I bumped into a former work colleague, Jenny, at the Canberra Theatre last night and it started me thinking about the passage of time. She mentioned she had been at my farewell from a posting in Bangkok, which was in 2005.
That final month in Bangkok saw my son turn seven and a week later have his appendix removed at the BNH. I remember the aching anxiety between the time I held the anaesthetic mask over his face prior to the operation and watching him shiver back to wakefulness in recovery less than an hour later. It seemed like an eternity.
These days Aidan doesn’t need his teddy (who happily also recovered from the appendix experience). And as a young adult he doesn’t need me in the same way he did at seven. At the theatre last night, and nearly ten years on, he towered over me and made polite conversation.
He’s noticed the passage of time too. “You’re not embarrassing anymore,” he said to me earlier this week.
While I was trying to work out when I had ever been embarrassing (spinach in my teeth? forgetting someone’s name? kissing him good-bye at the school drop-off? ), he let me know we’d moved on to a new phase. Phew. Despite the sands of time shifting slightly under my feet, I felt relief. Even though I’d missed this awkward phase, it was over. Probably best for both of us.
"You can do anything you like,” he said. The sands tilted further as I processed the fact that I was being given permission. Hmm. He patted me gently on the arm and said, “Now you’re just amusing.”