'My dad does FIFO': Man's clever parenting move to help son
BLAIZ Rahley started FIFO work eight years ago as a rigger at Gove in the Northern Territory.
When the former Tannum Sands man's son Hudson was born, the fly-in, fly-out routine was a way of life.
But when Hudson turned three, the regular disappearance of his dad for weeks at a time got more difficult.
"He'd get fairly upset," Blaiz said.
"There were tears when you're leaving; him not understanding why you're leaving.
"He'd just turned four when I came up with the idea for a book."
About 18 months ago, Blaiz was on site, sitting in his donga, missing family. He threw a few words together and My Dad Does FIFO was born.
"I came up with it there on the spot," he said.
"And when I came back, me and Hudson wrote it down on some A4 paper.
"I read it to him and we did some drawings. His were better than mine.
"I thought it'd be a smart move to seek out an illustrator.
Blaiz tracked down Brisbane illustrator Aaron Pocock.
"He's a great illustrator but he had no understanding of FIFO," Blaiz said.
"I'd ask him to draw a crawler crane with an EWP in the background.
"It took a bit to get on the same page."
After some back and forth, interrupted by his FIFO work, Blaiz found a publisher - "a family-run business, a local mob just down the road" - and, with some help from site photos, finalised the drawings.
The book includes a calendar for kids to count down the days until dad's return, a place for a family photo and a find the tools section.
"I came up with that because, when I got home, I'd empty my tool bag and ask Hudson to find me the stillson or the podgy ratchet," Blaiz said.
"He was the only three-year-old who knew more tools than half the TAs on site."
So far, the response to the book has been good.
"I was working on a site in South Australia when I launched it and I tagged 100 mates," Blaiz said.
"Within two days it had been shared on Facebook over 3000 times.
"I got email messages saying 'thanks for helping with the kids' and that it was a 'good bonding tool'."
As it happened, Blaiz launched the book just before Book Week.
"I got hundreds of photos from mums and dads of kids going to school with my book, dressed as their dads, all in hi-vis clothes," he said.
"The feedback has been fantastic.
"It's gone all over Australia."
As for Hudson, now five, he is part of the adventure.
He understands where dad disappears to for weeks on end and knows they'll have fun on his return.
"He loves it," Blaiz said.
"But one of his favourite things wasn't the book itself.
"I was still at work when it launched and he was going to the Post Office with Era (Hudson's mum) to post the books.
"'More kids are reading my book', he'd say. He was chuffed that kids around Australia were reading his book."
A large store chain considered putting My Dad Does FIFO on its shelves but reneged after Blaiz refused to remove the industry jargon.
"Half the reason the book was written was so that kids could understand words like that," he said.
"After doing this it's clear they enjoy knowing a bit more about your work.
"Now I try to involve him a bit more and Hudson gets right into it. He's learning his whistles to be a dogman."
To obtain a copy of the book go to mydaddoesfifo.com