Happy Endings


“I haven’t seen much of Sophie tonight,” I said to Tracey. Miss3 is usually high maintenance but she loves having kids over to play with and scream at. Tonight we had a BBQ dinner with the neighbours, their four kids and Miss18 & her boyfriend – a total of 15 mouths to feed and talk over. I’ve been to concerts which produced less noise.

When I arrived home from work the party was already in full swing. I tussled a couple of heads as I made my way over the balcony to the table.

We’ve found the trouble with having lots of kids and adults at any sort of function is everyone kind of assumes, because there’s so many adults around, the kids are fine and cared for. I mean, with so many eyes watching over them, what could happen?

The answer to this, we’ve discovered, is they can wander off.

When Miss9 was about three we were up in the Bunya Mountains with my family – six adults, two teenagers and four little kids. Having afternoon tea at a local cafe, Tracey happened to glance over the car park and saw an unattended little girl stepping onto the road. To her horror she then realized it was our little girl. By the time Tracey reached her, our three year old was stepping off the road into the forestry on the other side.

This is the stuff of nightmares. I know because this incident has been haunting my slumber ever since.

Another party we had here with a few friends and family members saw the house filled with even more kids, with another big family we know joining in the festivities. Rain was bucketing down as our friends started to gather up their five kids in preparation for the dart to the car. They had four on our balcony and were conducting a search of the house for the fifth when the police arrived carrying a little boy. He’d ducked out, crossed the road and was heard crying in a neighbour’s yard.

Again, a happy ending. But also a story to serve as a warning about keeping an eye on the little darlings and not assuming there’s any sort of safety in numbers. In our experience it’s quite the opposite. We like to conduct regular, independent head counts. I’m usually pretty good at doing this, but tonight I might have slipped up a bit.

The neighbours had gone home and I was walking around kissing cheeks and tucking in our darlings.  It occurred to me, when all the kids were giving a concert on the drums and with the violins, Miss3 didn’t join in. “She was really quiet tonight. Is she in bed already?” I asked Tracey.

She answered me with a question of her own. “You kidding me?”

“Yes?” I said hopefully while trying to work out what I’d missed.

“She’s at Grandma’s,” Tracey explained. Okay, 14 mouths to feed and talk over.

Tracey had me and she knew it. And I admit I was feeling a little let down by myself. I should have been on top of this. Naturally she didn’t try to press her advantage and make me feel guilty. Okay, well maybe she pressed a little.

“Well? What have you got to say for yourself?” she wanted to know.

I went with, “No wonder there was food left over.”

But she knows I meant, ‘No wonder you’re in charge.’

 nothing is really lost until your mom can't find it

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’raising a family on little more than laughs’

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