wings and things

My son, the honest actor

Earlier today I put Ming on a train to Perth because he has applied for numerous roles in various films, including a music video. It’s mostly “extra” work so not paid but I admire his tenacity in trying to get ‘out there’ as an actor. One of the roles requires him to be a scruffy guy at a strip club; another requires him to be a sophisticated guy at a strip club; and the music video requires him to be a NeoNazi in a story about how a young son murders his Nazi father.

Yes, well, mmmm. Anyway, Ming will be staying with various relatives and friends for the next four days and nights. Tonight he will be staying with my eldest niece and her husband (you know, the beautiful people).

The following night, he will be staying with one of his best friends, and for the last two nights he will be staying with relatives from Anthony’s side of the family.


Ming hasn’t gone off for many adventures like this and I just realized that I have never been alone on this farm for as long as four days (one or other of the ‘boys’ would be here), so it feels very strange.

The brat’s interests are music and drama (both of which he is good at, but, even though he has some formal qualifications, these are very difficult industries to get into).

I am hoping so much that he might simply be noticed.


Before I dropped Ming off at the train station, we went to our lawyer’s office to give him a gift of red wine and he invited us into his space to have a chat. It wasn’t like our previous chats because, now that the court case is miraculously over, we could just be ourselves without the professional distance. I wanted to hug the lawyer (as I had done just after the verdict last week), but I restrained myself.

Ming was told previously that one of the repercussions of the accident was that he might have to do community service by accompanying the police to schools in order to talk about his/our extended family’s experience. We were told last week that this was no longer a necessity but Ming still wants to do this and I support his decision.

In a way, this will be another unpaid acting role but, this time, it will be the real thing. Ming told me this afternoon that he continually replays that night in his head, with ‘what if?’ questions a never-ending dream sequence, and with the ‘why?’ question still hanging its head in shame.

The fact that all of the children who were injured are okay now, in a forever way, spurs Ming on to wanting to warn the rest of us to be more protective, corrective and vigilant – AND to dispel notions of easygoingness when it comes to children, because you just


The dangers of driving on gravel

It is nearly two weeks since the night of the accident in which my son was driving with four of his cousins and one friend in the back tray of his ute/truck. My family has learned so much from this, including the extent to which we love and respect each other. Responsibility for allowing the kids to go for a little ride has been shared and discussed, hugs have been exchanged, forgiveness has been a constant source of comfort to all I hope, but self-forgiveness is not so easy – not for me.

Even though I was the only one inside the house and didn’t know that my son had taken off with the kids for a second little ride, I should have already had a rule in place that this was absolutely forbidden. After all, it is against the law to have unrestrained passengers in the back tray of a ute. If I had had this rule in place, this wouldn’t have happened. Why didn’t I have this rule? Because it never occurred to me that my son would do this; he is such a cautious driver and has the reputation of driving like a granny! When they all came back from the first little ride and I realized they had been off the farm, I said to my son, “don’t do that again will you” but I should have said, “YOU WILL NOT DO THAT AGAIN!” If I had said that, this would never had happened. We are all struggling with our own ifonlys, but these two are mine.

What matters here is that, despite all five children sustaining serious fractures, with one still in hospital for some time, the longterm prognosis for all is full recovery, physically. Psychologically and emotionally, I think their recovery may be more complicated but as the young are so resilent, I hope and I pray that they will all unremember the terror of that night. For those in my family, who drove crazily around the outskirts of this country town, after my son’s panicked phonecall, looking for all of them, when they were only 2 kms away, the memories of our fear and horror will take longer to fade.

My son did a slow U-turn on bitumen, and was heading home again when he hit gravel and accelerated a bit, turning the steering wheel from left to right, just slightly, to give the kids a little thrill, and that is when he lost control and the ute fishtailed (I think); he tried to control it by braking, and steering it back, but nothing worked even though he was going less than 40kms.

If he had been speeding, hooning, drinking or a reckless person, this could have been worse. If he had coerced the children and snuck away for a little joyride, against our wishes, this could have been worse. The fact that everyone survived, and will recover, is the thing I tell myself each morning when I wake up to the horror of that night on constant replay.

When driving on gravel, be aware that your tyres only have half the grip they would on bitumen.
When driving on gravel, do not accelerate suddenly, even a little bit.
When driving on gravel, do not brake suddenly, even a little bit.
When driving on gravel, always go very slowly.

Nobody in this family – my beautiful family – will ever hop into the back of a ute again. Nobody in this family – my beautiful family – will drive without caution on gravel roads from now on.

My heart leaps with joy that everyone will be okay longterm, but his post is primarily to warn people of the dangers of driving on gravel, especially in a ute, and to never, ever, let your children get into the tray, no matter how much they want to, no matter how short the ride.

I am so sorry.