Wednesday, September 16, 2015


A man I'd never met before arrived at our door yesterday afternoon with an injured River on his back.

River had been playing footy at the little park four houses away in the court where we're staying. I'd been down to check on him about twenty minutes before he was returned home with a swollen, bruised and scraped right knee.

I'd agreed nervously to let him go down to the park with the other kids who live in the street, I'm usually one for keeping my boys within sight. But the park here is bordered by the homes of the children that River was with and the day before they'd been at the park and there were other parents around. What could happen I thought? Gotta let him have some independence some time. All those kind of thoughts were going through my head as I walked back from the park after checking on who was at the park. There were no adults when I went down there, just four boys. "Come straight home when the others go home" I instructed River. "Yes Mum" he answered immediately.

Instead, some of the other kids parents and uncle joined in the footy match and when one kicked the ball to River he was so busy focusing on the mark he forgot about the knee high fence behind him. Bang went his knee into the fence, he flipped over the railing and landed on his back. He was extremely lucky to get out of it with a bruise.

Ice packs and arnica cream seemed to help. Although, he went to bed with a throbbing leg wondering how he was going to sleep. "Remember that time Archie fell out of the tree house at Van's and landed on his arm and thought he was ok and then woke up in the middle of the night in bad pain and it was broken? Well what if that happens to me?" River asked.

I did my best to reassure him that if his knee was broken he'd be in too much pain to be going to sleep. As mothers do best I kept my thoughts to myself that wondered the same thing, what if he'd really damaged himself? I had visions of returning to Melbourne with River in plaster.

He slept soundly as he always does and despite laying straight as a board when he first was in bed, by morning he was tangled in his sheet legs bent and splayed in opposite directions. Clearly his knee hadn't bothered him overnight.

Pete set off at 6.30am out to a community where he is building a women's healing shelter. He had a long hot day in the sun ahead of him and wanted to get started early.

At about 7.30am I heard River hobbling his way out of bed. He still couldn't bear any weight on his knee. I helped him to the couch where it looked like he was set to stay for the day. Without a car and with River injured we were house bound. As it turns out, a day at home was just what we needed.

With so much to get involved in in Alice Springs and knowing we are only here for a limited time, I had forgotten the value of having a day at home.

Sol stayed in his pj's and ate buckwheat pancakes in the morning sun. River read for the best part of the morning and relished having a rooibos tea with milk and sugar because we'd run out of honey. We raided the bush camp bag that had sugar in it for when we made billy tea.

We did manage to do some school work, River wrote three songs and Sol created imaginary worlds and battles with his Star Wars figurines. I even let them do some maths games on the computer! A very rare event.

By the afternoon we'd all earned some down time, a movie for them and a cup of tea and time reading 'Wrong Way Round' a fabulous true tale of a family who packs up their life in Fitzroy, Melbourne and hits the road. Written by Lorna Hendry I'm aiming to finish it before the weekend when I'm going to a workshop Lorna is presenting at the Writer's Festival. I've been reading it to the boys too, they get totally lost in the story asking for one more page, one more page.

As I sipped my tea and soaked in the quiet of the house and the rhythm of Lorna's story I felt a slight pang of guilt that I should be doing something else, something more 'productive'. To stave off the guilt I told myself that essentially reading the book was work. I am a writer after all and I needed to 'study' the book before the weekend. The guilt also stemmed from thinking about Pete building in the blazing sun while we were in the cool comfort of the house. Guilt, it is so pointless isn't it?

By the end of the day River was back on his feet. At 4.30pm when the boys' buddy Jacob and the other kids in the street arrived home from their school day River's injury was a distant memory. "Who wants to play hide and seek?" they all scattered to find their hiding spot.

Have you forgotten the art of staying home? Are you caught in the busy loop too? Take a day off!

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