If I said to my sister, I’m having an Uncle Peter day, she would immediately know what I meant. My mum would too, I think, although sometimes now, at almost 87, her memory needs a clue or two! Do you have family “short cuts” in your speech? Special words or phrases that immediately put you back into a situation, usually from your childhood, where only the immediate family knows what is going on! It is these things that set your family blueprint. They bind us together with a commonality that is both familiar and (mostly) comforting!
This would be the point where I begin to destroy my brother’s reputation!!
My brother, Peter, became a Grandfather for the 4th time a couple of weeks ago. As the youngest sibling, this is all quite annoying to both myself and my sister, who are still waiting for our 1st grandbaby!! However, it was this happy event, that set me thinking of our childhood days, growing up in Mt Roskill, Auckland.
As mentioned above, Peter was the youngest of us 3 kids and he was the only boy! We played a lot with the other kids in the neighbourhood but there weren’t many other boys, so of course he was forced into such amazing productions as Swan Lake …. on roller skates and competing for The Best Girl prize at the local Girls’ Club run by one of the big (older) girls across the street! The prize was usually a bunch of buttercups and daisies picked from the lawn. He was a quiet soul which I find quite surprising when he was the 3rd after a bossy …. oops sorry Jan, well organised, oldest sister and a rather mouthy middle sister!
He was an active wee tike, who specialised in jumping out of trees (stitches in a badly cut foot) and jumping over barbed wire fences (stitches in a perfect three corner cut in his thigh) and playing war with bombs (rocks) being hurled across “no man’s land” at the enemy, who were supposed to be hidden, protected even, by a corrugated iron lean too (bomb shelter) resulting in a direct hit (requiring stitches to a nasty gash in his head.)
So as you can tell, he was no shrinking violet, most of the time! There were of course lapses, especially those down times when he sucked his thumb and went into “Peter the Dreamer” mode! Around about his early teen years!!! #sorrynotsorrybro. It was during these times that the Uncle Peter moments occurred.
We grew up in a modest 2 bedroom plus a sunroom house that required a little creative planning to fit everything into it. For this reason, our fridge was keep in the laundry or washhouse as we used to call it. The kitchen just didn’t have room for a large fridge and so the washhouse it was! Dad also had a small beer fridge on the back porch! It so happened that the hook that my brother had to hang his schoolbag on when he got home, also happened to be in said washhouse! Yes, you guessed it – frequently on dreamy Peter days we would find his little leather satchel IN the fridge rather than on the hook and many others we would hear him stop after opening the fridge door … No – on the hook not in the fridge!!! Enter the Uncle Peter Day to our family short cut language.
There were many other instances of Uncle Peter behaviour, but one particular one sticks in my mind. It occurred many years later, when he was a teenager and I came home from school to find Peter sitting watching TV in the lounge room. Although we went to the same Grammar school, I as a rule was much later home than he was because I usually had some boy I was cultivating by walking them home!! So my brother was mostly home ahead of me and that meant he got to plonk down in front of the telly with his choice of show. I had tried all method of things to get control of the channel selection but to no avail. I know I would have been wanting to watch Ready to Roll or Radio With Pictures – the pop music shows of the day!
This day I silently wandered into the room, sat down and began watching what he was watching. After about 2 minutes I just quietly, said can you change the channel to Channel 2 and Peter immediately got up and changed the channel. Success! It took about half an hour before my brother said to me – Wasn’t I watching another show on the other channel when you arrived? To which I may have replied that I didn’t think so!! Another classic Uncle Peter moment!
So it was these happy times that sprang to my mind, when for the second time this week I found myself putting the milk into the pantry rather than the fridge, which isn’t even in the washhouse and, secondly, almost putting dry cat’s food into the dishwasher in place of the soap tablet! Again, classic Uncle Peter moments!
Anyhoo – congratulations Peter and Jacque on the birth of your 3rd grand daughter and 4th grandchild. Welcome sweet Lowri Carter Morris and great job Hayden and Ran.