No jacket required. Lessons from a 12 year old, on how to pack a suitcase.

November 27, 2012

The stand-off showed no sign of ending. Daughter Two, not for the first time, was refusing to budge.

She was getting ready for her school trip to Canberra. Like thousands have before her. A rite of passage for primary school kids.

The problem was her bright pink bag. More to the point, what was in it. And what was missing.

She had organised the packing herself. Which meant there was a steady supply of cut-off shorts and crop tops.

We had been silly enough to suggest that she may need a jacket, to combat the icy chill of the nation’s capital.

Two, in fact. And a decent coat. And long pants. All of which were absent from her hand-picked collection.

In the voice that is unique to a 12-year-old, she informed us that no such items would be needed. No one else was wearing them. We’ll be FINE.

We reasoned, in the manner of Middle East negotiators, that it couldn’t hurt to be prepared. Still plenty of space in the bag. After all, tiny denim shorts don’t take up too much room.

Progress was being made. A concession was on the table. Her dance jumper. MAYBE. We smiled and shook hands, and prepared to issue a statement to the waiting media. Until The Teenager joined the discussion.

She declared that her sister would freeze her butt off. She knew, because she had been there, and frozen her own butt off. ‘Take a jacket, and stop trying to be cool’, she kindly volunteered.

From a negotiator’s stance, this was not helpful. Far from it. In typical fashion, Daughter Two removed the recently added jumper, and replaced it with a brightly coloured singlet.

She had lost earlier battles. The beloved hair straightener would be going no-where. Surgeons were called in to remove the mobile phone from her hand. Also on the banned list.

We broke for dinner, and called a temporary truce. I asked what she was looking forward to most, in this week of cultural and historical exploration. Ten pin bowling, she said, without blinking.

Pressed, she admitted she was excited about visiting the War Memorial. To learn more about what her grandfather endured in World War 2. I liked hearing that.

One final pitch for the jacket. Her mother suggested we get Canberra’s temperatures for the week online, to shock her into submission. Brilliant. 

It would have worked too, if we hadn’t struck a forecast for the city’s warmest Spring week in a century. Every day over 30 degrees. Parliament could be sitting in Cairns.

Daughter Two smiled, in the knowledge that she would be hoisting the victory flag. Out of pity, she threw a cardigan in. I doubt it will be used.

They make mistakes along the way. So do we. They can’t be told. Just like we couldn’t, all those years ago.

When she boarded the bus in the early hours, it was positively balmy. She might even get a tan down there. I just hope she packed the sunscreen.