Backpack Schmackpack

Sunday, 20 January 2008

I tried. Lord knows, I really tried.

I crammed, I shoved, I rolled. I stuffed, I squeezed, I wedged. I begged and I prayed, but nothing was going to make those backpacks bigger.

I defy anyone to travel overseas for two weeks and fit the clothing and basic necessities of two da ren (big people) and two xiao ha’r (kids) into a couple of medium-sized backpacks, whose main cabin-space tends to be so much padding and strapping, it leaves little room for knickers and socks let alone a pair of men’s size 12 running shoes.

So, dear readers – I failed. I failed to do the backpack challenge. I succumbed to the big red clunker 4WD suitcase with the hard exterior (all the better to stash those Disneyland dreams) and not only that – another smaller case, as well. And it was a breeze. A calming, summer breeze, I tells ya! Those clothes, those size 12 shoes, those basic family necessities lay relaxed, uncrushed and gently breathing, nestled into the bottom of each suitcase, leaving large and temptingly vacant gaps for shopping.

Not that we plan to shop.

And so, now – packing done, the countdown is on for our California Adventure. During this countdown, I have realised that telling Ella and Riley about our departure weeks in advance was not such a smart move. “How many more sleeps?” is frequent enough in our household (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, birthdays, sleepovers… you get the picture…) without adding to the hefty load. It didn’t help that Xiansheng (husband) and I were also like two kids in an are-we-there-yet? stupor. Intermittent squeaks of joy were even known to occur.

And so now, with D-Day only one sleep away, there is little doubt slumber will be elusive for me tonight (Xiansheng sleeps through anything, Ella and Riley ditto – and yes, even perpetually bursting chun jie firecrackers). Not only will my intermittent squeaking keep me wide-eyed, but I’ll also be stricken with worry – will the 482 alarm clocks I’ve simultaneously set run out of battery amidst a mystifying power surge? I wouldn’t want to miss waking so we can get to the airport five hours early. Just in case. Well, I do liked to be organised. Either that, or I’m acting like a 89-year-old well before my time.

And don’t 89-year-olds also squeak over Disneyland?

The house is quiet, the kids are sleeping, the clothes are laid out for the morning, the suitcases are roomy, the 482 alarms are set, the tickets and passports have been subjected to obsessive-disorder checking and rechecking – something that will occur hundreds of times over a two-week period, leaving them all dog-eared and very tired. And to make my excitement and joy even more complete, Ella and Riley are actually now excited. I mean, really excited. Although Riley seems more focused on “Frisco” (San Francisco) than he is on Goofy, Donald and Pluto. I keep telling myself he just doesn’t know what he’s in for.

Neither do I, probably.

So. I’m off to bed to dream of the place where Dreams Come True. See you on the flip-side. Squeak!

First published on the beijingkids website.

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