I spent a year in Germany as an exchange student when I was 15 and lived with a host family who had 2 little boys aged 5 and 2. That was 22 years ago. My youngest host brother, Marcus, is now 24 and currently studying in Queensland for a Semester. He decided to visit us during his University break after first hiking his way around Tasmania. We had such a fun time with him. The Kids warmed to him instantly, a total stranger to them, other than the stories I had told them about he and his lovely family. I used to play Cowboys and Indians with him and push him around in the stroller and now he was doing the exact same with our 5 Kids. It made me feel very old indeed. Everyone thought Marcus was the Bees-knees. He played games with the Kids, swung them around by the ankles and enjoyed being indoctrinated into the world of Minecraft. He offered to help around the farm, demolished all of my lame meals and let me practice my German on him. He was always happy, never got cross and was excellent company whilst I carried on with the mundane chores around the house. If anyone resisted brushing their teeth before bed Marcus just had to make the suggestion and they were straight in the bathroom. Everyone loved Marcus. The Kids wanted Marcus to stay forever and ever and cried when he left. Disneyland is now off the bucket list. They are all saving their pennies to visit Marcus in Munich.
Marcus had a pretty strenuous time hiking around Tasmania, sometimes doing 9 hr hikes each day and sleeping in a $20 tent in freezing cold conditions and eating tuna out of a can so he was quite happy to relax and hang out at home by the time he got to us. However, we managed to tick off the 2 things we do with interstate or international visitors - a trip to Zoodoo down the road and a day trip to Port Arthur Historic Site. Everyone loves to see the real Tasmania Devils at Zoodoo and the new additions there are the beautiful Zebras. Apparently it is the only place in Australia where you can actually pat a Zebra. It seriously made my day. And did you know that Zebras are black with white stripes rather than white with black stripes? Incredible.
We've been pondering for some time the prospect of having an au pair live with us as an extra pair of hands when the business opens up in June. It seems to be the only option that allows the flexibility that we'll need - a couple of hours in the morning to watch Flynn while I'm down at the Cafe and a few hours on the weekends whilst we are doing the markets. Have any of you had experience with a longer term house guest, au pair or exchange student? Daniel has already been receiving all manner of e-mails of potential candidates, "here's a girl from Sweden who sounds perfect" or "Amelie from France looks nice and has just been with a family with 6 Kids!". I've been a bit hesitant at the idea for many reasons but mostly because I am worried it would be more work having an extra person in the home when we are already such a big family and things are crazy enough. However, after having Marcus here I can see how great this option could be. Sitting on the Sofa last night midway through a row of knitting, I paused and pushed my reading glasses up the bridge of my nose and said "Darling, about this au pair business, I think I'm warming to the idea. Yes, I think a 24 year old energetic male with a European accent would be perfect don't you? Someone just like Marcus". I'm not sure we are on the same page yet.
|Germany 1992 - Me and Marcus and Thomas|