I wish you all mothers of the world a wonderful day and Happy Mother’s Day! In Australia we celebrated that special day today. I was especially lucky to have my mother Freda with us in Brisbane. And she and I also would like to remember an amazing woman and mother, my grandmother who gave us both life. I hope to post a story this week about one of Freda’s adventures, but for today, I want to share one of my own proud and special moments as a mother with my sons, Chris (left) and Nathan. It was the day, a long time ago when we all dressed up to celebrate the independence of Papua New Guinea and we wore our Morobean dress. We also danced on that day.
Happy Birthday to my older son Nathan. We called him Nathan, as the biblical meaning, the gift from God. Today, Nathan turned 19. Our family celebrates Nathan for many things and one of them is reading and writing. Nathan loves story-telling.
Recently, Nathan started an adventure story on Facebook for all his friends’ birthdays. In this story, he weaves his friends (as characters) into the stories, based on the theme he chooses to fit that friend’s personality.
When his brother and I took him to lunch today to celebrate, Nathan mentioned in disappointment that none of his friends even wrote a paragraph about his birthday on Facebook. I laughed. I told him, it did not matter, and he must understand, his friends are not writers like he is. Writing may not be their thing, and his friends love him anyway.
I wanted to highlight a few things about Nathan.
- He was born with a strawberry patch on his stomach which his father and I fought over because we thought one or the other accidentally hurt Nathan’s skin. (I thought he did it. He thought I did it). The mark appeared suddenly then disappeared as he grew older.
- Nathan had a split tonsillitis and the paediatrician said Nathan would have difficulty speaking – that never happened.
- Before he turned three, he wanted to go to school so badly I took Nathan to a friend’s school. On that first day, Nathan ran out of the car into the school without saying goodbye or a cuddle. I found myself crying in the car while watching my son run to his first class.
- Nathan fell off our verandah (about three metres high) at five-years-old, and nearly cracked his skull. When he came to, on the way to the hospital, my then three-year-old apologised to me for falling. He survived the fall; got all clear and doctors thought it was amazing.
- When he was seven, Nathan gave a speech about The Importance Of Family in front of 500 people in a United Nation’s gathering; not knowing, a few months later his father and I would separate.
- At the same age, he corrected text books and his teachers said, it would be too hard to teach him as he got older.
- We migrated from PNG to Australia in July 2004. Nathan exceeded all expectations, and represented the school in Mathematics and other problems-solving tournaments. He continued to excel in learning.
- He is currently studying Bio-Med in University of Queensland.
A piece of writing from Nathan’s Facebook posts on his friend Jack’s birthday. (Fiction)
Jack fell out of bed, with all the grace of a bear emerging from hibernation. From memory, he’d set his alarm to 7, even though it was clearly closer to midday. Glancing around, he found his phone had its back cover removed and the battery thrown across the room. Smirking at his own genius aversion to early starts, he gathered the various contents and reassembled his mobile as he approached the kitchen. As Jack fearlessly prepared bacon for his morning sustenance, he realised too late how unwise it was to cook bacon before putting on more than underwear. He recoiled after being struck by a cruel splatter burn, and his phone came dislodged from his waistband. Upon retrieving it, he noticed he’d received a rather mysterious email.
The sender was a mysterious prince called Toban, from a foreign land. A royal in his homeland of Nigeria, Toban’s way of life was in grave danger. The prince requested urgent help, and pleaded to any whom it may concern to transfer the prince some money. These funds were to assist Toban to help Jack travel to his kingdom to combat ‘the thing’ that threatened his livelihood. Jack looked puzzled; he understood a great deal about being cautious, especially with respects to strangers on the internet. he heard about scammers. However, although the email was cryptic, and explained literally nothing, Jack thought, Toban seemed to be in genuine need. Jack righteously decided that $2000 was a small amount to pay to help a kindly stranger.
Naturally, literally everyone Jack mentioned this to were 100% convinced our hero had been repeatedly dropped as a child, but he remained strong. Days became weeks, and weeks became months. Even in the face of friends questioning how many vaccinations he had at the same time, or inquiring about his childhood consumption of lead paint chips (colloquially referred to as “Wall Candy”), Jack braved them all. These people did not know Toban like he did, the brief, one-sided, 53 word exchange had brought them together. Despite this, Jack’s hope was dwindling. He was close to broken before he finally received a positive sign, in the form of a one way ticket to Nigeria from Prince Toban. He boarded the flight.
“Mr Buffington, over here Mr Buffington!!” a stout black man called across the airport when Jack cleared customs.
Ignoring completely how this man knew what he looked like, because I checked and that would need about 150 more words, Jack and Prince Toban made their way home as Toban explained his current dilemma. Firstly, he vehemently refuted the label of “internet scammer”.
“Every dubious website and questionable email that passes the average person by is completely real”, Toban said.
Annually, he told Jack, the powers that be gathered two members of every faction of publicly labelled ‘Internet Scammer’ and forces them to fight to the death in a fierce battle royale, in order to keep them docile and to entertain the public.
Jack realised, Toban was the strongest of all the Nigerian princes, but his people had become weak and feeble. Due to shifting ideals, no one was sending them the money they needed to survive.
To Be Continued..(If I could get Nathan’s permission)
“I was on the seat in the back. I felt the bus moving away. I saw everybody, even Nathan on the ground as the bus went. When I turned around, no-one from my school was in the bus with me”. I remember my son’s words even to this day.
Chris Harris, five, was left in the public bus after the bus dropped off his brother (8), the staff and other children from Chapel Hill State School/After School Care.
Tomorrow, Chris will turn 16. Thanks to you, the Good Samaritan/ a stranger who helped Chris, find his way home.
It was in September 2004 in Brisbane City. We had migrated to Brisbane on July 13, 2004. As we were approaching Christmas, it would had been almost a year since the disappearance of Queensland boy Daniel James Morcombe and there was wide-spread publicity about him being missing. I was going through a difficult time, trying to settle into a new country without my extended family and my mother’s help with my sons.
The boys started school straight away and enjoyed it. They did better than I. In September, I was at work in Milton, near the city, and placed both boys at their school’s Holiday Care. A paid service run by the school. On that day, a trip to Southbank was organised so the children would be taken to the city to watch a movie. I understood at that time, there were three carers and 25 children. When the bus got to Southbank, a large amusement and entertainment park area, everyone got off the bus except for Chris. Chris is a very tall boy, even at age five. As a parent and an adult, I never understood how a responsible carer or teacher could not have done a head count of young children transported from one place to another. How did they not see Chris? None of the carers knew Chris was missing until they sat for the movie. His brother Nathan had started looking for him.
For Chris, after the initial shock of finding himself in the public bus all alone, and driven away, he said he searched in the faces of members of the public to “see who was nice”. Chris found a certain young man, he thought, “looked like” his uncle Kauc. Uncle Kauc is my brother. The bus stopped at the terminal in Myers Centre, Brisbane City. Apparently, Chris walked up to the stranger (that looked like my brother) and said; “excuse me, please help me. I am lost. My brother and other kids went off the bus as Southbank, it’s all my fault, I didn’t get off”.
According to Chris, the stranger said “Ok” and asked Chris to follow him. They walked out of the bus and through the crowds in the shopping centre, straight to the police station.
I asked Chris later if the man touched him and Chris said “No mum. He did not want to hold my hand. He told me to follow him”.
At the police station, Chris gave the police my name, number and address. Chris had memorised it, and police also found the contact details I wrote on Chris’ hat and bag. A call to the school and within a few hours, the Brisbane police brought my son back to Southbank to re-unite with his brother and the rest of the group. No-one called me.
After work that afternoon I walked to the school from the bus stop to pick up my sons. One of the carers came out to see me and told me about what had happened. Before she even finished the story I demanded to know where my children were. I called Chris over, checked his body, asked if he was Ok. When he said he was, I picked him up and hugged him and got his brother. I lifted Chris onto my shoulders and held Nathan’s hand as we walked home. I refused to speak with the carers or anyone before we left the school. I was outraged and terrified of what might have happened. I just wanted to get home. I wanted to just be with my sons. I walked and I wailed like a true Papua New Guinean woman for the five kilometres home. I remember people in our suburb coming out of their houses to see what was going on and just stared.
The next day I resigned from my job. I was afraid to leave the boys with anyone. It took me two whole weeks before I could speak to the school and the Holiday care people. We never really resolved the issue. I moved on.
This week at work one of my colleagues made a collection for Daniel Morcombe’s foundation, set up by Daniel’s parents to help other parents who have lost their children to evil people. Some parents have never found their children.
I am celebrating my son turning 16 tomorrow and I am truly grateful to God and the kind stranger who helped Chris find his way home, almost eleven years ago.