Pre-departure 2 – just a few more things before we go

Thursday 9th August

I had originally thought that once the household contents were whisked away that we would finally have a chance to stop and breathe. Alas. Our days have actually been kept very busy this past week. It is true that there have been almost no more major decisions that have needed to be made but we’ve still had plenty going on all the same. Principal among those was the going away party that the Lynbrookians threw us on Saturday night. With probably close to a hundred people or so in attendance, it was a bitter sweet send off from all our local friends. Vanessa and Scott both said a few words and Vanessa was good enough to give me at least 90 seconds advanced warning that I should say a few words myself as well. Thanks! To be honest, I struggled to find the right words and almost broke down a couple of times along the way. I got up onto a chair, so I could see the faces of everyone and just went with what I had in my heart. As it turned out, that was a deep feeling of extreme gratefulness and sorrow. I’m not very good with dealing with emotions at the best of time and it certainly showed in the way I stumbled to get some of the words out.

A really nice touch was a folder with photos and hand-written thoughts from those in attendance. I’ve deliberately not read through it all yet. That’s a little gem I’m saving for when we’re on the plane this Tuesday afternoon.

I took Jennifer out of school for the day on Wednesday (yesterday) so that Darren and I could take Jennifer and Jasmine to the hot springs for one last time to generate some lasting memories. We had a thoroughly good time throughout the day, which finished off with a rather indulgent trip to a nice restaurant. Not only was copious amounts of food consumed but the two girls had a lot of fun just being together and having a really good time.

Today saw our last visit to The ASD Clinic in Kew, where Joey saw his psychologist for the last time. We picked up a few more strategies to help deal with Joey’s anxiety disorder and we also discussed schooling for the future. The psychologist was good enough to provide me with a letter confirming Joey’s diagnosis as well as an outline of his particular special needs. This will come in handy when dealing with places like the security checkpoint at the airport. Hopefully, it’ll also help us at the theme parks when we go to guest services to plead for a special needs pass. In years past when we’ve taken the kids to Orlando, these were pretty much free for the asking but the theme park operators have cracked down in recent years on account of people gaming the system. From what I understand, it’s now much more of a challenge to convince the guest services staff of the real need for those all-important special needs passes. Fingers crossed we are now equipped with what’s needed to convince them we really do have a special need.

A nice surprise today came towards the end of the school day. Sandy received a call from the school asking if we could come in. This always gets my blood pumping since it often means something unpleasant. I needn’t have worried on this occasion. When I arrived, Jennifer was sitting on a stool at the front of her entire grade group (around seven classes all sitting together on the floor in the grade-six hub) with one of her teachers. Everyone was taking turns recounting the various positive impacts Jennifer had had on them throughout the course of her primary schooling, which effectively comes to an end slightly prematurely this week as a result of us leaving the country. At the end of it all, Jennifer was handed a special ‘graduation bear’, which is a soft toy made of a white material onto which all her teachers and classmates can sign their names with a special pen. This then becomes a keepsake for her and a lasting memento of her time at Lynbrook Primary School.

All this week, we’ve displaced Paul, the very gracious owner of the house we’re currently in. As we’re using his bed, he has been sleeping on the couch. As if that wasn’t bad enough, all our possessions are strewn all over the place. It doesn’t end there. Living in such close proximity to the school (it’s about a 90 second walk to the front gate), we’ve had a steady stream of kids in and out all week all come to have playdates with our kids. Every day there have been half a dozen or more kids running around the place. Through it all, Paul has maintained good humour and has insistently repeated that we not worry about a thing. In fact, he’s mentioned several times how much he has enjoyed having so many kids running around, all bringing the house to life. I struggle to express just how much of a life-saver Paul and his selfless hospitality has meant to us. I don’t think I could ever do it justice even if I tried. We love you, Paul 🙂

Although we’ve been busy, we haven’t been subject to the sort of utterly stressful ‘must get it done’ kind of burden that we’ve endured over the past few weeks. Fortunately, that level of chaos has died down significantly. This has meant I’ve been able to tend to some of my publishing company clients this week. A good job, too, as things were starting to back up a little.

I’ve also been able to think forward a bit to some of the things we’re going to be doing in the UK when we get there in October. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been giddy with excitement as I’ve re-familiarised myself with Little Jacky, a sister that my parents fostered back when I was about 15-years-old. We’ve had endless chats over the past week or two as we’ve been catching up on thirty years of lost time. I’ve especially enjoyed interacting with Ella, Jacky’s nine-year-old daughter, a rather precocious little girl who I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. I’ve arranged for me, Jennifer and Ella to spend the day together in London, where we will all visit the Lyceum Theatre to see The Lion King. Jacky tells me she’s since had to endure listening to all the song to that musical, as Ella expresses her excitement at the prospects. We’re also all going to visit the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford the week thereafter. As luck would have it, Paul and Rhianna are also tagging along, so it should make for a wonderful day out as well. It isn’t every day that you get a new sibling and I’m certainly enjoying myself with this one.

With just a few short days now until the day of departure (it’s Thursday night and we fly on Tuesday morning), things are going to start getting a little hectic from here on. I dare say there will be a touch of stress kicking in as well as our departure time gets closer. With any luck, the next time I sit at the laptop to write the next blog entry, it will be from aboard the plane bound to Los Angeles. I’ll have around fourteen hours to kill then. And let’s just hope that ‘kill’ isn’t a word I’ll need to be using before the end of that journey, as we’ll be flying through the night (with respect to our body clocks) and will no doubt be extremely tired, ratty and, if past experience is anything to go by, at each other’s throats by the time we land.