Minding Miss Daisy Sleepover with the grandkids part 2
I arrived at the train station, out West, on a blustery Spring morning. It was blowing a gale out here as I awaited pick-up. I am minding Miss Daisy for the day, which includes the obligatory sleep-over. We will have the house to ourselves, until the siblings return from school, when the fun begins.
The journey with V-Line on the new rail link from Geelong was mesmerising. Wide open spaces – of nothing. When the tracks were shared with the Metro services, at least there was some colourful stimulation of the senses, be it the back yards of suburban houses with undergarments flapping on the hills hoist, graffiti and/or other obscenities of the written kind, other trains passing, traffic, people walking dogs in nearby streets, trendy cafes in upwardly mobile suburbs, a chance to actually find a seat.
I had brought along a book. What a waste. Stuffing a book in the bag, thinking there would be ample time to read whole chapters. Being a Stephen King novel means – hard to put down. Also, a book can help deflect potentially annoying fellow passengers, those who wish to invade your personal space, or talk to you endlessly and swap cooking tips! ( see previous blog on Travelling Companion). There would not be time to read. I did not want to miss the new rail route which was now separated and included new stations – Wyndam Vale, Tarneit, Deer Park and Sunshine.
It turns out I was mesmerised – not by the scenery. By the endless vistas of swampy wastelands passing by the grimy window. What country was I now in? This was looking very “ third world “. What were the ancient structures visible on this landscape ? They appeared deserted. Warehouses, heavily vandalised or painted over with tags . Mostly the scenery consisted of swathes of overgrown burnt or colourless grasses, covered in a noxious yellow flowering weed, which contrasted with far off views of golden canola fields. In another year or two, houses will probably fill this barren landscape and families will move here to live, work and go to school. I wonder why you would choose to build a house here.
The train stops at all the new stations. They are stark, modern. The graffiti-artists have not made their mark here yet. Strangely, these stations do not enhance the view from my window. They are a blip in the otherwise bleak outlook, all greys and weeds amongst the dead or dying grass. They could make a movie here about the end of the world.
However, the train tracks are new and gleaming. There is a lot of stone used, in the form of walls, the colour of grey naturally, soaring up along both sides of the line. I cant tell if it is a deliberate architectural statement or is the original rock blasted away to gain access.
The White Cliffs of Dover – or Stonehenge – it is not!
I exit at Williams landing, itself a new station, catering to the increasing demographic out here. I stand in the wind, gazing rather hypnotically, at a huge billboard sign, which reads “ TOWN CENTRE “. I look around further. Where? Where is this town centre. A closer inspection reveals some small print. “ COMING SOON”. That explains it then. There is a Woolworths, brand new and sparkling, off in the distance but there are no people, no sign of habitation.
Finally, my ride arrives. Through the hair blowing in my eyes, I see Miss Daisy, welcoming me with a petite smile – and a hand wave which would do Her Majesty the Queen proud.
Miss Daisy is two. She has a good grasp of language now. She looks up at me holding a tea bag aloft over the Jamie Oliver mug.
“ Ooot hee? she says. Translation? “ Hot tea”? She knows I drink a lot of tea but sometimes, coffee.
“ “Off hee? she says. Translation? “ Coffee. I laugh a lot at this, every time. When she is 21 I will ask her for a coffee, in two year old language. You used to say that when you were two!
I retreat to the tv room, where the theme of the day is KIDS PROGRAMS. All day. There is a sheep, some singing penguins and my favorite – Grandpa in my pocket. Miss Daisy is not keen on this however and plays with her toys around the corner – at least I hope it is toys and not the precious contents of her brother’s out-of-bounds desk. There are crashing sounds and tinkling noises. She keeps bringing me things, saying “MINE!” loudly, even though none of these things are hers. “ Mine” is her favourite word – followed by “ NO!’ We have a sandwich ( YUM) followed by some mini oreos ( MINE!)
Are you tired Daisy? “ NO.”
Sometime in early afternoon, she climbs up beside me on the couch with her blanket. Her head on my shoulder, she falls asleep like that. I carefully extricate myself, leaving her safe in her little makeshift bed while I prepare for the onslaught. School is out. Noise levels will rise, cupboards will slam, there will be dinner to prepare. The siblings are home.
Tonight I have excelled myself. Spaghetti and meatballs. Bowls are filled for hungry bodies. The sound levels are now akin to a party in full swing – with 100 guests! We, the adults, look at each other in amazement. Dad – slugging a tinnie down, as if his life depended on it. Mum – looking on in disbelief, as I try to make a point on lifes realities, whilst juggling a glass of wine in one hand – and waving a soup spoon in the other – before topping up like it was water. She said afterwards the scene was reminiscent of a rowdy meeting of alcoholics!
It is with a sense of mild discomfort and trepidation that I stand looking at Miss P’s little single bed and pink flowery blanket, topped with “ Frozen “ pillows, with One Direction gazing down from the wall above.
My discomfort, however, is small in comparison to Miss P’s, as she prepares to zip herself into a sleeping bag ( pink of course) amidst a tidy mound of couch cushions, forming a mattress on the floor.
“ It’s only for one night P “ I sympathise. There is no response. Just the crackling of her sleeping bag.
I do not sleep well on sleepovers. Except for that one magical night in THE BURJ AL ARAB in Dubai. I was so exhausted, even the sparkling lights of The Arabian Gulf spread out before us, the sheer opulence of our golden suite, which was as big as a 2-storey house and all the luxuries attached, could not keep me awake for long. Mr G, however, managed to stay awake all night long, to compensate, in his own unique way, for the cost, thereby extracting every minute out of our stay. However, I am jolted out of my reverie and back into reality.
“ Nana! Read me a story!” Miss A
“ Go to sleep A !” Me
Silence.. then … “ SHUT UP!” miss A. Not to me – to Miss P who keeps moving in that pink, crackling sleeping bag – and is that the sound of a zip?
“ LEAVE ME ALONE!” More sounds of zipping up!
Miss P mumbles a lot. I can hear her mumbling – it is not in a positive tone!
It seems like hours have elapsed, for me, in the dark, in a single bed.
‘ FINALLY!!” I hear. I’m not sure what that means but all is now quiet.
Sometime later, with limbs stiff and circulation cut off various bodily extremities, I sit up to stretch my legs over the side. I look down at sleeping Miss P…..she isn’t there! Neither is her sleeping bag…or pillow! She has disappeared. I prepare to place my feet on the floor only to notice Miss P’s head. Her body is under my bed with her head sticking out where my foot was about to go. “ P!!” I coax her out ,like a butterfly out of a cocoon. She smiles sleepily up at me. There is a crackling noise followed by a zipping sound. All is well.
We stop for lunch at a totally child-unfriendly cafe on my way home the next day.
Apart from spilling her full tall glass of freshly squeezed juice across the pristine white starched tablecloth, as business men held corporate meetings and held conference hook-ups via mobile, Miss Daisy and sister Miss A were exceptionally well behaved – in this corporate setting. We didn’t want McDonalds this day!
As we cleaned up and prepared to leave, Miss A brandished a knife from the table,waving it around rather theatrically!
As I ducked when it came round again she stated : “ I know what a knife is for “. We waited….
Pretty much summed it up!