Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Losing control - and passports

I sometimes think that I am quite a laid back, easy going, chilled type of person - though others may disagree with me, in fact I have heard the term 'control freak' uttered in my direction on more than one occasion.

As I tell my son (usually when he objects to my interrogation about his plans, timings and social arrangements) I just like to know what is happening, I need to get things done and I like to have a plan. It's not control freakery it's just good management. When you are juggling many things, especially when you live on your own and there is noone else sharing the load, this makes perfect sense. In a work environment I am used to being in charge, making sure things are done and delivered, being ultimately accountable.

I did however slightly worry that I may have a tendency for OCD when last week my mum helpfully hung some washing out for me but IN THE WRONG PLACES. I hate the fact people could see my underwear so that always goes along the bottom line of the rotary dryer with the larger items hung from the top lines hiding the pants. And surely everyone knows you fill a whole side up with garments before starting to peg them onto another side... But I digress... As I say I am NOT a control freak!

I do like organising holidays. I much prefer to book my own flights, accommodation and everything in between. Again I don't think this is control freakery, it's just the preference I have for more independent type of travelling that suits where we like to go and what we like to do.

This year we decided to head to France, (not being a control freak, I consulted with son, it was a democratic rather than a dictatorial decision). So over the past few weeks I have sorted a trip that involves flying to Paris, staying there a couple of nights, a train to Orleans, pick up a car there, to a gite for a week in Loire Valley then back home via another couple of nights in Paris. It's just me and number one son so I reckon this gives us enough city time to keep him entertained and me enough chilling time to be able to relax without either of us getting bored or restless (and we are both quite happy mooching about as we call it and equally able to pass the time reading or being entertained with an iPad).

I'd booked the final bits just last week, found a book in the library on the Loire Valley, dug out an old guidebook on Paris and got some maps. The thing I love best about preparing for a holiday is coming up with places to visit or things to see and do (it's called good planning not control freakery remember). This was what I was looking forward to doing when I woke up in the middle of the night a few days before we were due to fly off and suddenly realised son's passport hadn't yet come back from the passport office. Cue a few days of increasingly irate and desperate phone calls to the passport office number, escalating stress levels and several nights where I was forced to drink wine to try to get a wink of sleep. Even son's laid back 'it'll be here' started to wane a bit when it still wasn't here two days before take off. Actually I hadn't even been able to speak to anyone in the actual passport agency (the poor call handlers who can only take details and say 'someone will ring you back' were the ones getting my angst ridden calls because their colleagues weren't ringing me back at all - in fact I am still waiting for that much promised call back..)

This was stressful for many reasons of course but one of them very definitely being it was Out of My Control. Horrors. Apart from emailing (three times) phoning (I actually lost count of how many times I pressed re-dial) and sending my son to the passport office (just the once - fortunately it's not far)- whether or not my son was going to be able to come on holiday felt horribly, horrifyingly beyond my control.

I came up with options for plan B of course (as a good planner - not a control freak - does). These were: I'd not go at all (and waste all that money), go on my own (I don't mind going solo but it's not the holiday I would've chosen to do by myself), or find someone to go in son's place (I have one friend who I know could possibly have done so at very short notice - but then my mother volunteered herself...which made the situation even worse!). But I couldn't solve the problem of my son maybe not coming with me, it was out of my hands - and I can't remember a time I have ever not been able to make things right, solve problems or sort things out when they involve him.

This is a tale of woe with a happy ending though. The passport finally arrived on Monday afternoon, bringing with it an outpouring of relief, cheers, celebrations. We are back on track, maps are out, itinerary is being sorted - and we are off to France today! And the lesson learnt, for this control freak, sorry - top planner, is check whether your passports need renewed many months rather than weeks in advance in the future.

Au revoir mes amis!

(and this is me when the passport finally arrived....)

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