Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lily's gone to Bondi

My darling daughter is holidaying in New Zealand. She is 10 and travelled as an unaccompanied minor on the very short international flight to visit her Nana and Poppa.

Today I learned that NZ is not yet as caught up in the hype of always protecting your children, and still very much the way I grew up. My mum sent her off to the movies in the city, albeit the smaller one that's closer, not the bigger one slightly further out, with her two cousins, 14 and 6. They were dropped off, then left to their own devices, to see the movie, do a bit of shopping, have some lunch and then get themselves home: a bus ride and then roughly a 15 minute walk if they take the same route I used to. Or they could take the scenic route, which we also commonly used, walk a bit, get a train, walk a bit more, alternate bus. Always finished with that 15 minute walk up the hill to home.

Last I heard, it was 6.30pm NZ time and still no sign of them yet. The tears started welling up in my eyes. Tears of joy that she was experiencing a freedom that seems to be lost to many children these days. Tears that my home country was still living up to the ideal in my mind, of a different culture much more relaxed and less fearful than the one I live in now.

The one problem I do have, is that now I have that nagging feeling back in my head and heart that I need to go home. It crops up often for me. I brush it off as looking back through rose coloured glasses, things would have changed, nothing's ever the same when you go back to it. But New Zealand will always remain 'home'.

They say if you live in a place for three years it becomes home for you. I've lived here for 13 years now, and I still look back to a smaller country with love in my heart and constant yearning.

I hope my girl enjoys her time there, laps up what is on offer to her, and comes back even more confident in herself than when she left. And no, I haven't rung back to check she made it home all right.

Now, to counter the gush, because I don't want to be all deep and meaningful, we had another life lesson today. The fish belonging to my dear daughter who has travelled over yonder, died tonight.

Her sister, aged 5, was entrusted to feed Lily and Munta whilst my Munchy girl is away. All was going well until a wee dilemma involving roughly a years' supply of food making its way into the tank in one hit. Munta stood strong. He swam through that brown haze, eating happily, smiling away. Well, we assume he was smiling because it was pretty hard to make out an outline let alone close facial features. If fish had determinate facial features to begin with.

Anyway, Munta is a champion. Lily, not so much. She couldn't go the distance when the pressure was on unfortunately. We did wonder briefly if we should go the route of the sitcom families and replace Lily with a freshly bought doppelganger. Instead we figured it was another opportunity to teach responsibility, action v reaction, consequences. And flushed Lily off to Bondi.

The phonecall to NZ to inform Ms Munch of Lily's demise will happen tomorrow.

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