I have one of those families that really encourages you to get out and try things. As a young kid, growing up in the country, I took that to the limit and along the way I got concussed 8 times. These days when a new doctor sees my medical record, they look at me seriously and say, “What happened?!”, maybe thinking that I must have had some terrible upbringing. Instead, I tell them stories of adventure and daring do, of physical feats that no kid should try, and add that my parents never wanted me to do any of those things – ever.
Kids in our neighbourhood learned that it is okay to test and fail. Our ‘misses’ were just a series of attempts, and we believed we were going to get better and better. When we tried something for the first time, we knew it was probably not going to work but that was part of the fun. We would just keep trying until it did or move onto the next adventure.
As I grew up, obviously, that kind of stuff stopped, but the ability to just get on and try things and not worry about what might happen next just kind of grew and this is because I had parents that were always supportive, as long as I was trying my hardest. Report cards, sports games or the after-school job, the question would always be asked “Could you have tried any harder?”. Provided the answer was ‘no’, everything was okay.
Both my parents were born in the depression years, so they were incredibly resourceful. If dad couldn’t find a part for a piece of machinery, he’d make it. If mum didn’t have all the ingredients for a dish, she would just look at what she had, and create something wonderful. This is powerful to see first-hand and I find that there are very few situations now where I’m unable to generate ideas or look at different ways of approaching things because my parents showed me every day what was possible if you kept trying.
My dad was a mechanic, a tinkerer and the man that could fix just about anything. Lots of times as a child, I would be his ‘helper’ as he fixed anything from cars to mowers to vacuum cleaners. In a much safer format (under dad’s eye) we would keep trying things, testing things out to see if we could fix them. The attitude was always ‘nothing can beat us; we just need to try a different way’.
While I was still a little kid, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to travel to Sydney for treatment. During this time, my sister and I stayed with different families because dad was traveling – either as part of his job or to be close to mum. Living with a different family makes you incredibly adaptive as you try to fit in with new ways of doing things. My extra family had 4 kids, so for the only time in my life, Milo had to be rationed! Luckily, necessity really is the mother of invention, and we found ways to top up the ration jar each day without being caught (till now).
Because I was still so young, it never occurred to me that mum might not come home. But she did come home, and my sister and I never got stories of how bad she felt or how frightened she might have been. Instead, mum got on with life. Life is what she wanted to hang on to and so that’s where she put her energy. It’s only later in life that you come to understand that not all superheroes wear capes. That kind of graceful strength is rare.
The other thing I remember growing up was laughter. Our family and friends have a great sense of fun and this begins from the moment we’re around each other and is continued every time we catch up.
So, a brief glimpse into those who have influenced me the most, provides the list of adjectives that best describe me…. Resourceful, adaptable, resilient, and strong…. + FUN.
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