Last weekend we were visiting my Mum in Gippsland, and I had the chance to take the kids on a tour of all my old childhood haunts. Hopefully we didn’t trigger too many Neighbourhood Watch calls as we cruised slowly past leaning out the window taking pictures, firstly of the house I spent the first 12 years of my life in,
I wasn’t able to show the kids where I went to primary school or high school, as neither of them exist any longer, but I did make Stuart drive the route I used to have to walk to school to point out just how short their stroll is by comparison – they don’t call me the enforcer for nothing!
Next up was the pharmacy which was not only the location of my very first job, but also responsible for one of those sliding doors moments we all have in our lives.
I had been working there for a bit more than 12 months when I turned up to school on the first day of Year 11 and found out that I wasn’t majoring in Typing as I’d planned, but I was now majoring in Chemistry. Now I’m the first to admit that Typing was the odd subject out in a subject selection that also included Maths A, Maths B, Physics and Accounting but I liked typing, was really good at it and figured it was a guaranteed easy A. It turned out that over the holidays my boss at the pharmacy had had a chat to his friend who was the Year 11 co-ordinator at my school, and they agreed that it probably wasn’t the smartest of decisions by me so they’d sort that out and put me into chemistry instead. That could never happen in this day and age – my parents knew nothing about it until I got home from school that night and told them, they did agree it was a pretty sensible decision though – but if Chris hadn’t seen my potential and been determined not to have me limit my options, my life could have gone down a very different pathway, as chemistry was clearly a prerequisite for studying pharmacy. Sascha is already groaning about how many times she and her friends are going to have to endure that story this year as they think about their own Year 11 subject selections……
One of the stories that the kids have always loved hearing is about the time I went to primary school camp and refused to jump off the flying fox platform, making every kid on every step of the ladder get down so I could climb back down. They think it’s hilarious and have always had a view that it was probably about 3 foot high and I was just a big chicken, so it was very gratifying to not only be able to show them the camp but find the flying fox still there, and have them reluctantly admit that it would have actually been quite scary for an 8 year old to jump off!
Another story that always gets good traction at our place is the one about how good a rollerskater I was (with my abilities possibly enhanced somewhat by the passing of time), but the reality was we did used to roller skate all the time. A trip to the roller rink was the reward for sticking out the VicSwim lessons which always seemed to fall during the only cold snap week in summer each year, numerous birthday parties, and I suspect many occasions when Mum just got sick of us fighting and wanted a break! The roller rink was still there, and when I put a photo of it on Facebook, my sister, who was coming over the next day with her kids to catch up for lunch, rang up and said let’s go skating. The kids were in, and I wasn’t going to skate due to the dodgy ankle issues that have been discussed here too many times already, but we got there and once I saw they still had the old four wheel style the lure was just too strong.
We laced up our boots and off we went, and after a few wobbly uncertain early laps it all started coming back. The kids had to grudgingly admit that yes mum could actually skate, as I sailed past them, refusing to let them cling onto me and risk them taking me down, but shouting helpful (I felt) tips in my wake. Sharon and I felt 30 years younger as we gave the kids a skating lesson, at least until the next day when my legs and bum reminded me that I was a long way from a teenager now…..
It was a lovely weekend where the memories I’d recounted so many times to the kids not only came to life, but blended into the creation of new memories with them included, which I’m sure will now form part of the tapestry of our family history just as my old stories have. Everyone’s now keen to do the same with Stuart, with particular enthusiasm for a visit to Pancake Parlour which he’s often talked up to the kids as his preferred first date location back in the day. It’ll be interesting to see if his old moves come back as naturally as mine did, watch this space….