1968. East Nowra, NSW. I’m finished I call, somewhat excitedly.
Mum comes over to do an inspection. She seems suspicious, but doesn’t say anything.
Okay, you can go now. I jump up and run outside to play.
Scene repeats on a daily basis for a number of years.
1973. Murwillumbah, NSW. I am aghast. I cannot believe she would do this me.
I am betrayed.
1976. North Nowra, NSW. I am not allowed to move. I must stay here till they’re all gone. Dad makes that quite clear.
I will not give in.
I am not wilful.
I am not stubborn.
I am … intractable.
Fourteen year old me learnt that word the hard way.
I will not eat them.
Peas placed carefully under my knife so mum won’t see them, despite her suspicions.
I get away with that for years. Or so I think.
In 1973 a concern is shared. It appears the middle one, the troublesome one, the intractable one, will die a lingering death (along with millions of starving African children) if she doesn’t eat her vegetables.
Nan-in-Murwillumbah has a solution.
Vegetables in the bowl; custard on top. Sharon won’t even realise!
Sharon did realise. And didn’t eat custard for years.
In 1976 a new rule is instituted: no-one leaves the table till Sharon finishes all her dinner.
All means vegetables.
I learnt the strength of my resolve at that moment. I learnt that I am patient. I learnt that I have a core of steel.
I learnt the word intractable.
I learnt that while cauliflower and cheese sauce is one of the foods the devil serves in hell, it tastes marginally better hot than when it’s been sitting on your plate for four hours.
2003. Launceston, Tas. An envelope with Dad’s handwriting.
I’m strangely touched that he remembered.