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Well laid plans

posted on: Friday, 20 July 2012 @ 10:32pm in

[minor pseudonymising edits during Drupal to hugo migration for all the good that will do now]

My plans rarely go according to plan. They do usually result in a desirable (and sometimes even the desired) outcome though.

The latest one worked a charm, considering how many factors, unknowns and randoms got involved.

My parents are 60 this year. When we were up for Christmas in December, I made some noises about attempting to come back for the big birthday bash they had planned in the middle of the year if I could scrape the money together.

As the party date drew closer, I realised I wasn’t going to be able to scrape the money together. When my mum asked about it during one of our phone conversations, I mentioned this.

Almost immediately after the phone conversation, JJ came through and said he could spot me the exhorbitant price of the plane ticket, though he wouldn’t be able to accompany us due to not having enough leave. I told Sprat about it, considered surprising them and then thought I’d better tell them we were going to be coming after all. Sprat said nah let’s surprise them.

And thus The Plan was hatched.

Sprat was going to be coming up to Perth and heading back to the island on the 19th. I booked my flight for the 19th. She said she’d organise a car seat for 3yo and a ride back from the airport.

We anticipated minor little things like the parents asking if I had managed to come up with the cash for the trip, and I kept fobbing them off with things along the lines of I might be able to, nearly there, maybe, will let them know closer to the date. Then closer to the date happened and I said I didn’t think I’d have the money in time, and I’m really sad about that, and no I don’t want to take money from them because both JJ and I are working and dammit we’re fully self sufficient adults now with a mortgage and everything.

First real snag came when Dad had the brilliant idea of spotting me the plane ticket to surprise Mum. I don’t have the wit required to come up with an intelligent response on the spot so I bumbled a little and then told him that I was waiting on a phone call about a dental appointment which should be coming later in the week. I then stalled for a few days getting my story straight before calling him back.

Or rather attempting to call him back. First I rang an old mobile number that he hasn’t had for ages (I don’t call my parents’ mobiles that often, we usually talk on Skype or they will ring me or I will ring their home phone). Then Sprat gave me his current mobile, I tried it, it wouldn’t connect. The following night I rang their home phone, hoping I wouldn’t get Mum.

Of course I got Mum. Remember me mentioning that I don’t have the wit to come up with anything convincing on the spot? I flailed about a little bit, slipped up saying something about when “we” go back instead of when “she” goes back to the island, and quickly tried to distract by claiming the reason I’d called was if she needed us to get them any meat. She said it was all taken care of (I knew this already). She then put me onto Dad, and I told him my original story about how the dental surgeons only did consultations on Tuesdays and Thursdays (truth) and that I had a consultation on the 24th of this month (lie). He asked about maybe coming down afterward, even if I missed the party they wanted us to come visit. I said it would depend on when the surgery would be, if I could get it soon after the consult then I would come back after recovery, and if it was going to be months away I’d pop down beforehand. Dad assured me that spotting me the cash was no problem, I reminded him that I knew but that it didn’t really stop me from feeling bad about taking it, and at any rate I would let him know.

Closer to D-Day I started getting a bit flustered trying to get everything prepped and reminding myself that it’s only for two weeks (usually we’re here for at least four).

On the day (yesterday), I was up earlyish (after going to bed at 1am!), hustled the kids out of bed, went to the bakery and got them breakfast and cheese and bacon rolls to eat on the plane, went to the post office, found out they open at 9am not 8:30am like I thought, went to the hair dressers, got my mohawk redone, went back to the post office and grabbed a roll of bubble wrap, then scurried home to pack my Cintiq into the suitcase (after wrapping it in the entire roll of bubble wrap). JJ popped in not long after to load up the car and we headed for the airport at 10am.

We needed to get there by 11 (counted as an international flight even though Christmas Island is part of Australia due to a certain dipshit politician, asylum seekers and cheap shot politicians who prefer playing political football than doing anything that amounts to actually useful). It takes half an hour to get there from our place. On the way there, the car started making weird noises. I turned and asked JJ what it was. He toyed with the windows for a bit thinking it was that thumping sound you get if the back windows are down but the front windows aren’t. Not that. He slowed right down, the noise didn’t go away. We pulled into a petrol station and parked and JJ jumped out to investigate.

Flat tyre.

I am really, really glad JJ was driving us to the airport. He got down to changing the tyre and had to jump on the thing that loosens the nuts. I would not have been heavy enough to budge it, not to mention too pissweak to move tyres around.

The tyre got changed and we were at the airport with enough time to check in. Unfortunately Sprat and our uncle was stuck in traffic and didn’t get there til a bit later when the queue had grown some. I couldn’t check in without her as she was bringing two boxes of meat that I had to check in with as I had the space for it.

The plane was packed out, which was unusual for the Thursday flight. We found out while waiting in line that apparently the Tuesday flight had been cancelled so the poor buggers were crammed into our plane too. The check-in counters in their infinite wisdom had decided that they needed two people to process the much smaller priority queue and one poor guy was stuck doing the normal queue which was about four times as big. It took us an hour from when we joined the queue to get to the counter, then however long it took to check in. Sprat had gone through the priority queue and got stuck waiting around with us. The kids were bored and hungry and whingy in the queue. We went upstairs to get them something to eat and noticed that the screen was telling us to “go to gate”. Scarfed food, went in, struggled through x-ray machine security checkpoint. Lost my wallet and phone, mild panic attack, and then one of the guys behind the x-ray machine called out for anyone who had lost a wallet and phone. Reclaimed.

I’d sent the kids on ahead with Sprat and the family friends we were travelling with, with instructions to refill the kids’ water bottles at the fountain that was just past the checkpoint while I got my crap together. They must have not heard the last bit. Everyone was lining up to get through the gate when I caught up with them. I grabbed the water bottles, refilled them as quickly as the slow arse drink fountain in the area would go (not very) and then scurried back to the gate.

We were among the stragglers to go through the gate, but we got onto the plane.

The kids were reasonably well behaved on the plane to begin with, enjoyed the takeoff, chatting, playing their DSs and tablets. There was something mildly amusing watching 7yo playing his DS with his Pokemon book open beside him, and on occasion him flipping the pages looking for a particular one. 3yo fell asleep and I was hoping he would have a 1-2hr nap. Of course 5-10mins into his nap we hit turbulence bad enough that the seat belt sign came on and I had to strap him into the seat next to me which woke him up and got him into a banshee screaming fit. Then he didn’t want to go back to sleep.

With an hour left in the flight, the kids were going stupid stircrazy and I was running out of patience to deal with them. Fortunately a lovely air attendant popped in and entertained them for half an hour, playing I Spy, and drawing ridiculous cartoons when she said she was going to draw pictures of them, and then giving them a scrap of paper to draw on.

When we finally came in for landing, the descent was a bit hard and fast and the braking rather severe. I joked to Sprat that I reckon there was about 2cm spare before the front wheels hit the grass at the end of the runway. We laughed about it, and later on conjecture was made about it being a new pilot.

One of other attendants minded the kids down the stairs and the first person we saw was one of our aunties who works at the airport. She greeted us and mentioned that Nanny and Granddad must be so excited about us coming. We told her that they didn’t know the kids and I were coming and DON’T TELL THEM! Got into the airport building, and the usual person that offers to take the kids out (I usually let her for obvious reasons) came and offered to take the kids out. Told her the same thing, that it was a surprise, so the poor kids got stuck in with us this time round. Sprat spotted a friend of hers and shot throught he crowd to talk to him. I meandered after. We told him we were surprising our parents, he said he’d been intending to surprise his as well, but his flight time had been changed by 5mins and the itinerary was helpfully sent to his mother. We started stressing a little about our surprise. Had to wait ages to get into the baggage claim area as they were letting small amounts of people through at a time. Sprat and I got briefly separated, she got through the door and I didn’t, I yelled “I’M SORRY SPRAT!” as she was going to have to wait. Lovely lady beside me pushed us through before her when the door opened next. Sprat had grabbed the two meat boxes and was declaring them so I only had to grab our suitcase, and we got told we could go straight through. I went halfway and waited for Sprat despite encouragement from the well meaning customs official I didn’t know to go out. I think he eventually worked out we were trying to surprise someone when I said I didn’t want to go out further as we would get seen from outside.

I then tried getting my terribly excited kids to FOLLOW Aunty Sprat, but 3yo escaped and charged off, poking his head out just before she exited. The suitcase then snagged on a divider so I let the kids go out while I freed it.

Meanwhile on Christmas Island, our uncle who was in on The Plan had rung up my mum that morning asking if he could borrow her car as his was “spoilt”. She said sure, he knows where the keys are, just ring my dad and let him know. So uncle rang up my dad, told him the same thing, of course my dad said no problem. Uncle and Aunty took the car and clandestinely installed a car seat for 3yo and then drove it and their “spoilt” car up to the airport.

Going by the collective reported description of what happened seeing as I didn’t get to witness it:

Sprat walked out first and Mum smiled and waved at her. Then 3yo popped out. Mum and Dad stared at him for a moment thinking he looked remarkably like 3yo, but obviously couldn’t be (and Dad said all kids look kind of the same for a bit). They were wondering where his mum was at, and then 3yo turned around and said “I’m coming with you!” to Sprat. Mum suddenly recognised him then and went a little bit happycrazy and (in Sprat’s words) forgot all about Sprat. At about that time Dad also realised it was 3yo when 7yo and 5yo popped out in that second.

Then I popped out and said to Mum “Happy birthday!” and I can’t remember what she said to me but she hugged me and then hit me repeatedly. I then apologised to Dad for blatantly lying. They both had these huge silly grins on so it was a good surprise. Then Mum was good naturedly calling everyone “swine” when it was revealed that the uncle had been in on The Plan as well and had brought up her car with carseat installed for us, and how everyone except them had known about it. She decided to drive her car with me, 3yo and 5yo back home (7yo went with Granddad and the luggage in his ute), and asked how long we were staying. I told her two weeks, and she said she would have taken it off if she’d known and then whacked me again. I said hey it was a good surprise, she agreed and said she was so happy.

Party tomorrow, and we all live happily ever after.