a practical exercise in role reversal
It is said that in everyone’s life comes a point when instead of your parents looking after you, you start looking after your parents.
It hasn’t come quite so far yet, but I’m experiencing a good dose of role reversal at the moment nonetheless. I think I mentioned before that my parents are going off travelling around the world. Well, they are leaving today. After the last weeks being one hectic whirl of preparations and visa applications and flight research and last-minute-medical procedures and all those things, everything has now calmed down. Actually, everything has come to a stop. They are ready to go. The backpacks are packed. Everything from passports to tickets to money to electrical equipment has been double- and triple-checked. They are wearing the clothes they are going to wear on the first journey (with the train to Frankfurt Airport and then a flight to Dubai). It’s ten thirty in the morning, everything is ready, and we’re waiting.
I was much more nervous yesterday, but I’m still not calm today. Nor is my sister. We’re fluttering around them. The dog, although he doesn’t usually like the sight of backpacks, seems to be relaxed – he’s lying stretched out in the warm autumn sun streaming in through the windows and from time to time he heaves a heavy sigh. My parents are calm.
My Mum is doing some last-minute phone calls, saying goodbye to friends. My Dad is walking through the house, tidying up. He’s about to go outside with my sister to change the tires on the car from summer to winter ones. It seems pretty normal under the surface, but on a normal day I would just be sitting here at the desk, probably listening to music while I tried to write or do some research into one of my projects or any other normal thing. I wouldn’t be getting up every two minutes to go outside to check on both of them. My stomach wouldn’t be behaving like it is. I wouldn’t shoot random questions at them in a panicked voice:
“Are you SURE that you have your passport?” – “You WILL remember to buy some water after the security checks on the airport, won’t you? Flying for so long is terribly de-hydrating. And do you remember the exercises I showed you for your feet, so that your blood can circulate?” – “Do you have the reservation number somewhere ready for the rental car?” – “Are you certain that you have the phone number safe that you’ll have to call to report your bank card stolen?” – “Remember to also take photos of the two of you together, alright? You do remember how the photo camera works, right?” – “Remember what we told you about the importance of sitting still and enjoying and about ‘going with the flow’ and everything, don’t you?”
I shouldn’t be doing this. I should be the one to travel. They should be the ones to worry. The world does not make sense at the moment. Is it okay to be jealous and envious of my parents, while at the same time being totally proud of them and afraid for them? Is this part of growing up? Is this NORMAL?!?
Role reversal. I’m turning into my Mum. Someone help me. Even better: someone give me a pill, please. I need to calm down.
Pill, that reminds me! Sorry, have to go, have to make sure they packed the aspirin in the hand luggage…