We're just back from 4
fabulous days staying in the Sydney CBD. It's something I've wanted to
do for a long time, and with Em in recovery from Prince Charming, now
seemed the ideal time to invest some money in a holiday - our first in
Living in a regional city is great, however I am conscious of exposing my teenagers to the reality of the wider world. With Em only 18 months away from leaving home for uni I need to start skilling her up on city living. You know, things like catching trains, buses, asking for information, and finding the value for money eateries in Chinatown!
For 3 days we walked the city streets visiting mega music stores, high fashion shops, the Apple Store (Davey's favourite), a cathedral where I happen to know the Dean, museums, art galleries and a trip across sparkling Sydney Harbour to Manly on a ferry. We walked for at least 8 hours each day, yet not a complaint was heard from either Em or Davey. Apparently I timed this CBD adventure perfectly!
I think my greatest thrill was the NSW Art Gallery. After several hours there I thought we'd finish off with the collection of 19th Century paintings. Davey, who had been happy enough to see everything thus far, didn't say anything, but as we'd been on our feet for more than 6 hours at this point, clearly would have preferred to start making our way back to our apartment. However, within 5 minutes of entering the collection, Davey was hooked. The huge, detailed paintings drew him in with their richness, colour, movement, passion and detail. There were depictions of gruesome battle scenes, Biblical scenes, domestic life, pastoral idylls - the whole gamut, and it was a joy to watch Davey soak it all up. It was Em & I who sat patiently on a viewing couch, having finished our tour of the collection, while Davey spent another 45 minutes under its spell. His school art lessons took on more significance when he happened across the original of a painting his class had been required to copy. Seeing the original, with brush strokes evident, the scale and tonal qualities as the artist painted it, is so different to a print in a school text book!
I felt that if nothing else worthwhile was achieved on our trip, the seed of enjoying original art had been well planted in Davey, and I was satisfied.
For Em I think the highlight was driving in CBD traffic. Part of me felt a little reluctant, but Em was keen, so as our time in the big smoke came to an end, it was Em who drove out of our security parking and into the crush of CBD traffic. Em drove through heavy traffic out to the beachside suburbs where her Dad & I had lived when we were first married, along the iconic Bondi strip where her Dad lived before we were married, then back through the city and over the Harbour Bridge. Her sense of achievement was well earned as I know many adults who are too afraid to tackle city driving.
When I reasoned it out though, it was the sensible thing to do. In our state we have to clearly display bright yellow and black L plates, signifying that a learner driver is at the wheel, on both the front and back of the car. This means that other drivers are (usually) more tolerant and less likely to blast the horn. The whole idea of requiring learner drivers to have a minimum of 120 hours supervised driving is to expose them to as many different driving situations as possible, to prepare them for driving alone. With more than 60 hours of driving experience Em was ready for another challenge, and really, city driving isn't all that scary provided you're not in a hurry and don't mind going out of your way if you get caught in the wrong lane. That mindset takes the stress out of the equation, and as it turned out, Em was able to change lanes easily each time it was necessary. So Em is feeling very smug that she's done something even her cousins in their early 20's have yet to tackle.
To be honest, I'm feeling just a little bit self satisfied about the whole holiday experience. Terrific time with teens. Gotta revel in it when it happens!