Monday Musings–Good Intentions

GOOD INTENTIONS

We all have our ideas how the world should run. We think we know what’s best, what’s good, and what will work. If only everyone would follow our advice, the world would be a paradise.

When I was twelve, my parents thought it best I go to a new school for my last year at primary school. That school was a feeder school to the secondary school they planned to send me.

*[Photo 1: Full of hope of a new adventure © M.E. Trudinger 1975]

‘You’ll make some friends who’ll be there for you when you go to high school,’ they said.

Good intentions; a sound plan for transition…

Their plans just didn’t work out as they intended.

Two weeks into first term at that new school, I realised I’d connected with nobody. The girls in my class had formed their tight-knit friendship groups way back in Year 1, so I had no friend-prospects.

At recess, I sat alone Indian-style on the grass under a tree. Never mind, I thought, my books are my friends. I’ll read out the year. I opened my latest novel. Besides, I have plenty of friends outside of this school.

For the next few days nobody and my books kept me company at recess and lunch. What better way of dealing with loneliness of an hour by entering another world and the characters there. No different from the previous year at my old school when I ignored my friends in preference to researching dinosaurs and aliens in outer space.

*[Photo 2: One of my books, the Lost World of the Wends © L.M. Kling 2021]

Then the good intentions of the teachers came into play. The new Year 7 girl reading her books every break? Oh, no! We can’t have that! She must socialise.

So, with good intentions, the teachers denied me the joy and escape of reading. They forced me to play with my peers.

However, my peers, comfortable with their set, didn’t appreciate the teacher’s good intentions. As I followed one group into the girls’ toilets, the leader spoke up. ‘Nothing personal, but stop shadowing us.’

Fine then. I wiped the tears stinging the corners of my eyes and bit my lip. Sorry for upsetting your perfect little life. I’ll go find someone else to be my friend.

Soon after, I teamed up with a Year 6 girl. She sat on her own at lunch. I’d been kicked off the bench by the other cohort of Year 7 girls because I liked cheese and gherkin sandwiches. Rather than making a big deal of the excommunication, I wandered over to the Year 6 girl and sat beside her. She didn’t mind my choice of lunch.

*[Photo 3: Happiness is a friend, Poatina Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2010]

For the next week, we enjoyed each other’s company. We played on the monkey bars and joined others in her class playing four-square (a type of hand-tennis). For five days, my cliquey peers were happy, the teachers were happy, and I was happy. I’d found a friend.

But good things were not meant to last at this new school. The beginning of March, and just a hint of an autumn-south-westerly breezed through the classroom porches. I kicked off my shoes, pulled on my scuffs (major rule: no shoes inside the classroom), and lined up ready to enter class. The Year 6 teacher sought me out and took me aside. ‘You aren’t allowed to play with Year 6 students,’ they said. ‘It’s against the school rules.’

*[Photo 4: Beginnings of autumn © L.M. Kling 2021]

The school with good intentions had a rule: Students must only mix with students the same age as them and from their class.

So again, good intentions forced me out on my own again. I rode home that day, tears streaming down my face. I failed to understand. The injustice of it. They want me to socialise and then thwart every effort for me to do so, with all their damn rules.

With good intentions, the next day, Mum marched into the office and spoke to my teacher. With good intentions, my teacher reprimanded the girls in my class.

Made no difference. My peers wanted no part of those good intentions. And they didn’t like being told off. Not one bit. I paid for those good intentions right through secondary school, actually.

I considered making friends with some boys in my class. But after one day sitting at a table in class with them, I figured that making friends with the boys in my class wasn’t an option. Probably a rule about that too. After all, our teacher gave us a lecture on the evils of wearing bikinis…so…

[Photo 5: Beware, the bikini…modesty at Moana © R. Trudinger 1982]

For the rest of that year, I became very good at keeping out of the supervising teacher’s gaze at lunchtime and pretending to play with my peers while making sure I didn’t appear to be “shadowing” them. The bullies helped this charade by “shadowing” me. Not that I appreciated their efforts at the time. As the year wore on, I managed some illicit liaisons with my books behind the bushes, when the teachers weren’t looking.

My mum carried the burden of guilt from her good intentions of the year I lived friendlessly. But she needn’t be. My parents’ intentions were good. Though I suffered, these challenges were good for me. I learnt to persevere. I learnt that being alone doesn’t mean that I must be lonely. God was and is with me. I learnt not to quit. In short, I developed character. Besides, this school inspired me to learn the Japanese language, setting me on my future career path teaching the Japanese language, as well as travelling in Japan. And most of all, I learnt to see the kids sitting on their own and be their friend.

[Photo 6: Tokeiji, Japan © L.M. Kling 1984]

Yes, good intentions may not work out as we intended, but God can turn around our struggles, and our failures, with His best intentions for us.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”—Romans 8:28

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

*Feature Photo: Alone, in Japan © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 1985

***

Read the stories inspired by the year of living friendlessly…

Click on the link,

To download my novel

The Lost World of the Wends

Or…

Or discover how it all began in The Hitch-Hiker

And how it continues with Mission of the Unwilling

Or

Check out Indie Scriptorium, a publishing collective formed with friends,

Click on the link to my most recent post,

My Cover Journey

Voices

Voices

You want success, don’t you?

            Study hard! Cram!

                        Go to University.

                                    Pass your exam!

It’s a piece of paper, that counts.

            Cleaning? You’re cleaning? That’s poor!

                        Try harder.

                                    You need a respectable job and more.

Teaching? Never saw you as one of them.

            Get out of your comfort zone.

                        It’s the bottom-line that counts.

                                    Moving interstate? Why can’t you work at home?

Ooh, you need a boyfriend.

            He’s not right, give him the flick.

                        He’s nice, when are you getting hitched?

                                    You’re engaged? That’s a bit quick.

You’re married! Congratulations! What about kids?

            Hmmm, you need to lose weight.

                        Sure you’re not pregnant?

                                    Better travel first, mate.

A house, you need a house. Location, location, location.

            Save your dough.

                        Go on strike, get more.

                                    Deposit, mortgage, life insurance—nest-eggs, you know.

Keep busy and if you’re not, look busy.

            You’re too busy, get rest.

                        What? No friends?

                                    Get a life, get some zest.

You’re not well. See, I told you so.

            Too many toxins.

                        Take these vitamins.

                                    Pills won’t work.

                                                Diet and exercise.

                                                            Paleo

                                                                        Pilates

                                                                                    Low carb

                                                                                                High sugar

                                                                                                            Too thin

                                                                                                                        Too fat

                                                                                                                                    Too much

                                                                                                                        Not enough!

Keep busy, save, work hard…Aargh!

Jesus said: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017

Feature Photo: Sulphur Crested cockatoo © L.M. Kling 2019

***

Join the cause, the adventure, the war, good fighting evil.

Check out my novels, on the virtual shelves of Amazon Kindle—click on the link below:

The Lost World of the Wends

Or take a look at my earlier novels—

Download your Kindle copy of Mission of the Unwilling now,  for much less than the price of a cup of coffee.  Just click on the link below…

Mission of the Unwilling

Or for the price of a chocolate bar

 The Hitch-hiker

In Memory of My Grandma

Elsa

Born March 16, 1906 – March 4, 1981 [40 year anniversary]

THE DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN

Grandma rarely locked the back door; not when home or if she ran short errands. The only times she did lock the back door was when she went away on holiday. Ah! Those were the days! The 1960’s—Adelaide, the front door greeted strangers and salespeople, the back door welcomed friends and family who didn’t knock, but walked straight in.

[Photo 1: Opening the door to Grandma’s “Lace” © C.D. Trudinger 1964]

Grandma lived a ten-minute walk from my home in Somerton Park. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I walked or rode the route down Baker Street, across “busy” Diagonal Road, and into Panton Crescent. Then I trod down her gravel drive of her Trust home to her back door; a door always unlocked and without any ceremony of knocking, I pulled open the fly-screen door, pushed open the wooden door, and walked into Grandma’s small kitchen. I still dream of Grandma’s place, “Grandma’s Lace” as I used to call it as a child, her huge backyard with fruit trees and hen house.

[Photo 2: Escape from Grandma’s “Lace” © C.D. Trudinger 1966

]

The same as her home, Grandma had an open heart with time available to be there for me. From the time I was born, she was there. She bought and moved into her Somerton Park home nearby, about the same time my mum and dad with my brother and me, bought and moved into our home.

Every Sunday all the family which included mum’s brothers and sisters and their spouses, gathered in her tiny kitchen dining area for Sunday roast. The home filled with laughter as we enjoyed Grandma’s roast beef and crunchy roast potatoes—the best ever! Dessert of jelly and ice-cream followed, topped with a devotion, then the Sunday Mail quiz. Holidays held extra treats of cousins from Cleve, all five of them and Auntie and Uncle. Grandma fitted us all in, albeit us younger ones sat at the “kinder tisch” in the passageway. Often friends from church or elsewhere joined us for Sunday lunch. The door was open for them too, and somehow Grandma made the food stretch and the table expand for unexpected guests.

[Photo 3: An example followed by her children from early on © S.O. Gross circa 1941]

One of the first times I took advantage of Grandma’s “open door policy” was at two years old. I’d dreamt my cousins were visiting and no one told me. My beloved cousins were at “Grandma’s Lace” and I was missing out.

So early that hot summer’s morning, I climbed out of my cot, dumped my nappy, and naked, I navigated my way to Grandma’s. I streaked over Diagonal Road, not so busy at dawn, and then toddled down Grandma’s driveway. I pushed open the back door and tiptoed through the kitchen and passageway. Then I peered into the bedrooms one by one. Each room was empty. Where were they? Where’s my cousins? I was sure they were here.

[Photo 4: Lined up with Country Cousins © C.D. Trudinger circa 1965]

I entered Grandma’s room. The mound of bedding rose and fell with each puff of breath Grandma made.

I tapped Grandma and asked, ‘Where’s my cousins?’

Grandma startled and her eyes sprang open. ‘Oh! Oh! What are you doing here?’

‘I come to play with my cousins,’ I said. ‘Where are they?’

‘Oh, my goodness—no dear—they’re not here.’ Grandma climbed out of bed and waddled to the bathroom. ‘Now, let’s get you decent.’

After wrapping a towel around me, she picked up the telephone. I stuck by her solid legs while she spoke to my mum. ‘Marie, just wondering, are you missing a daughter?…You might like to bring some clothes…’

As I grew older, Grandma’s open-door policy included her home-made honey biscuits. My friends and I visited Grandma on a regular basis. We’d enter through the back door and make a beeline for the biscuit tin. Then we’d meander into the lounge room. With my mouth full of biscuit, I’d ask, ‘Grandma, may I have a biscuit?’

Grandma would always smile and reply, ‘Yes, dear.’

Grandma’s open-door policy helped as a refuge when love-sick boys stalked me. Mum and I arranged that when I rode home from school, if my blind was up, I was safe from unwanted attention. But if the blind was pulled down, I would turn around and ride to Grandma’s place.

[Photo 5: Grandma with her white cat © C.D. Trudinger 1965]

Grandma was there also when I had trouble at school. I remember at fifteen, having boy-trouble of the unrequited love kind. Grandma listened. She was good at that. She sat in her chair as I talked and talked, pouring out my heart, while emptying her biscuit tin.

When I paused one time, after exhausting all my words, she said, ‘Lee-Anne, one thing that may help—you need to have Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.’

Grandma passed on from this life to meet her Lord and Saviour in early 1981, less than two weeks’ shy of her seventy-fifth birthday. Her old Trust home on the big block with the fruit trees and chook-yard were razed and redeveloped into four units—front doors locked and no easy way to their back doors.

[Photo 6: Looking beyond into the Hermannsburg compound © Courtesy M.E. Trudinger circa 1950]

The Sunday after the funeral, it seemed to me strange not to gather at Grandma’s. Then Christmas, the brothers and sisters celebrated separately with their own family or partners. I missed the whole Christmas connection with my cousins, aunts and uncles. Time had moved on and our family had evolved to the next stage of our lives.

[Photo 7: Christmas Memories (Grandma in her iconic purple dress far left) © C.D. Trudinger 1977]

In 2021, leaving one’s back door open, even during the day, seems an odd and risky thing to do. Times have changed—more dangerous, or perhaps we’re more fearful of imagined dangers outside our castles. And now in this Co-vid dystopian reality…Well, Grandma’s life and her “open door” policy in a more trusting time, has made me ponder: How open and available am I to others? How willing am I to listen and value others and their world?

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019; updated 2021

Feature Photo: My Grandma and Grandpa courtesy of Marie Trudinger circa 1950

***

Also 40 years this year since the T-Team Trekked on their safari in Central Australia.

Check out my memoir: Trekking With the T-Team: Central Australian Safari 1981

Click on the link below…

Or, if a Science Fiction mystery is more your thing, have a look at my new book. Click here on The Lost World of the Wends.