So, after our big walloping announcement a couple of months ago, the world has changed around us.
To be more precise, Blake has changed our world.
If we went to Brisbane, he wasn't coming with us. He was going to stay here with his Dad, and we would fly him over every school holiday to spend them with us. And that was fine, we thought, because he lives with his Dad full-time and we've become reconciled to making the most of what time we get with him. It's become a routine. Not the ideal routine, not the one we want, but it makes him happy and that's what counts. And we knew that we'd make the new routine work too, as much as we could.
And then he changed it.
On Boxing Day, as we were all scattered about the house doing our own thing, he quietly came into the bedroom where Lyn and I were lying on the bed reading. He sat down between us, curled into his Mum, and without any fuss, calmly told us that he loved us, and wanted to change his care arrangement to shared care: two weeks with his Dad, two weeks with us. He misses his brothers and sister when he's not with them. He misses us. He's happy when he's with us and he's happy with his Dad, and he wants to share it equally.
What do you say to that? What can you say except We love you. We're happy you love us. Of course you can. We'll do everything we can to make it happen.
Then, on the 28th, while I was at work, he climbed a tree at the park across the road from us, attempting to retrieve his new boomerang from its perch. The tree was high, the branch was weak, the fall stopped suddenly. And broke his arm.
Lyn rushed him to the doctor: there were x-rays, and pain killers, and a cast, and now he's happily playing the Playstation one-handed and counting the days until his cast is dry enough to write on.
But I was a wreck: I was stuck at work, an hour's drive away, while it all happened. I was so far away. And Lyn was at home, and she coped beautifully, because she's a brilliant mother and knows how to hide her fear and heartache from her children.
But later that night, when everyone was asleep, and we lay in our bed debriefing the day, she cried over her son's pain, and told me what Blake had said when he was in the doctor's surgery: I wish Lee was here. He could make me laugh. And then I cried, and we talked some more, and we realised---
We can't do it. We can't go to Brisbane. No matter how much we rationalise it to ourselves, and to anyone else, we can't leave any of our children behind. We're a family, all seven of us. The moment we leave Blake or Cassie, we're not a family anymore. I can't handle being an hour's drive from them when bad things happen. How could I handle being a continent away? And how could Lyn live, knowing her child was hurt or in trouble and she was on the other side of the country and couldn't be there?
So: we're staying here, in Perth, with our family.
Pick your nose again and see what happens, boy!