wings and things

Duckling update

Well the three ducklings have grown so quickly that they are almost too big to squeeze through the fence of the yard I put the gang in at night. They free range with their ‘minders’ all day.

Here’s a picture of Seli and Godfrey guarding the Twins.


And here’s one of Ola watching over a sleeping Michael Jackson (the dancing duckling).


I took a whole lot of better photos of all of them but had to delete these because Ming’s smashed ute (truck) was in the background. The gang + ducklings tend to hang out underneath it because it is near the pond. We have covered the smashed-in front of the ute with a blanket so that visitors, especially family, won’t be upset if they see it. The rest of the ute looks normal, with the tray intact. I wish we could get rid of it but we are stuck with it in the back yard for now until we try again to claim some insurance. Every morning and every evening, when I let the gang out, or put them into the yard, I have to walk past the ute.

There is also a clear view of the ute from the kitchen window, a constant reminder of the accident and everything since. And when I frolic in the dirt, and offer prayers to the sky, and watch the pea-chicks climb the avocado tree, or cry until my body is cramped like a dead leaf, I am always right next to the ute.

Ming brought Ants home for the afternoon yesterday and I (rather dramatically) threw myself into his chest and soaked him with some of these endless, futile, enormous tears. He held me and said nice things to me and then asked me about the ducklings.

“When are we eating them?” he asked.

I stopped crying immediately. “What the hell are you talking about? We are not eating them, Ants!”



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.


Party fizzog

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Oh well!

Due to a combination of things (Ants is having digestive issues, the nursing lodge is experiencing a mild flu outbreak, and it is another extremely hot day), I spent most of the morning ringing the people I’d invited to say the party was off. After all that last-minute planning and stressing, I have to admit I was rather relieved – ha!

Instead, Ming and I went in see Ants. We we will get him home tomorrow, which is his actual birthday.

It was still a good day and we took some photos of Ming’s new ute!


Happiness guilt

I have always had a bit of a problem with “happiness guilt”. As a child, I had a keen awareness that while I had a loving family, enough food, and a house to live in, other children in other places didn’t. So I developed a kind of resistance to happiness because it made me feel so guilty when I knew other people – particularly children – might be unhappy.

When I posted about Ming’s new ute, I didn’t mention the episode of happiness guilt he experienced for nearly an hour after Anthony and I shocked him with his birthday present.

I took Ants back into the lodge for lunch and wondered why Ming was taking so long to come in and join us. Finally I went outside to find Ming in a severe state of happiness guilt.

Ming: But I don’t deserve it – I can’t believe this!
Me: It was Dad’s idea and I made it happen.
Ming: But how? We don’t have any money! I’m so worried!
Me: Dad had some savings – Ming, please stop worrying, it’s okay. This is giving Ants so much joy – it’s sort of vicarious.
Ming: But it’s 4WD!
Me: Dad’s idea.
Ming: And turbo! And diesel! With a steel tray! And it’s automatic!
Me: Dad wanted to get you the best.
Ming: No, I don’t deserve it!
Me: You do! Now get over it and come in and say all this to Ants!

In the end I had to get a couple of nurses to go out and convince Ming to be happy and not guilty! He finally came in, hugged and thanked Ants and things lightened up but it was only when Ming (still on L-plates) was driving us home that the happiness finally got the better of the guilt.



Ming’s ute

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Living with a convicted criminal

This morning Ming and I were in court to face his charges. Are you shocked?

Well here is what happened: on the 29th of September, 2012, “the accused” was caught driving a ute without carrying his learner’s permit.

You see, I was sick at the time with that rotten kidney infection so I sent Ming and his friend up to the local shop (2kms away) to get some food. The friend has a driver’s licence but Ming drove because, despite the fact that he doesn’t yet have his driver’s licence, he can drive very well (he just keeps failing the tests on teensy little things – here you have to get 100%).

Unfortunately the police were spot checking people in our little country town (which is highly unusual) so he was unlucky.

So today, we fronted up to court and sat with a fascinating array of other criminals to await the verdict. Ming had dressed up as if he were going to a wedding so he looked a bit odd amongst the surly crowd. His case was preceded by a guy accused of driving recklessly twice in one night under the influence and without a licence. He didn’t plead guilty so his case was adjourned. He answered the judge’s questions in a defeated but strangely belligerent monotone. I whispered to Ming, “say yes sir or no sir and don’t smile” just as his name was called. He had to walk up and take the stand and his charges were read out. The judge concluded by saying, “Your reasons, according to this statement are that you were just going down the road to get something to eat. Is this correct?” Ming said yes and, when he was asked if he were pleading guilty or not guilty, he said, “Guilty.” He was then asked to sit down while the judge conferred with the two other judges.

Then Ming was asked to stand up again and elaborate on the circumstances of that day but he just said, “I did the wrong thing and I will never do it again.” I was delighted with him despite the snickering amusement of those sitting around me in the ‘audience’. The judge then said that instead of the usual $300 fine, he would let Ming off with a $100 fine. Phew.

We then had to sit at the front while the paperwork was processed so we saw the next person, a young girl, called up. She was charged with driving under the influence of drugs and also pleaded guilty. But we didn’t get to hear the rest as we were given the paperwork and dismissed.

I know this sounds strange but I was very proud of my little criminal today.