This post was written the day before Thanksgiving, with the intention of being posted on Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, we ended up in hospital on that day and have only just escaped the RCH – hopefully not to return (except for appointments) until after Christmas.
The best way to describe my nationality is “lapsed American”. I carry the passport, I file the taxes (ranting about the ridiculous tax laws in the process), and (most of the time) I dutifully submit my absentee ballot. But I haven’t lived in the US since I was in my early 20s and I don’t feel “American” any more than I feel British or Australian.
However, by virtue of my nationality, Vegemite and Lil Z are also American. And I want this to mean more to them than just the curse of being forced to file taxes with the IRS every year (the US, North Korea and Zimbabwe being the only nations who do not have a territorial tax system – but don’t get me started). I would like to instill in them some of the traditions that I grew up with.
Halloween was a raging success. Despite being fresh from 7 days in the hospital, I managed to pull together a slightly bedraggled butterfly costume for Vegemite and find an old ladybug costume I’d originally bought for Vegemite for Lil Z to wear. And I took Vegemite, Lil Z and Vegemite’s best friend trick-or-treating. The look on the girls’ faces when they realised people were going to give THEM sweets was classic – they’d assumed they would be the ones distributing the treats. Lil Z slept through the whole event, but I still have the photos to prove she was there.
Next I wanted to move on to Thanksgiving. Although the origins of Thanksgiving may be bit dodgy, a national holiday to spend time with family and give thanks for what you have is, in my opinion, a beautiful idea, even if you don’t do corny things like all share what you are thankful for (in the manner of most films and television shows featuring a Thanksgiving dinner). Plus, you get to eat pumpkin pie.
I had the ambitious (overly ambitious as it turns out) idea to have an “Aussie style” Thanksgiving Day party on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with a few of the traditional foods associated with the day, along with the inevitable Australian “sausage sizzle”. I hoped this might be the start of a new American tradition in our family. Unfortunately, the fact we’re living life on the head of a pin, waiting to fall off and head back to hospital, means a party is no longer a good idea.
Despite the disappointment of having to cancel our Thanksgiving party and the worry about returning to the hospital that hangs over us like a threatening rain cloud, there are still reasons to be thankful. So, reverting to corny, film-style proclamations, here are a few reasons why:
- Lil Z is receiving the best care possible. Every time I see The Prof (her paediatrician) or Dr Kate (her neurologist), I have the urge to hug them. Same with her FECS team of therapists, who are doing everything they can ensure she continues to receive therapy services from them. They are all doing the best they can for Lil Z and that is all I can ask. And judging from reading and hearing about the experiences of others, we are very fortunate to have such a fantastic team around Lil Z.
- We have replaced the irreplaceable. I didn’t know how we were going to survive when the nanny who had been with us since Lil Z was 5 months old resigned. But we have found a new nanny. And she “gets” Lil Z and is committed to helping her develop. And she makes the beds on those days when everything is in total chaos and disarray. You can’t ask for more than that.
- Vegemite is thriving. When we had to go to hospital last Friday, she came up with a plan so she could still go to gymnastics, pressured me into implementing it, and then managed to manipulate the situation so that she got to stay at a friend’s house for the day, rather than going to kindy. She is confident, social and happy and can negotiate anything and everything to her advantage. She is dancing in the Nutcracker at Christmas and begins “big girl school” in January – both of which will undoubtedly make me cry. And she is so proud of Lil Z going to her ECDP playgroup that she tells everyone she meets about it.
- Alcohol helps. Yes, QB and I work our way through the wine rack on a regular basis. But hey, it helps. And fortunately, we’re in Australia, where they have good wine.
- We like Australia. I don’t think either of us would have pictured ourselves living here, before the opportunity arose. In fact, I think we both secretly longed to live somewhere a bit more exotic (whereas now we’re hugely thankful we live somewhere with excellent healthcare provided in our native language). We have a growing circle of friends in Brisbane and have managed to keep in touch with old friends in the UK – all of whom give us support during challenging times.
- In the grand scheme of things, it’s not so bad. Lil Z is unwell and we are constantly bouncing between the hospital and home, but at the end of the day, it’s not life threatening. We haven’t been red-lighted to the hospital in ages and haven’t been on the PICU since Lil Z’s first seizure, which was over a year ago. Yes, it is scary and stressful and I do have valid concerns about Lil Z’s wellbeing, but she’s not gravely ill. And as QB keeps reminding me, we know what to do – if we are worried, we just take her back to the hospital. For that, I am very thankful.