All four little faces spun in my direction at breakneck speed.
"WHAT?" said one.
"You can't!" said another
"Noooooooooooo" said the eldest little traveler.
"You're not allowed to go away" they chorused.
I was flattered, but a little bemused.
"Dad just went to London and no-one said a word? How come?"
"Because you're the Mum, because you're always here, we don't want you to go".
For the past week I've looked at our routine closely, thinking about what I might need to tell G. I mean it's not rocket science is it? You drop them to school at 8, you buy groceries, you try and find healthy snacks for school lunches and think of something interesting for dinner. You pick clothes up off the floor, remember to fill out consent forms and search for pictures of your child in winter clothing for the school project. You ring the orthodontist and drop the forgotten trombone in to school. You remind someone they have PE tomorrow and then remind them again in the morning when you see them putting on their sandals. You say "stop jumping on the couch" at an escalating pitch roughly 20 times. You listen to Trombone practice, clap at the end and then take a panadol or open a bottle of wine. You ask if they're trying out for soccer, hope they don't want to do cheerleading and bring a snack for the smallest traveller while you watch the others learn how to kick a ball and do the long jump.
It's not rocket science.
When she said she wanted to audition for the school play you were surprised but impressed with her courage. You heard her singing with the door closed while she practiced her lines. "Don't come to the audition" she said, "not even the other kids are allowed in - just wait in the car, I'll come find you". And then it comes, the feeling. Something's not right, she told you not to go but you're going to anyway because something's not right. While you hide around the corner you can see her through the window, she's smiling and giggling and talking to friends - but you can tell - you can see it - something's not right. She sees you and walks in your direction, her face is different, she hugs you and tells you it was fine, that it's over.
"Do you want to go outside?"
Her face crumbles.
"I couldn't do it, I got scared, I couldn't do it, I just walked on the stage and said I'd changed my mind" she's sobbing and you're looking for a place to sit. You listen, you try and ascertain if you need to gently push or hold back. You find a tissue. You smile. She smiles. You walk to her locker while talking, you tell her that it's your job to make sure she won't be disappointed later on. You talk about Granny and how she held your hand at the piano recital. You remind her about the swimming carnival, how you dived in and got out at the ladder because you were scared. You ask if she thinks she'll regret it. Shall we go back? She just wants to go home. You think about your other children. You hope they won't notice her flushed cheeks and say something stupid. After homework, dinner and bath time you sit on her bed while she tells you her plan. She'll help out this year, audition next year and she'll make sure she gets a role the year after.
It's not rocket science.
Because rocket science is all about mathematics, formulas and expected outcomes.
Every day this week, there has been an unexpected outcome. One of my children told me he hated me and threw himself on the ground because I didn't let him leave the house to play at 6 p.m. Another told me my chicken schnitzel was stupid. There was a conversation with a teacher, regarding someones behaviour that day at school. It's highly possible that person may have shared privileged information, like the underwear they were wearing! There was math homework that created a fully blown melt down. There was social studies homework that went missing. Philosophical conversations were had "I'll never be able to do this." "Why do they make me do this?" They expect an answer. An answer better than "because".
On Saturday morning I will leave for Jakarta for 5 days of uninterrupted writing. I will not drive to school, pack a snack, find a pair of soccer shorts at the back of the wardrobe or carry a musical instrument to the car. The beautiful G is in charge. And he'll be spectacular, because he always is when it comes to these things. He will provide better food, he won't be late, he'll follow the list and play by the rules and the teachers will all love him, he will be just fine.
It's not rocket science - it's a little bit more complicated.