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Of all our possessions, wisdom alone is immortal.
– Isocrates 436 – 338 BC

To my daughter I leave this memory.

In grade six my best friend was Lesley.

She was the school benchmark for all that was clever. And I never begrudged her that, because she was smart, super smart. The smartest girl in school. Everyone knew it.
And she was my friend.

At the end of the year we had a spelling test. The teacher read out the words, slowly and we wrote them down hoping to get them right… because there was a prize up for grabs. A Sunnyboy. A frozen orangey-triangle-treat from the school canteen.

Everyone was hungry for that prize.

We all knew that the last word was gonna be a tough-ey. When the teacher read it out there was an audible gasp of defeat around the room. Most of the kids had never even heard the word before.

The word was: miscellaneous.

Inside I did a victory dance! I knew that word, I knew how to spell it.
It was written on a little filing system hanging on our kitchen wall at home. I saw it every day. I even knew what it meant…
‘miscellaneous’ was where your Mum put all the bills she couldn’t afford to pay.

I could taste the triumph of orange on my lips as I wrote out the word and then stood ready for the adjudication stage.

As the teacher read out the correct spelling the kids who got a word wrong sat down. Nineteen words later there was just myself and Lesley standing quietly, next to each other.

The teacher slowly spelt out ‘m i s c e l l a n e o u s’.

Lesley and I both remained standing. We looked at each other and beamed with jubilation.

The teacher took our papers to verify. Then she looked at me and said,

“You cheated.”

The smile slipped of my face.

She cut off my protest sharply. “It’s obvious that you copied Lesley’s page.”

She then handed Lesley the little slip of paper that granted the beneficiary the tuckshop prize.

“Sit down Carla,” the teacher said “everyone give Lesley a clap… she’s the winner.”

And I did sink to my chair and I did feel the sting of tears plop onto my red cheeks.
But I never looked down.
So I leave this memory to my darling daughter,
because in life there will always be someone that doubts you.

The trick is, when faced with adversity, always remain dignified… and never ever doubt yourself.

The truth isn’t out there.

It’s inside you.


To my son I leave this memory.

When I was a kid, perhaps nine or so, my parents took us the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.
Gawd it was a blast!
Carnival rides and stinky farm animals and showbags full of teeth-rotting candy and loads of yummy-junky things to eat and drink.
And speaking of drinking… there was a shiny new stall with a drink we’d never heard of back then… although you’d all be familiar with it now… it proclaimed itself to be a
“Tropical Slushy… the COOLEST drink in the WORLD!”
…and boy did it look tempting…
But would I like it?
I ummmed and ahhhed… I wasn’t sure.
My Mum, being ever practical decided that my little sister would get one first and then I’d give it a try. If I liked it I’d get one for myself.
It seemed to be a perfect plan… except that when she came back with the drink my bratty little sister wouldn’t hand it over for me to have a try.

At first I was puzzled, “Gimme a try.” I said.
But she gripped that cup like it was her lifeforce.
“Give me a try.” I said more forcefully.
Still she wouldn’t let it budge.
Now I was single mindedly determined… I wrenched the cup from her hand and took a long drink from the straw…
Fekme… it was delicious.
I looked up.
Fekme… that wasn’t my little sister!

I stood rooted to the spot, clutching onto the cup of tropical embarrassment, as the little girl whose drink I’d just stolen let go a screech-of-shock and ran sobbing to her Mother.

The rest of the incident is a vague blur of apologies and lining up to buy her a new drink and so I leave this memory to you, my son, because it always makes you laugh.

And because I want you to know…
that if you want something, if you want anything,
don’t let anyone tell you no.

But if you make a silly mistake, don’t succumb to the weight of the world…
learn to laugh at yourself.

And then move on.

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