|I wish this was our back field, sadly not|
The first day we met was about ten days ago. Charlie, Noah and I were upstairs, and heard voices out in the field behind our houses. Two boys and a girl came out their back gate to play so we ran down excited to see new faces and introduced ourselves. The boys (9 and 7 years) quickly made friends, Charlie donating a goal for their football game, and their easy smiles and sense of fair play endeared them to us immediately.
The girl (11 years old) went in for a bedspread to lay out on the grass, and she and I (and Noah on the boob as always) chatted about her school up the road, her teachers, classmates, her dream to someday become a ballerina or a princess (said with an embarrassed smile and a hand clapped over her mouth!) I loved the fact that here was an 11 year old girl not wanting to be a popstar, or a teenybopper yet, just revelling in her childhood, despite her skinny jeans and parka jacket.
Her older sister came out and we chatted, and then her sister-in-law with a cute toddler joined us on the bedspread. The sister-in-law is due her second baby soon, and hopes it will be a girl, as her toddler is a boy.
One of the boys went in to the house and came out a few minutes later, offering half a toasted ham-n-cheese sandwich to Charlie who wolfed it down.
We chatted babies, their old area, and I answered their polite questions about how long we'd been living here. They are in the house three months, but only now getting to know people, I suppose the warmer weather helps. We went in our back gate, leaving the boys to play with the goal some more, and they returned it into our garden a little while later.
On St. Patrick's Day I went for a walk, and passed Charlie's two new friends with their hair sprayed green, they smiled and waved at me.
Today we saw them out the back again, and I met their mom, raking up the cut grass in our communal field. I lent a hand, only one as I had Noah in the sling on my hip. She hates the boys bringing in the grass on their feet. She told me there is loads of work to do to the house to get it comfortable for their family, but that they love the quiet area, as their house in Tallaght had had the windows broken in a few times. Again, the bedspread was brought out, a fancier one this time, and a bowl of apples and oranges brought out for us to share. Two older sisters came out this time, and we had a great chat and a laugh, them teaching me a few phrases of their language.
They asked me about our wedding, and were shocked when I told them I wore pink! One ran in to get the photo album of their brother and sister-in-law to show me the last family celebration they'd had. The mom looked on proudly as they pointed out the beautiful park the photos were taken in, and I admired the bride's jewellery. I invited myself in to look at their back garden, and was really jealous to see they have a great crop of rhubarb and a large rosemary bush from the house's previous owners.
The older sisters told me they've been teaching themselves Spanish from one of their tv channels. One (20 years) has been learning it for 2 years now and we had a bit of a chat in Spanish. The other sister is still in school (5th year, she's 17) and feeling the stress of the Leaving Cert already. She commutes to Tallaght to her school every day.
I was sad to hear the youngest boy (7 years) cries every morning going to school, he just wants to stay home with his mama. His class and teacher are all kind and friendly to him, but the house moves have been obviously quite stressful on him. The girls all agreed moving house is really unsettling. They hope they'll stay in this house "forever".They showed me the bracelets they were all wearing, red and white threads entwined, to ward off warts and hand problems. This is a tradition where they're from, you put the bracelet on on the 1st March, and remove it on the 4th April. At Easter they told me they will paint 120 hard-boiled eggs all different colours, mostly red though. Charlie's dying to do the same, though we might go for a half-dozen this year.
The mother told me proudly she has 9 children; 5 boys and 4 girls, the eldest is 26, the youngest 7 years. Her daughter translated some phrases, as the mother's English is not great. She has a radiant smile, and her boys are so handsome and her girls beautiful. They have a really easy-going confidence to them; here are children who have grown up feeling loved and valued. They are gentle and generous, humorous and intelligent. Family is central to them and their culture.
They are Roma from Romania.
Ireland has embarrassed me so far in it's treatment of them, they left Tallaght after enduring four years of racial abuse. They moved from a house a mile away because of racial abuse. I hope the neighbours in this area make them feel welcome, I'm certainly racking my brains to think of ways to show it.