Thursday 24 November, 2011:
A lot of things to say, and hardly enough time to write.
When I get home today, I crash. I’m so tired and I just want to sleep. I vaguely note that someone’s cut the lawns and pulled out weeds; later I find out that Scott’s been round for hours doing the lawns and garden. I text him to say thanks and I appreciate it. Scott replies, saying he’s happy to help out, and anyway, he says: ‘you’ve got the hard job – living with my son haha’
As much as I try, I can’t keep up with writing at the moment. I guess that’s a good thing, as events are happening all around and about me. Only… I also have this need to record at least the shape of what’s going on. When I read back over the last three years, there are patterns forming and cohering; it’s almost spooky at times.
And meanwhile, the multitudinous ‘incident report’ of life with Tau – honest to who, it’s not quiet. Tau’s approach to life is single minded, but what his mind is set on varies on any given day, and sometimes from hour to hour. It can be frustrating (for him, for me, and doubtlessly for a lot of other people as well), but at the bottom of it all – I see him try so hard, I really do. The way he veers off track and comes back, trying to find some route through. And I don’t quite know what that means, but I get it, oh I get it alright.
Monday 28 November:
All sorts of stuff going on in the last few days. Shae and me have a long talk on Saturday night, while Tau’s up at Clancy with the boys. He’s supposed to be back by midnight, but the hour’s been and gone, and he still hasn’t arrived. Shae, in her quiet way, is getting pissed off at Tau’s lateness. She asks me to text Noa – I do, and he replies Tau has left; some people came and picked him up in a car.
Shae is worried and mournful and angry all at the same time, but she resignedly curls up on the sofa, and we watch the election results unfold. Every now and then she tells me, “I’m not letting him go out next weekend!” Eventually the conversation turns to Tau’s drinking. For as Shae and I both know – it’s the thing most likely to have brought about this situation. And when Tau’s drunk (rather than stoned), that’s the time when he’s likely to take bigger risks than he normally would. We’re cognisant of these possibilities too, and, “I’m gonna be worried till he comes back,” says Shae. “I can’t help it.”
As we stay up together and talk, Shae tells me how scared she used to be sometimes, at Scott and Sheree’s. “And when Scott loses it and starts giving the kids hidings, Sheree doesn’t do anything,” she calmly says. “She just sits there – that’s not what mothers are supposed to do. A mother should protect her kids. That’s what my mother always did, when my dad was beating me up. Even if she got a hiding for it, she’d always try and stop him. That’s what a mother should do, isn’t it?” I just nod, as she continues, “And when my dad was throwing the dining room table onto my brother, my mum ran in and stood in the way, to protect him.”
“My dad drinks a lot too, like Scott,” she acknowledges. “My mum’s more into smoking weed. I’ve been allowed to drink and take drugs since I was pretty young. But I prefer weed, I’m more scared of alcohol. And it’s more expensive. And sometimes I’m worried Tau’s gonna turn into an alcoholic, like his dad. Cos I think he prefers alcohol to weed – and sometimes I think he looks forward to his drinking days too much.”
We discuss all this in a straightforward way; Shae wrapped up in a blanket. There’s so much going on here, and who am I to be any use? Though sometimes it feels like a safe space anyway, for all of us, and that fills me with hope. But other times everything pains me, and I feel… not very wise.
Around 2 o’clock I go to bed. Later Shae tells me she watched TV until 4, to tire herself out. Tau gets in round 5 – says he’s been out tagging with Levi, until they came across a group of guys in an alleyway who tried to step them out. Tau went back to Fitzroy St and got Leroi and Scott who (with knives) were added to the fray. Nothing eventuated, and the guys took off (sacked it, according to Tau).
That was all true, too (according to Leroi, who I see today at school). But there were parts of the story which Tau left untold:
“He arrived at our place with all these girls,” Leroi tells me.
“Mmm…” I say, thinking about it. “Who were they?”
“I dunno,” says Leroi.
Later on, Tau and I have a short discussion about this point. And afterwards I look at him, and say, “Just be good to Shae.”
He bends his head, with a little nod.
“Cos she’s good to you,” I add, gently.
Thursday 1 December:
9 Social are quite a sweet class but I don’t ‘care’ care, you know. I’m not good at teaching just for the sake of it. My values, school’s values – they don’t coincide. When I have to pretend to care about stupid stuff, I go blank inside. I can’t handle it even as little as I used to. When choices were simple, and none of them had the consequences they do now.
Sometimes I yearn for those days, when that stuff still meant something – at least some of the time. I remember 2009 and my 11 Social class, and Jack telling me proudly: “Everyone just wants to learn, in this class.”
Later on, Riley and I go get paint, with Nio along for the ride. Me and Riley chastise him as he drawls, mocks; teases us all the way to the mall.
“Oh, be quiet, Nio,” I say, looking at him with love in my heart.
“I’ll say, Miss – geez Nio, shut up, it’s always like 20 Questions with you!” Riley says.
Nio smirks, clucking at us, then begins again: “Miss… can I roll up a ciggie in your car? (yes); Miss, will you take us to the liquor store afterwards so I can get a box? (no); Oh, Miss, how come? (this causes all of us to fall about laughing); Miss, can you lend me three dollars to get a box? (no); Miss, will you just drop me off there, then? And I’ll just walk back home? (ok); Thank you, Miss.”
Outside the mall, Nio stands, smoking his rollie. He looks around him and sneers at the world, then: “Wanna smoke, Miss?” he asks me, kindly.
“No thanks, Nio.”
Nio grins, and Riley looks at me with some tenderness.
We buy the paint, and they throw in a free can.
“Can I have the free can?” asks Nio.
“Nah,” I tell him. “Free cans are already pre-allocated.”
“Cluzo…” says Nio, and chuckles, for I know he accepts this equity of mine on good terms.
Equity, articulated upon equality; and in my world that’s all there is to go on – one of the few principles I hold.