Breastfeeding their first-born son in a derelict squat, Maria thought of Our Lady giving birth to baby Jesus in a stable. Things were grim, but not without hope. If love was enough, baby Thomas could soar to the moon and back. Be invincible.
Then, the crucifying doubts set in.
“Who am I kiddin’? If I can’t save meself, what hope does me baby have?”
She wrapped him up in her only blanket, and kissed him goodbye.
“There’s no greater love, than heart-wrenching sacrifice,” they said.
Today, Miss who some have know since she was six years old when I first started writing Beyond the Flow, passed the test for her Learner’s Permit and I took her for her first official drive. It was so exciting and almost went without a hitch, and we’ll just gloss over that one time she mounted the curb and a couple of wobbles going round a corner. We started out at Umina Beach carpark, and after a few laps, she ventured down towards the caravan park until flooding forced her to do her first three point turn and soon she was driving down the main road and going around a couple of roundabouts.
Before you start thinking she’s a driving protégé, I should point out that we set out on our driving lesson at 8.15pm after her dance class on a wet and rainy night. Indeed, in case you’re not aware the East Coast of Australia has been hit by a mighty deluge and what they’re calling a “rain bomb”. The flooding in place is catastrophic and incredibly heart breaking. We haven’t been greatly impacted here but there are some local road closures and it’s been hard to get around.
However, the upside for our daughter’s first driving lesson was the there was virtually no one on the road, and so she could get a feel for steering and get somewhat comfortable in the car. She didn’t need to be critically vigilant about keeping left and skimming past parked cars. She could leave a bit of room while staying on the correct side of the road.
It was also funny driving with her, because she was chatting with me most of the time. A car would appear and she’d pipe up: “I have competition”, which I thought was hilarious. I didn’t really interfere very much. I thought the early days were more about her getting a feel for the road and gaining confidence. However, she was keeping a fairly close eye on how she was going, particularly the speed. For much of the time, she was going along at about 20 kph and that was where she felt comfortable. I reassured her that she has the L plate and people will give her some breathing space. That said, she was overtaken by a rather reckless driver we both agree ought to be on his L plates or lose their licence entirely.
While I was incredibly excited to be driving with our daughter, the biggest part of this story is not her learning to drive. She has been dancing since she was three and must have highly tuned spatial skills from 12 years of dance, especially performing in groups. However, the real drama was all about producing her blessed original birth certificate before she could even sit for the test, and this was where the side fell down big time. I suspected the certificates weren’t in their place in my top right desk drawer, and yet I left it right until almost the last minute before we left to look for them. I thought I’d done well finding the decorative copies still in their gold tube from 16 years ago. They were originals and authorised copies so I couldn’t see them being a problem. That was until we were at the desk at Service NSW and they told her she couldn’t sit the test.
I don’t need to tell you how awful I felt. Our daughter was disappointed and no doubt angry with me although she said nothing. Meanwhile, I said a lot, berating myself for being so stupid. This incident raised those horrible, dreadful weaknesses of mine with organisation, time management. I have been trying so hard to overcome these difficulties and have been seeing an occupational therapist for a very long time, and I am improving, but the situations I am facing keep changing and the last two years of covid and lockdown have really stonkered me. It’s been really hard going trying to reconstruct things at home, particularly getting on top of my daughter’s busy life of school, dance, work, and now L tests and upcoming dance competitions not to mention getting eyelash extensions and her hair done. I am such low maintenance that I’m barely conscious of how I look, and sometimes marvel at this stranger I occasionally see in the mirror…”Who are you?”
To be honest, my writing and research along with the lockdowns has more to do with that than running after the kids. I could focus 100% on my inner life and almost forgot the veneer completely. It’s been wonderfully refreshing, and even liberating, but it’s over and time to merge bck with the real world.
Anyway, I digress.
The place was pretty forgiving about our ID troubles, and just said to pop back before 4.00pm Wednesday or Thursday.
Well, that was easier said than done.
Firstly, I had no idea where the birth certificate was. We tore the place apart, and without any luck we tore the house apart and ordered a new one which was going to arrive in three weeks even with an express order. Boy, I felt bad!!!
Secondary, there was another hurdle we hadn’t quite grappled with yet – the rain.
Meanwhile, I turned my attention to another problem at home. The clothes dryer was broken and needed to be pulled apart and have the sock or goodness knows what other blockages removed a long with the inevitable lint which shouldn’t have been anywhere near the motor. I’d cleared the kitchen table for that surgical procedure, but had filled it up again looking for the certificates and so piles of detritus were being moved round and round the house, while a good portion also made it into the recycling.
Meanwhile, our daughter was very sweet and said she knew I’d find them.
I was praying!!
Then, I noticed that about five crates of stuff out of our son’s room from a year ago were still in the kitchen and backroom. After the debacle of losing the certificates and still needing to find them, those crates were going. I attacked them with fresh eyes and was making steady progress. Then, after moving this one particular crate, the promised land opened up in front of me. There was the folder of certificates. I’d redeemed myself.
That was yesterday, and today we headed off again. This time, we made a list of everything we needed and had it altogether before we went to bed last night like good little Vegemites (there’s an Aussie saying for you). However, we got in the car and Miss asks us if we had the documentation. Can you believe it?! Diffusion of responsibility strikes again. None of us had thought to take it out to the car, and I think she’d also left her glasses behind.
Meanwhile, there were the floods and heavy rain with the possibility this forecast rain bomb was going to hit while we were on the way. We checked reports and adjusted our route, and allowed a good hour for what might’ve been a 15-30 minute trip…and of course, some really heavy rain blinded our vision for a bit and the traffic was abysmal. Gosford had turned into a parking lot. We needed to be there by 4.00pm and it was getting mighty close with red light after red light. Where is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when you need him? Dilbert’s detrafficator would also have been appreciated. However, we g\had God and the power of prayer, and we got there.
By this stage, I was a total nervous wreck, and I was wearing a mask which combined with my impaired lung capacity and hyperventilating, wasn’t good. I just wanted her to get the test over and done with. However, they seem to draw the whole build up right out and before they even know whether they’re going to pass, they do the eye test and goodness knows what else but it took a good fifteen minutes (not that I was counting or fixating at the clock like a crazed maniac!!)
I needed the toilet and there wasn’t one there. So, I had to go for an extended walk.
When I returned, she had passed and was sitting in the chair getting her photo retaken.
I’m glad it’s over.
Tonight, we clocked up 45 minutes of night driving in the rain. We have 119 hours to go before she is eligible to sit for her licence.
There is also her brother who has also just started learning.
Let the driving begin.
Have you got any stories about learning to drive that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” Martha Graham
Collectively, we’ve posted many doors on this blog share. However, for most of us it’s the familiar doors which mean the most, especially our very own front door.
Well, this Thursday I was waiting for my daughter to finish her dance class, and I noticed the door to the studio with it’s welcoming sign and I thought I’d honour that this week. After all, this is 11th year we’ve walked through that door for another dance year, and now she’s about to turn 15. So, let’s just say: “she’s improved”.
Walking through this door has been a life changer for the kids and myself. Although I’d done ballet until I was about eleven, I didn’t really get into dance at all. Didn’t connect with it, and certainly wasn’t one to go to the ballet. I’m more one for the Sydney Writer’s Festival, or possibly the theatre.
However, that’s all changed. I’ve been metamorphosed into loving dance, not that I go to the ballet even now, I see so much of it through my daughter and right up close, that I haven’t felt the need. Perhaps, I’m missing out and I was edging towards taking our daughter to the ballet in Sydney, but then covid came along. Besides, we’ve been to a few musicals in Sydney. So, she hasn’t been deprived.
Anyway, I still remember the first day we walked through this door, and into the studio for her first class. What I remember most about that, was the door closing in front of me, and I was left behind. She was only three turning four. The teacher took her away, and she was gone. It was like her first day of school, only a little early.
Since then, we’ve had the annual concerts where before we humble parents and grandparents were able to see our little darlings prancing around on stage, we had to master the fine art of getting the hair in place. This act of torture is not for the faint-hearted when your daughter has very fine hair which knots easily and every stroke of the brush produces tears and a deafening scream. Of course, it’s all worth it when you see them up on stage.
It was around the time of the first annual concert, that our daughter appeared en pointe at home. This, of course, wasn’t on real pointe shoes when she was only four years old. Rather, it was on little blue plastic cups, but she was entranced and took it very seriously.
I don’t know if I looked at her back then and started seeing glimpses of the ballerina she would become. However, it wasn’t much later because right from dot she looked like a ballerina and through all the trappings of a knockabout kid who was doing nippers, scouts and going swimming at the beach in her school uniform on occasions after school, the ballerina was there just like Michelangelo seeing David inside that block of marble.
That’s not to say that she’s going to become the next Misty Copeland. In many ways, she’s already become herself and is already a ballerina now, even though she’s still got such a long way to go. Of course, this is the benefit of being Mum and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa. She was breathtakingly beautiful and an incredible dancer at four, and every time we see her dance, we’re absolutely dazzled. We’re not her teachers, or the judge. We don’t need to be critical. It’s our job to encourage, drive, and probably work about three jobs to get her through. However, you do that for your kid. You do whatever it takes to the best of your ability. Well, most of us at least try, and hopefully we can also support and encourage those who are left falling through the cracks, even if it’s only for a moment. We’ve certainly appreciated that ourselves many times over.
Anyway, since we’ve walked through that door, we’ve made many friends, and connected at a fairly deep and meaningful level over the years. Indeed, one of the things I found most difficult about covid last year, was not seeing all the other dance parents. We might see each other say for ten minutes in the waiting room after each class, which isn’t much. However, when you multiply that by a couple of classes a week over 11 years, those moments add up, and there’s been a lot of sharing. I have also done some adult classes over the years as well, and I’ve really loved them and made some wonderful friendships there. I’m not just a dance mum. I am a dancer (just not a very good one and also one with disability and health issues!! It’s quite ironic actually!)
So, walking through this one door, has opened many, many doors for us, and before I head off, I’ll also mention that our son also did hip-hop classes here with a former Billy Elliott from Melbourne and Broadway. He also made a friendship then, which resurfaced last year and last weekend we found ourselves comforting him after his Pop had a stroke and we drove Nan to the hospital. Our son was such a comfort to his friend, who ended up sleeping in our loungeroom that night.
“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche
All of that started by walking through this door.
I know this quote appears in a corny ad, but it’s very true: “From little things, big things grow…”
After taking our son on a long, epic drive last week, I was reminded of the walks we used to go on when he was just knee-high to a grasshopper. I know it’s such a cliché, but I’m still amazed how much time’s flown under the bridge. That with the click of my fingers, he’s now turned 16 and at the end of next year, he’ll be out of school and on the cusp of adulthood. Where did all that time go? I don’t know. However, paradoxically as we headed forward on our journey North, I was taken back to those very special early walks together. Walks with me and my boy.
Ironically, what I remember most about our walks together, is how I’d be tugging on his small hand trying to get him moving, while he was enthralled by some random “treasure” he’d discovered on our path. Of course, I tried to slow my pace down to appreciate that lump of gravel, or rusty bottle top through his eyes instead of my own. However, there were understandably times when my patience grew thin. I just want to go, and he’d become equally immovable. However, back then I had one thing in my favour. When all else failed, I could pick him up and cart him off, even if he wasn’t happy.
I can’t do that anymore either.
Anyway, our son has decided to go into sound engineering when he leaves school, and he’s already getting good experience helping out at Church. That’s why he needed the lift. He’d been offered further training and the opportunity to help out at a funeral at our main Church campus an hour’s drive away.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t mad keen on driving him up there. Indeed, I’m sure you can read my mind: “What the???? Can’t you catch the train? A bus? Fly on your broomstick?” Moreover, when all of those avenues failed, there was the added annoyance of having to fill in a few hours before driving him home. Indeed, it was looking like much of my day was going up in smoke with the barest slither remaining. Not that I was counting. Or, that I minded. I am his mother. If I can love him to the moon and back, surely I could drive him there as well?!!
Humph! I’m not so sure that was part of the contract.
Rather, it was looking like the perfect time to play the dying swan. Get his father to drive him. However, Geoff is working from home, not doing long distance parent taxi duties. So, for better or worse, I had to rise to the challenge.
Meanwhile, alongside this protesting siren of complaint, was gratitude, relief and a sincere desire to do whatever it takes to help our son to find his feet and get his career established. I mean that too. Whatever it takes, especially when he’s so keen and he has an equally keen mentor volunteering to train him up. With our local theatres closed down due to covid, Church is one of the few venues where he can get some experience. Indeed, as we all know, it’s a hard world out there. No one’s knocking on your door to give you a start. You have to go hunting. Go all out. Eat humble pie by the kilo, just to have a chance of getting a toe through the door.
However, instead of being an onerous ordeal, our trip turned into an adventure, and reminded me:
“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.”
― George Bernard Shaw
That’s exactly how our drive together panned out. We had an hour each way to chat, but then there were some complications. For those of you who know me well, you won’t be surprised to hear that we experienced some navigational difficulties. However, this time I blame my son. I was pretty sure we were meant to take the next exit, but he was insistent. Moreover, although I know he is “often wrong but never in doubt”, he has a much better sense of direction. So, I bowed to his expertise. Indeed, I carefully followed his directions to turn right at the roundabout, and drove along until it was clear we were in the wrong place, even if we weren’t officially “lost”. I must admit that my heart rate started to increase a little at this point. I mentioned heading back to the freeway to take the next exit. However, he was quite confident. Knew there was a Bunnings Hardware Store on the left coming up and a shopping centre. Sure enough, he was right, and good enough with his sense of direction to redirect us. Meanwhile, in the end it turned out that we were both right. Both exits worked.
When we pulled up, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the next few hours. However, one of the guys showed me a local map and I spotted that Norah Head was nearby. Now, I was set. With my camera in the car, I set off to revisit Norah Head and the lighthouse where I’d been as a young child with my family and on a couple of slumber parties as a teenager with friends. By now, I was actually quite excited and grateful for my big day out. You could even say I was happy!
Just to top off my day, I bought myself a beautiful new skirt and a tray full of red Salvias which I’ve planted out the front. I ate a pie in a park surrounded by lush green trees and ocean views feeling pretty chuffed our day was going so well.
After walking around the lighthouse (which you can read about here), I was back to pick him up. I was even given a tour of the sound desk by his mentor, who had no idea just how untechnical I am and how I even struggle to operate out TV. However, I did gain at least a cursory view of the thing which makes our son tick, and is going to be a big part of his future. That was pretty special. After all, being understood has always been very important to me, but the flipside of that is to understand. Put yourself into someone else’s shoes even when they don’t fit particularly well, and go for a walk.
Or, perhaps even go for a long drive.
That certainly worked for us!
Has our day out brought back any memories for you? Do you have something you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
It was a long, long time coming and extremely overdue. Yesterday, our blue, 2001 Nissan Pulsar was ceremonially collected by the wreckers and carted off to heaven.
A few days ago, I’d been overjoyed that Geoff had finally gotten around to getting it towed away. It was finally going to be scratched off our never-ending to-do list.
However, when the moment finally came and this massive tow truck pulls up outside our place to cart her off, it was a different story. Indeed, I was more reflective than expected and both Geoff and I formed a guard of honour of sorts to see her off.
We’ve been through a lot with that car. We bought it new in February 2001 just after we’d got engaged on Valentine’s Day, it just so happened that we bought the house in about the same week. Things were on the way up back then. All our Christmases had come at once, and we were impervious to future bad luck. We were engaged and invincible! We’d come through our bad luck and it was all going to be smooth sailing from here. None of what I now know to be the regular ups and downs of life, that precarious journey along the snakes and ladders, and far away from the laws of gravity which dictate that what goes up, comes down.
it’s been about 18 months since the car was last driven. In that time, it’s been superseded by the two luscious red Alfa Romeos. I don’t know what it’s taken so long for that car to go, However, there was something about me needing to clear stuff out before it could be hauled away, and Geoff needing to arrange to get it picked up. I’ll also blame Covid, even though it was awaiting pick up at least a year before Covid came along. I should also mention that my husband grew up on a farm in North-Eastern Tasmania where deceased vehicles simply rusted into the dirt. However, we don’t live on a farm. Moreover, my husband is collector of cars and you could say one more just blended into the landscape, even if the landscape was just a suburban back yard. There’s also this other factor that we’ve almost had the blue Pulsar for 20 years and it has simply become part of our landscape…here but not here.
Seeing the old girl off, brought so many memories to mind, especially bringing the kids home as babies from the hospital, which is such a massive event for all families. Huge. Yes, the kids had come home in the blue car. Fallen asleep in the blue car. Fought in the blue car. Thrown up all over the back seat in the blue car. My husband and I had argued in the blue car, and at least he’d driven off in the blue car in a few heated moments. However, what I hadn’t remembered til tonight, was that we drove home from our wedding in the blue car. I’d totally forgotten that. I only remember pulling up at the Church in the Mark IV Jaguar convertible. I was such a princess and it might’ve only been for one day, but the memory remains (and I still have the tiara to prove it.)
So, by the time the old girl was being hauled up on the tow truck, I almost felt like dragging her back. Giving them back their $150.00 and saying I’ve changed my mind. No! The blue car will stay with us forever. Can become some kind of water (or even rust feature) in the back yard. After all, all those memories are so precious. They need to preserved and it felt surprisingly sad to wave her off. Yet, at the same time, our place is getting buried alive in cars and it had to go. Time to cherish the memories and the photos without its physical presence.
Still, you know that just like saying goodbye to Bilbo the family dog who had been with us for 12 years from the time our daughter could crawl, the car also served us through a long, and monumental time in our lives. From when our son was a baby to being just one year out of school. By this time, it was our back up car and we’d bought a younger red Pulsar, which I unfortunately wrote off in the hospital car park a few years ago. While I’m not a real car person, the family car certainly takes you places and some how becomes more than just a car. Indeed, how many people recognize their friends by their car? How many people become their car. or it becomes them? There’s some strange psychology in that. Indeed, there could well be an entire branch of psychology dedicated to cars and their owners. It would be busy.
I wonder if any of you have had a car for a long time and it saw you through a lot? Or, do you have a special car with some stories to tell? How do you relate to your car? Is it just an A to B job? Or, a character car which is something special? I should mention that we also have a Morris Minor, but that’s another story for another day.
/Tonight, we waved Miss off on her school ski trip. They were picked up from school in three massive coaches tonight and they’ll drive through the night to hit the slopes at Perisher Smiggins in the Australian Alps bright and early at 7.00am. By the way, if you’re used to skiing overseas, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The so-called “Australian Alps”, should really be called “The Australian Mole Hills”. We don’t have real mountains in Australia.
Loading up the bus.
Naturally, seeing her off was a tad emotional and yanked away at my heart strings, Although she’s now 13 and in high school, as she climbed on board, it was like watching this tiny girl get swallowed up by this massive white coach and disappear. Not that I was about to board the bus to yank her to safety. I’m not that pathetic. I know it’s only for a few days and she’s been away from us for longer trips before. However, it’s moments like these where you not only think about all the fun adventures she’ll have, but the gaps in between certainties also open up just enough to let in the doubt. The what ifs. After all, we live in an uncertain world where anything could change at the tick of the clock. Of course, these uncertainties are always there, but our routines and busyness block them out and we forget we don’t hold the remote control. That things can happen. On the other hand, I’m equally sure she’ll arrive home tired with a beaming smile on Friday. She’ll have been away on what will be yet another trip of a lifetime.
“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have
hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to
Louisa May Alcott
Another thought crossed my mind as I started working on this post, we’re in the process of waving goodbye to her childhood. Indeed, it’s clear that horse has already bolted. That said, she hasn’t grown up quite as much as the photo would suggest. She must be standing on a mound because there’s no way she’s as tall as me. I’m a good 174 cm tall and she’s nowhere near it. Just as well I took this photo below with her Dad, which brings her nicely back down to size. Geoff is the same height as me so she hasn’t shot up quite as much after all.
Yet, she’s still grown up a lot since I first started blogging back in 2012. She’d only just started school the year before and truly was a little girl back then.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what
we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before
we can enter another.”-
The kids on my daughter’s first day of school back in 2011.
There are people I’ve been blogging with much of those years and have seen my kids grow up, which is a really special privilege really. After all, it’s an incredible thing to see someone grow up, looking at their photos, taking in their adventures and stories and being a part of their lives even if you’ve never met, which is one of the peculiarities of these close blogging friendships. In some instances, we do know each other better than people in the so-called real world, but we’ve never met. Never gone out for a real coffee. Nothing. It no longer seems strange to me until I try to explain it to someone who doesn’t blog.
Snowplowing on our first trip to the snow in 2012, aged 6.
Anyway, getting back to the trip, it’s going to be an experience for her. It was optional trip, and so many of her friends aren’t going, which has thrown her somewhat out of her comfort zone and she’ll be mixing with other students she doesn’t know and others where there are some tensions to boot. In effect, she’s stuck in a lift with these people for the week. While as a teacher or parent, we can see this as a good thing and say a stranger is only a friend you haven’t met, as a teenager, is a whole different story. It can be unsettling.
Back at ski school in 2013.
However, Miss really loves skiing and is is a fairly good skier, especially compared to most of these kids who won’t have been skiing before. That should give her a bit of confidence. I’ve also seen her face light up on the slopes. She’s had the ski bug bad before and once she hits the powder, she’ll be right. I just hope she doesn’t sustain an injury, because that could be a disaster for her dancing. She’s performing in Swan Lake with Central Dance Company in four weeks. She’s not allowed to get injured and in hindsight, perhaps I should’ve put a roll of bubble wrap into her suitcase. That would be a great look out on the slopes, but I’m sure I could’ve sold a few bubble wrap suits to some of the other parents. While we say we want our kids to get out there and experience the world, we’re all lying. We really just want them to sit in front of the TV and stay safe.
The kids with their snow kid in 2012.
Meanwhile, we have one less person at home. For her brother, it means more chores but for me there’s one less fuss pot to feed and we could all use a few new stories. I’ve been fighting off some weird sleep virus so haven’t been much fun anyway. The week will fly by and all too soon, she’ll be back.
Well, that is except for the dogs. They don’t know anything about fun-filled ski adventures or the frolics of the sun. All they saw was the suitcase come out, and Miss is gone. Indeed, I could just imagine Lady thinking we’re hopeless parents. Don’t they even realize they’ve lost one? This is her song…
“No one to talk with
All by myself
No one to walk with
But I’m happy on the shelf
I’m savin’ my love for you…”
Meanwhile, I’ve spent a few hours tonight hunting down the photos from 2012 and getting well and truly lost down memory lane. Our son only has two more years of school and who knows how many family holidays we have left. That’s not to be negative and reflective. However, it is important to make the most of it. Find the time and money to get away. I’ve been thinking about a camping trip soon. That said, my husband and son will be going camping with the extended family up at Bathurst in a few weeks time to watch the Bathurst 500 Car Race. My daughter and I are staying home “to look after the dogs”, but she also has a dance production.
Anyway, I’m very late to get to bed and will head on now.
I’d love to hear about your skiing adventures or how you feel about your kids growing up and stretching their wings.
For awhile now, I’ve been thinking about doing a post about our front door. While that sounds so warm and homely, it’s actually more of a tale of neglect, indecision and the downside of owning a “renovator’s dream”.
Anyway, getting back to our front door, it’s what they call “Heritage Green”. Well, that’s what it is now, but we’re planning to paint the house a shade of grey and are thinking of installing a new front door and painting it blue.
In the meantime, however, that means our green door remains in a desperate need of a paint job, but nothing’s happening. Of course, I’ve been tempted to pull an old tin of paint out of the garage and simply touch it up. However, as anybody who had done any house painting at all would know, you can’t just paint. You need to prepare. Cover-up and fill all the holes and bumps and give the !@#$ door an almost surgical face lift. Clearly, there’s no point doing that when it’s only temporary. Well, to be honest, you and I both know that “temporary” could be another 20 years or even longer.
This was our son’s first day of school in 2009 when they were aged four and two and about to have birthdays. I call this photo: “The Three Wise Monkeys”. That’s Bilbo our wonderful family dog (2006-2017). He looks like a Saint Bernard next to the kids in this photo, but he’s actually a Border Collie.
The first day of school for 2010 aged five and three but about to have birthdays.
When we rewind a little further, we end up with the newly weds out the front along with my husband’s Austen Healey Sprite.
I think this photo was taken on the Sprite’s last drive before it was garaged in our back shed. If you haven’t worked it out by now, progress is slow around here and the Sprite is still awaiting restoration.
So, while we often wonder about what goes on behind closed doors, there’s also what goes on in front of front doors. That parade of firsts and starts to a new year or era, which becomes a precious records of our ups and down through life. A door often makes a good backdrop, even if it’s desperately in need of a facelift itself.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to our place. This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
Tomorrow morning, our “baby girl” starts high school. While this is something we’ve been working towards for some time, I still have this sense of impending doom. That we’ve forgotten something. That we’ve forgotten something of earth-shattering significance. The sort of thing that crippling anxious nightmares are made of. Sleeping through the alarm. No uniform. No shoes. What about what’s for lunch, packing and actually eating it?
High school is going to be a piece of cake compared to getting out our front door and as much as I’ve hoped for the best and prepared for the worst, I have this awful sinking feeling, that we’re doomed. To quote someone very dear to me: “That we were born under an unlucky star”.
Indeed, perhaps there’s no point even getting out of bed, and we can try again next year.
Thank goodness my alter-ego pushed that anxious sod off her perch and confiscated her scrapbook of memories as well.
An extraordinary moment.
Stepping out and exploring the world on foot…Miss 2008 aged 2.
Mummy and Miss.
Miss with dancing Shoes
Of course, you can’t turn up at the high school gate with a swag of baby photos and snaps of firsts to share with the other parents…Mum’s Bragbook. OMG! Talk about taking uncool to such unprecedented heights, that even I who is eternally impervious to embarrassment, would be cringing in my boots forever more.
I could never show my face again.
That’s if I was still alive after such an escapade. If my daughter didn’t kill me, I’d have to kill myself…or lock myself up in a crate addressed to deepest darkest Africa, or even post myself to Mars.
I guess this also reminds me that Mummy’s not allowed to cry. Mum has to be strong. Smile, wave and not cling onto my little girl like a limpet trying to stop her from growing up and stepping out the front door without me.
Our Son’s Starts High School Two Years Ago in 2016.
Really, tomorrow’s just another day and it’s not like we don’t know the place. No, her big brother’s paved the way and for better or worse, we’re known at the school. Our daughter hasn’t been going to school locally for the last two years, so hasn’t really been round the traps but she’ll know a lot of the kids from her last school and round about. She’s also in a selective dance class within the performing arts and will automaticlly land on her feet with a few extra moves thrown in just because she can.
So, of course, tomorrow is going to be fine.
This is the broken record that I should be playing over and over in my head instead of feeling crippled by this shapeless, formless, sense of impeding doom.
After all, we’ve crossed the i’s dotted the t’s and like a airline pilot, double-checked that the hatches are shut. (See I told you things were a bit skewiff around here.)
How hard can it be to get one kid around the corner?
Or should I say, how easy!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know how it all went.
Of course, I couldn’t possibly write my series of Letters to Dead Poets without including you. Walzing Matilda has long been Australia’s unofficial national anthem and The Man From Snowy Riveris an iconic Australian poem illustrating values of mateship and community which have made this nation strong.
Back when was 10 years old in primary school, we all strived to remember the lines of: The Man From Snowy River, which has since been made into a film. I remember going over and over those lines almost hearing the sound of pounding hoofs in the metre:
There was movement at the station,
for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away
And had joined the wild bush horses –
he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.
There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins,
For never horse could throw him while the saddle-girths would stand –
He learned to ride while droving on the plains.
That was as far as all my memorising ended up…the end of verse 2.
So, after that rather lengthy introduction, I suppose I should get on to the reason for my letter. Why am I bothering to contact you from the 21st Century, when you’ve been resting in peace for so long?
Well, I have one simple question:
What does it mean to be a man?
After all, for so many years the Man from Snowy River was consciously or unconsciously held up as the ideal Aussie bloke…especially after the movie was released. With his rugged, bushman’s physique, he was Australia’s answer to the American cowboy.While this image wasn’t exactly accurate with most of our population living in urban areas, it was consciously or unconsciously reinforced by strength of the Australian Lighthorse units during World War I.
Somewhere a long the way, the legend was born.
Since you created this iconic Aussie bloke, that’s why I asked you what it means to be a man. Not for me but for my son. I know things have changed quite significantly but surely some of the fundamentals are still the same? I’m hoping for some man-to-man advice please. Well, make that man-to-man-via-his-Mum advice.
As I mentioned in my first letter to AA Milne, our son recently turned 12 and started high school. While this is hard enough, he is also about to enter the swirling vortex of pubescence. While I could well have asked Milne the same question, I forgot.
So, what are your thoughts? What does it mean to be a man beyond time and place? Is there something at the core? Or, are there so many themes and variations, that there are no underlying truths? No “Essence of Man” which I could simply put in a bottle and sell?
Yet, as much as I’m getting into this whole writing letters to dead poets idea, I do have my concerns. Thinking about how much things have changed, your advice could well be out of date. Your Man from Snowy River would be stonkered by how much things have changed. He wouldn’t even know what a computer was, let alone how to send an email or connect up with people all around the world via the Internet. He might know how to ride a horse but what good is that, trying to get through the main streets of Sydney now? He’d end up underneath a bus. That is, if a bicycle courier didn’t get him first.
Yet, at the same time, there must be qualities, characteristics, actions which transcend time and are part of the human condition and that’s what I’m searching for.
While I was thinking about all of this, I suddenly realised how little I know about you. You are such a household name throughout Australia and yet I barely know anything about you at all. You’re a bit like that person who’s always been living just down the road that you keep seeing yet, you don’t really know. You just think you do. So, I really should have done my research before we engaged in such lengthy conversation. I know nothing about you the man. You’re a name without a face lost in the misty passages of time.
Isn’t that the same with most writers, poets, artists? We admire their work without knowing the first thing about them. Without finding out whether they’re an inspiration after all?
Perhaps, we need to pick our role models more carefully.
Anyway, the sun has now well and truly set on what was an exceptionally warm Autumn day and I need to return to the land of the living.
I don’t know if there is any way you could possibly reach me at all but I’d love to hear from you!
Banjo Paterson was born 17 February 1864 at “Narrambla”, near Orange, New South Wales, Australia and died of a heart attack on 5 February 1941 (aged 76)
He is best known for his quintessential poems: The Man From Snowy River, Waltzing Matilda and Clancy off the Overflow which you can read Here.
Letters to Dead Poets for the A-Z Challenge So Far:
Not sure whether you remember me. My Mum used to read Winnie the Pooh to me when I was very small and now that I’ve grown up, I’ve been reading your books and poems to my children. My favourite poems are: Vespers and Now I am Six.
When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.
Now We Are Six, By A. A. Milne
By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, my son looks quite a lot like your Christopher Robin. Indeed, he could’ve stepped straight out of the pages of your books.
Well, at least, that was: Once Upon A Time…
Christopher Robin Milne & Winnie the Pooh.
You see, he’s no longer six and we now have to double that score. That’s right! He recently turned twelve and has just started high school, which as I’m sure you’d appreciate, was quite a shock! It doesn’t seem that long ago that he was very young…just like your Christopher! I have no issues about him growing up. Indeed, I’m rather relieved that he’s not out there chasing Heffalumps and Whoozles and looking for the East Pole. That’s enough to give even the most courageous parent a series of heart attacks!
Our son looking rather Christopher Robinish.
Speaking of growing up, I was wondering why Christopher Robin never grew up? Why did you stop writing about him and telling him stories about all his toys? Why didn’t the story telling grow up with him?
It’s not that I mean to be rude but is the reader just meant to passively sit back and not share their opinions or respond to an author’s work in any way? Or, are we allowed to think? Have opinions and instead of just being written to, can we readers actually write back? Express our views?
Well, at least, I think so but perhaps I’ll disagree when I also become “an author”.
Well, being what Owl would call “impudent” and others might consider “thoughtful”, I decided to send you a poem I wrote about my son being 12. You could say that to get to this poem, we’ve doubled Now We Are Six…applying some simple calculation.
Poem: Somewhere In Between.
but somewhere in between…
my feet now touch the ground
though my thoughts are
somewhere in the clouds.
I look out my bedroom window
at the road which lies ahead
wondering how to get from A to B.
Do I really have to walk?
Why can’t I take a jumbo jet?
I don’t have all the answers.
Indeed, I don’t even know
which questions I should ask.
Yet, everywhere I seem to look,
all I find is rules.
Rules on rules on rules!
This is how to do your hair!
Living by this ringing bell,
has to be a form of hell!
but somewhere in between…
why can’t I just enjoy the view
before I grow too big?
I must say that the other thing that I’ve noticed now that my son is 12 and my daughter’s 10, is that I am also being forced to grow up. Just like Christopher Robin has in a sense been immortalised as a little boy, you have also been frozen in that same time warp. You will always be that father of a young boy, bringing the adventures of his toys to life through Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Roo and Rabbit.
Most of us do not have that luxury.
It’s been wonderful experiencing my second childhood…building sandcastles, reading picture books and driving along with the likes of Eeyore in my car.That is, being able to do all these fun things without being considered “insane” or “different different”.
So, if you don’t mind me being so full of questions, I only have a couple more.
As my kids grow up, do I really have to grow up with them? Why can’t I just veer off on my own trajectory and keep on being a kid? Do my own thing? Just asking! After all, don’t you still feel like finger painting and making mud pies every now and then?
I thought you might have a plan. Or, perhaps I should be asking Pooh? Despite being a so-called “bear of little brain”, he really is quite a good problem solver.
Thank you very much, Mr Milne! You’re an excellent listener!
Born 18th January, 1882, Alan Alexander Milne died on 31st January, 1956 aged 74. While his ashes were scattered, there is a memorial plaque at Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, the setting for Winnie the Pooh which quotes:
“By and by they came to an enchanted place on the very top of the Forest called Galleon’s Leap.”
Which is your favourite poem by AA Milne? Or, perhaps you relate to one of the characters from Winnie The Pooh?
Personally, I feel like I am a combination of most of his characters…quite a “soup” you could say.