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The Self Employed Housewife - A Seaman's Wife's story Ch 8
The Self Employed Housewife
Jan had taken the Beetle for an early drive when she was still busy tidying up after breakfast. It was going to be a sunny winters day, but he wanted to make sure that everything was alright; enough petrol and oil and air in the tyres. Later in the day they would drive to the harbour where Jan’s new ship was ready to leave for Port Elizabeth that evening. She was somewhat down that he needed to leave them again so soon after he had returned from the last voyage, but having wheels of her own gave her joy. She could now dress for town instead of walking in her flat shoes the long distance to the station.
Sascia and Jeroen were playing downstairs instead of going to school because daddy was home. That was beginning to become a rule. She knew that their playschool still allowed it, but not for much longer.
She was satisfied to see herself in her bedroom mirror, all dressed up. Her favorite top was tucked into her flared skirt, which was the height of fashion. Her latest leather waist belt fitted her snugly and her high heels finished off her outfit.
She was already planning her days after Jan had gone.
“Mommy, can we go to the playground near the beach?”
“I don’t know. Well I suppose we could. Let’s ask daddy when he gets home.” She replied walking down the stairs feeling smart. Why not, she thought. If they left the moment he came home, they could play on the swings and have an ice-cream at the Wimpy nearby.
Jeroen was very quietly playing with his Lego. Somehow he was not his normal self. He didn’t want to eat anything, only drink juice, but when he heard his sister talking about the playground he seemed to perk up. As usual Sascia spoke for him, which she tried to stop her from doing. She was good at bossing her little brother about, but it worried her. Jeroen needed to learn to talk for himself.
“Jeroen do you want to go to play on the roundabout?” He nodded smiling.
“What do you say?”
“He does mommy”
“I know but I want Jeroen to talk for himself.” At that moment Jan arrived home. Both children ran to him telling that they were going to the playground. She hated that, just in case Jan was not keen, but this time he seemed okay.
“Your friend Jim and the guy from next door came to look at our Beetle.”
“Who, from next door?” she asked just in case it was that creepy pig who had practically sexually harassed her in the garage. She avoided him like the pest..
“From Amsterdam, you know. He invited us for a drink this evening, but I told him that I was just going out.“
“Oh, you mean Gerrit the fisherman”
That was the first time the Dutch couple had invited them. She wondered if the invitation still stood for after Jan had gone. Somehow she didn’t think so.
Her first driving experience in South Africa
Jan insisted that she drove this time while he directed her with the help of the map. The Beetle was easy to handle. The kids were drawing the flowers that were painted on the top of the roof of the Beetle and on the back. They had spotted them from the upstairs bedroom window. Jan had found it somewhat hippie like, but she loved it.
“What! Oh I see.”
“They have the right of way. Please look where you are going.”
“Okay sorry.“ She stopped for a cart being pulled by a donkey which had been going so slowly that she would have had plenty time to pass them. There were at least five native men sitting on top of a lot of wood piled up high on the dilapidated trailer.
“Shame poor donkey.” As she said it the kids were all ears.
“Mommy that must be hard for the donkey to pull?” Sascia was worried.
“Yes but thank goodness the road is going slightly downhill.”
When they drove past the driver waved and Jan responded with a return gesture.
She was somewhat apprehensive driving in the center of town, but the good thing was that the main road to the playground was a one way with no oncoming traffic.
They were both watching the kids playing on the roundabout when she remembered that it was the same bench that she had sat on after Jan had gone away the first time. There were no Nannies to be seen this time. Come to think about it, there were no other children playing, she wondered why that would be, but then of course most kids would be at kindergarten.
She grabbed Jan’s hand and squeezed it. He had no idea why she needed to do that, but being together with Jan instead of that Afrikaans chap who was trying to chat her up the last time made her feel happy.
A treat at the Wimpy bar
“Gosh Jan, remember when the passenger liner from Australia to Holland berthed in Durban last year?”
“The Fairstar, yes what about it?”
“We were at the same Wimpy. I remember it well because the Banana boat on the menu was then well under one rand, now it’s more. “
“Really?” Jan raised his eyebrows as he was about to order. The kids wanted ice-cream with a parasol like on the picture. She could not resist ordering the same as she had last year and Jan fancied a large Peach Melba. She could sense that Jan was restless. He wanted to get to his new ship that was scheduled to leave that evening.
Jeroen took only a few spoons of ice cream. He wanted no more and instead dozed off. Was that normal for a three and a half year old? He had no temperature this time.
“Mom, can I eat Jeroen’s ice cream?” Gosh Sascia was so different. Never ill, except once when she was a baby, and that was more due to the dampness when they were staying in the hostel in Melbourne.
Saying goodbye again
Jan’s new ship, the Voorspeler, was a lot smaller than the tanker and his cabin was really tiny. The captain was very nice, so was the engineer, an attractive man their age with dark curly hair. He took both kids up to the bridge, which had never happened before. Jeroen had woken up. Usually he would be cranky, but this time he was happy to follow his sister while holding onto the engineers hands. He told them that he had kids of the same age living in Port Elizabeth.
They had supper on the ship and left when the time came for Jan to take on the role of the first officer. The Beetle was parked nearby, so they waited and waved goodbye from inside the car.
Jeroen seemed fine again, playing with toys from his ruck sack. Sascia was very quiet and when she looked into her large grey/blue eyes she could read her mind. An image of the drive-in came to mind.
“It’s now far too late sweetie, let’s go tomorrow.” The children were, like her, looking for a fun thing to do to get rid of the down feeling that always seems to linger for a while after saying goodbye to daddy for at least six weeks.
Being a self employed mom
The first few days after Jan had gone were fine. The Drive-in was a success and her drive into town to buy more leather was really fun. She did not have to worry about buying more than she could carry on public transport. Now it all fitted into the Beetle. Two full hides and several belt straps, leather dye and more tools to add to her collection. Jan had given her housekeeping money to last her for a month, so some of it she invested in supplies.
Sascia’s birthday was a great success and her leather skirt and sling bag a winner. Corrie asked if she could place an order for her two little girls for when they were both older, and she had already visions of placing these kiddies’ goodies in a clothing shop for children in town.
The little neglected boy was becoming a problem. Jeroen didn’t want to pay with him, and Debby’s boys were at playschool every day, as were Corrie’s two girls. The moms in the complex were all complaining about the neglect of this boy. She tried to befriend the parents but they were clearly not interested. They both worked full time and she never saw the nanny, who was supposed to look the baby girl and her bigger brother.
Tomorrow she would visit Social Services after she had dropped both children off at play school. She was given the address by Sascia’s teacher, after she explained about Shawn to her. She also needed to speak to Jeroen’s teacher to find out if he was getting more social during the two mornings that he was attending with other children.
Was she making a mistake by getting involved with other people’s children?