Saturday, May 9, 2009

7 March (Sat)

Had another hideous night last night. Keita awake at 2am with nightmares, saying monsters are coming to get her. Just as she had fallen sleep she was woken by Brad coughing and then took another hour to get back there, at which point she was shouted at by Brad for not going to sleep, at which point I shouted at him at which point he shouted at me. So Keita and I were awake for the next hour. Rio up at 5, then Keita up at 6, so no sleep at all for me. I spent the night with awful thoughts about how all my concerns have come to fruition (as they bloody do). We have taken our happy go lucky, outgoing, sociable little boy and isolated him in an environment that is not stimulating for him once the novelty has worn off, with nobody his age and adults who aren’t the least bit interested in improving his situation – least of all his dad, (although this isn’t intentional the outcome is the same). Brad is not seeing the very obvious signs of stress that Rio is exhibiting and somehow unaffected by the incessant high-pitched humming that Rio has taken to doing all the time. Rio has almost completely vanished into the world of Wally Books. He goes to sleep at night clutching them, spends all day pouring over them reaches for one as his eyes open in the morning. He only reads certain pages - the ones with dragons and knights and creatures. I wish I had some reference for what a nearly 5-year-old boy is like. I don’t think I had ever spoken to a five-year-old before I became a mother. I feel like I have a better grasp of astrophysics than parenting.     

I had to play the role of Brad’s assistant this morning and head out early filming. Everything was swimming before my eyes from exhaustion. It was rather like a hallucination – memories of a beach in Greece with the rocks breathing …

We found two new lionesses (actually very old lionesses but new in this territory). They were with a young male who had been badly damaged in a fight and looked as if he may not survive. If he does pull through he will probably lose the sight in his eye. He has an abscess from a bite on his jaw that has become very septic and affected the entire right side of his face. Poor thing.

As on the way home a very large cobra reared up unexpectedly from in the grass on the side of the road. There was a moment when I was literally eye to eye with the creature as we drove past it. Oh the joy of doorless vehicles …

I felt much better after the drive this morning. Perhaps my depression is just cabin fever.

Later that day I was chatting to Rio while he was half-heartedly playing on the jungle gym. He told me that he had a secret (which immediately set off numerous alarm bells - as it does). He whispered in my ear that his secret was that he wanted to go back to Durban with Anthony. When Anthony had left Rio had asked if he was leaving too, and I told him he was staying and asked him if he was happy about this. He said he was and I was very relieved and felt that my stress was unfounded and he is happy here and I am indeed projecting all this stuff onto him. Today he told me now that actually he does want to go back to Durban, but clearly doesn’t want to upset us or make us angry (don’t know why he thinks this would make us angry …) so he says it is his secret.

Brad is very busy, if not actually filming then doing maintenance on the vehicles which fall apart rapidly in this environment. Keita and Rio spend whatever time with him they can get this afternoon proximity to dad meant helping with the vehicle maintenance. The main appeal was the drum of old fuel that Brad and Graham were using to clean various nuts and bolts. In no time both Rio and Keita had paint brushes and were painting intricate petrol portraits on a bit of board. As I was filming (a great behind the scenes clip) I was vaguely contemplating how far from a northern suburbs mother I had come. These days most moms panic at the thought of the merest hint of lead getting within range of their kids. Here I was (relatively) happily watching my children smear themselves in petrol and oil. But they loved it and it made good footage …

When we had them in the bath that evening trying to get petrol out of their pores with a scrubbing brush and Sunlight liquid Brad confessed that the day before (unbeknownst to me) they had both managed to get completely covered in Creosote. To get it off he had washed them with engine cleaner! I don’t think this is the sort of thing a mother should ever know. 

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