That changes everything

The eldest would happily spend every waking – and sleeping – hour wearing black jeans, a black T-shirt and Doc Marten boots.

She HATES being stuck in a blue school dress five days a week. Hates it.

As we were sitting outside on the couch the other night (it’s still there, collecting bird poo, because the builder hasn’t been back to heft it inside), I queried how she was managing to get away with wearing her Doc Marten boots and rubber bangles, matched with graffiti-style nail polish on her talons, to school.

She shrugged her shoulders and said she had no idea. Suddenly, I disappeared down a reminiscence rabbit hole about the ways I embellished my school uniform as a teen.

I wore tartan gym boots and a red leather bow tie. When Split Enz broke up I added a black armband. If rain threatened, I swept around in my dad’s old green raincoat.

I must have looked quite … something … at Kotara High School in the ’80s.

As I recall, my younger sister would warn me in a low voice to “stay away” from her in the playground lest anyone should guess we were related.

DD looked slightly appalled as I regaled him and the eldest with the tale. He indicated HE would have been telling me to stay away in the playground too …

I have no idea what provoked such sartorial splendor as a painfully shy teen – especially when it sent some of my peers into absolute rages. “Weird” was simply not acceptable in their world.

I did start to realise as I retold my story that perhaps the eldest IS her mother’s daughter: introverted in personality yet out-there in odd little ways.

Yes, yes, I know NO ONE believes I’m an introvert NOW but I WAS, I swear. Just ask my mum, she despaired over what was to become of strange little me.

The other weird thing about my teen years is that I remember very little about them.

My friend Megz posted a series of reminiscences about what a “bad” influence I’d been at school.

“That rollerskating round Kotara incident… the saying hello and introducing ourselves to absolutely EVERY1 in the school just to give us the opening to say hello to the cute older boys – i mean, which 1 of us came up with that??”

“Oh.. & the wopping assembly to hide & watch from a block loos… to later realise we were totally visible to most the school & getting in trouble as we left… lol”

“how about when we totally recreated gordon heaps timetable by racing back & forward over the school to follow him from class to class then get to ours… oh dear…”

I drew a blank on most of them, though the torment of Gordon rang a bit of a bell.

I don’t recall the person she mentions at all. Mostly all that’s left is a sense of not fitting in and anxiety.

I didn’t enjoy being a teenager. And I definitely didn’t enjoy high school. I told myself I just had to make it through, get a good HSC mark and I’d never have to study again.

I got a pretty good HSC mark for someone who only did English, History, Art and 2-unit Maths. And – aside from a few failed French language night classes – I stuck to my word and never studied again.

That option isn’t really available to the eldest, things are far too competitive in the job market these days to get by without tertiary qualifications in most fields. So I hope she learns to enjoy high school more than I did because there’s a looooooong slog of study ahead.

I’m curious: Do YOU remember much about high school? Did you enjoy it?

PS The main pic is me OUT of my school uniform in the school yard, but IN my grandfather’s braces and a spiral perm. Ah, those were the days, when we all lugged around Globite suitcases!

Song of the day: Cat Stevens “Days of the old school yard”

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6 thoughts on “That changes everything

  1. Here is a really mad idea for your daughter. It only works if everyone plays along… Buy a whole lot of black die. The sort you wash clothes in. Now instruct your friends – ALL OF THEM – to wash their school clothes with a little bit of the die. It’ll make them a little bit darker. BUT, importantly, not enough to be significantly different from others. Now keep getting everyone to keep washing with a little bit of die. EVERYONE!!! You can know who isn’t, because soon their clothes look like the ones that are not the school uniform colour. Keep going… within a few months the school uniform has gradually transformed to a universal black… and no one noticed the difference… She’ll love the deeply dark nature of the project, although it’ll totally fail in reality.

  2. I had a hoot at school. I rallied the troops and did my own thing, I can’t remember being popular or unpopular, I just knocked around with a little – 2 people and we 3 enjoyed ourselves. I don’t reckon we ever fitted in, but weren’t vilified either.

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