be doing if you weren’t still waiting. After all, didn’t you know? Life’s a beach!

So far the test results are encouraging but we are waiting for the final results. Make that still waiting!!

Anyway, whenever you are going through a trial, you have to do the whole ying and yang thing and somehow balance up the good and the bad. You need to look after your mental health as much as your physical health…even when someone you love is seriously ill.

Ettalong Beach

Ettalong Beach

So after a rough week, we needed a great weekend. The kids were already been booked into scout and cub camps and were looking forward to extreme fun as well as pushing their physical limits.Geoff and I were off to Palm Beach together until fate intervened. Miss needed a taxi and so Geoff stayed home. I did reconsider Palm Beach but I really needed a break and we all know what the home front’s like. It’s a constant battle against an insatiable, demanding beast which is constantly sucking you dry. So as much as I hate to admit it, I took off on the Palm Beach Ferry looking forward to drifting off into a blissful state of suspended animation in Palm Beach and I wasn’t looking back.

Ettalong Wharf looking towards Booker Bay

Ettalong Wharf looking towards Booker Bay

Meanwhile, on the way to the ferry, Geoff’s short straw was cut even shorter when his mobile rang and he was off to work for a few hours. What have I mentioned about Mrs Murphy’s Law?

So there I was at Ettalong Wharf about to set off on my own private adventure, which, as it turned, it wasn’t going to be all rest and recuperation, after all.

What I love about traveling or going out solo is that you can meet an amazing cast of characters you’d never meet otherwise. When you’re with the family or group, while it’s fabulous to enjoy each others’ company and do things together, you also become insular. Immersed on your own private island. But Rowie was out of her chrysalis and my wings were just about dry. This repressed social butterfly was about to take off!!

Boarding the ferry.

Boarding the ferry.

Before even boarding the ferry, I met a wonderful group of 20 somethings who made me their  Paddington Bear.  I didn’t even need to lure them with marmalade. You see, with my broken foot back in the boot again and staggering along with my walking stick and my bag, I didn’t even need a sign saying: “Please take care of this bear”. It was pretty obvious I could use a hand. My new-found friends chivalrously carried my suitcase onto the ferry and even invited me to sit with them in the crew section, among the privileged few, which I might add, did not include the buck’s party wandering around the ferry wearing green aprons. Suddenly, I was part of a mobile party and it was such FUN!!!! Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of outfits, fake and real tans and short skirts. Actually, make that short short or some instances, even short short short. It was time to  Party!!!!

Traveling in style with my absolutely fabulous ferry friend, Emma. Happy Birthday!

Traveling in style with my absolutely fabulous ferry friend, Emma. Happy Birthday!

Fun and compassion…such a wonderful mix.When you’re having a bit of a rough trot, you don’t want all doom, gloom or even too much sympathy. There’s no better therapy than a laugh and experiencing an unexpected, spontaneous act of human kindness and the hand of friendship, especially from strangers from the distant galaxy of youth. It was just what the doctor ordered!

After all, don’t you sometimes get sick of being a grown up and I didn’t realise the Palm Beach Ferry could also be a time-machine.

Heaven!

Heaven!

But my new found friends, weren’t just about partying, looking good and having fun. They were such caring, compassionate and thoughtful people who really touched my heart. They had time for me. Included me.They even carried my bag to the bus stop, which also involved a lot of trust on my part as well. That’s gives an insight into the bond we’d forged on a very short ferry ride. I know this meeting wasn’t a random thing. That it was destiny. Meant to be. Serendipity.

At this point, we parted ways as I waited for the bus but the party continued. Another gaggle of twenty somethings were spilling over the footpath and onto the road. Putting my “mum hat” back on again, I felt like shepherding them off the road and back onto the footpath, although I said nothing. I don’t think you needed any testing apparatus to know they’d had more than a few drinks and I could sense the Palm Beach locals would be eying off this unruly mob thinking “@#$% Coasties!!” However, at least these characters knew how to have a good time and as long as they stayed off the road, they weren’t hurting anyone.They were all heading off to Newport Arms, which is abut a 15 minute bus ride from Palm Beach. The Newport Arms is one of Sydney’s most popular hotels or pubs and is quite legendary.

A disapproving Mrs Mangel from the hit drama series, Neighbours.

A disapproving Mrs Mangel from the hit drama series, Neighbours.

The bus pulled up and I sat opposite an elderly lady who was already sporting a few frowns and other disparaging expressions. If you ever used to watch Neighbours going way back to the beginning, there was Mrs Mangel and this woman was a white-haired impersonation a she sat in her seat so stiff and almost frozen,  The party revelers, including the bucks party, also clamber on board. By now, they were under the weather, rowdy and rambunctious. No sooner than the bus starts moving and the bucks start belting out iconic Cold Chisel songs, providing live, on bus entertainment. I loved it. Soaked up every minute of it. Great memories.

Cold Chisel: Cheap Wine & A Three Day Growth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFKxbr4_-Vc

Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQl8_u-JKew

However, to say “Mrs Mangel” was looking “Uncomfortable” would be such an understatement. Evidently, she found the echoing sounds of fun and jovial happiness. as torturous as fingernails scratching down a chalk board. I could sense the pain in every cell in her body. It was etched across her face and she’s so incredibly uncomfortable. She yearned to get out of here. Get those louts off the bus so she could return to civilisation. She was really suffering in serious pain and looking across to me for some kind of understanding or even salvation. I haven’t made it to the hairdresser for awhile so the grey is showing but being more mature doesn’t make me a wowser. That said, I shouldn’t judge. I often struggle with loud noises myself but juxtaposed against everyone else on the bus, who were squeezing the fun out of life, it really looked like she’d swallowed a bag of sour lemons.

This reminded me of something an elderly friend once told me. She said that her husband had “decided to get old”. At the time, that struck me as odd. After all, he was in his late 80s and a returned serviceman, At that grand age, he was old. However, I am coming to realise that there is a difference between getting old and feeling old. Feeling old is a choice.My grandmother said much the same thing. That she’d look in the mirror and she didn’t know the old woman staring back at her. Quite remarkable really. At least, I used to think so until I started looking in the mirror and started seeing glimpses of photos I’d seen of my great grandmother looking back at me when I still feel 25 on the inside and I suspect I will feel forever young: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQi8wEHMm5Y

I was barely on the bus and I was off, leaving the party behind as I headed for a weekend of silence, solitude and serenity alone at Palm Beach. Almost immediately, despite the animated screams from the kids playing in the pool next door (this time it was my turn to feel somewhat tortured), I fell into a deep, comatose sleep and began to dream.

Sunset, Pittwater, Palm Beach.

Sunset, Pittwater, Palm Beach.

When I finally woke up and the sun had all but set, I realised that the screaming had finally stopped. I’m not talking about the kids screaming in the pool but the screaming in my heart and in my head. I had only been vaguely conscious of the scream before but now that it had stopped, I could hear it so clearly and feel its pain. Yes, I’ve been screaming, silently, unconsciously screaming for some time but it was only now that it had stopped that I could ironically hear myself. The touch of human kindness on the ferry had released me. Set me free. Probably not forever, it was only intermission but it brought relief.

Now, I could feel myself slowly starting to stretch back into my full height, gaining strength and being able to stretch my wings enough to fly, instead of being curled up into a self-protective ball so I could just survive.

It was then I remembered a childhood song, which Google (my not so secret best friend) reminded me came from Romper Room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIRu8-5Nyek

Bend and stretch

reach for the sky

There goes Jupiter,

There goes Mars

Stand on tippy toes

Oh so high!”

I would love to hear how the love and compassion of a stranger has touched you. Please share!

Love & Blessings,

Rowena

The Great Sunday Sleep-In.

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans- John Lennon

While some people might actively be seeking adventure and fresh challenges, personally I’ve overdosed on personal development. I’ve been stretched so far beyond my comfort zone that my inner elastic is about to snap…permanently. Life might be a journey but I’ve been on enough journeys. I’ve taken the road less traveled, the superhighway and even wondered off the beaten track photographing wildflowers in Western Australia. I’ve skied, play the violin and even wore high heels the other day. In what now feels a lifetime ago, I backpacked through Europe. This may not be an exhaustive list but everyone needs to press the pause button once in awhile and just stop. Now, it’s my turn to vegetate at home and I don’t even care if I sprout. I don’t want to be stretched. I desperately need some time out and to simply snooze for a bit.

However, while some things are meant to be, other things are simply doomed, almost from the outset.

It was Sunday morning. Geoff was taking the kids off to cub scouts for a billycart derby. It all sounded like a lot of fun but we’d been out at a party the night before and I decided to stay home and rest. Pace myself. I didn’t want to end up in bed for another week recovering from too much activity. While I am well at the moment, I am missing the high doses of prednisone which allowed me to lead several lives at once and still fly to the moon and back. That stuff has dreadful side-effects but certainly can give me an incredible energy boost…until I’m on the way down and then it’s just plain nasty. That’s where I’m at right now. I dropped my dose two weeks ago and so I’m feeling sleepy…very, very sleepy. It’s now rest time at the zoo.

After waving Geoff and the kids off, I staggered back to bed and had my nose in a book: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. I had just reached a turning point and was starting to feel that sense of giddy excitement as I galloped towards the finish when the phone rang.

That’s right the phone rang, penetrating through my precious silence like a jack hammer blasting through bedrock.   Like an almighty crack of thunder resonating through a still, dark sky.

I missed the phone the first time but then the phone rang again…insistent!

Trouble was on the horizon and it was closing in. With two attempts, either someone was dying or it was Geoff and that only meant one thing. “Houston,” meaning me, “we have a problem”.

At times like this, don’t you just curse the “royal we”?!! Then again, isn’t that what true love is all about and it’s usually me ringing Geoff with the dire, “jump-right-this –very-second” emergency.

Turned out that in the sheer uphill battle to get the kids out the door, Geoff had left his wallet at home. They were about half an hour’s drive away at the service station filling up and of course, I had been summonsed. There was no opportunity to say no. I couldn’t plea fatigue, tiredness or a near-death experience. I had to go. To make matters worse, Geoff reminded me that I needed to get petrol on the way. Damn! It was bad enough that I had to get up and drive somewhere, especially when I was enjoying peace, silence and my book and now I was having to get petrol as well. Talk about the pits. I don’t do petrol and I don’t like driving so my peaceful Sunday morning just took an absolute u-turn.

Now, if you are one of those personal development types, you’ll probably think it would do me some good. Filling the car up with petrol never killed anybody outside Hollywood and a bit of a drive wasn’t the end of the world either. It could be worse…much worse.

However, as I said, I’ve overdosed on personal development lately. I don’t want to be stretched. I want to be left alone…especially when I’m galloping towards the end of the best book I’ve read (at least for this week) and it’s just won the Man Booker Prize. I mean we are talking about superlative literature and instead what happens to me???

I’m having to fill the car up with petrol all by myself.

Stop laughing. Where’s your sensitivity? Empathy? Compassion? Have a heart!

While I might sound like a lousy feminist getting my husband to put the petrol in the car, I have my reasons. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a severe muscle-wasting disease and at times, I don’t have the muscle strength to operate the pump. My other justification has been having the kids in the car. It is illegal to leave your kids unaccompanied in the car, even just to dash into the servo to pay up. Of course, there have been absolute horror stories where harried mums have dashed in and dashed straight out again only to find that their cars and children gone. Given the oppressive Australian summer heat, these car-jackings are a matter of life and death. If these are justification enough, there’s also the whole matter of splashing petrol on myself and how much that vile stuff stinks!!

Obviously, it’s much easier for my husband to get the petrol. That way, he has to remember which side of the car the petrol cap is on and being a rugged Aussie bloke, he doesn’t convulse when he gets petrol on his pretty, little hands either.

However, now I was having to take on the dreaded petrol bowser beast but this is what you do for your family. Some people go to war. I’m heading for the servo.

While you might find filling up your car with petrol a relatively simple task, it’s mission impossible for me and I know it’s going to end badly before I even pull up. I can’t remember whether the patrol cap is on the left or the right but there’s an available bowser on the left so off I go. Let serendipity or fate decide. Hmm. Not such a good strategy, after all. Of course, it’s the wrong side. Being in a serious hurry, I decide to stretch the hose over the top of the car and I could just force in the nozzle. Relief! I know this looks ridiculous…absolutely ridiculous with the hose draped over the top of the car but I’ve got to get moving. The kids are now running seriously late for the billycart derby and I didn’t want them to miss out. I didn’t have time to change bowsers.

petrol man

Where’s one of these when you need one? I say bring back the bowser man!! There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of old-fashioned service!

However, my relief was short-lived. The pump wasn’t working. Every time I pressed the trigger, it impotently click, click, clicked like an infernal cricket. It clearly did not like being stretched within an inch of its life and was refusing to cooperate. Rather than not working at all, I somehow managed to dribble about $1.15 worth of petrol into the tank so I couldn’t just drive off to a different bowser without consequences. Instead, I had to make it work. I can’t remember the last time I filled up and I was so out of my depth, lost and helpless. I even asked some shady looking dudes if they could help. Of course not. These days I’m definitely on the cougar side of 40 and wasn’t worth their effort. There weren’t any driveway attendants either. They were rendered obsolete decades ago. I was on my own. I jiggled and fiddled with the blasted thing and finally I felt it gush like a fountain. Phew!

Mister jusyt about to take off down the hill. Not so pretty at the other end.

Mister just about to take off down the hill. Not so pretty at the other end.

By this time, I’d decided that I wasn’t meant to spend the day at home and sacrificed peace, serenity and a jolly good book for a hilarious day watching billycarts, kids and hapless leaders career down the hill. There was all the excitement and tension of any race with the added bonus that these vehicles were hand-made and brakes, wheels and all sorts of bits and pieces fell off down the hill. Our daughter refused to get on until they were packing up but there also water pistol fights, slip and slide and a bushwalk through to some caves. I had a relaxing day basking in the sun, chatting and being part of community and while I’ve since spent a few days in bed, sometimes, you need to take a walk on the wild side and that means being stretched beyond your wildest dreams and fears and finally learning to fly.

As John Lennon said: Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

xx Rowena

Flying Inside a Veritable Mosquito.

When psychologists and all sorts of other mental and physical health experts (who usually have a swag of impressive letters after their names) say that scouting develops resilience, they’re usually talking about the kids.

However, last weekend just goes to prove that scouting also stretches the parents well beyond their comfort zones into unexplored territories of fear. That’s apparently what it means to build resilience…you feel the fear but somehow manage to slay the beast and bury it somewhere in your backyard.

A stunning sunrise over Brisbane Waters as the cubs prepare to leave base on their big adventure.

A stunning sunrise over Brisbane Waters as the cubs prepare to leave base on their big adventure.

You see, last Saturday my husband and the kids went flying with the cubs while I stayed home.

Now, I’m not talking about “flying” as in running very fast or leaping off the roof of the scout hall doing some kind of Superman manoeuvres. They’re the sort of antics reserved for Detol commercials and such like!

No! Instead, Geoff and the kids went up in the sky in a real, live airplane. An airplane which I have since code named: “the Mosquito”. I don’t know what I was expecting in the way of aircraft but it was definitely something approaching half the size of a commercial jumbo jet with some kind of full-body airbag or parachute attached. After all, isn’t the Scout motto: “Be prepared”?!!

The Little Prince

The Little Prince

Unfortunately, I was unable to go flying with them myself. Rather than being a case of scaredy-cat-itis, I have hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) so I have a shunt in my head which I understand doesn’t really like changes in pressure. We didn’t have much notice about the trip and seats were limited so I didn’t have time to check the ins and outs of it all. Rather, I simply waved the family off before sunrise and returned to the comfort of my electric blanket and feather doona and had a big sleep-in instead. It is the middle of winter in Australia and we are experiencing freezing, Antarctic conditions, which means the temperature is anything below 18®C. We Aussies can cope with the roasting summer heat but we shrivel up and almost die, as I said, when it is “cold”. So at this time of year, we’re all happily hibernating underneath our doonas and the invading hoards can completely overrun the place. We wouldn’t even notice they were here unless they turned off the heater or our electronic devices.

While this plane might look safe, it actually crashed and broke a wing.

While this plane might look safe, it actually crashed and broke a wing.

Anyway, while the rest of the family was out flying, I did the next best thing. I was reading about, thinking about and even inhaling the joys of flight while I was writing in my journal. Quite a few years ago, we had been to a wonderful exhibition where scientists had built models from Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings and we gained a real appreciation of his absolute obsession with flying.

Self-Portrait-Leonardo-da-Vinci

Self-Portrait-Leonardo-da-Vinci

I contemplated Da Vinci’s love of flight: “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been, and there you long to return”.

Of course, I pictured the kids arriving home with their necks permanently craned up towards at the sky.

Then I jumped online and thought I’d check out the Scout Flying Centre and see what type of plane they were flying in.

That was where my heart fell out of the sky and came well and truly crashing down to earth.

It wasn’t a plane. It was a mosquito!

The Mosquito in shadow. I loved this shot. Well done Geoff!

The Mosquito in shadow. I loved this shot. Well done Geoff!

The plane was miniscule Cessna C172…a 4 seater with only one engine.

One engine meant there wasn’t a Plan B.

Moreover, with a plane that small, there was no room for the kind of airbag or full-plane parachute I was considering, although I guess the plane was small enough to somehow break its landing in a tree…

Such is the power of positive thinking!

Yet, as much as I was a bit rattled, I was the one encouraging the rest of the family to go. I wanted them to carpe diem seize the day and you can’t do that from the safety of your couch or by wrapping everyone up in so much bubble wrap that they can’ t even move. This might be a different application of the saying but “if you love someone, set them free”. As much as you need to protect your children, you also need to give them the space and encouragement to grow up and stretch their own wings!! In other words, they need to become independent and actually grow up!

At the same time, a part of me did wonder whether they really had to go flying in such a small aircraft to experience the whole carpe diem thing, especially in light of recent devastating aviation catastropies?!!

Apparently, the answer was a resounding: “yes!”.

Of course, they didn’t ring me to let me know they had all touched down safely and there were no photos beamed through to my phone so I could be a part of the experience. However, I did call them. The first time, they hadn’t gone up yet and the second time they were on their way home on the bus already. Phew!

Thankfully, the first phone call informed me that Geoff and the kids weren’t going to be on the same flight. Geoff and Jonathon were going up together and Miss was going up with a buddy. That was a bit of a relief but I was still looking forward to that phone call to say they were all safely back on terra firma and on their way home.

Geoff and Mister about to climb onboard.

Geoff and Mister about to climb onboard.

Apparently, the plane took off from Camden and they went on about a 20 minute flight out to Warragamba Dam out in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Geoff and Mister went together while Miss went with another girl and her Dad. Their plane was called “CFI” which in airplane talk becomes “Charlie Foxtrot India”. Aparently, Geoff kept getting in trouble for referring to it by its initials only. Geoff told me the boys were full of enthusiasm and it was a case of “Look! Look! Look!” They were so excited! Mister, who is 10, commented on how the view reminded him of looking at a model train layout, which also has an aerial perspective. Miss, who is 8, said they had gone to the Blue Mountains and it looked like “pillow land”. She was amazed at how quickly they managed to get there. It took them 15 minutes, whereas it takes a couple of hours’ drive from home. I should point out that the kids haven’t been on a plane since they were too young to remember so this is their first memory of flying.

Flying over Warragamba Dam. Can't see Nessy but everybody knows she's shy!

Flying over Warragamba Dam. Can’t see Nessy but everybody knows she’s shy!

In addition to these sightings, I also heard about a reported sighting of the Loch Ness Monster in Warragamba Dam, which holds Sydney’s water supply (so you could say it is a rather thirsty sort of beast!) This could, of course, explain the frequent water shortages…

French Pilot and enigmatic writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

French Pilot and enigmatic writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

While you could dismiss this sighting as childish imagination, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s enigmatic classic: The Little Prince reminds us that children have a different perspective on things and who are we to say who is right and who is wrong? I guess he is the “I” in the story, who talks about how he drew a picture of a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant as a child, which adults dismissed as a hat. When he explained his drawing, the adults told him not to waste his time with such nonsense:

“The grown-ups’ response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and by my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things[1]”.

LIttle Prince Boa Constrictor

St Exupery strongly believed in the power of the imagination to achieve greatness:

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing with in him the image of a cathedral”

Michelangelo had a similar vision. Talking about his famous the statue of David, he remarked:

“I saw an angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.”

However…

That doesn’t mean that I’m suggesting or even purporting that Nessy has gone and packed her bags and somehow relocated to warmer pastures!

I’m just saying that we have to be gentle with a child’s vision and all that they may or might not see and carefully nurture their dreams and visions. Given this little bit of faith, you never know how far they’ll grow! We don’t need to stamp all over them just because we’re “right”.

By the time the flight crew arrived home, they were tired and cranky. Their necks weren’t craning permanently to the sky longing to return. After such an early pre-dawn start, there was only one place for this flight crew to go…bed!

Sweet dreams!

xx Ro

[1] de Saint-Exupery, Antoine; The Little Prince, New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1971 p 2.