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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pinky and life with her toddlers.

We found the most beautiful old Queenslander style house on top of a hill just five minutes’ walk from the city. Previously it had belonged to the Christian Brothers and had been bought and restored by a local builder who had brought up his own seven children within its tongue and groove walls. The rooms were profuse and there were hidden stairways, an underground cellar, a downstairs room and bathroom, a huge rainforest garden and poignantly, a bona fide chapel. It was the epitome of a young boy’s utopia.

As the removal van drove through the gates, followed by our four wheel drive, choc a block full of eager little faces, we noticed a chubby little boy boldly gawking at us from our newly acquired verandah. Now I must confess this did not immediately fill me with glee. I already had three miniature Genghis Khans to look out for and I categorically did not want yet another holy terror hanging around our house every day. Providence, however, had a slightly different notion.

 His name was (let's just call him Newman) Newman, and no matter how brusque or unpleasant I was, he would not take the hint. Every morning at the crack of dawn there would be an insistent banging on our front door. Out I’d lumber with my seven month pregnant paunch to answer the door.
“Can I play with the boys?” he’d lisp in an infuriatingly polite manner.
“Newman, it’s five o’clock in the morning. Do Mum and Dad know you’re here?”
“No, they’re asleep.”
How lovely for them, I thought.
This went on for many years and Newman became familiar with many of the intricacies and complexities of our family’s life, some more intimate than I would have preferred.

I recall with mortification, one Father’s Day morning my then husband and I were fulfilling connubial duties in the bedroom. It was about seven o’clock in the morning and Newman, Thaddeus and Jonah were outside our door discussing the logistics of building a swing in the mango tree, when I heard Newman ask Thaddeus to go and ask his Mum if she had any rope.
“I’m not allowed to knock on the bedroom door,” retorted Thaddeus, “They’re having sex because it’s Father’s Day.”
And that was pretty much the extent of any matrimonial relations back then. Father’s Day and birthdays.  Not my birthday of course, that was for sleeping in.
                         Newman and Jonah

Of course Padraic, was brought home from hospital to that rambling old house. Bizarrely, there was an actual snake hanging out of the letter box as we drove through the gate with our newborn.  I tried not to contemplate that this was some sort of sign, a portent of things to come.

Life became busy with playgroups, preschool and school. In order to recharge everyone’s batteries we took a family holiday to the Gold Coast and to visit my parents in Mt Tambourine. At some stage I became concerned about the amount of car sickness I seemed to be experiencing, even when I wasn't in the car. Coffee was a no go as well, so I did the sensible thing and bought a pregnancy test at the Australia Fair Shopping Centre and traipsed off to the toilets to determine my condition. A bit of an authority on pregnancy tests by now, it took me less than the prescribed three minutes to spot the blue line. Number five was on his or her way.

Back in the tropics, our neighbours were also becoming conscious of the fact that Newman was also going to have a new baby brother or sister. Probably due to the fact that they had all that lovely spare time to sleep in and get up to other activities, whilst their son was eating us out of house and home!

Newman the neighbour, as previously mentioned was an enterprising young lad. On many occasions he instigated the establishment of lemonade stands or fruit stands (mangoes that had fallen off our tree) on the footpath out the front of our house. By now, Thaddeus was only about nine and Newman and Jonah, seven years of age, and yet the entrepreneurial skills of the trio were unmistakable. One time, Newman got wind of the council allowing a one off opportunity for a free stall to be set up at the local Cotter’s markets. Systematically the three of them ransacked every cupboard in our house, managing to collect an assortment of eclectic items. These articles were professionally price-tagged and catalogued, loaded into the back of Newman’s father’s utility, and no doubt hawked to the various naïve wretches wandering the markets that day.

The boys made an absolute killing. Returning home with jubilant faces and pockets stuffed with filthy lucre, they celebrated their success with copious amounts of lollies they’d bought on their way home. For months after that, there were many occasions when I’d go combing the house for some inexplicably missing item and could never find it. Newman, Thaddeus and Jonah are still marvellous friends and in keeping with their economic aspirations and creative flair, formed a band in their early years of university. They don’t celebrate their successes with lollies any more though.
                            Jonah and Hagar at front, Newman behind.