On the twelfth day of ri­ots


THIS is my first Christ­mas as a sin­gle mother. To dis­tract my­self from the enor­mity of it all, we’re go­ing over­seas. To Europe, in fact. I am ex­cited and ter­ri­fied in equal mea­sure.

Ex­cited to see Paris – a city I have yearned to visit since Year 8 French class – and ter­ri­fied of do­ing an air­port run with­out a grown-up hand to hold. Not to men­tion three sets of small legs to coax across mas­sive in­ter­na­tional air­ports.

Usu­ally I am an or­gan­is­ing whiz when it comes to a fam­ily hol­i­day. I’ve even been known to col­late (to­tally fun) ac­tiv­ity books specif­i­cally about our des­ti­na­tions, with each child’s pre­ferred in­ter­ests in mind.

But this year has been tougher than most. I am more than worn down.

A re­lax­ing week in Hawaii may have been more the ticket for our weary band of trav­ellers this Christ­mas.

How­ever, the 13-year-old me saw an op­por­tu­nity and snatched at it.

I have man­aged chil­dren on planes, trains and epic road trips be­fore, so I an­tic­i­pate I’ll be fine, but the lead-up is ex­cru­ci­at­ing – the buy­ing win­ter gear when I’ve never needed it be­fore, the travel in­sur­ance, the cost of enough Res­cue Rem­edy to ad­e­quately se­date four peo­ple ... and this was be­fore I saw the po­lit­i­cal ri­ot­ing cur­rently go­ing on in Paris.

My vi­sions of do­ing a de­light­ful spot of Christ­mas shop­ping un­der twin­kling lights on the Champs El­y­sees is be­gin­ning to look more like traips­ing through charred re­mains of mar­ket stalls and me try­ing to keep the tod­dler from en­ter­ing the fray, while telling the older two “so some coun­tries are quite vo­cal about tax hikes while in Aus­tralia, we might pen a cranky let­ter to the ed­i­tor”.

Never lose the les­son, kids. But as the days count down to Christ­mas, and my di­ary fills up with bak­ing, gift-get­ting, Christ­mas par­ties, end-of-year cel­e­bra­tions, and ap­par­ently, “one last sleep­over with my friend be­fore we leave the coun­try” (of course, my poor com­pa­triot), all this on top of the usual clean­ing, cook­ing, laun­dry du­ties that I must con­quer each week ... I am be­gin­ning to think a lit­tle riot might make a rel­a­tively calmer af­fair than my day-to-day life at this point.

Just don’t ask me to bring a plate.

Peta Jo is an au­thor, mother of three and once wrote an ebook on how to travel with kids. Back when she only had two chil­dren. Such naivete.

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