The family and I have just come home from a long weekend break in country Victoria. It was the mini holiday we all needed. My wife noticed that I was getting a bit frayed around the edges and suggested we were long overdue to get away from the treadmill we were running on and so she organized an AirBNB to stay in. After what seemed weeks of planning to get the dates right, we were finally able to settle on a 4 night, 5 day weekend that suited the whole tribe, 8 adults and 2 grandchildren. She was able to book a fancy 4 bedroom house, located on the outskirts of the beautiful town of Daylesford, in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. As with all of these trips, I had to reluctantly say goodbye to Jenny and focus on fulfilling my role as “patriarch” of the family.
Arriving in 4 cars, we all rolled up to the house at the same time on the Thursday to coincide with the mid-afternoon check-in. We were all surprised at how lovely the place was, as it was actually better than what the advertised pictures displayed. 4 huge bedrooms, each with luxurious King plus sized beds and 3 bathrooms to choose from. We found that the bathroom with the double spa seemed to be fully utilised most of the weekend. Within half an hour, our rooms were picked, the cars unpacked and we were settled in. There was plenty of food, with each couple being responsible for an evening main meal. Then everyone seemed to have gone crazy with enough boxes of chips, snacks, lollies and semi-healthy nibbles that quickly filled up the pantry. Add a few slabs of beer and cider, along with some bottles of wine (both of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties) and an outsider would have thought we were here for a month, rather than the short stay booked.
The property was on a couple of acres and had its own dam (water hole) and a lap pool, which we soon found out was not heated. We brought our canoe, and apart from using it a couple of times on the lake in Daylesford, it was also put into the pool. After a few drinks, it was quite amusing to watch those “young kid” paddle up from one end to the other in 2 strokes and the reverse back as there was no room to turn the canoe around. No-one fell in, nothing was damaged just innocent fun doing something silly and slightly crazy.
The farm land and the water hole brought in the wildlife. In the early morning, at least 50 ducks settled on the water, stayed for a while, then took off to return mid-morning to fossick among the reeds. Then as twilight approached a mob of kangaroos arrived and grazed on the back lawn and in the surround paddocks. Lead by a magnificent muscle bound buck, with a few large does and smaller joeys, the mob took over the outside garden as we respectively retired to the back veranda. It certainly hits home how amazing nature is.
Even for early autumn, the days were chilly and the nights cold, so the open fire, was made up and stayed burning for the whole weekend. This made the place even cosier. During the day we did family activities, went to the lake and took turns to use the canoe, while we walked around with coffees in hand. We visited the market one day, wine and boutique beer tastings on other days and relaxed, doing nothing during the spare hours. At night, after dinner and with the grand children in bed, we sat around the fire and chatted about world issues, the state of the nation, COVID and life in general.
I was impressed with the views of my grown up kids and their partners. They are aligned with what we know is good for this planet that we co-inhabit. To them global warming and climate change is an important issue, that they see is frustratingly not being dealt with. They are doing their part, with solar power, one car families and use public transport where ever possible. They acknowledge the benefits that past generations have created, but also know the age of excess and wanton carelessness must end. Now, these are adults who work in all types of the job sector, ranging from an engineer, teacher, chief, venue manager and in the health sector. All from different industries, but carry the same ideals.
A discussion on Trans rights was brought up after a negative article was viewed by my son and the issue was thrown into the ring for all to talk about. I was amazed at their depth of knowledge and that everyone around the fire was fully supportive of LGBTQ+ rights. This is a subject I have never openingly talked about with them, as I know I am scared by my past and suffer from the fear of rejection and humiliation. I sat on the side-lines and eagerly listened to the conversation. I was surprise to learn that my youngest son and his partner, have a couple of transgender friends and are fully aware of the struggles and prejudices that are forced upon their friends. There was a genuine horror from them all at the venom and negativity, that certain press and groups in our society, are continually spewing out against our community. Its a dangerous reaction from a sector of scared, over-privilege people who seek solace in using hate to destroy anything that challenges their myopic and vanilla view of the world.
My daughter works with disadvantaged children and youth and was quite passionate about the importance of support networks and active strategies that lead to positive messages. Self-acceptance is important, but community support is what is needed to create change and foster confidence. Gender should not be an issue, everyone has the right to be who they are, and it’s very much a fact that is live and let live. There is a genuine understanding that people are born different and there are not 2 boxes to neatly fit all gender stereotypes into. It is a non-issue that does not need to be brought up, unless it is to call out discrimination and injustice. After all we are who we are.
I believe to move forward society needs change. Without change, good or bad, there is stagnation and complacency, with a reluctance to move forward. Even a bad event can act as a catalysts to mobilized a change of the good. From the tragic and horrific death of George Floyd there is great hope that it will be the catalysts for positive change with #BlackLivesMater, not just in the USA, but all over the world. We also need a generational change for society to move forward on social issues. My generation and that of my parents need to have passed away, to allow our children and future generations to take control and implement social justice for not only the LGBQI+ community, but for everyone.
I have great faith in the future, if it is put into the hands of our children and the future generations. Most are informed, with an active awareness that recognizes good and evil. We need more Greta Thunberg’s to call out big business and governments on global warming. We need Jazz Jennings to give hope to the youth in the Transgender community that there is a future. We need Malala Yousafza, to keep speaking out to show young girls there is hope in education. Look closely and you can see there are many young people trying to shape and change the future for the best. We need to listen closely to what the younger generations are saying, because the older generations seem to be messing it up for everyone.
During the weekend I did not talk about Jenny to my family. Around the fire, after a few drinks I was tempted to open up, especially after feeling such positive vibes from them about transgender issues. As I grow older I have learnt patience, taught, I suppose from the lessons learnt from negative personal experiences. Also, I was not going to open up to anyone until I had discussed it with my wife. They might be ready to know, but my wife is not ready to share this with them. It still in the “way too complicated basket” for her. I don’t think I lost a perfect opportunity to open up, as sitting around the fire gave me an insight for a future conversation.