If the wind changes your face will stay like that forever, money doesn’t grow on trees, work smarter not harder, measure twice cut once, if you’re going to do any job make sure you do it right, if they jumped off a cliff would you do it too? (as it turns out the answer was yes for this one),. These are just a few of the quotes we received from mum and dad when we were growing up but one thing my mum said that I always laughed at because it was simply absurd was “One day you will have three boys of your own and then you will understand what we go through”……….
She’s a witch I say! How could she possibly know this 20 years ago?
Let’s take this back a bit so you can understand why mum chose these words. We grew up in a country town in Victoria, way back when a digital watch with a calculator made you the cool kid at school. We were privileged kids, not rich and spoilt but we had everything we could ever want thanks to parents who worked hard their whole lives to provide for us. Sure there were arguments and harsh words said when we couldn’t have that new thing we clearly didn’t need but this was also the time we believed money did grow on trees. For every lesson learnt from these amazing people I am grateful and only later in life was I able to fully appreciate the sacrifices they made to maintain a family with three potentially mischievous boys who wanted the world dropped at their feet.
I look back and fear is one of my first feelings because mum and dad couldn’t have raised us any better than they did, so with three boys of my own I can see my own future being a little stressful. To put things in perspective I have a story that might help you understand.
The sky is clearing and I’m invited on an adventure by my older brother Troy and his mate Scott (at the time this was unheard of as when we were in our early teens the simple act of talking to each other would usually end in a fight). Where we were going wasn’t important it was just cool to be invited and when I saw the tractor tire tube I knew it would be something fun.
We walked a couple of blocks from the house rolling the tube along and arrived at our local water pumping jetty on the Mitchell river. This is the moment I realised what we were about to attempt. Our quiet little town at the time had just experienced one of the worst floods I have ever seen which turned the usually calm and peaceful river into a raging rapid and our brilliant idea was to find the worst section and ride an old tractor tube down it. What was there to worry about? We’ve seen this on telly, how hard could it be? The idea was simple, we would throw the tube upstream and when it is about to pass us we would all jump in together and enjoy the country version of a rollercoaster before heading home and never telling our parents. Strangely, this is not how the plan unfolded…
As soon as that tube hit the water it shot past us like a rock from a slingshot! Our group reaction was not to survey the area and contemplate the aweome power of the water and the danger we were putting ourselves in but instead to all jump in together and catch up to the tube like our lives depended on it. After jumping in our lives did in fact depend on it. Being good swimmers really doesn’t mean much when the water has sections that look like a washing machine getting ready to eat you and some areas of the river had fully submerged trees in them but we did make it to the tube, climbed on and did the rapid run while laughing and holding on for dear life. After the rough section, the river although still running very fast, had a glassy clear top and the appearance of being calm. This is the moment Troy decided to flip off the tube backwards sending us all into the water while all laughing hysterically. The laughter soon subsides as we feel the pull of the river and how quickly it drains your energy. I go limp to conserve energy and let the river carry me for a bit but at this exact moment I managed to find one of those trees I mentioned earlier and became pinned to a branch just under the water! Surprisingly I didn’t panic, I instead yelled out to the other two while laughing at my situation to let them know what happened and they yelled back ideas to get free. With the decision made I held my breath and slid myself under the branch, I’m free! Well for about two seconds, before colliding with another branch and this time I’m stuck under water!! The water was pushing so hard against me my chest hurt as it was being crushed against the tree and I struggled to keep air in my lungs. There was no time to contemplate my life, or wait for help. Everything was relying on me being able to free myself and I wasn’t sure if I could. This is the moment panic stepped in and adrenalin took over. I pushed as hard as I could to get off that branch and after what seemed like an eternity I was free and resurfaced with a new found respect and fear of the river. I continued to swim with the current and caught up with the guys in no time and as I dragged myself back onto the tube I’m met with “hey, there you are” because that’s how brotherly love works when your young.
We continue on the river until it’s calm again, pull the tube from the water and start the long walk home. One might say we learnt a valuable lesson that day but this was not the case because on our walk back the only reason we didn’t try again was because the walk home took so long (at no point did I say we were smart teenagers) The only other discussion on the way back was to never tell mum and dad what we did on this almost fateful day.
This is but one of many stories that all seem to have a similar theme, that is to have the potential of serious injury and or death. What else was there to do with our spare time but to push limits and try new things to amuse ourselves?
This is why I now worry. If any of my kids have the same tendencies as I did growing up I don’t know what I’ll do apart from blame mum for putting that hex on me so many years ago.
Many years later this story came up in conversation at a family barbeque. We had assumed mum and dad already knew about this because when we were younger they spoke of a little bird that knew everything we did. He must have seen what we were up to on us this day and quit because the look on mum’s face was priceless.
I now just realised, I need to go and buy my own little spy bird.