A few weeks ago, I had a Grand Plan and asked the kids to make a list of all the things they wanted to do/places they wanted to visit, before we left Brisbane. I was determined that we would not spend the remainder of our time here running around like headless chickens and being totally stressed.
So yesterday we made a trip to Underwater World at Mooloolaba for the last time. This meant that Saturday was spent in a screaming rush, trying to do all the things we wouldn't have time to do on Sunday, but we managed most of them. Sort of. Ish.
“We'll leave at 8am,” Rupert said and I gave him an irritatingly patronising smile but did not say anything.
We made it into the car by 9:30, by which time most of us were not talking to each other, but thank heaven for iPods and books. Got to Mooloolaba at 11ish, found a park by 11:30, arrived at the doors of the aquarium to be met by bright eyed teenager with camera: “Just stand here and I'll take your photo as a souvenir of your trip.” Looked back at family – at the jutting of jaws, the wild hair, the arms folded over chests. “Um, no thank you,” I replied. “I'm really not sure I want a reminder of how we look this morning.”
By lunchtime we had all calmed down, united by our mutual fascination of sea life, seal and otter cuteness overload and hunger, so we repaired to our favourite restaurant – actually it's not our favourite restaurant, we just like our traditions and we have been going to the Hog's Breath on our trips to Mooloolaba since Juliette was 2 days old and I had to sit on a pile of towels because the benches were too hard for me...
Then repaired to the beach, though it was freezing cold with a biting wind. The girls and Rupert braved the water for ten minutes and Sam and I sat and talked about his plans for world domination before we returned to car, to sit in traffic for three hours to get home.
Okay, we had a lovely day – really we did. The aquarium was fascinating as ever, filling us with the requisite wonder and awe at the beauty and variety of nature. The beach was stunning – miles of white sand, rolling waves bedecked with bright windsurf sails like butterfly wings, sandy children running around in the fresh air with kites and balls, being children in a way that you only tend to see at the beach. There was even a good ten minutes in the car on the way back when the kids weren't all fighting and we sang a couple of songs together. (A few more minutes of gritting teeth whilst Lydia regaled us with “Let it Go,” the world's worst fart song, but we won't mention that, because, of all of us, she is the least grumpy.)
But sometimes I wonder whether my Grand Plan is worth it. I am already wishing that we could give up everything in favour of concentrating on LEAVING. There are so many little itty bitty things to do – arrangements to make re purchase of new house and sale of old house, arrangements to be made for the hand over of String quartet and pupils; packing, cleaning - and of course life doesn't stop just because we are leaving. There is still housework to be done, shopping, pupils to be taught, animals to feed and water and walk; there are still ballet concerts and school concerts and choir concerts, school awards evenings, ballet classes and choir classes and school! Juliette's school trip to Emu Gully, Lydia's school trip to Canberra, I seem to have rehearsals or gigs or concerts most nights or weekends and the kids are wound up so tight that there are frequent explosions – though how much of this is due to normal teenage hormones and how much to the fact that we are taking them away from their home, friends and most of their animals, it is hard to tell. Rupert can't go to sleep at night without doing the Times crossword till 1am, whereas I, of course, am calm and placid as usual, only bursting into tears several day at the first bars of a song on the radio or the odd hysterical outburst from said teenagers.
But it will ALL be worth it in the end. Won't it?