In 1981 The Incident of Lesley and the Fly affected me profoundly and to this day I cannot drink plain white milk. It was the job of Lesley my pre-school teacher-aide to pour cups of unrefrigerated milk for the children to drink for morning tea. One day, I discovered - horror of horrors - a hackly old blowfly swimming in my tepid milk and summoned up the courage to ask Lesley to deal with it. She plucked the fly out and gave the milk back to me. Too timid to do anything else, I drank the fly-germ-contaminated milk and since that day, plain white milk has been off my menu.
My first kiss was with my childhood friend, Steven (denim overalls, front row, pre-school photo above.) It occurred around the same time the photo above was taken. We were 4. We played together all the time and we knew - just knew - without any romance or love involved, that we were destined to marry. It was obvious to us because we played together all the time. He told me one day that the 'Rule' was that if two people were going to marry, they first were required to kiss seven times, and the last kiss was to be a "really long one."
Horror. Kissing a Boy Seven Times with the Last One being a Really Long One was not on my list of things I wanted to do, but I could see no way out if we were indeed to be joined in marriage one day. I pictured myself putting off this onerous task for years, only to be forced to perform it as a final pre-requisite just before our wedding day. Nobody wants that sort of pressure while preparing for one's nuptials, I decided, so reluctantly I agreed to get this step out of the way while we were both available, before our lives got busier with wedding dress fittings, choosing a reception venue and and picking out stationery.
An appropriate moment presented itself when we were playing in his sandpit one day, so we took a deep breath and got on with it. It was odd sitting in the sand with my pursed lips pressed hard to his pursed lips, trying to exhale at the same time he did so we didn't breath each other's breaths, staring into his huge brown eyes and wondering what loon made up this odd marriage pre-requisite. One ... two ... three ... four ... five ... six ... ergh. Okay.
Breathe ... s--e--v--e--n--...
"HA! Caught you!" His older sister Debbie jumped from the bushes and laughed uproariously having sprung us in the act of "lodging our Intent To Marry". For our part, we wondered what all the fuss was about. We were just getting one of our pre-marriage tasks ticked off the list. Better to be prepared than to leave this til the last minute, we reasoned.
Time passed, and we moved away. I didn't marry Steven, but his father turned up as one of the Pharmacists at our local Pharmacy three decades later. "Do you remember the day you and Steven kissed?" he asked me recently as I handed him a prescription. "Yes, yes I do Ian," I replied. "Thankyou for reminding me. Twenty-nine years down, and I'd almost forgotten."
When I wasn't playing with Steven in his sandpit or unromantically preparing for our wedding, I played by myself. This was because there was nobody else to play with. It is hardly surprising that I rarely fought.
Playing with pets and stuffed toys or making farms out of blocks for my plastic animals was fun, but I needed to increase my scope. In my quest for continuous improvement, I collected a valuable set of siblings. Pictured below are Sibling Mk1, Julie Maree (c)1979, Sibling Mk2, Crazy Sister (c)1981 and Sibling Mk3, Wee Bro (c)1983.
Perhaps you noticed the number of siblings doesn't match up. It is, indeed, an incomplete set and I explained why here.
Half a decade later, I looked more like I do today. I retained my enjoyment of fancy dress. Here I am pictured on a family holiday posing in front of a bridge, dressed as 'teenager in the early nineties wearing a manic artifact from the late eighties'.
Highschool was less a pursuit of academic excellence as a struggle for basic social survival. Amazingly however, the academic success slipped in through a side window while I was busy trying not to be seen, and I was accepted to The University of Queensland to complete a Bachelor of Speech Pathology. Living in a residential college was one of the best parts of the four years at University, and it was there I met Mr de Elba. He introduced me to the surreal lifestyle of those living in male residential colleges, including the world of dry-ice bombs and a nice little game called "Poo In Your Room."
One of the many things I gained from my four years at college that I will keep with me for life was a good and faithful friend named Hippomanic Jen. I wish I could post a photo of her "heavily pregnant" with a large yellow balloon under the lower part of her shirt, two small balloons under the upper part, holding a wicker clothes basket over her head to protect her identity. Alas, I do not know where to locate the photo. The description must suffice.
We started this odyssey at the same time we gained a puppy. We like a challenge. This puppy however, while a perfect family dog in many ways, turned out to have one slight problem (ahem-biting-other-dogs-ahem) and this led me to start a blog.
In late 2008 Mr de Elba was transferred to a different town, and so we moved in early 2009. Once the move was done, we added another sweet little child to our collection.
Time passed, and the sweet little cherubs from the pictures above grew into tall strong children with a startling propensity to talk.
Oh how I miss their sweet tiny faces peeking out from their snug blankets.
Oh how I do not miss the endless 'arsenic hours' spent tripping over ping pong balls in the kitchen as I try to serve up a half-decent meal to my children before the more blissful moments of showering their bodies, reading stories to their minds, praying with their hearts and letting them sleep deep, long, unbroken sleep in these short years before they too are tripping over their own ping pong balls and losing sleep over their own little ones. And staying up til midnight poring over their own blogs.
And this is where the story finds me. Sitting at my computer late at night, debriefing from my day. Chronicling the funny, the sad, the weird and the messy. Enjoying the companionable silence between me and Mr de Elba, side-by-side on our respective computers. Companionable silence soon to be broken by my usual words, "Well I'd better go to sleep, my love. Will you be long?" "Not too long." "Okay then, goodnight!" "Goodnight my love."
And I shall get up, stretch, kiss three sweet little sleeping children's cheeks, have a shower, read my Bible, read my book and fall into a soft velvety sleep.