My children love to hear my stories of the ‘olden days’. They really do - this is not one of those exaggerated Supermum boasts. Every night when I’m tucking them into bed (and sometimes when we are walking to school) they demand a story from the olden days.
They do have quite exacting criteria though, and generally prefer stories involving the protagonist (usually me) meeting with injury, embarrassment, corporal punishment, or any combination of those three. I have tried and failed with stories highlighting the absence or discovery of things we now take for granted, like that magical moment in 1974 when I discovered that Cookie Monster is blue and Oscar is green. Those subtle history lessons are not appreciated in my olden days stories.
As a lover of history it often surprises me that my children’s 7 and 8 year old minds haven’t quite mastered the whole chronological time-line concept. On the one hand they are disappointed that dinosaurs became extinct shortly before I was born, but at the same time they don’t understand why I didn’t have an ipad when I was a little girl.
I’m sure you are wondering what their favourite, most requested story is. Well, gather round, boys and girls, it goes a little bit like this …
I had only just started school a few days ago. It was the end of lunch, students had started lining up on the quadrangle for assembly, and I was returning my skipping rope to the Port Room. (NB the Port Room was not the place where we retired after lunch to enjoy cigars and fortified wine. To avoid regional confusion, port = Globite school case, and the Port Room was a giant room that housed our school cases, as well as large baskets of sporting equipment.)
Anyway, as I was about to throw my skipping rope into the skipping rope basket, a Grade 2 girl said “You’re allowed to stay in here and keep skipping if you don’t want to go to assembly ya know”.
Fancy that. Clearly this school was more enlightened than I’d thought. And so, with the sharply edged pleats of my uniform fanning beneath me, I skipped.
After a while I noticed that my new friend had disappeared. In hindsight I can only assume she had an assembly to attend or something. At no stage did it dawn on me that if skipping during assembly was permitted, the Port Room would actually be full of skippers. But it was just me. And the ports.
From out of nowhere a booming voice echoed around the Port Room. “What do you think you are doing, young lady?” And when I say ‘booming voice’ I really mean ‘petrifying and obscenely loud voice’. I was shaking. I limply explained that I was skipping, as per the school rule allowing me to skip during assembly.
But in true 70s style I was seen and not heard. A painful and resounding slap was delivered across the back of my legs, and I was sent on a walk of shame to join the non-skipping students at assembly.
Mum got a smack at school! Best story ever!