What a crazy week of ups and downs it's been! This time last week it was Noel's birthday. I knew exactly what I was going to get him - nothing too extravagant but just what he wanted - and was looking forward to meandering over the hill in my trusty car for a wee shopping trip. The kids were at school, Noel was at work and I was all ready to go; all that was needed was to quickly check the bank balance. Oh how quickly the day changed! My tax had come out of our bank account early - almost a week earlier than expected - and we were back in overdraft. On the positive side, it was only a quarter of the amount we had gone over previously so all our scrimping and saving must have done some good. However all of a sudden I was going nowhere and Noel was going to have no presents (are you getting a feeling of deja vu right about now?) Another positive thing about this time is that unlike a 15 year old boy it's not the end of the world for a 39 year old bloke to get 'IOU' vouchers and I knew we still had plenty of yummy food on hand to make a special dinner. 'Birthdays aren't just about presents. Go to the $2.00 shop and get him a funny birthday hat!' suggested my friend Kiri. I thought that was a great idea - I just didn't have the heart to tell her I couldn't even go to the $2.00 shop! If Noel was going to get any sort of hat for his birthday it was going to be a home made one. But before I did anything I was going to have to ring the bank and explain what had happened with my tax as it was still four days away from payday. The bank (that's National Bank, I feel they deserve a plug for being so lovely to us all these years) were wonderful and most sympathetic. They convinced me to agree to a small overdraft, just for a few months until we got back on our feet. 'You don't have to use it, but it's better to have it set up and have peace of mind rather than getting charged $15 every time you accidentally go over like you are at the moment!' While they were at it, they also noticed we could be saving an extra $10 a month on fees so switched us over to another type of account. 'So I can go to the $2.00 shop and get my hubby something for his birthday and I won't get declined now?' I asked. 'You go and get him something nice my dear, he deserves it!' came the warm reply.
This I duly did, but I didn't make it over the hill to go shopping. Instead I found the perfect gift right here in Whangamata, at Bubba's fishing shop! Noel in the meantime had been busy earning his own birthday present. In my last blog I said he was out fishing. The 20lb (8.29kg) snapper he brought home turned out to be the biggest fish weighed in at Whangamata all month, earning Noel a $200 cheque for his efforts! And so began a run of good luck for Team Wise. Liam was surprised and delighted when his name was called out in school assembly as the 'Big Wednesday' $50 cash prize winner! 'Hmm, lucky things, when's it my turn?' I couldn't help thinking. As it turned out I didn't have to wait long. In the space of a few days I received not one, but two letters which made me smile. The first was from my accountant to inform me my annual tax returns had now been completed and wonder of wonders, I was due for a refund! OK so at the princely sum of $51 it hardly spelled the end of my financial woes but hey, it was still very welcome! The second was a lovely surprise and came from the council to let me know that due to the nice apologetic letter I had written with regard to my expired vehicle registration a couple of weeks before, they would waive my $200 fine and tear up my cheque. Hooray!
Which just leaves Ali. Master Ali bless him has gained an impressive $250 this week - but at immense personal cost I'm afraid to say. Two days ago I received a call from the school to say that Ali had hurt his hand playing rugby. The office lady had kindly taken him to the doctor but it looked as though something was broken and he needed to go back later that afternoon for an x-ray. Immediately Mother Hen swung into action. 'Ohh, my poor little munchkin!' I cried, smothering him with cookies and milk and lashings of sympathy. Hence began the waiting game, first waiting in the x-ray clinic. 'What have you done?' asked the (very) senior technician. 'I hurt my hand playing rugby', came the reply. 'Hmph - there's only one way you can damage your hand in that place and that's through punching something! Who did you hit?' she snorted, as Ali looked benignly into space. 'Oh no, it was definitely through rugby, the school told me!' I assured her, ruffling my wee angel's hair indulgently. Pictures were taken and we were sent straight back to the doctor's to await the results. 'Who did you punch?' Doctor Number One grinned at Ali, taking a quick look at the x-ray before sending us out to the waiting room for Doctor Number Two. 'Honestly, people are always so quick to assume the worst!' I sighed, settling down with a magazine. It was about then that my phone beeped and I received a text from Noel. 'According to Liam's mates just arrived, Ali punched a kid called Harvey*'. 'Oh ALI! Did you punch Harvey?' I burst out in the middle of the waiting room. 'MUM! For goodness sake be quiet! He's sitting with his mum on the other side of the waiting room!' Ever had one of those moments when you feel like falling through the floor?
Eventually we were called in to see Doctor Number Two, who confirmed the hand was definitely broken and would need to be reset at the hospital first thing in the morning. The doctors and nurses all thought the situation was hilarious, especially when I whispered shame-faced that the other party was by now in the adjoining cubicle with only a curtain between us. In fact, the nurse felt so sorry at my wan expression and the fact I hadn't eaten for almost 12 hours that she gave me a slab of her chocolate! After a pain-filled night, Ali and I made our way bright and early to Thames Hospital, where we sat until 12.30 waiting for our 10am appointment. His little finger, which was stuck out at a 30 degree angle was put back in place but unfortunately the damage was worse than we all thought and the doctor informed us that his hand will probably never be the same again but should regain most of its function in a few years when he stops growing. Another bone in his hand had snapped further down, so he was put in a cast from fingertip to elbow and told he would be in a cast for three weeks, with no physical activity for six weeks. You're probably thinking 'serves him right!' and I certainly don't condone his behaviour but to say the timing was bad is an understatement. Not only does Ali miss his last rugby game tomorrow and his first representative cricket games but he will also miss out on the school camp he has spent the last three months fundraising so hard for. No skiing, no snowboarding, no swimming, no rock climbing, no archery, no luge rides. When the rest of his year are playing in the snow next week, Ali will be stuck at home with me and his dad. Like I said, I don't agree with him hitting anyone but it takes two to tango and I think the fact that he misses out while the other kid gets to go is more than punishment enough. Still, every cloud has a silver lining and whilst poor Ali won't appreciate it, Noel and I certainly appreciate the $250 refund of his camp money!