Saturday, 11 April 2015
A flying visit
Am sure both the boys will hate me for sharing this very staunch and serious photo but it was the only one I had a chance to snap during what was a very swift visit! I don't know how I managed to keep it quiet I was so excited but Liam flew up on Easter Sunday to spend five days with us. Good grief, what a difference a couple of months make! I couldn't believe the difference as he walked through the arrivals gate, so much more adult and worldly wise than when he had left less than eight weeks before and sporting a brand new haircut (remind me to tell you about the haircut!) To my surprise and embarrassment I found myself literally jumping up and down as I spotted him and burst into floods of happy tears!
I had already been given the heads-up pre-flight that he was VERY hungry and was looking forward to eating a LOT, which was just as well as I spent more on food that afternoon than I had done in more than two years! Admittedly after Beach Hop and Easter we didn't even have a loaf of bread or any butter in the house so the lack of food was rather extreme even without his impending visit but even so, I wanted to ensure my gorgeous boy wanted for nothing during his time at home. And to be honest I expected him to milk it for all he was worth - what 18-year-old wouldn't? What I didn't realise was that my eldest son had changed in many more ways than just his haircut.
As I soon learned when I offered to buy him lunch and then at the dinner table that night, Liam now has a student's appetite. You know, the 'used-to-making-do-ran-out-of-money-couldn't-be-stuffed-going-to-the-supermarket-would-rather-hang-out-with-mates-than-cook-had-an-essay-deadline-bought-beer-instead-of-food' kind of appetite. Which compared to his previous appetite is tiny. Here was a kid who just a few weeks prior could munch through a week's worth of apples in a day and devour a family size pack of potato chips and a king size bar of chocolate faster than anyone I knew. Now here was the same chap tucking into a modest helping of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and I had so much left over I was able to throw it all into an enormous pie the next day! The bag of apples is still untouched, there is still half a packet of chippies in the pantry and I almost fell over yesterday when I discovered half his bar of Whittaker's chocolate still in the fridge!
But that's Liam for you. After two months of surviving on his own he's learned to be grateful for anything he has. He expects nothing and appreciates everything. The world no longer owes him a living. Going shopping together used to be a nightmare because he never knew what to buy. This time it was a nightmare because he wouldn't let me buy him anything! Even when he thought he might like something, he changed his mind. Such as the phone he's had for years which only works sporadically and decided to seize up during his visit to the point he could no longer charge it or even turn it on. 'GOD I HATE THIS $*&#ING PHONE!' he would growl. 'Let me get you a new phone Liam, keeping touch is important!' I would say. To which he would begrudgingly agree, only to change his mind 10 minutes later. 'It's OK Mum, I'll see if I can restore it when I get back home'. His face lit up when I offered to buy the new PS3 game he had been drooling over - but couldn't bring himself to let me. 'It's too much money, Mum, how will you manage?' he insisted. In the end the only thing I was allowed to buy him was a new pair of shoes and to achieve that I had to push him into the store, tell the assistant he wasn't allowed to leave until he had found a pair and said I was going to the loo!
Not that I'm complaining, mind. He's obviously learned some wonderful and important life lessons. He's learned how tough it is to make ends meet and to survive on little money. He's learned to prioritise and wait for things. And I think he's learned how hard it is to do what I've been doing the past two years. But best of all? He is very, very happy; the happiest he has ever been. He loves his new city, adores his friends to the extent that being apart from one another felt like losing an arm - heck, he's even learned to love Double Brown beer. In fact he reckons you can even learn to love it when it's warm! Needs must I suppose. As for the haircut? That's not just a haircut, it's a Bradda Cut! Bradda Cutz is run by a couple of senior students who know how much it sucks to get charged $35 for a trim in a city salon. So they offer free haircuts to other blokes in the building (or also happily accept donations of food), how awesome is that? Liam has already saved $70 since he's been there and I must say, they don't do a bad job!
One of the main purposes of Liam's visit was to have more cooking lessons; as much by his own request as mine, as he learned in his first month that if you don't eat properly and include vegetables in your diet, you soon start to lose energy and feel like crap. Unfortunately lack of time and so many people to catch up with meant these never eventuated despite my best efforts but his Grandma bought him a mini crock pot for winter and he is looking forward to trying some new things and losing his current claim to fame as 'worst cook' among his peers. Every Sunday he and his friends take it in turns to cook for one another and he had me in hysterics as he recalled the time it was his turn to play host. Everything was going swimmingly until it was time to mash the spuds and he realised to his horror that he was so used to cooking just for himself, he had only peeled his usual three potatoes! His mates all fell about laughing and told him to keep the sausages for himself and went home to cook their own dinner! Still, he'll learn - look at how much he's learned already!