The day the packers came

The morning was crazy – packing lunches, packing boxes, packing kids off to school via bus again – what a treat! We had an extra hour up our sleeves just when we needed it most.

I thought the kids would be sad, knowing they’d be leaving the condo for good. Turns out, I was wrong. They were really excited about the serviced apartment, viewing it as a little holiday before our big adventure. They went off quite happily which was great to see and a huge relief.

And then I spent a frantic few hours in their cupboards making sure there were no organic surprises in their drawers. I’m all for science experiments but would rather they didn’t take place in our shipping container.

In Singapore, the primary bank account signatory is the only one who can sort out utilities, banking and the like. This includes the cancellation of the TV subscription which meant hubby got to spend the morning facing queues and paperwork, while I was at the coal face with the packers.

I was a little daunted by what was to come, however, I was in for a pleasant surprise. The foreman arrived first for a quick walk through and he was wonderful – softly spoken, reassuring, and instantly calming. Then he told me to kick back on the sofa until they had to pack it. Which I did until the school rang to say H had a temperature. Did I want to come and collect her. Now? Panic-mode, what to do? Hubby was lost for the day in bureaucracy and I was house-bound lest the packers take the owner’s potted palms.

Poor H…I suspect her symptoms were mostly due to worry and fatigue. She’d spent Sunday watching us run around like headless chickens trying to get ready; she was sad, confused and sleep didn’t come easily for her that night. Lots of thoughts overwhelmed her, but as it turns out, her biggest fear was of the packers forgetting to load her things. The ship sinking with our container on board came a close second. I ran with the obvious – family matters most and the five of us will be flying. Stuff can be replaced and then somehow we got into a detailed conversation about inventories and insurance…

Anyway, I explained to the nurse our situation and she said not to worry, H’s temp was down after a rest and a drink – just collect her if she comes in again. Which she did, an hour later. Hubby still tied up with red-tape, I was still on the couch which hadn’t been packed, packers still needed supervising. What to do?

The nurse was very sympathetic and I guess that’s the thing about expat living – most people understand your situation because they, too, know what it’s like to be on your own. Sometimes, you simply just can’t be there and although you feel dreadfully guilty, there’s nothing you can do about it. After moving from queues to traffic jams, Hubby did manage to collect H and she was fine after spending the afternoon on a couch in air-conditioned comfort.

As was I. The packers didn’t pack my couch so I enjoyed the afternoon with my feet up. It was quite peaceful despite the constant rip, rip of the packing tape. I took pictures of the house as it was when I left and when I got home, I showed H a few of her bedroom. The boxes were all neatly stacked, ready for the container and I watched carefully for her reaction.

She just shrugged. “Want to go to the playground?” she said as she ran off to explore.

Denial? Or are kids more resilient than we think?