Tuesday, April 11, 2017

City day with the eldest

Today I took a day off work (a massive ONE DAY after returning from my week off - it's a hard life etc) to fulfill a promise to my eldest daughter and spend a day in the city with her.

My eldest is 13.5 years old - prime Early Teen, if you will - but has yet to cease wanting to spend time with me, which is kind of nice. (She's a bit lukewarm these days on family outings, although she can usually be persuaded if nice food is involved).

Following on from her sister's ice-skating expedition on day one in the holidays, I had asked her if there was anything specific she wanted to do this break. She asked for a day in the holidays to go to the city with me, just the two of us.

Her key agenda was:
1. Go to Starbucks (why are all my kids obsessed with Starbucks I don't know it's weird)
2. Go to the State Library to do some research on ancient Egyptian mythology
3. Have a nice lunch somewhere
4. Hit at least one nerd shop

My partner has this week off work, and I structured my work week to shoehorn my tasks onto three long days (Mon, Weds and Fri), which left Tuesday (today) for city trekking with my eldest, and leaves Thursday for personal training and a catch-up with friends.

It's not a perfect solution (by long days I mean 12-hour days ... I sent my last work email just after 9pm last night) but needs must when you are balancing multiple commitments.

So today, we set off a little after peak hour on a pleasantly uncrowded train to spend a day in the city.

We ended up having a great day. Starting off with a stop at Mind Games (Nerd Shop #1, TICK), we purchased some birthday presents for my secondborn's coming birthday.

Then onwards and upwards to Starbuck's, for average coffee (me) and a frappacino and cheesecake (her).

The State Library was next up - she thrashed me at outdoor chess as a taster, then we spent a happy 90 minutes doing research and reading in the Redmond Barry Reading Room. The 13 year old took copious notes on her phone and wants to go back better equipped (with laptop) for more research. I read magazines that I normally get no time to look at and enjoyed the soft hum of the space.

In an unexpected and lovely surprise, I was hailed while reading a copy of New Scientist by a longtime blogging / writing friend who I haven't seen in years, the wonderful Karen Andrews. We had a nice little natter and I have been reminded that I must procure myself a copy of her new book, On the Many Shapes Bodies Will Take.

After our revel in books, we headed down to Fed Square to late lunch at the paradise that is Chocolate Buddha. I have never, ever been glutened by this fantastic restaurant, and the meal is always superlative. Today was no exception - we rolled happily out at 2:15, but somehow found a spare corner for chocolates at Ganache (because really, who doesn't reserve a corner for deluxe chocolate??)

We then proceeded to Minotaur (Nerd Shop #2). I was interested to see what my 13 year old would make of it, given that she has never been there before. I well remember my own reaction the first time I went in there, many moons and suns ago now.

She did not disappoint - her eyes went wide and she raced around from sci fi books to manga to Doctor Who and Star Trek merch to Pokemon, overwhelmed by choice and nerd happiness. I told her she could select one item for herself, which was perhaps unduly challenging in the context of SO. MUCH. NERD. MERCH. but the process of selection was itself enjoyable (I think!)

I ended up buying two novels for myself - N.K Jemisin's The Fifth Season, of which I have heard many good things, and Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed, which is one of the few novels of hers I didn't already own (and I haven't read it since I borrowed it from the Monash University fiction library in 1994, so it's well due a re-read!)

The 13 year old eventually selected Pokemon cards for herself after much deliberation, and I bought another thing to put aside for the almost-12 year old's birthday (indeed, after today, I am basically sorted for that birthday - woo hoo!)

After that, it was a tram ride to Melbourne Central for frozen yoghurt and a stop at the bewildering yet mesmerising Kit Kat Chocolatery. (Yes, they have Hot Cross Bun flavoured Kit Kats. No joke, really!) The 13 year old selected two flavours after much consideration, and those that can eat them (ie not the Coeliacs) have pronounced them good.

A crowded peak hour train ride later, we arrived rather footsore but very pleased with ourselves at our home station, to be collected by the rest of the family.

It was a really good day - not just because of what we did, but for the chance it gave us to talk and spend some quality time together. We have compatible interests in the main, so the day was genuinely fun for
me as well as for her (game shop, library, delicious food, Minotaur nerdvana - what's not to like!)

I can't see myself ever not relishing these opportunities to spend time with each of my kids. My youngest's turn next!

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