Where you are

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Reflections on a Day at “the Prom”

He is up on his toes, his eyes looking forward at the waves ahead.  His stripy undies sag with the weight of wet sand and water.  “There is another one.  Let’s jump!”  So we do.  My legging are drapped over my shoulders and I’ve stopped worrying about the waves lapping against the hem of my dress.

I’ve stopped worrying about most things.

It didn’t occur to me that the water would be this warm, or that he would want to be in it.  But here we are.  There is no wind, so it doesn’t matter that we are half in and half out.  The sun sits low over the rocks and sends it’s perfect yellow light over the two Oberons.

He is happy and brave.  When the wave knocks him to his seat he stands up and calls out “never-mind”.  As if he is a wave-jumping veteran and not the same boy who barely touched the retracting waves over Summer.

He is getting tired, now he wants to jump up into my arms.  Normally I would say “No, Mummies back will get sore.”  But today I want to hold him as much as he wants to be held.

That night the three guitars come out.  The first few choices are obvious.  “The Boxer”. “Fire and Rain”. I look around the room.  You can spot those with Clarke blood.  Those who married-in might nod and smile and hum the eighties tunes.  But those of us raised by a Clarke brother can’t help singing along.  Seventies and Eighties folk was our childhood bread and butter.

We do Annie’s song.  The words are so simple, and yet always make me a little teary.  Particularly here, where nature is just on the other side of the cabin door.  You fill up my senses, like a late-night wombat hunt.  Like Squeaky beach in autumn.  Like the view from Telegraph Saddle.

We end with Paul Kelly’s “How to make Gravy”.  We can’t go on after that, we are all in tears, thinking about that poor imaginary man stuck in jail as his family celebrates Christmas.

So much of life is looking forward or back.  Waiting until we get to go to this place or experience that adventure.  Voyerising those who are currently where we want to be, or who are doing the things that we long to do.

But not always.  Not this weekend.

Because sometimes where you want to be is exactly where you are.

Four Kids

When people ask me what it is like having four kids under five, I tell them that it is like being a Triage Nurse in an Emergency Department.

You know the one.  S/he is the gatekeeper who decides which cases are the most important.  So when my son broke his arm, the Triage nurse sent him straight through to the Emergency Doctor.  Even though he had only just arrived, the nurse decided his case was more important than Mr Forty with an unexplained rash or Ms Seven with a pea up her nose.

That is my life at the moment.  I am an Emergency room Triage nurse.

Let me illustrate.

I am sitting on the couch feeding my youngest.  Child A says he’s hungry.  Child C says she wants a drink of milk.  Child B wants me to read a story.

I triage and read the story while feeding the baby.  The others must wait then I get child C her milk (because thirst trumps hunger) and then get Child A their snack.

Or the house is a mess and one child is wearing no pants but another child is crying from a bump and the baby needs a change and another child wants to tell me about a bug he just found.

I first comfort the crying child, then change the baby nappy while listening to the bug story, then I find the pants and assist the child to put them back on.  The house remains a mess.

Or One child wants a push on the swing while another is wearing no pants and another wants a drink and the baby is awake.

So I get a drink for the thirsty child and put the baby on the mat outside while I push the other child on the swing but wait I forgot the pants just wait a minute darling I’ll be back in a minute I just need to dress your brother/sister.

And of course, different things take precedent at different times.  If someone is coming over then tidying and wearing pants goes straight to the top of the triage list.

But then sometimes one child is reading a story while another is singing to the baby and another is telling me the names of all the train stations from Belgrave to the City.

And then it is just the best.