Milestones Galore, as the older children of our family of ‘his hers and ours’ move on with their lives. Jobs, flatting, boyfriends, girlfriends, marriages and Grandkids, all arrive thick and fast. The husband gives my eldest girl’s unsuitable druggie boyfriend, a shaking and a warning, through his car window, and we never see him again. At an interview for a panel beating apprenticeship with my eldest son, I overhear the boss asking him incredulously, if I am really his mother. I feel rather flattered by this unexpected side benefit of giving birth at Sixteen.
The baby’s ears not yet fitting her face, is nicknamed ‘Wingsy” by her Father, thinking he is being funny. Our younger ones, still at home, follow normal childhood patterns, enjoying birthday parties with extended family and progressing through kindergarten and school. Ballet lessons are tried but not liked as being too hard work.
At the primary school, the first ‘ours’ daughter is attending, they are having a big celebration of the marriage of ‘Charles and Diana’. She loves joining with everyone in the school getting dressed up in pretendy wedding clothes, a see-thru table cloth doubles as a veil, and after being paired up with a boy, having a mock wedding ritual.
Each holiday break, our road trips touring the New Zealand countryside, staying at camps and motels, clock up a marathon amount of sightseeing. The van’s radio aerial is used as a clothesline to dry kids ‘smalls’ in the breeze, on the go.
Visiting in Auckland, we discover the baby in a backpack on her father’s back can shoplift from high shelves while shopping on ‘K’ road, and causes a backup at the Auckland Zoo when they get jammed up in the turnstile entry. At the furthest place north, we pass ‘Ninety Mile beach, to stand on the edge of a cliff at ‘Cape Reinga’ lighthouse, and look out at the meeting place of the Pacific and Tasman seas.
On the way down we visit at Dargaville’s museum of the past and see a real bullock team operating. Also in this area we head into the forest to stand under the towering, ‘Tane Mahuta’, (‘Lord of the Forest’), the largest Kauri tree in New Zealand and sign his visitor’s book.
On one trip we cross the van over to the South Island on the Ferry, to travel as far down as Christchurch. Some memorable moments there include, visiting ‘Orana Park’. After lots of messages not to wind down the windows, we get our own, exciting, up close and personal look at the lions, as we drive into their compound and they climb up on the van and peer in the windows. In another park highlight, while carrying the baby, I get chased by a very angry wild goose charging me flat tack. Beating a hasty retreat, I lose my footing and trip, but manage to hang on to the baby.
Climbing, a tiny narrow, winding in circles, stone stairway, leading to the lookout at the top of the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral, I am suddenly overwhelmed with Claustrophobia halfway up, and get stuck. Some encouragement from the husband, after first laughing, helps, and being too confined to turn around, I am able to retreat down backwards.
When the children attend a live matinee showing, of the play, Bad Jelly the Witch, we wait, parked up under the lovely huge spreading trees in Hagley Park beside the river Avon. Resting in the back of the van, we shut the curtains for a bit of loving.
Back home in the shearing gang, conflicts had arisen between the husband and his eldest son about the management. Thinking the best way to resolve it and keep the family peace, was to withdraw, he handed it over and found work with another local shearer. The new workmate was a Scotsman with a great sense of humour and they soon had a friendly rivalry going with lots of practical jokes.
During the after wedding celebrations for the second eldest step-daughter, the husband has a dizzy spell, and feeling very unwell we head off home. My middle girl who is just learning to drive takes the wheel of the van while I sit with him in the back, he is acting very disorientated.
After refusing to see a doctor, ‘She’ll be right’ prevails, and he returns to work a few days later, putting it down to how busy he’s been.