When I was 23, I did 30 hours a week of nannying for a family with three children. Angus was 5, the oldest. He had a three year old sister and a 10 month old brother.
Angus loved to eat. He would sit at the breakfast table for a hour and polish off two pieces of vegemite toast AND a bowl of weetbix.
He loved playing puppets and would toss his head back and laugh when I put on a funny voice for a brightly coloured chameleon.
He loved to be outside and could run around the backyard for hours with the slightly overweight family Labrador.
The first time we went to the park (before his parents told me he was a runner) he zoomed off towards a busy main road and I had to leave the 10-month-old in the pram by the slide and run after him, catching him metres from the passing cars.
Angus wasn’t a mornings person, he would often hide in bed for as long as he could and whine adorably when you made him get up.
One afternoon I turned my back for 5 minutes and Angus had managed to empty the contents of his sister’s chest of drawers. We had just as much fun putting it all back in together.
Sometimes Angus would get frustrated at not being able to communicate. He was, or is I should say, a non-verbal child with Down Syndrome. He’s also on the Autism spectrum.
One day a letter appeared on the bench from a prestigious local private school, apologising that they couldn’t ‘accommodate Angus at this time’. He already had a backpack with their logo in his wardrobe.
Angus was the happiest, most delightful child I ever looked after.
Last week when my boyfriend Andrew and I were getting a taxi to Melbourne airport to fly back home we passed the park I took Angus and his brother to that time. I recalled the story and pointed out the park.
We stopped at some traffic lights shortly after and I barely took notice of a tall blonde lady, holding hands with a little girl and boy as they slowly crossed the road together. The girl wore a pink tutu.
It wasn’t until they reached the other side of the road that I realised it was Angus and his now much taller younger sister holding their nanny’s hands. She has overtaken him in height. Angus, dressed all in navy blue, looked back over his shoulder and appeared to look straight into the taxi. He didn’t look like he’d changed a bit.
I hope he’s still happy, still has a ferocious appetite and still loves hand puppets. I hope he says a few words now and then and goes to a school that accommodates him.