On the Couch with Jean Kittson

Jean Kittson - photo by Rob PalmerWho is Jean Kittson?
Presently, I am the author of a guidebook or manual on how to help your parents and other elders as they age, without having to taser them. Keeping them safe and comfortable. How to navigate the pile-on of paperwork and programs and providers, the legals and the finances, and what to do while on hold to several bureaucracies simultaneously. The book is titled We Need to Talk About Mum and Dad. How to parent your parents, with your parents’ keen collaboration, especially if you have hidden their car keys, for their own good.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I should have planted that veggie garden last year. I’d be ahead of the rush about now. I also should have planted those pine trees about a decade ago and learned how to knit our own toilet paper from them.

Who inspires you and why?
My mother, 95, and my father, 93. Their stoicism and courage as they confront the obstacle course of ageing. They still fight like ten-year-olds, too, which is marvelous for their circulation.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Persuade all the people looting supermarkets to PUT THE PASTA BACK. YOU ARE NOT FEEDING THE ENTIRE CORLEONE FAMILY. YOU WILL ALL END UP WITH BUTTS THE SIZE OF BARN DOORS, AND SERVE YOU RIGHT.

Favorite holiday destination and why?
There are so many romantic and exotic places, wonderful cultures, and what’s the point even THINKING about a holiday since everywhere including Australia is wrestling with a plague? Good luck to us all. A voyage of discovery for me is cleaning right to the back of the fridge, and plunging into cupboards.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Nope, town closed. Friends are all at home taking swabs of one another, and discovering exactly which leaves are broad enough and soft enough to stand in for dunny paper. Preppers recommend green corn husks and maple leaves. Not much of that around our way. Frangipani, when in season, maybe.

What are you currently reading?
I was reading texts that pinged in at 3.00am from our daughter in England as we tried get her home, “Leave now, what are you doing at a club, don’t have a big farewell, you got a tattoo?!?!” Now I am reading texts from well-meaning friends which include links to chilling scholarly articles about COVID-19. We are trying to terrify each other. It is working!

What are you currently listening to?
The schoolgirl next door practicing clarinet. She is very, very good at it. It’s lovely. Also, that’s as close as we will get to live music for a while. And it isn’t the trombone.

Happiness is?
Tranquility, especially in these anxious times. Tranquility and hope and calm and exactly WHAT is in this herbal tea, children?

What does the future hold for you?
Surprise!

Jean is the author of We Need to Talk About Mum and Dad – published by Pan Macmillan Australia and now available from all leading book retailers including Dymocks.

Image: Jean Kittson – photo by Rob Palmer

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