We went to Queensland. A few months ago now, this blog has lost some of its grasp on chronology.
It was fine. Fine in the sense that nothing catastrophic went down. I avoided the big topics. My parents made a modest effort at times, while hardly making our considerable effort, emotional and logistical, worth it.
With 4 days to share with the kids, neither of them could be bothered hanging out in the play centre when it was raining heavily and there was no-where else to go. It seemed to be too much to just be. With the kids, just be. At the huge playground next to the lake they made fanfare out of feeding the ducks. Always feeding the ducks. They lingered long after the kids moved to the swings and climbing frames, focused on the ducks.
At the gardens they engaged while showing us around. The steam train was a hit. Then we fed the ducks again. My father snarled at Mitts for throwing a large piece of bread to the ducks. Apparently it can harm them. Apparently feeding them bread is otherwise a good idea. Apparently snarling inappropriately at your 2 year old grandson because he failed to correctly apportion bread is less concerning than a duck being overfed. I moved in between, creating distance while commenting on 'grumpy granddad'. I resisted the strong temptation to shove him into the water, a real, visceral temptation derived from a strong sense of my need to protect my son from such unapologetic unpleasantness.
We got to a playground, a perfect context for relaxed engagement, big seats, shade, palms waving overhead, a benign and calming context. They both walked off and sat in the nearby cafe for an hour.
There were some nice moments. Mitts found some pumice on a beach nearby - again we were there sans grandparents, who thought it might be easiest if they just waited at home - and was keen to keep it to show granddad. Look granddad, Pu-misss. Yeeers, says graddad, allowing half a smile. Not many though. So much berating, not sitting on furniture properly (those 2 and 4 year olds are so out of control these days!) was a big one. Our efforts to get them to move dinner forward slightly to have it with the kids were mostly resisted.
We went to Hervey Bay, just us, not them too. The beach was long, wide, uncrowded. Sand in toes &c, its a common cliche for a reason. Saw the tails of 2 dolphins or Waloos from the beach. That was nice. More of that please from this day forth.
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