My Mum the Shearer

It seems that I’ve inherited my mother’s ability to find, be found by and adopt any lost sheep. In some cases, her ability is literal. We adopted a large, lost sheep. We were in Central Australia, the year I turned 9. We’d been travelling for 6 months around the country and now had taken up residence in a single carriage of a converted silver bullet train (something like this). My bed was over the hot water service in the ‘laundry’; Mum and Dad had a fold out bed in the lounge room so my brother and sister could share the double bed in the single bedroom that there was.

When cattle or sheep were rounded up, little ones would often be brought into the community, almost like a toy, and, as toys often are, they’d be discarded and forgotten. This had happened to Sheepy. He had been around the place for a while. He was no longer little and cute, but full grown, fat and fluffy. Well, he would have been had his overgrown wool not resembled a large and fibrous tumbleweed, complete with spinifex grass and felted matting. Sheepy had wandered into our yard one day and, as I mentioned, Mum is genetically predisposed to be unable to resist something or someone in need of assistance. Sheepy became her personal project. She blunted the few pairs of scissors we had, regardless of their original purpose, trying to create a coiff from a conglomerate. The community thought it was hilarious, but I could understand her concerns. Desert days are not cool and Sheepy was lumbered with inches of filthy thermal insulation. Each day, scissors of various sizes and Mum waged war against Sheepy’s many extra layers.

With time and perseverance, Mum won the war against the wool. Sheepy bore his new, attacked by vicious lawn mower, wool cut with lightness and freedom, if not pride. His accepting personality was overcome, layer by layer, with the more realistic taciturn nature of a scruffy, hot male specimen. So Sheepy left his temporary home and ran off to rejoin the community at large. And, not long after, and not shared with the shorter siblings, Sheepy made a guest appearance at a local barbecue. Such is life, I suppose.

We Are Human

We are all human. We are not girls and boys; we are not young and old; we are not black and white; we are human. Created in a womb and buried in the dirt. We are God’s creation. Skin woven together to hold our organs in does not determine our class. We are blood, sweat and tears, made to speak emotions, not to become a job. We are human. We are united by our similarities. We run on the same energy sources and live lives with the same needs. We wake with the sun and sleep by the moon. Because we are human.

We are not homelessness or poor government choices or malnutrition. We are not words on a page, or enemies or friends. We are human. We are not the clothes on our backs or the clips in our hair. We are not the endless race of who is better and who is faster. We are not broken relationships or torn families.

We are the kindness of strangers. We are the random smiles. We are the endless love that fills new parent’s hearts. We are human. We are the species that has a heart so fragile a simple sound can shatter it. We are one but we are many. There is nothing that unites us more than the feeling of love.

There are insects that spend their whole lives trying to eat children’s eyes from the inside out, plants which can kill us with a small touch; mosquitoes that are only 3 millimetres in length which are perpetuators of some of the worst diseases ever seen; bacteria which cannot be seen, yet we watch them take the lives of our loved ones. And yet what a person has between their legs determines if they are worthy of being paid or not. A person’s age determines their apparent ability. The colour of someone’s skin is the difference between having their say in their life, or not.

We still feel that we are a threat to each other and ourselves. We are our own worst enemy; we destroy ourselves so others can’t. We set up organisations, funds and protection programs with which to save us from us. We have created a world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are.

We are human. We smile with joy, showing white teeth and cry for many reasons with clear and salty tears. Children, reproduced humanity, drink white milk regardless of the hue of the breast by which they lie. Blood, spilled, stored or shared, is still red.

When we recognise our humanity, our similarity, and reinstate dignity and equality, we increase our integrity and solidarity. We create and affirm responsibility and let go of long held, closed-minded thoughts of normality.

We are human and the sooner we realise, recognise and remember, the better for us all.

With thanks and acknowledgement to Tahlya Andersen.

An amazing surprise!

My Grandpa and his three brothers all served in World War II in various capacities with the Australian Defence Force. My Grandpa was a navigator in a bomber for some time. My Great Uncle Bob was captured early in the war by Japanese soldiers, transported to Burma and forced to work on the Thai-Burma railway. (For another excellent story of that time, watch Colin Firth in ‘Railway Man’)

Not long after Bob was captured, his family received an official letter telling them he had been captured. For the next 3 1/2 years, they heard nothing and did not know if he was alive or dead.

My Great Aunty Barb and Great Grandma were at the Rialto in Box Hill in 1945, where they both saw this newsreel video. (No sound)

My Uncle Bob appears behind Lord Mountbatten at 2mins 20secs!

What an amazing shock that must have been for Aunty and Grandma. I wonder whether they stayed to watch any more when they saw him laughing and looking so happy? I don’t think I could have.

I’m so thankful that after hearing this story recently from Aunty Barb, my first-cousin-once-removed, Ray, went searching for the clip and found it from British Pathè. He now has a copy on DVD.

I’m also thankful to never have been in any similar situation. God willing we won’t be again.


‘Scuse me, Miss!

It’s only been about 6 weeks since I last stood in front of a class and (hopefully) taught. It’s been less than 48 hours since I sat in someone else’s. And today, it begins again. And I’m scared.

Yes, scared. I know it seems unreasonable, because I love the school I’m at. I love the kids (most of them – veritas serum again). I love to teach. I love the connections; momentary or long lasting. I love the lightbulb moments. I love surprising the teenagers by knowing about the latest apps, games and songs. I love the reactions I see when they realise that I’m a person and I have a home. I believe the generally accepted school of thought is that teachers live in a box under their desk. I love to throw lesson plans out the window and ride the wave of a valuable tangent. I love it when a lesson plan and said lesson actually are the same. So why am I scared?

I’m scared because every ‘night before’ I fear being found out. I fear that someone, somewhere, somehow will discover that I’m actually not very good at this. I’m scared that I actually won’t be. I’m scared they won’t like me. I’m scared that despite my planning and best efforts, the whole thing goes pear shaped.

This is unfounded. In almost 7 years of teaching so far, none of this has proven true.

Oh, there have some pretty spectacular muck-ups; by no means has perfection taken up residence. Some days, I’m actually not very good at it. Some days only I know that. Some days I’m sure I’m the only one who doesn’t. But some days, I’m brilliant! Some days, they don’t like me. Some days I don’t like them all that much either. But some days I’m the ‘best teacher ever!’ I have it on the authority of a coffee mug. Some days pear shaped would be a bonus. But some days, we are the whole fruit salad!

I could cheerfully forget the times I’ve been taken to task for not following guidelines. I could be okay without memories of 6 dismal months of ‘that class’ in Year 10 History. If I never melt a plastic box on a hot plate in the Home Ec kitchen again, I’ll die content. Broken bones, cut fingers, burns and seizures; you can keep them.

But there are jewels too. The consistent C- who got a B. The sudden, and totally unexpected, discovery of a student’s flair for writing flowery Shakespearean prose. The spark of understanding.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll know both sides of that battered, but still valuable, coin. You’ll know the highs and the lows. You’ll understand the billions of possible reactions you might have to the simple phrase, “Scuse me, Miss?”

And you’ll be scared. And you’ll love it. All at the same time.


Eski 🐛