It's amazing how seamlessly and naturally kids can concoct fun. It's inspirational. Verging on magic. In a way it is creativity in it's purest form. Something out of nothing that is fun and engaging for all involved. No judgement, no payments, no pre-existing rules. Activities are pulled out of the air and implemented, adapted instantly and constantly. Things take a from of their own and are realised within seconds. There is no time to stop and think, it's all input, reaction, input, reaction. In this respect, children are genius. They have no limits, no restrictions. They innately sense where the energy is and they go with it. Ego is minuscule. Like a flock of birds in flight, the group becomes one synchronised organism. And it's goal: maximum bliss.
I went to a The Bush School in an outer suburb of Sydney called Wahroonga. We lived on the edge of Kurringai National Park. Life was simple, outdoorsy. There was a TV in the house. It was a little one, black and white. To change the channel you clunked a hefty dial. My younger brothers and I were allowed to watch two shows in sequence, a couple of arvos a week; Gilligans Island and Get Smart. We would share a bowl of cheese Twisties, a pre-dinner treat. We would all be in bed, asleep, before eight. I observe my godsons growing up (10 and 13yrs) in this day and age and notice the discrepancy. Society has rushed ahead, terrifically quickly. I can almost say that when I was a kid we were still not quite at, but just past the starting line. I used to play with dirt and sticks, for heaven's sake! An iPad was not only inconceivable to me then, but to even the most forward thinking of technologists and inventors of the day. These days, six year olds commandeer them like experts.
Neither way, neither time is better. Things are just as they are. But I am glad or my humble, in-cluttered, un-complicated origins. It's like a mellow base line, underscoring my subsequent days.
At poker last week, I suddenly remembered an incident from my first year at Bush School that was quite influential in my psychological formation. As I mentioned, I was just crazy about play time. So much so that sometimes I could not even spare the time to use the bathroom. I wasn't willing to sacrifice even a minute. I truly relished the frenzied rush.
One particular day, I suddenly noticed that I urgently needed to do a wee. We were all sitting on the floor. I put up my hand and asked the teacher if I could go to the toilet. She asked told me I should've gone during the recess. I said sorry, but I really have to go now. She said no.
I remember the warm feeling flooding my pants. I had held on as long as possible. I burst out crying, too. Feelings of confusion, embarrassment, sadness, shame and anger swirled inside my tiny heart and head. I was lead out to somewhere, to change or whatever, I can't recall exactly. What I do remember is that from that day on for many weeks, maybe months even, I spent my entire play time standing at the old concrete urinal in the playground toilet block. Other kids would come and go, I'd say hi, have a chat. No one noticed that I was there the whole time. It was overkill, over compensation. But I really didn't want to repeat the episode. That fucking cunt of a teacher, in her selfish power play, screwed with my little mind. She pushed me into one of my first psychological reactionary processes. She was entrusted with my care and her stupid, sadistic behavior scarred me. She was the authority and she taught me how cruel authorities can be. I would be vigilant from that day on. My trust in adults was shattered.
It wasn't my only encounter with bullies, though. Not long after a kid called Stuart Hall took offense to my Vegemite sandwiches. I hate Vegemite! He announced in his Pommy accent. I was sitting with the gang, of which he was the strongest. There were about four or five of us, including good natured ginga, Steven Clements and easy-going, chubby Josh Harris. Stuart insisted I put my sandwich away or leave the area. I refused. He started kicking me in the shins. I wouldn't budge. Eventually, I couldn't take the pain - he had boots on - so, I walked away, teary. But I was back the next day to suffer again, and the one after that. After a few more days, he gave up. My mini Gandhi-esque passive resistance persevered!
A funny thing happened during one of my toilet camp outs. Steven Clements came in and decided to break the record for peeing the highest. The goal was to get it above the top line, which was about shoulder height. His intention was to shatter that. He had a full bladder and went for it. There were a few other witnesses. He leant back and back, further and further. His arcing piss stream going higher and higher. To the line. Above it but a foot, two, three.... He kept going, his back arching further, head tilted back in revery. Until finally, inevitably, his pee stream went all the way to one eighty degrees - then beyond! There was a scream of terror from Steven. It was garbled. The urine was landing on his face! It went in his eyes and his mouth. It was a comedic tragedy. Taking place in the most unusual of theatres. One in which I had a permanent front seat. It became a legendary event, one that last years. Good natured Steven was the least disturbed about it all, once he had recovered from the initial shock. He enjoyed the absurdity of it all and the infamy. Sure kids took the piss. But not like he himself could take the piss! No, he was the undisputed champion.