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3 and "the Nut"

3 and “the Nut”

When your eldest child goes off to school, your emotions get the full work out. I considered myself lucky that I had another little one at home, and that eased the pain somewhat, but he was my little mate! He’d been right there beside me for so long I just didn’t know what to do without him for a while.

On his first day of school, I knew not to expect him to cling, I could see he was so excited. He actually wanted to say goodbye to me at the gate, I don’t think he realized he had to find his way to a classroom and all that, he just was in a hurry to “get to big school”, and leave me far behind!

I took him to his class and he just disappeared into a sea of small children. I looked around and saw the looks on most of the mummy’s faces. We all seemed to be wearing the same look. There were one or two crying, (and the inevitable mum of 5 who was flying in with the last of her brood, she didn’t stay long that one)! But one thing I could see was that we were all pretty much in the same boat. I sought him out to say goodbye and just about had to put him in a head-lock to get a cuddle and kiss goodbye. “Yes OK MUMMY! GOOD-BYE!”

I remember worrying about stupid things. What if someone hits him in the head with a cricket bat whilst playing cricket? What if he gets sick and nobody notices? What if the other kids are mean to him? The list of “what ifs?” are endless, and it took all my courage to leave him there that day. I have already admitted to being an over-protective mother, so I don’t need to tell you how I worried that first week.

He hated my over-protectiveness. He was so bloody independent! I used to argue with him in the morning about not doing his own lunch for school! He would always get up before the crack of dawn and do it himself! I wanted to do something for my little boy to get him ready for school, but nope, he was always ready before I got to him.

One thing that used to stupefy me was when he and I would go down to town shopping. The number of Mr’s and Mrs’s he knew! “Hello Mr Brown, how’s your little doggie?” he would say. We’d move on a few steps and I would ask him, “who is that? How do you know him?”

“Oh he’s just a friend of Grandads.” Or, “I met him at the school, he’s Ben’s Grandad.” My little boy knew a whole lot of people I had never ever met! The control freak’s worst nightmare? Not even knowing who my child was introduced to, or talking to?

I suppose I really should have been thankful for my independent little man. Considering the years to follow and the succession of hospital stays and babies, I reckon it helped him to deal with the separation from me. He always just dealt with things. He is so much like me, I guess. We are the same…. You just deal with what life gives you and you move forward.

Many years later, when I had begun to relax and had returned to work, (all 3 of my boys at school), I finally got that dreaded phone call.

“Mrs ______ your son ______ has been hit in the head by a shot put.” (yeah, that’s right, 9lb’s or so of lead straight to the head!) I was to meet him at the hospital.

I FREAKED! All my nightmares filled my head at once. I could barely see to drive, I went straight from work to the Emergency Department. There he was, a bit dizzy, a bit sick, but enjoying the drama nonetheless. Turns out he had decided to play catch with the shot put ball, threw it up in the air above his head, and of course the darn thing whacked him one on the way back down! He survived. We waited hours for a head X-Ray, which showed no internal issues or fractures. He was a very lucky boy that day.

I don’t know if my heart ever returned to a regular beat though!

One of the biggest moments in our lives came when 3’s biological Dad, (B.D.) came into his life. (Long story short -we had been a semicasual relationship which resulted in an accidental pregnancy). I was nearly 23, and decided to return home to my Dad’s to live and have the baby, a decision which suited his (B.D and B.D’s mother very well at the time.)

Finally after 17 years of not having ever known his “real” father, my son met him. I should at this time point out that the ex, was to all intents and purposes his Dad, and will always be his Dad. There is no substitute for being the man who raised you, who was there for you throughout your life. Biology or not.

3 and I talked often about the reality of meeting his B.D. one day, and when it finally happened we were all ready. (I’m pretty sure his Dad felt a little put out at the time, but 3 made sure he knew that he was still the only “Dad”!)

3’s B.D. traveled down from QLD to stay with us in our home. A big step, but as we had talked on the phone, and I was compassionate to their needs, we decided it was the only way for them to make the most of the few days they had. I hardly saw 3 that weekend, and that was ok, it was something that had to happen. And it was beautiful. All those wasted years, these two instantly fell in love with each other!

3 and his B.D.

3 and his B.D.

3 is all grown up now, the sum of all the experiences we had together, plus many of his own. He is a most wonderful young man. He has found love in the form of one unusual young lady, “the Nut”, as we call her, well, because (she is a bit nutty). We don’t actually know if this is the relationship that will take him through the rest of his life, but one thing I do know is that I love her. I always have, since the minute she walked through our door. But more about her some other time…

3 you have made my life wonderful darling, there are things I never would have gotten through without your strength, love and loyalty by my side. You may not realize it now, as you struggle through your 20’s trying to find your way to stability and happiness, but you are a fantastic young man. You have never been afraid of anything, and you’ve never let anything hold you back. I love you son. I just wish you’d learn to slow down and put all four wheels on the ground!!

no need to worry about 3!!

no need to worry about 3!!

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My first born child, how can I possibly express in words the difference he made to my life, the joy and love that he brought to me. I’m going to try, and I know I will probably sob my way through the writing of this post.

such a smiley little fellow

such a smiley little fellow

I had an uneventful pregnancy, (my only one without some kind of complication), and 3 was born early in the morning of Father’s Day 1990. (A bit of irony there as it took nearly 17 years for 3’s biological father to accept him.) My father considered this a gift to him, and crowed about the Maternity ward telling anyone that would listen about his amazing Grandson. They became very close, the two of them, and I was always feeling left out, when 3 smiled for the first time, it was at my Dad. Dad taught him his first tricks, like blowing raspberries to all and sundry. He loved this trick and for a while it was all he would do. We lived with my Dad for about 6 months and then ventured out into the world on our own.

It was around this time that my oldest brother had a car accident and became a quadriplegic. He had spent some time in rehabilitation and was looking to come home to live. He had recently separated from his first wife. He was in a very depressed state.

I wasn’t married, I was single and living in a big house with my baby who was about 12 months old, I decided he could come and live with us. My brother P, didn’t want to live with either of my parents, who had both remarried and P would have been an awkward addition to their households, where he was a sort of natural addition to ours.

I spent the next 15 months or so exhausted. Looking after both my son and a newly injured quad was no easy thing. For a start 3 was very active and intelligent and was into everything! Then there was setting up all P’s routines with home-care nurses and additional help around the house to cope with the extra washing, cleaning and sterilizing work. Everything changed for me and my little boy that year. I had to set an alarm to wake up every four hours to turn my brother in his bed, to avoid him getting bed sores. I had to be a pillar of strength for him, he thought his life was over and I had to talk him into living again.

I don’t know what I would have done without 3. He was such a special child. He has always been and always will be my greatest protector. I can remember countless times that gentle little boy would come and put his tiny arms around my neck, and say, “are you ok mummy?” He also gave me the focus I needed to stay aware and happy and not get sucked into depression. It would have been easy in those days, caring for my quad brother who talked about killing himself daily…

He also gave P something to laugh about. He, being a Virgo, was a little perfectionist and would always make sure P’s things were “square”. He would line up the things P was using from biggest to smallest, that kind of thing. He also learned to hop into the wheelchair when P wasn’t using it and became quite proficient at wheeling around the house. It was hysterical to watch this tiny kid pushing himself about in it.

P also had a tool with a pincher on the end, it was about 3 feet long and was designed to help P to pick things up that were out of his reach. In those days I would keep treats like lollies on top of the fridge. Guess who learned to use the pincher tool to get them down?

We lived with “Uncle P” until 3 was nearly 3 years old and he was enjoying his life again. He had begun to paint beautiful pictures, by weaving a paintbrush through his fingers. He is a very talented artist, (gets it from Magoo, who paints magnificently). He also began to play guitar again, with a slide, making it easier. Having limited use of his arms and hands made all the difference to my brother. He went on to marry again and his life is turning out ok.

Enter “F”, my other children’s father. He was 13 years older than me and remains today one of my best friends. He and I always had a great friendship, we just weren’t right together as a couple. He had already been married once, and had 4 truly wonderful children to his first wife. I became a step-mother to his 4 kids as a young mother myself. They were great kids, and I still remain friends with them today, especially the two girls, who are now in their late 20’s. I still have never met closer siblings. They are a truly close family and are each others best friends.

F was a typical Aussie bloke. Spent more time at the pub and the footy than at home with me and all the kids. (I guess this was the reason we split 3 babies, and 10 years later.)

How cute is he? 3 years old.

How cute is he? 3 years old.

3 was a typical big brother, taught the boys all the things he should, how to ride the one pedalled, no brakes bike. How to raid the fridge without mum finding out. How to drive me up the wall fighting over toy trucks in the sand pit, but at the same time was very responsible and protective of them. However I will never forget when I brought 5 home from the hospital. He had severe reflux and would scream constantly. He only ever slept for 10-20 minutes at a time and would awaken screaming, wanting to feed again to stop the pain from his refluxing tummy. He must have found some comfort in swallowing milk, as I became nothing but a feeding unit for about 8 months.

I was up at the clothes line one day hanging out nappies and heard 5 start screaming again, awakening from a 5 minute nap. 3 walked up to me as I sat on the ground, tears starting to pour out of my eyes. “Mummy, can I tell you something?”

“Sure honey, what is it?”

“Well you won’t get angry with me will you?”

“No, I don’t think so. What is it you want to tell me?”

“It’s just that, umm, I hate my new baby brother, all he does is cry. Can’t we just take him back to the hospital and get a new one?”

Just what I needed to hear. There was nothing wrong with his 4 year old logic. This one is not working out, can we replace him?

He always made me laugh when I thought I never would again. We made it through 5’s infancy. God knows how, but we did, I don’t think 3 ever really forgave 5 for it though…

He learned that year to do everything for himself. He learned to get his own breakfast, to tie his own shoes, to dress himself properly and to amuse himself. He was a funny little thing, very independent. I remember getting up one morning around 2am to pace the floor with 5. I found 3 sitting in the lounge room watching an old Dracula movie on TV, a lemonade in one hand and the biscuit barrel between his legs. He said he couldn’t sleep!

On his first day of school I eagerly anticipated getting him ready. 5 was older then and a much easier baby to deal with. I awoke that morning at 6am excited and wanting to go wake 3 up to begin getting him ready. There he was sitting at the table eating his breakfast. His entire uniform on, shoes and socks and everthing. He had made himself a sandwich and had wrapped it up ready for his lunch box!

He was only 5 years old, and was already showing me that he could cut me some slack. I felt so cheated. But I realized he had to learn to cope so much during those months with 5’s reflux, that he truly thought he was doing the right thing. I think he just didn’t want me fussing. He still hates it when I fuss over him…