Saturday, 11 October 2008


It's going to come as a surprise to many of you that I spent a large part of my childhood in China.

In China?

That can't be true!

It is true, but not in the way you think.

My younger sister, Lisa (aka Moo), and I had very fertile imaginations when we were somewhere around 10 years old. We also went to bed at 7.30pm which meant that by 5am when it was light we were up and about but not allowed to make inside-the-house noise that would wake our parents or other 5 siblings.

This is when we used to visit China. Out to our back garden we would go and spend several hours each morning picking tea (read: pulling out dad's grass). Mum and dad never said a word about this weird exercise, even though we did it for several years and we did it right under their open bedroom window (I guess with 7 children born in 8 years one learns to sleep through anything).

But then again, perhaps this particular antic pales in significance to a few other things that Moo and I got up to during childhood (visualise kerosene & candle putt putt boats made of sardine tins in the bath, crab apple ripening under our beds in summer, midnight feasts under the sideboard in the lounge room after we had sung at the top of our voices every song we'd ever learned, and an imaginary fairytale world of autumn leaves in the adjacent park during the 60s and early 70s, and then hair cutting, perming, straightening, dying, ear piercing in the bathroom, and putting ourselves up for adoption when we were 14 because we wanted the romance of being orphans in the mid 70s).

Lisa and I often wore similar outfits made by mum from the same bolt of fabric when we were 13 and under, and then created (and let me tell you that the verb truly was 'created') our own wardrobes of clothes as we got older (I eventually settled on black stubbies and tshirts, Lisa had more designer clothes and thick shishado makeup).

I do remember that at some stage late in our years in Canberra, that my mother finally moved me out of the house and into the garage to sleep at night. It probably had something to do with getting everyone else to sleep at night, herself included. I also remember being shit scared of the dark and of rats (not that I ever saw any rats - it was dark. LOL).

Those were the good ol' days. We weren't Flissy and Lisa. We called ourselves Sallyanne and Geraldine (don't ask me why we chose these names nor why we swapped who was the older - I was Geraldine - but we did).

Our nocturnal restlessness abated somewhat in the mid-70s when we moved to Maryborough in Queensland. Lisa and I still shared a bedroom but we'd gotten over the desire to share the same bed and sing (well, most of the time). Life got more serious with high school and our mother's chronic illness, I guess. I got organised and tidy. Lisa did not (well not for a few years, anyway).

These days, it's me who wears dresses and uses makeup most often. Neither of us yet sleeps well at night (always made worse when we are doing lots of brain work - like I am now being back at uni) but we get by. We both like nice china and crystal and making afternoon tea (though neither of us actually drinks the stuff).

Our latest adventure together was a little more staid than our trips to China, though we both love to get on a jet plane and head off to far away lands. We popped over to Woody Point for Sunday lunch to celebrate Moo's birthday. Since those halcyon years of childhood, I've actually been to China and have my own brood of truly half Chinese off-spring. Lisa has just come home from South Africa where she helped save one of her students (Christian) from a group of stalking lions. Life's still full of adventure for both of us, it seems!

It's an odd sort of blog entry, but it's sure nice to remember the good things in life. I was an odd child (being almost deaf until I was 8 years old and not too good on the social skills side as a result). I was a very shy child to the outside world, but quite able to organise my little sister into lots of mischief at home. Lisa, who was bold and loud in public by comparison (or so she seemed to me), was a great companion. We complemented each other nicely.

Have you thought lately about what you did as a kid or with whom you shared it? Oh what tales one can tell when one remembers!


P.S. Lisa called me today after I wrote this post. She denies the tea picking. She insists that the drugs must have kicked in and erased the memory.


Daughter of the Midwest said...

Thank you so much for sharing this!!! Looking back on the things we do as children can be so wonderful. I remember well some of my 'tea picking' type activities. I will have to blog about those someday. Take care sis!!

Chars said...

This brought back some of my own fond memories... I used to get up early - go and leave footsteps in my grandfathers garden and make mud pies. Oh those were the days.

I miss both him and my nana dearly.

Thankyou for bringing those memories back....Hugs xxx

Kristin said...

What cool memories. Boy did this start me down memory lane.

I remember sliding down the driveway on an old crib mattress, turning the bathroom floor into a slip and slide, and building "tents" out of chairs, barstools, and sheets. Our "tents" covered the entire den.