A Wondrous Adventure – week 71

We’ve just returned from India.

Two boys and one mama on tour. It made a great Instagram hashtag.

The teenager and the tween were excited about this adventure. Tween Two had been before, a couple of years ago we ventured to the northern desert region . An easy first step.

This trip we hit up Mumbai, Varanasi and Kolkata.

Arriving to the chaos feels like home to me. This is my tenth trip to India some have been long and languid over many months and others have been quickies to enrich my soul during difficult times.

The boys have been lucky. They have travelled well over their short lives; births in London and New York, travelling Europe by car and train, and drop in holidays to Asia has given them an understanding of their place in the world and importantly how much we have compared to the have nots.

Arriving to the faecal smells of India hit the senses at 7am in the morning. The crammed taxi, the gridlock traffic. We bustle into the hotel for brief relief before we’re off again on the local trains to taste the food on the beach, the laneways and roadside.

We cycle early in the morning as Mumbai awakens to her daily routines. We gather the smells of the pavement dwellers and the cleanliness and order of the slums.

Flying into Varanasi gives us a new smell. The smell of burning wood for warmth and the offering of the family to the Ganga god underpins the taste of everything in this small rural location. The Ghats are busy with offerings amongst the closeness of the smog and pollution. It’s not how I remember it  long summer evenings sitting and thinking, a quiet calmness. That was in the 1990’s  Varanasi like me has grown up.

We check out a day early as we yearn the bustle of a city again. Kolkata doesn’t disappoint.

We walk the roads to Mother House to be part of the movement of volunteers. We spend time with the round milky babies and the wobbly children. We tickle, we laugh.

Early the next morning the boys drag tired bodies from the warmth of blankets to experience mass at Mother House, a volunteer breakfast of cha, bananas and bread before heading off on the local rocking bus to work in the one of the children’s homes.

The delight of the teenager and the tween as they spend time with young people who haven’t had the kick start to life is refreshing. They do laundry, play, teach, read and feed before tucking up into large cots for rest time.

Our metro ride back to the hotel is full of funny stories and laughter. The lightness of their world is wonderful.

We eat, we explore, we taste. The food has flavour, the conversations are rich and we discover new enchantments with each twist and turn.

My early morning solo run on our final day provides delights to the locals and some peace for me. I run to Mother House to listen to the singing. The doors are closed but the sweet voice of women, young and old, emerges above the traffic and the horns and floats down to me.

It’s this peace amongst the chaos that makes two boys and one mama on tour such a unique and wondrous adventure.

All love

Jessica Purbrick-Herbst
January 2018

 

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In front of the crowd – week 66

I spent the week working with an inspiring group of people through Melbourne’s Slow School of Business. We spent the week stripping back our words and rebuilding stories of purpose. This is my story…

When I was 10 I saddled my pony, my mother stuffed two Mars Bars into my pocket and I rode out on a family farm larger than Melbourne; my adventures lasting all day. The rule to be home by dark.

Now I am the mother of ten year old Theodore and his brother Sebastian. Two inner city tweens –that crack of age of nine to 12 from childhood to teenage years. Teenagers in waiting. The world of parenting is packed with prescriptive actions, Wi-Fi blockers and scenarios of fear.

As parents we are fearful of a world that is unknown to us. I seek the courage of my mother to trust my tweens and their street smartness. The smartness of growing up in laneways leaking hookers, syringes and beatboys.

There were no streets in Western New South Wales.

What could possibly go wrong if I packed my boys off with Mar Bars for a day on their bikes? Be home by dark?

Sebastian as a 10 year old took himself to and from school, dragging his little brother through the laneways and trams of Melbourne. Within weeks, neighbourhood parents asked if he could take their children too.

Sebastian became the mother hen of Richmond – with his gaggle of winding kids.

My grit in Sebastian gave parent’s permission to trust. These parents turned their fear of the “white van man” into the courage of the tribe. Are you this parent?

From the fat open spaces of rural Australia to the everyday creak, rush and grunge of inner city Richmond I became the courageous parent. Our nanny resigned – the thought of drudging through the advertising, interviewing and finding someone else was so exhausting. So much easier to push the kids onto the streets!

Trusting my tweens can be tough. Mistakes are made, timelines are missed. The fearful playground parents relish in the regaling of horror stories of snatched children from sidewalks, flashings in the park and online antics.

By having faith in my boys, I have found the courage to let go of my fear; it has allowed me to watch the missteps of my sons, to stretch into the real world with one hand on the apron strings. I have given myself permission to let my sons have the freedom that my mother gave me to explore worlds and universes that didn’t exist five let alone 40 years ago.

It is this time of trust, courage and freedom that will be the strength behind the tricky teens and yucky youths.

Be courageous, be the brave parent.

Warmly

in the library

Jessica x

23 August  2015

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