Chapter 32 WE MOVE INTO THE HOUSE 1965
The morning that the glazier had finished putting glass in the front door of the house, he left his tools next to the door, and was surprised that Jacqueline picked up the hammer and cracked the glass!
She was just a year old, David two and a half and Peter four when we moved into the unfinished house with the stove, moved up from downstairs. I bought some very cheap beds for the boys and some even cheaper linoleum to cover the cement floors. At last we had enough room, could open windows on hot days, no more water pouring in. The children could all have a warm bath together in a full size bath instead of a laundry tub as often as needed and could play in it. A big advance! Bill and I did not suddenly feel we needed a daily shower except when we were "dirty". We found that the upstairs shower was temperamental as there was not a lot of fall from the hot water tank. Hot water was gravity fed and cold water was mains pressure and the two didn't co-ordinate naturally. So the choice was a good wash, a good bath, a quick, cold shower upstairs or a good shower downstairs.
As the bathroom was on the north side, it was a lovely warm room in winter, warmer than our bedroom which got only early morning sun. I stuck to baths, which was no hardship and I enjoyed reading and relaxing in the tub when I had time after the children were all in bed, or jump in after them for a quick dip. Bill was not so happy, especially as the solar heater had been my idea.
The chimney was unfinished inside and out. When it was complete it would give the house with its butterfly roof some character. Bill planned to spray the exterior of the house with coloured cement render like the apartment blocks in Germany.
Dad came down to do the the electrical work and painting for us and on each trip he brought beautiful Mudgee stone for the external chimney facing, but for many years thereafter it lay stacked under the house. Whenever possible I fed and dressed the children, then worked all day doing the many sealing and undercoats necessary for the interior cement-rendered walls. One of Jacqueline's first words was "paint" when she had carefully touched a newly painted surface with one finger.
In the yard near the kitchen door was a heap of building rubble, broken bricks, bits of metal and wood. I trod on a rusty nail which pierced my shoe and which I treated with Iodine. Peter fell and cut his head and had to have two stitches. I began to reduce the pile but Bill got very annoyed.
"Do you have to have everything done immediately?"
The built-in wardrobes were non-existent. The laundry was incomplete, the kitchen cupboards half-built. There was no basin or cabinet in the bathroom. There was no high cupboard in the house. The only place to keep all the "out of reach of children" items was the top of the fridge. Next to the fridge was a set of drawers which David found made good "steps" to climb up and help himself to several of my contraceptive pills. I raced next door and rang the doctor.
"He'll probably get severe morning sickness but I assure you he won't grow whiskers." His prediction was correct.
Things were still downstairs in the garage, awaiting some cupboards. Books which I had kept were stored in boxes. I still had "Children's Treasure House", now thirty years old, and my high school text books but they were quite beyond my children. Much more attractive children's books were available at the local library and in the shops were some affordable picture books. I bought one called "The Smiley Lion" which helped Peter understand simple numbers. One day I was sorting through the winter clothes which I kept downstairs in my mother's Glory Box. In the box was also the doll which had been given to me when I was about eight. David was delighted to find it.
"No," I said. "That is for Jacqueline when she is bigger."
A few minutes later he reappeared having gone upstairs, got Jacqueline up from her afternoon nap, and brought her down by the hand, her eyes still full of sleep, clutching the Teddy Bear.
"Look Mummy, she's bigger."
The children played well together, either all playing with cars or all playing with dolls. The expensive fire engine Bill had bought in Germany was by now the worse for wear. He had given up bothering about it. It was still tricky for the boys to use the remote, to control it. It seemed silly to start worrying now.
Peter had started going to Sunday School, walking alone after the first few visits, to the hall about 15 minutes walk away. I had decided that he needed to know that many people had a firm belief in the Bible, even though I did not. He heard the stories I had grown up with, about the "good" people in the Bible stories, killing other people. This puzzled him. I had no valid explanation. Sunday School was also a social activity for him.
David and Jacqueline were toilet-trained at about the same time. Encouraging David to use a potty or the toilet resulted in Jacqueline training herself, sometimes without even telling me. She learnt things quickly, with two bigger brothers to follow and she was not backward in ensuring that she was included in everything.
It was always difficult to do things like get my hair cut. I had mentioned a number of times that I wanted to do this, but didn't find the right opportunity. I had bought a basic barber set and had learnt to cut Bill's hair in our car-less days. I had always cut the children's hair from the time they had enough to cut. Mine was a different matter. It was quite long and getting scraggly. Eventually one day I bravely went to a hairdresser and with the children left to their own devices in the salon for twenty minutes, I sat in trepidation, lest they should do some damage or wander off. With help from the "girls" we survived the ordeal without mishap and I looked civilised again. When Bill came home from work, he had also had a haircut as he did regularly.
"Oh, you've had a haircut," I observed, facetiously. "I've been waiting ages for a chance to get mine done." I was hinting that he should notice that I had also had a hair cut.
"Well why the bloody hell don't you?" was his comment, quite oblivious.
A few days later, Bill agreed for the third time since we had had the children to mind them while I did some business in town.
This time David decided to become a barber. He sat Jacqueline on a chair, wrapped a towel around her and much to Bill's amusement carefully began to snip with my dressmaking scissors. When I returned, Bill signalled to me to come in quietly as he set his camera. Jacqueline was sitting as still as a mouse and by the time I arrived home she was almost bald on one side. That was the last time I employed that baby-sitter. His priorities differed from mine.
There was nowhere high where such things as scissors could be put out of his reach. I had helped Peter cut out and put together a cardboard mask from a cereal packet. David decided to try his skills on a library picture book. The result was a dozen snips of the page, a confession and apology from me on my next visit to the library and an understandable but nevertheless disappointing fine.