01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Visiting family - the demands we expats make! 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Visiting family - the demands we expats make!


An expat friend of mine told me that her mum had sent her a very amusing article, written in a German newspaper, by a lady who was relieved that her expat daughter and family were finally moving back home, having been overseas for some years. Sadly, I never read it but the gist of the piece was not just about missing her daughter and missing out on grandchildren developing, but more about the impossible demands made by overseas offspring of their visiting parents. Talking to my expat friends, I discovered that we all foist the same stresses onto our family and friends days before they depart on holiday to come and see us and that sometimes we might pushing our luck with some of our requests.

Here are a few of the demands I/we’ve made on parents who generally have their heart in their mouths at the airline check-in as their luggage is invariably over-weight – plus a glimpse at how impossible getting away to visit overseas family can be from their point of view:

a) On more occasions that I can number, I’ve asked my parents to carry out Christmas presents for the entire family. Their feelings of horror rise gradually as during the weeks before leaving postage floods in from in-laws, siblings, godparents and our own mail order purchases etc. with sometimes bulky, or heavy presents for our entire family of five. They have previously had to leave their own Christmas presents behind (making the festivities rather dull for them) and often sacrifice most of their clothing allowance, arriving with only one or two outfits and holdalls filled with wrapped presents for us. The airport question; ‘did you pack this bag yourself, are there any items that have been given to you to carry for someone else?’ take on a new relevance.

b) I’ve sent a friend into the Jigsaw sale and asked her to buy practically anything in my size, unseen – then I paid her back in Tanzanian shillings. Someone I was talking to recently said she has a friend who regularly does the same for her during the Joseph sale. I’ve asked a friend of a friend (who I’d never met) to get me a couple of Gap v-neck t-shirts when I was pregnant too, and I’ve described a Dorothy Perkins t-shirt to my sister who then had to go and pick out a few more in different colours for me.

c) I asked my mother-in-law to buy summer sandals for my two year old during November in UK and provided her only with a faxed outline of the child in question’s foot (rather than a shoe size).

d) I asked my mother-in-law to buy citric acid so that I could make my own homemade lemon and orange squash. She was practically accused of being a drug dealer at her local chemist (apparently druggies use citric acid to cut cocaine etc) and then on arrival in Tanzania she found citric acid in my local supermarket. Ouch

e) Here are some other random requests I’ve made: marmite, maternity bras and clothes, shampoo, swimming costumes, sun cream, Marigold Bouillon powder, Jelly vits (vitamins) for kids, Nike trainers, a baby doll that cries (twice), one kids football outfit, Bratz and Barbie dolls, Maxi Cosi baby car seat and Gracco bigger seat, knickers, makeup.

f) Here are some items my husband has asked family and friends to bring out:
My sister had to bring with her two full size Sparco rally car seats. (She was planning to get to the airport by tube but had to change her plans and order a taxi when she took one look at the seats and belts filling her London flat hallway). Other family members have carried: an air rifle, a power drill, a motorised toy car, a jigsaw (the electric tool kind), a chain saw (that one I brought out – it had to go into a special security check area and the airport staff checking it all stuck their heads quizzically out of their two way mirrored booth at me, my toddler and my baby in a push chair). And a slingshot (for snakes, monkeys and crows) – Please do feel free to comment Mum, Dad and parents in law, if there is anything I’ve forgotten. I know that there is a motorised toy helicopter to come when anyone is feeling brave enough.

g) My husband has brought over (normally in his hand luggage) various car parts including x 2 cylinder heads (he could barely lift these into the overhead locker); x 4 heavy duty car springs; a prop shaft; a carburettor (that airport security thought was a bomb); one kg of air rifle pellets (airport staff suggested he put these in his hold luggage as they might be dangerous – my husband asked how could they be dangerous, might he be tempted to sprinkle them over somebody?); a newer model air rifle.

h) My kids are hopelessly indiscreet and demand presents from all who grace our guest bedroom, so parents and friends are under pressure to do a lot of random gift buying as well as all the birthday/Christmas presents that may have backed up over the year.

N.B. Most shopping requests are made by us in the 24 hour period before flight departure, even though advice is normally solicited a good few weeks before. This leads to a mad dash into the nearest large shopping centre or city. To friends and family who might be reading, I’d just like to say that we might not change, but I am….SORRY!

Labels: , , , ,

35 36 37 38