The View of the Future
The day after I turned 21, I was driving with a mate of mine from school. We were heading towards Exmouth, to start work. Two more of my friends were already up there working.
It looked like a great adventure was about to happen for us.
Our campsite was right on the Tropic of Capricorn, accommodation on one side, canteen and toilet blocks were on the other side.
It was hot. It was dusty. It was dirty. But we were well paid. It was a great job.
We loved the lifestyle.
There was a family there. A mother, father and two young boys, both of who were foster children. The father had left Perth to come and work up North to earn some money. The mother was a nurse, who had pretty much retired to take care of their children.
The youngest of the two boys had experienced a shocking upbringing, regularly being locked in a cupboard underneath a set of stairs. He was withdrawn and hiding inside himself. He didn't really speak to anyone. In fact, he hardly even spoke to his foster father.
After his foster father had left the city to go to work up North, the mother had realised that the youngest boy began to withdraw even further, back to the state he was in when he had first become a part of their family. So she packed up, purchased a caravan, hooked it onto the family car and took the boys up North to be with their foster father.
The young boy started to come out of his shell, even though, he still found it hard to talk to people or even get close to anyone.
They used to do, ‘School of the Air’, and he really didn't contribute to anything that was happening in his classroom.
My three mates and I, every Saturday, around 1 o'clock after we finished work, would head off to a spot to go either fishing or scuba diving.
We caught painted crayfish by hand, built bonfires to cook our dinner. It was an awesome life.
The family, who did not live in the camp, had set up their own little village, in a dry riverbed. We regularly went down there after work and had a few beers and maybe even a feed. It was like having another family for the 4 of us.
The young boy was rarely seen. He kept to himself and really didn't like being around strangers.
One weekend the foster mother asked if we would like to join the family. We gladly said yes.
We arrived early. We collected timbers for the fire that we were going to have that night, so we could cook our feast. We went down to the beach, did a little bit of diving, threw a rod and knocked around with the young boys. They seemed to be open to our attention, but not fully.
That night around the campfire, having a few beers, I was seated next to the foster mother. I got up and walked over to grab some beers to hand out to my friends. When I returned, the young boy was sitting in my seat. I stood in front of him and said, “That's my seat!”
He looked at me startled and worried. He got up and moved over and sat on a large log that was being used as a seat.
I again walked over, stood in front of him and said, “No, no, no, that's my seat as well”.
He again stood and moved to another chair. I continued to move around, followed him and said, “Nope, that's my seat”. “No, that's my seat”. His face broke into a grin and we started laughing together. Eventually, we returned to my original seat. I sat down and he came and sat on my knee, facing his mum.
We talked. We laughed. It was a wonderful evening. The boys were eventually taken off to bed.
To her dismay when the mother returned some half-hour later to check on the boys. The young boy said, “Mum, can I go and say goodnight to Rob?”.
“Goodnight to Rob?” The mother asked, questioning.
With a tear in her eye, she said, “Yes. No worries”.
They came across to where I was sleeping, in the boot of one of the cars. No tents with us. We used whatever we could as a bed. The young boy leaned over into the boot and said, “Goodnight Rob. I hope you have a wonderful sleep.”
The mother had tears running down her face. I looked up at her. She smiled, nodded and walked away with the young boy.
The following morning, we all had breakfast, again went down the beach and mucked around on the water's edge. It was a wonderful day. Again, very hot.
But this day felt like a family outing.
On returning to our camp the following day, the boys had the ‘School of the Air’. The teacher asked, “Has anyone got a story to tell of what they got up to over the weekend?”
To his surprise, the young boy gladly called out, “I do. We went fishing. We went snorkelling, we played on the beach, and we had a campfire with our friends. I met a mate called Rob!”
This young boy had never been shown fun. He'd never been shown how to have a good life.
It's never too late to show someone you care and love them.
I have no idea what happened to this young boy, as I left a few weeks later, but I hope his life improved.
He deserved to be happy, to know joy and adventure.
Life isn’t meant to be lived in a cupboard, restricted and scary.
His new normal is different, all thanks to his foster mum, letting him take on new adventures and trusting in others to bring the best out in her children.
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