In case you have not yet figured it out. I was an extremely helpful child. Although I often went about things the wrong way, I always wanted to help people and I strove to do the right thing. Most of the time.
During the school holidays I was sometimes babysat by my mum’s friend Kerry. She had two boys at the time, one of which was only a year younger than myself and the other one was in diapers. Kerry’s oldest son was always very well behaved; he was rarely in trouble. He was quiet and preferred to stay inside tinkering with his little gadgets, building complex structures with Lego and such things.
I always thought he needed more adventure in his life. I would coax him out and talk him into doing things he wouldn’t usually do, like putting dirt into his little brother’s nappy, until he could barely walk, so that we could get rid of him for a while and play on the swings without him wanting to have a turn.
Kerry was not stupid. She knew I influenced her son and she kept a close eye on me, making it difficult for me to get into too much trouble when I was staying with her. Despite the restriction on my freedom, I enjoyed staying with Kerry. She made the best vegemite sandwiches in the world. To this day, no one has been able to make me a better sandwich. She liked to cook scones and she let me help her and she would also let us earn $2 each on Sundays to get an ice cream from the Mr. Whippy van. Whenever I stayed overnight, she would make a warm milo and let us listen to the radio while we drank our drinks in bed, plus she always gave us an extra scoop of milo in our drinks.
Staying with Kerry was always fun and exciting. She has always been one of my favourite people.
One weekend during the school holidays, I was staying with Kerry for a couple of days, one of which was a Sunday. We were always able to earn $2 for the ice cream van, but we had to make sure the jobs were done before he got there, or we would miss out. The jobs had to be done properly and we had to use our own initiative to find something that needed doing and do it ourselves, as well as clean up after ourselves.
This particular weekend, I decided to go all out and weed the garden. I started with the front yard, which took me the best part of Saturday morning, despite the fact I wasn’t working alone, it was a big job. We each had a plastic bag, which we filled with weeds, then emptied into the big green bin around the side of the house.
We had lunch, then got to work on the backyard. The back was even worse than the front, but we got to work, not wanting to take too long, for fear of not finishing before the ice cream man started his tune down the street.
I filled my plastic bag with weeds (they were mostly weeds, for once I didn’t pull out too many ornamental plants) and proceeded to empty the bag into the bin. I lifted the lid and noticed that the bin was full to the brim. There wasn’t much point in me emptying the bag, as the weeds would only fall onto the ground, making the whole job pointless.
Instead of approaching Kerry to tell her of my dilemma, I tried to use my initiative and figure it out for myself. I spotted a hole in the backyard and looked at it for a moment. I grabbed a rock and dropped it down into the hole. It took a while for me to hear the clang of it hitting the bottom. Perfect. The hole was big enough for us to get rid of all the weeds we had pulled.
I told my weed-pulling assistant and he followed suit and before long we had the whole yard weed free (and somewhat plant free). I looked in the hole and I couldn’t see anything, so there was still plenty more room for next time we did the weeding of the garden.
The next day we both got our ice cream and we sat on the swing set in the backyard, enjoying each other’s company before I had to go back home to get ready to go back to school the next day.
After a while being back at school, the work I had done at Kerry’s house over the holidays was all but forgotten. At least, until Kerry called mum one afternoon in hysterics. It turns out the hole we had put the weeds into was actually the drain and not only had we managed to block the drain pipe connected to it, but the weeds had flourished and had clogged up the entire system.
It seems so funny thinking back to it now, but at the time both my mum and Kerry were single mother’s struggling to make ends meet and it must have been a hell of a burden on their financial situation.
Needless to say, I don’t remember staying with Kerry quite so often after that, I’m not sure if that was a coincidence or not, but I definitely learnt a valuable lesson.
Never EVER weed the garden. It’s a trap!
Mum always told me that if you’re not going to do something properly, then don’t do it at all! Therefore, when disposing of rubbish (or in this case weeds), I needed to ensure that the weeds were in fact gone. Once the weeds were placed into the hole, they disappeared, making sure that the job had been done satisfactorily – After all, you can’t go making games of such things when ice cream is at stake! Not only that, having a hole in the middle of a playing field (which is what a backyard is to a child) is dangerous. I was really eliminating a safety risk.