The river below (and crocodiles in the swimming pool!)

One of the things I am most grateful for is the opportunity to live right on the Queanbeyan river. We’re too high to flood, unlikely to ever be threatened by fire, and we can look out our front window and straight down to the river and the thick bushland on the other side. We enjoy going for little walks on the path along the river and Pop is sure to identify every tree we pass. Briar is geneally more inclined to point out every drain and manhole; “Look mummy, a circle.”

Our house is set back off the road, high on a hill looking over the river below. It is a gorgeous view and was a good compromise seeings as I so badly wanted to live in the bush, but we needed to be in a town big enough for Warwick to find good, solid work. I have spent many hours rocking Briar or Gabriel is the chair in the front window, watching the sun set over the hills.

When we purchased our house, one of the striking features was the big concrete driveway. I think the family before us were really into cars, however my mind jumped straight to childhood memories of drawing hopscotch squares with chalk and riding our bikes up and down our concrete driveway. I envisioned childrens parties and playing games in the front yard. After all, the purpose of buying our home, and the circumstances that pushed us forward, was the impending birth of Briar. She was born within three days of us moving in!

However, around the time we were finalising the sale of our home, I started having vivid and disturbing nightmares. In my dreams, I had baby Briar in her pram and I lost my grip. The pram rolled down the hill and into the river below.

Although now I know our hill so well, I realise this isn’t physically possible. The angle is wrong, the gutters in the road below would stop the pram, plus there’s even wooden bollards to stop cars driving down to the river!

However these dreams were still incredibly traumatic and it’s no wonder that one of the first things we did when we moved in was install a full fence across the front, both to keep the dogs in and for the safety of future toddlers!

Even with our fences, I’m still uneasy about wildchild Briar getting too excitable in her trikes and ride-on toys in the front yard. She thinks it’s pretty funny to crash into the fence and I shudder at the thought of the gates popping open. Whilst it’s not likely a runaway set of wheels would end up in the river, the child could end up either on the road or having a spectacular crash into the prickley bushes that line the drive way. It wouldn’t be pretty.

When Mema considered buying Briar a Crazy Coop car, I declined immediately, having seen how fast Briar goes when she’s at Lollipops. She’s known to show a tendency to roadrage and joy riding, and I think she would have trouble resisting the urge of the hill calling her name.

Yesterday afternoon, Briar was keen to find some more Muddy Puddles to jump in, as apparently Mainly Music hadn’t provided enough of that. So we got her some dry pants and socks, put her muddy gum boots back on and walked down to the river.

As we crossed the bollards, she immediately stirred me by picking up pace and yelling “I’m running away.”

That picture makes my heart leap but I assure you, she isn’t as close to the edge as she appears. Nevertheless, as she ran aroundnd, my mind went straight to those awful dreams and I had to be quite firm with her to stay close. As gentle and loving as I strive to be, we must instill in our children a healthy fear of the river as the banks are very steep and a fall would be catastophic.

So Briar and I walked together hand in hand, with Baby Gabe in my arms. We listened to the wind blowing through the wet leaves. Gabe was very wakeful and alert as we walked around. He’s just much harder to photograph as he’s usually tucked inside a carrier on my chest.

After a little while, Warwick joined us down at the river and he and Briar stood up high on a concrete storm water drain outlet and watched the ducks below. They often come up and visit our yard, eating from our garden and pooping on the driveway.

I took Gabriel back up to the house and left the two of them for some daddy and daughter time, but I must admit I kept thinking of those horrible dreams as I walked away.

Briar loves the water and has no fear of it at all. She is starting formal swimming lessons this year and I’ll be putting a great deal of effort into teaching my kids the importance of never going down to the river without mum or dad.

Who knows, maybe Briars vivid imagination will instill in her a natural resistance to going too close to the water. Afterall, when I was a child I would never enter our swimming pool alone as I was terrified of crocodiles lurking. Never mind the fact we lived in the middle of the desert and it was a 8 metre crystal clear pool… (see below)

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