Lately I have had to spend a lot of time in Brisbane. It’s not easy for country kids to move to the city to attend university. The city is a noisy, crowded, busy place. It is an unfamiliar place, teeming with strangers and unfamiliar sounds, smells and routines. Bec is a quiet kind of kid. She loves reading, music and needs to have her own space. So transitioning to university and city life has been challenging. Sometimes it just helps to have Mum around for a while.
Brisbane is not that far from Toowoomba, only about 125 km, so when we went down for Orientation week, Dan came too. It was just going to be a few days and we were staying with family. Bec was going to be attending the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and there were things that Dan and I could do at South Bank while she was at orientation sessions.
I love South Bank. It is the cultural centre of Brisbane, housing art galleries, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), the Conservatorium of Music and the Queensland Museum. It’s a well-planned area, perfect for families, with wide grassy areas, eating places and walking paths that follow the Brisbane River. The South Bank Grand Arbour runs through the centre, providing a bougainvillea covered walkway from the Griffith Film School at one end, down to QPAC at the other.
We thought it would be a good to take Dan to the Science Centre at the Queensland Museum. We had been there before, when Dan and Bec were much younger and it had lots of fun hands-on science things to do. Unfortunately, the Science centre was closed for renovations. So we tried to take a wander around the art gallery, but it’s hard to look at things properly when Dan just wants to go full steam ahead. I would have liked to go on the Wheel of Brisbane, a 60 metre tall Ferris wheel that gives a 360° view of the city, but Dan doesn’t like Ferris wheels either – the height and motion upset his sense of balance.
But Dan does love to walk. One day we crossed from one side of the Brisbane River to the over on the Goodwill pedestrian bridge. Dan doesn’t like heights so we were walking pretty close to the middle of the bridge and had to keep an eye out for cyclists. There was no chance at all of getting close to the side to check out the view. But he was happy enough to cross over- singing all the way. I don’t know if anybody else gets serenaded while walking over a bridge.
Dan enjoyed the time in Brisbane but it was hard work. He loved riding on the train. And he loved staying with family. But keeping him safe in busy public spaces is hard work and he gets bored. He needs his regular routine of attending Yellow Bridge, spending time with his mates and doing all the regular activities he enjoys. Fortunately, my Mum was able to come up from Adelaide to help out for a few weeks. She was able to stay with Dan in Toowoomba, while I spent time with Bec in Brisbane.
Now, I’ve been away from Dan for an occasional weekend and he has been away on school camps. But during these last few weeks, I’ve had to spend more time away from him than I ever have before. I know that he’s being well cared for and he loves time with Grandma. But it’s not the same. He looks for me.
Last week, when Dan came home from Yellow Bridge at the end of the day, he looked through every room. He looked outside. And when Dan couldn’t find me anywhere, he went to Grandma, rubbed his eyes and said, “sad”.
I miss you too, Buddy. Be home soon.