At some point in their stint in London, most ANZACs will experience the big life experience of the parental visit abroad. Yegads. In my hemisphere-hopping circle of friends, these visits are ALL HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME as we all hit the one year mark (and therefore halfway point that conveniently falls in ‘Summer’) fairly simultaneously.
There are several types of parental-invasions, including:
- The Parenthood of the Travelling Relatives: the brief visit on the way through to other places, other family, places to go daahhling. These parents have done it before. They might stay for a weekend, but they’ll probably put themselves up at a hotel in the city. You will of course perform your childly duties by playing tour-guide, but you’ll have to do better than the Eye and the Tower, as they’ve been there, done that, child.
- Family Planning: don’t you even open Google hunny, they’ve got this covered. The shows are booked, the shuttles are paid for, and the timetable is set in stone. You were thinking about checking out the markets that day? Well too bad, you’re off to Buckingham Palace, whether you like it or not! Chances are, they’ve found a hotel on your street or already arranged with your flatmates to stay at your place, so you can spend every waking moment together. Yay.
- Parental Guidance Recommended: these parents are delicate wee birds, who’ve never flown the coop before, and are easily spooked. With their limited knowledge of the outside world, they will be easily influenced by snippets of advice from others, and you will feel afraid to leave them alone for more than 5 minutes. They WILL be staying with you, because the thought of them getting lost between the hotel and your house is both terrifying, and likely. But watching them step off the branch for the first time will fill you with such pride as your wee parents go off on their own.
My own lovely parentals are
watching none of the above. But despite their obvious perfection (Hi Mum!), there have certainly been several stages in the preparation for their visit:
- Freak out. My mother hasn’t seen me in a year! She will see that I’ve got old (thanks London water and pollution), not cut my hair, drunk too much, eaten like crap (thanks £2 pizzas). She will see all the holes in my clothes that I haven’t sewn up. She will see that I have 14 scarves but one towel. What is my life?!
- Talk parentals through their own freakouts. Yes that’s enough money for a month. No you won’t get mugged. No don’t buy a belt-wallet, that’ll get you mugged. Yes you’ll figure out the Tube. No don’t buy a smartphone just for the trip. Yes bring some warmer layers (it’s London). No don’t bring a duffel coat (it’s Summer). Yes you can buy anything you forget here. You are not leaving civilisation mother. In fact, have I told you about Boots?
- Give you parents a tutorial on helpful websites including Google Maps, Skyscanner, and trains.anything. This will help to answer questions such as ‘how many days will it take to fly from Paris to Berlin’ and other gems such as ‘should we hire a car to drive from London to Paris?’
- Freak out again about all the things that need to be booked – flights, hostels, trains, cars! Shows, plays, brunches, Harry Potter World!
- Prepare your room. Take out the rubbish (clink, clink), display everything they’ve ever sent you, calculate the exact moment you will have to wash your bedding in order to have both the sets you own clean and dry for both them and your couch-bed.
- Prepare your house. Warn your flatmates of the invasion, stock the fridge with actual foodstuffs (yeah, I eat Bok Choy every day Mum!), make your couch bed, clean, Clean, CLEAN.
- Get excited about all the cool ‘real London’ stuff you can show the parentals and blow their minds! Work in all that stuff you’ve been meaning to do for a while, too! Then consider just how much you can make your parents do in any one day…
- Make a wish-list from home. Oh my gawd. What should I ask for? This is a once-in-two-years opportunity. There are limited space and weight restrictions to consider.
Despite months of prodding from my mother, my list only contains 2x Glassons cardigans (every Kiwi female understands this request) and 2x jars Promite (no one in the world understands this, but I stand outside of the marmite vs vegemite debate). I just can’t think of anything else that I couldn’t buy here (if I had the money) or is worth bringing across the world…
If you had a mum-sized parcel winging your way, what would you request?
- 36 Reasons To Love London (buzzfeed.com)