SANDY LLOYD CAN'T SWITCH OFF HER WORRY GENE
Do mothers ever stop worrying about their children?
The answer to this question, as all mothers are aware, is of course ‘no’.
It doesn’t matter how old the mother or the child, we still worry. I believe we are genetically programmed to do this, in a way men simply aren’t.
I’m not saying fathers don’t care about their offspring, but they don’t have the same worry gene that women do. (I’m sure that’s a scientific term — the worry gene. And if it’s not, someone should get a research grant and officially discover it.)
My worry gene was in overdrive last week as my daughter set off on her first-ever road trip.
Although she’s 23, she hasn’t had her driver’s licence long and has little experience on the open road. Living in Melbourne, first at university and now a stone’s throw from a tram stop, she hasn’t needed to drive. Nor does she own a car.
So when she set off up the Newell Hwy with her completely non-driving boyfriend in the passenger seat of my car, my worry gene started speaking loudly in my ear. “All those trucks and caravans and kangaroos and crazy people,” it reminded me of the many times I had driven that same highway.
I was on edge all day until I got the call she had arrived safely at Parkes in NSW, exhausted but triumphant.
They are spending a leisurely eight days in central-west NSW, mostly on a tour of telescope sites (there are three — at Parkes, Coonabarabran and Narrabri), but also discovering the history of the area and planning a big day at Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo.
Why telescopes? The Boyfriend is an astrophysics PhD student at Swinburne in Melbourne (yes, he has met The Bachelor, Matt Agnew) and my daughter is also fascinated with space stuff (another scientific term of mine). And zoos.
The best part of their holiday? Going behind the scenes at the Parkes Observatory, the enormous radio telescope best known as The Dish (from the movie of the same name) and as one of several radio antennae used to receive live television images of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
As part of his astrophysics research, The Boyfriend gets to move The Dish – usually via the push of a computer button in Melbourne. On Thursday, he did it on-site and could actually see the telescope moving at his command.
I don’t know about you, but I think that is very, very, VERY cool. The sci-fi nerd in me gets shivers just thinking about it.
So I know they are having a great time. And I know they are both sensible young people who will take care of each other.
But that doesn’t stop me worrying. Because that annoying worry gene just doesn’t switch off. Ever.
It makes me think of all the times my mother must have stressed about me, facing what that worry gene would think of as dangerous but which, in our youth, we have no fears about — road trips, overseas adventures, late night parties, risky personal activities (you can translate that however you like).
And we never thought for a moment that our mothers might be worried. The blissful ignorance of youth and the belief that we were bomb-proof.
Like my friend’s daughter, who sends her a text saying she is on the “scariest bus ride in the world” in Sri Lanka and the driver is “driving like he has a death wish” — not much consideration given to her mum’s worry gene with that message. We were on edge together until the “I’ve arrived safely” message came through.
My mum is 80 and still worries about me — I still have to report in if I have been driving long distances — so I guess my fears for my own children aren’t going to diminish any time soon.
And I have now reached that time in life where I also get to worry about my parents and what they are doing — and I now require them to report to me after a road trip.
That makes me — and so many women around my age — part of the ‘sandwich generation’. So-called because we are caring for — or in my case, worrying about — our ageing parents, while still responsible (completely or partly) for our children.
I guess that pesky worry gene is going to be whispering (or screaming loudly, depending on the day) in my ear for many years to come.
I AM EATING...
Plant-based prawns. As part of the explosion in ‘not-meat’ products (such as ‘chicken’ schnitzels or ‘bacon’ made from soy beans and flavouring), there is a range of plant-based ‘seafood’ — purporting to be fish, prawns and scallops.
No, I have not turned vegan — but I did develop a shellfish allergy in my late 30s (yes, that can happen).
In an instant, one of my greatest food pleasures — prawns — was taken away from me.
So I optimistically gave these ‘prawns’ a go — and was utterly disappointed. They do not look like, smell like, taste like or in any way remotely resemble a prawn. Sigh.
I AM SINGING...
Happy birthday to The Fonz. Can you believe Henry Winkler — aka Fonzie from Happy Days — turns 74 this week?
For me, Winkler is forever stuck in a 1970s’ time loop as the leather jacket-clad, cool-as-can-be Arthur Fonzarelli, saying “exactamundo” and telling Ralph Malph to “Sit on it!”.
The Fonz is consistently listed in the top 10 or 20 of all-time greatest television characters.
And the fact the term ‘jump the shark’, when a ridiculous event marks the decline of a TV series, comes from Fonzie waterskiing over a shark in the show’s dying days, speaks volumes for his cred as a TV legend.
I AM CLAPPING...
Until my hands ache for Come From Away at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne.
Along with the rest of the audience, I leapt to my feet to give the gifted performers and musicians on the stage a standing ovation last Sunday.
The musical is set in the week following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, and tells the extraordinary true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander in Canada.
It is a cathartic reminder of the capacity for human kindness in the darkest of times and the triumph of humanity over hate.
I AM RAISING A GLASS...
To Champagne Day. Yep, my go-to tipple has its own international day of celebration.
For its 10th anniversary it was held on Friday, October 18, when we toasted the quintessential wine of good cheer and celebration.
On this day each year, sparkling wine lovers are encouraged to share a picture of themselves on social media with their favourite bottle or glass of bubbles.
As I am useless with social media, I prefer to simply quote that ultimate style icon, Coco Chanel: “I only drink champagne on two occasion — when I am in love and when I am not.” Cheers to that.