Travelling 1

The New Year began at a million miles an hour with a flurry of back-to-work-and-school panic and then, for me, a week of transatlantic travel.   I’ve periodically travelled for work since my son was born, usually to the US, and these partings have been easy enough for both of us to manage.  Of late, though, it’s a little harder.  Time has lost some of its elasticity for Harry, and there are moments for both of us when I’m travelling that the distance feels very hard indeed.

We’ve been working on a few ways to make it easier, and this time I think we cracked it.  Some are conventional; others?  Well…

Saying good bye

On this last trip, I gave Harry a boxful of kisses when we woke up on the morning of my flight.  We talked about how whenever he was thinking of me he could open the bottle and find a kiss.  He tucked them in his pocket and went off to the playroom, where I caught glimspses of him busy with scissors and paper.  He appeared quite some time later with a square cardboard box.  In case you are struggling with the flamboyant spelling, it says ‘Here’s some hugs’…

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And inside? Two beautifully, secretly constructed figures of Harry and me who fit together perfectly into a hug.  ’You can take them out whenever you need a hug from me Mummy’. I was amazed.  And yes, hopelessly emotional…

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Bedtimes

It’s a long-standing tradition that every evening I sing to Harry when he is just dropping off to sleep.  In babyhood I sang him lullabies, and then gradually stopped, until a year ago when he asked for me to sing again ‘to help me switch my head off from thinking’.  So now our bedtime routine always includes a rendition of ‘Dream a little dream‘ by Mama Cass, and I worried about whether he’d miss this when I was away.  I used to try and sing it over the phone, but it was never quite the same, and usually involved me huddling in the corner of conference rooms or bathrooms and crooning sotto voce which didn’t help my tunefulness at all.  So my husband stepped in…

… and now on the nights I’m away, he dons a long blonde wig (I daren’t ask where he found this; secrets in a marriage are not always unhelpful) and does a cabaret version of the song, sometimes alternating with other favourites such as ‘How much is that doggie in the window?’.  I’m not sure that it helps induce sleep but it’s certainly a potent distraction, and one which generates many requests for encores.  You’ll be relieved to know that I have no pictures of this.

 Staying connected

On this last trip I took one of Harry’s soft toys with me; Hopalong, the smallest and most docile of The Boys.  Each day, I sent back pictures of Hopalong so that Harry could track our movements; at the airport, the gym, the office …and even raiding the hotel minibar and spreading crumbs all over my bed…

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Harry loved getting the pictures, and then one day last week I woke up to find an email from home with the rest of Harry’s toys having decided to join in.  Each day, Harry devised a new activity for The Boys, and my husband sent me a picture.  They took a shower together, raided the fridge in search of sausages; altogether, it sounded like the teddy bear equivalent of a frat party…

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One of the best things though was a letter from Harry, tucked into my case and discovered on arrival in Philadelphia, when I was feeling jetlagged and far from home….

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Because to be loved more than water pistols is as much as any mother could ever wish for.

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