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MY THREE MOMS
IF I COULD LIVE TWICE.
Mom Number One: MOMMY.
My recollections of time spent with this mom, though few, are extremely vivid because this is the lady whom conceived me, carried me in her womb and then gave birth to me. I was baby number six so doubt that there was any celebration to welcome my arrival.
My memory takes me back to when I was four years old and living with my parents and older sister,Theresa in a small house on the corner of a street right in the heart of Cape Town city in South Africa. It was a long sloping street and seemed to disappear straight into the base of Table Mountain which towered majesticfally above our cosmopolitan neighbourhood.
We rented the front bedroom which had a small kitchenette attached with an average sized window that looked directly out into the small front garden and our long residential street. There was a low garden wall separated by a mesh gate in the center. The walls were the same pale blue as the house.
The house belonged to a kind but strict Jewish lady Mrs Adler whom lived there with her son Dave,his wife Patsy and their little baby boy Greg. Sometimes I'd see Patsy wheeling Greg up and down our pavement in his grey carriage pram and he always seemd to be sucking on a large piece of chocolate or drinking milk formula from a glass baby's bottle. A very typical scenario in the fifties.
Sometimes I'd also see Patsy and Dave sitting very close together inside a small red sports car with a black convertible roof which was parked in front of the house. There was no car garage and ,I recall most of the neighbours parking their cars on the street which looking back, I guess served to enhance the cosmopolitan ambience.
There were always children playing in the streets during the evening hours and on weekends and sometimes the older ones would compete against one another with their round hula hoops which was fun to watch.
Overall it appeared , at least to my childhood eyes and based on the memories I have, to be a very innocent and safe era even if there was the occasional domestic disturbance.
Mommy had long black hair and often wore pink. She always looked nice even though most of the time she appeared to be worried and sometimes I saw her sitting on the edge of the double bed which seemed to fill most of the room, crying softly.
My sister,three and a half years older than me , attended school and I spent most of the mornings roaming around the neighbourhood by myself. It was the mid fifties and relatively safe. Still as I grew older and my life changed I oftened wondered how my mother could have allowed me this potentially dangerous kind of freedom. Yet,somehow,I always knew that she loved me and my sister even though she seldom demonstrated her feelings. Except for one unforgettable morning which has left an indelible imprint upon my heart.
Next door to us lived a very nice family with a little blonde haired boy the same age as me. We became good friends and sometimes roamed the streets of Cape Town together. Then one day when he had come to play over at our house,I think it was a rainy day, by accident he slammed the entrance door to our room on my hand and my pinkie ( baby finger) was badly hurt. Not broken or needing stiches but enough to make me cry...after all, I was only four years old. Well, my mom being blessed with a short fuse, flew off the handle , yelled at my friend and sent him right back home!
Some days passed, probably a week or so since this unfortunate incident and then there was a knock on our door. It was my friend wanting to come and play. Mommy did not give him her usual smile and said that because he had hurt my finger he was not allowed to play with me anymore. Well! Being a tyical little four year old I wanted my friend to come and play and didn't care about my finger, so I burst into tears and pleaded with my mom to change her mind until at last she relented. Years later and to this day I always look back upon my 'injured finger' incident as the time when Mommy's love for me was manifested by her anger at my little friend and then subsequent forgiveness. She was just being a typical protective mother!
My liitle friend whom I will call Kirk had an older sister around the same age as my sister and they were also good friends. Let's call her Renelle. Now, Renelle and Kirk's mother was a nurse and a truly lovely lady but the fondest memory I have of her are the times that she invited my sister and I to her childrens' birthday parties. We'd all sit at a long table covered with a pretty tablecloth and plenty of goodies. I particularly remember the chocolate covered peanuts and smooth white semolina pudding.
These treats were especially appreciated by my sister and I because we seldom had anythIng so delicious to eat at our own place. Not because Mommy was negligent. We were poor. Our father whom we seldom saw would spend most of his meager earnings on licquor and Mommy did not work so we had many meals consisting of bread spread with sugar and we drank black coffee. Once in a while, our great auntie whom lived up the street from us near Devil's Peak mountain would send her Jimmy down to us with a big pot of bean soup .
Great Aunt Mercy was our dad's aunt and adored him. According to family rumors she apparently sold old clothes and the gave the money to our dad. Typically he'd spend it on alcohol.
Sometimes Jimmy would come on his homemade go kart and then coax me to climb on but I was afraid to. He'd get mad at me but I didn't care.
Years later I discovered that Jimmy was actually our older brother. This knowledge as did many other discoveries about our family confused me. As time went on I slowly managed to fit all the pieces of the puzzle in place but I still had a hard time accepting what I referred to as ,"my horrible heritage". Before this comprehension set in, thanks to the innocence of early childhood, I still had some good times and cherish those memories.
There were also visits from a slim lady with grey hair worn in a bun.I called her Granny Fish Cakes because she always brought us delicious fresh fish cakes and a huge grey enamel bucket filled with fresh water. She lived in Elgin and would travel to Cape Town from there by train. Elgin at that time was mostly a farming community and about 70 kilometers from Cape Town.
Sometimes Mommy, my sister and I would take the train ride from Cape Town to Elgin and stay at a place which looked like a farm but I don't remember seeing Granny Fish Cakes. I remember my sister and I playing with an older girl whom had an olive complexion and wore her black hair in two long braids. There was an older lady with salt and pepper grey hair ,also braided but tied up into a bun and she made delicious curried potatoes with other tasty food. We also ate large fresh oven baked Chelsea buns smothered with sweet white icing sugar
Then there is the time that Mommy and I took a train ride into Simonstown to meet someone special...at least that is how my mother referred to him. He must have been in his early twenties and wore a sailor uniform. That is all I remember and have no idea who he was and why we had gone to visit him. Or why my sister did not come with us.
Once in a while we'd go to this big church in town on a Sunday and I would stare longingly at all the other little girls in my age group wearing pretty chiffone dresses with puffed sleeves and carrying little round handbags in their gloved hands. They were very unfriendly.
Thanks to somebody who was kind I was given two pretty green chiffone dresses with puffed sleeves and remember wearing it when I had gone to someone's house to play. There were two little boys, I think they were brothers and one of them had asked me to roll down on this small hilly part of their lawn but I emphatically refused stating that my new dress must not get dirty! Where that place was and who these boys were I have completely forgotten but I clearly remember that day when I wore my green chiffone dress. I felt so proud and pretty!
Sometimes, Mommy would take us into Cape Town Gardens to see the squirrles and would buy us delicious brown salted peanuts in brown paper bags.
It was around this time that Mommy decided to get a job so she enrolled me in a nearby creche (daycare center). I did not like being there and cried when Mommy left me then cried again ...out of relief, when she came back to pick me up. I can still see her walking in with a pink handbag under her arm to match her pink high heeled shoes and a pink dress. She smelt nice...not only because of the perfume she was wearing but she had a familiar fragrance which was her own.
The people at the creche were not unkind to me; I was just being a 'CRY BABY' and the person whom scared me the most was a young slim girl with long blonde hair because she reminded me of a wicked cartoon character I had once seen in a comic book. Ironically, she was the nicest one of all and during nap time would try to settle me in my hammocklike bed by placing it right next to hers!
What I especially liked about the creche was drinking fresh milk out of a plastic cup which looked like tupperware and eating canned guavas with yellow custard poured over.
I did not stay at this creche very long, probably a week or two at the most and many years later when I was already married and saw my mother for the first time after a long absence, she confessed to me that she had promised to pay the creche as soon as she got paid but was not able to so the owner said that she could not keep me there. Oh well. So Mommy quit work and I returned to wandering the streetsof our Capetonian neighbourhood.
Soon after this my mom became pregnant with my brother Joe, I was still four years old.
Joe had very blonde hair and when he wa old enough Theresa and I would take him for a stroll in his blue canvas stroller along our pavement down to the Bobby Shop which stood across another road which intersected with ours, This as fun but one day when Theresa had clearly told me to wait with my baby brother whilst she crossed over the road to go and get something from the Bobby Shop I decided to give the strolle a tiny push and trust my luck it collapsed!
Naturally big siter Theresa was furious with me and justifiably so but at least nobody was hurt. Of ocurse I did get a big fright and never ever tried that again!
Not far from the Bobby Shop was the local clinic which our mother would take us to for injections, a trip I dreaded. You could smell that typical hospital scent of antiseptic solution, almost like surgical spirits but stronger , even before the building came into view . It was old and painted an ugly off yellowish beige color. The interior was very gloomy as well. Still, for all it's unappealing appearance and unpleasant odor, by Mommy bringing us here we were kept safe from contracting any lethal childhood diseases such as smallpox, diptheria and of course polio.
The sheer irony of our regular visits to this clinic is that once in a while Mommy would take us to visit a girl at a special place for handicapped children. She had long dark hair, almost as black as Mommy's with pretty large gree eyes and a smooth complexion but she had a club foot. Years later, just as with my older brother Jimmy, I discovered that she was my sister. She was about two or three years older than Theresa
So these are some of the early memories I have of my time with my first mother. Sadly, and yet in retrospect, probably for the better, just before my fifth birthday everything changed and quite drastically, It was during this time that my second mom entered my life.
How clearly I recall that unforgettable day, the one which would impact my destiny and also that of my older sister and little brother.
It was a sunny week day and on impulse I decided to walk into the yard of a pink house a few rows down from ours and then knocked on the front door. A friendly lady appeared and asked what my name was and what I wanted. I do not know what I told her but she said I should call her Aunt Maureen and then introduced me to her daughter, Sheena and the two of us subsequently became very good friends.
Soon after this I disovered that Sheena was an only child, three years younger than me and Aunt Maureen's husband whom I called Uncle Max worked in the big city of Cape Town near Sea Point where his parents lived,
As time went by I was allowed to accompany them on visits to Sheena's paternal grandparents They had a cozy upper floor apartment, tastefully furnished and a balcony with old fashioned balustrades which looked directly onto the busy city street below. There was also an inner staircase covered in rich red carpeting with intricate patterns of dark blue and gold. At the top was an upright piano and we would sometimes be allowed to tinkle on it. That is where I first learned how to play chop sticks.
Sheena and I had alot of fun here and ate very good food but whenever I stood outside on the balcony I would look up the busy street and really miss my mom, dad and siblings. I was homesick! Reflecting upon this throughout the years which followed and even now I realize that whether you live in a mansion or a hovel or somewhere inbetween it is not the place itself but the love that draws you back there. We were by no means a stable family but there was love. One of the dearest memories I have of my dad is when he and I walked hand in hand down to the Bobby Shop (candy store) at the end of our street and he'd buy me chocolate coated marsh mallows which were called sweetie pies and came wrapped in shiny gold paper. Sometimes the marshmallows would be white, sometimes pink.
Sadly, our sweet little family life came to a sudden end shortly after one horrible Saturday when my mom and dad had gotten into a terrible argument. It was the first and the last time that I ever saw them quarreling.
This is a day I'd rather forget and one which trutfhully I do not dwell on but it is important that I mention it now because it is is an event that was instrumental in all the changes which followed. Daddy had been drinking and Mommy was so furious with him that she grabbed a bottle from him which was wrapped in brown paper and tossed it over the low front garden wall into the street. I can still hear the glass shattering on the tarmac, see the neighbours curious stares and still feel my embarrasment, as young as I was.
Suddenly it was all over and there was silence. The neighbours had disappeared and Mommy had calmed down but the pattern of life as we had known it, just like the shattered bottle, was broken because that very same day without any prior warning our mother grabbed her few belongings and walked right out on us.
During our mother's absence our father stayed with us all the time and did not touch a drop of licquor. Perhaps the shock of his beloved wife leaving scared him into sobriety or maybe he did not want to lose us, his three children ...whatever the reasons for his abstinence I only wish that it could have been permanent. Tragically it was only temporary.
Thankfully Mommy did return and we were all very happy to see her, including our father and for a few days life returned to normal. My older sister Theresa attended school , Mommy took care of Joe our baby brother and I had been given permission to stay a few days with Aunt Maureen, Uncle Max and Sheena in their new home in the suburbs where they had recenty moved to.
It was January 1960 and for my fifth birthday Aunt Maureen vey kindly baked me a birthday cake and threw me my very first party. My cake was round and the top covered in blue icing to make it look like the sea and a small pink plastic boat was placed in the center. I was also given a small green canvas stroller with a green Andy Pandy doll. That is the first doll I ever owned.
Our landlady whom for the most part I avoided also surprised me with a gift. Actually it was quite funny because I made a point of having as little as possible to do with this lady so one morning when Theresa suggested I take her the newspaper, not something I did as a rule, I refused but then my sister's smile and twinkle in her eye told me that there must be a good reason for her rather unusual request. Of course I wasn't disappointed because there waiting fo me in our landlady's right hand was a huge amber beach pale filled to the brim with sunrise toffees! So my fifth birthay turned out to be very pleasant.
One Saturday Theresa, Renelle, Kirk and I had walked around the corner from our place and when we came to Buitekant Straat, a very busy main street which ran parrallel to ours,Theresa instructed me to stay where I was with Kirk whilst her and Renelle crossed over to the other side. Why they did that I cannot recall but once I saw my beloved sister on the other side of the big busy street I had this sudden urge to be with her and without hesitating ran into the street and straight into an apporaching car!
The driver , a petite grey haired lady with spectacles stepped out of her little grey car and came to see if I was badly hurt. I had fallen just by the right front wheel but remarkably did not even have a scratch! Of course I was badly shaken,as was Renelle .What happened immediately after this is a blank but I know that somehow we managed to get back home and the little lady was there too,
Both our parents were home and they had visitors which in itself was most unusual because other than Granny Fish Cakes and occasionally Jimmy who brought us bean soup, nobody ever came to see us. Even stranger than this is that Mommy whom had sat me on our wooden dressing table looked me over quickly, almost nonchalantly and insisted that I was fine. Her words were rushed and her movements very brisk...like she just wanted to get this entire situation over and done with. Not like her at all.
Whether or not this potentially fatal or miraculous incident, call it what you will, coupled with my parents' huge quarrel and Mommy's sudden departure played a part in the ensueing turmoil I cannot say but now as a grow up women with children of my own I am pretty certain that they must have.
Maybe the lady whom accidentally knocked me down was a social worker and disturbed by what happened decided to notify the authorities about how negligent my parents were. Or aunty Maureen, Sheena's mother may have reported them based on something she had observed. It could even have been our own mother. Who knows . Whatever the reasons, soon after these unsettling happenings our lives were never the same again!
Change came like a cold gush of wind...howling and fierce, stinging every fibre of my being.! After an exhausting round of long bus rides and visits to fancy homes to meet with strangers we finally arrived at this beautiful place in Wynberg. A place which I thought would be our new home. It is one of the most poignant memories of my early childhood.
Mommy , Theresa and I were walking hand in hand through this beautiful landscaped garden toward a grand building in the distance when I innocently commented on how nice our new home looked and can still vividly see the sad expressions on the faces of my mother and sister. They already knew then what I was soon to find out.
This lovely place with it's lush green lawns, tall trees and a beautiful statue of an African lady with a baby on her back, would indeed be our new home but not in the way I had expected. Mommy would not be living here with us and for the next few few weeks or so, Renelle, Kirk and I would barely see one another. This grand place was a Childrens' Home.
Life at Wynberg:
The staff whom dressed in white nurses uniforms were mean and at night I slept in a dormitory with beds lined up either side of the long room. Next to me slept a girl who loved to pull my hair at night but I never said anything out of fear for being reprimanded.
Our meals werre eaten in a huge dining room and most mornings we would either eat creamy meal or malta bella porridge for breakfast and then go outside into a nice playground but even this time of recreation was ruined for me because a young teenage girl who lived in a house on the premises had taken an instant dislike to me and did whatever she could to make my life a misery.
The only times I saw my siblings was on a Sunday during visiting hours in the afternoon when our parents would come and see us for a few hours. I always looked forward to them coming but cried bitterly when they left and remember that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when disappoinment set in because they had not shown up. This only happened once and I am sure there must have been a valid reason why.
The Visitors Room was large with a wooden floor and had plenty of toys; we'd play with a small rubber ball by rolling it to each other and were always given peanuts with raisins as a weekly treat. This was the only time that I felt somewhat happy at this awful place .I wa always f afraid. Then one day my fear turned into terror.
I had been feeling ill all day and had tried to tell the rude excuse of a child minder all morning but she deliberately kept on ignoring me and that night sure enough I woke up feeling feverish and unable to contain my nausea I commited the unthinkable crime of making extra work for her by messing the sheets!
Absolutely livid she threatened to smother me with the bedsheets and boasted of her wicked plan to all the other children in the dormitory! Naturally I was terrified! As if this was not enough the very next day she purposely ran very hot water into the procelain bath tub and laughed in my face when I winced with pain then proceeded to tell her co-worker or friend standing neaby that I was being punished for giving her extra duties by getting sick.
Not long after this nightmare the same witch appeared at my beside one morning and instead of her usual sarcastic orders she actually smiled and old me that I would not be going out to play and had to get ready for a very important visitor. So instead of putting on the ugly yellow dress with sleeves that bit into my armpits, she helped me into a pretty blue corduroy dress with big black polka dots and then put fancy white ankle socks and white sandals on my feet. No sooner had she finished dressing me when a familiar sight appeared in front of me.
"MOMMY!" I cried excitedly and ran into my mother's waiting arms. Then another familiar face came into view and it was Aunty Maureen,Sheena's mother whom also greeted me warmly and then there was my beloved brother and sister, also all dressed up like me. We were leaving this dreadful place and going to a new home.
It was only a few months before we were sent away to the Childrens Home in Wynberg that I had met Aunt Maureen in the most unusual way.
As the nasty nurse with her fake smile escorted us all outside the building there was a tall lady, probably in her twenties, standing next to a black volkswagon waitIng for us. Her black hair was piled high up on her head like a chignon. I later learned that she was a social worker.
All of us climbed in. Aunty Maureen sat in the front passenger seat and I sat on her lap. Mommy, Theresa and Kirk sat in the back seat.
MY THREE MOMS PART TWO
Aunt Maureen. Mother Number Two.
After the social worker had turned on the ignition and gently eased her little black VW out of the parking lot and out onto the open road a tremendous sense of freedom washed over me! It was beautiful and I wanted it to last forever.
In my sheer ecstacy I prattled on like an express train whereas my mother, sister and brother all sat in complete silence. Naturally they must have been pleased to be leaving that dreadful place which we were forced to live in for the past several weeks but unlike me they had never been to Aunty Maureen's new house in Plumstead, in fact not even their old one back in Meinard Street so I am sure they were wondering what was to happen to all of us now. Especially Theresa, being the oldest and always very mature for her age. She also looked very sad just like that first day when her, Mommy and myself had walked hand in hand through the lush grounds of the Childrens'Home.
Again I couldn't understand this sadness until we stopped about half an hour after leaving the Home. Then it all made sense and young as I was I did feel a slight twinge of guilt for my own jovial spirits. The Socail worke climbed out and then so did our mother, She turned and looked at us her three children, tried to say 'goodbye' but the words wouldn't come and a large trar began to trickle down her lovely, familiar face framed by that thick dark hai of hers, Then she was gone.
Theresa also cried softly and held Joe close to her as if to draw ccomfort from him. He was only two, if that so did not really know what was going on. As for me, well I felt sad to see Mommy crying but strangely not to the extent of my siblings. Years later and even now when I think about that day so ong long ago I am reminded of how fragile and fickle a child's emotions can be because before leaving Meinhard Street in Cape Town, during my brief say at the nearby daycare center I would cling to Mommy and cry bittelry when she left me, then again when she came to pick me up. Also, after her Sunday visits to us at the Home.
Now all of a sudden I did not feel that same sadness.. Of course I loved Mommy but something within me had changed. This in itself is tragically sad because the bond I once had with my own mother simply wasn't there anymore. Something special had been robbed from me. Still, in my childhood innocence and being with a lady, Aunt Maureen of whom I was very fond I felt excited to be going back to her lovely home in a nice suburb. The reality of what had happened to my emotions only registered in all it's heartbreaking reality when I became a mother myself.
After dropping mommy off we still had quite a long ride ahead of us or so it seemed and for the rest of the journey, nobody spoke until we reached Aunt Maureen's neat and cozy suburban home. Not even the social worker. Only after seeing us off did she exchange a few words with Aunt Maureen.
Near the end of 1960 because I hadn't turned six yet since my birthday falls in January I still had not begun to attend school and really wasn't excited at the prospect of doing so either.
Theresa was nine and a half and baby brother Joe, just barely two so we were still very very young.Sheena Aunt Maureen's own daughter was almost three and seemed very happy with us her new siblings.
We were given a guided tour of the inside of the house and then the outside
It was a simple house but extremely clean and with a cozy ambience.
There was a small L shaped passage covered in a red and blue patterned carpet, similar to that of a persian rug and from the front door there were two rooms on the left and one on the right . The room closest to the front door on the left was a bedroom but sometimes during the four years that we lived with Aunty Maureen, it would be used as a dining room.
On the same same side of the passage nearer to the part where the passage continued around the corner to the left and not far from the kitchen on the right, was our bedroom...the one where all four of us children slept. The left side of the passage and nearer to the front door was the bedroom where Uncle Max and Aunty Manny slept. It had a fireplace.
This room would also be turned into a dining room once in a while.
Arounf the corner to the left where the passage continued was the bathroom on the right and a guest bedroom straght ahead. The bathroom was white tiled, very clean. always smelt of dettol a popularf disinfectant and the toilet seat , wooden and reddsih aroon , always felt warm.. On the oppiste side of of teh passage and direcrly across from the guest bedroom was the kitchen.
The kitchen had a black linoleum floor with pink and black patterns and the kitchen sink cupboards were a pink color, almost like the inside of a guava. Near the sink to the left was a small walk in pantry and in the middle of the kitchen floor stood a square wooden table. This is where the four of us would sit for our meals and I fondly recall many breakfasts,eating post toasties ( corn flakes) , rice krispies , wheatbix or malta bella porridge out of blue or red or yellow tupperware cereal bowls. Occasionally we'd have fluffy yellow scrambled eggs on toast or soft boiled eggs which we'd eat out of quaint litle egg cups and whenever we had eggs there would always be brown or white toasted bread with butter. Every Easter Aunt Maud would color the soft boiled eggs in shades of blue,pink and yellow.
Most weekdays excepting for our three yearly school holidays we'd eat breakfast and go off to school with a packed lunch consisting of brown or white sandwiches and sometimes cookies or fruit then when we returned home around three pm or so Aunty Maureen would give us more sandwiches and tea or juice as an afternoon snack. This would be followed by dinner around six or seven and that was always our main meal with plenty of vegetables.
Most of the time I was a sweet natured and well behaved chiId but I was not the best eater and absolutely hated vegetables but even more than this I could not stomach mashed potatoes! As a result I found myself on a few nights having to tackle all the dishes on my own because I did not finish my dinner. Maybe this is the reason that I hate washing up and drying dishes to this day. Thank goodness for dishwashers and dryers!
Back then in the sixties housewives had to rely on their hands , running water, sink and a good dish washing liquid! Unless of course they were very wealthy and could afford the mod cons. Aunt Maureen and her husband Uncle Max were comfortable but not wealthy by any means, yet to my child's mind coming from the small room and kitchenette in Cape Town and then subsequently the Childrens' Home in Wynberg with it's hostile atmosphere, their suburban family home seemed like paradise!
Uncle Max worked for an Insurance Company in Sea Point and each week day he'd walk down to the train station to catch the train to work but occasionally he would also drive in a pale blue car which I think belonged to his parents but I am not sure. He often wore a pale blue hand knitted sweater an matched the car when he drove in it which rather amused me .
Uncel Max could be nice when he chose but truthfully most of the times my siblings and I feared him as he was very forthright about us not being his flesh and blood and reminded us that we came from a peasant peasant background. One particularly hurtful comment he made took me many years to get over.
One fine sunny Sunday morning as he, Sheena, his own daughter and I were walking toward the train station to catch the train to Wynberg and go the the Wynberg Baptist church he told me point blank not to get so close to his daughter as may still have lice in my hair! I was only six years old but that reamrk stung me like a scorpion.
Further unpleasant moments occurred over the years , one of which is when I awoke during the night with a sharp pain on my thigh and began to cry. It was a boil which had erupted on my skin for some unknown reason so I went to the bathroom around the corner and very soon Uncel Max was there too, standing close behind me , not to offer comfort but to reprimand me then slap me hard right on my boil so that it bled. Thank the good Lord it did not go any further than this. Still, coupled with the accusation of having lice when of course since moving into their clean well run home, thanks to Aunt Maureen I knew was a complete lie, and the burst and bleeding boil incidents ( this happened on more than one occasion) my stepdad had succeeded in breaking my spirit. So now I had no loving father figure to look up to.Even after these incidents,which thankfully were brief when he did make an effort to be kind I always felt some resistance inside of me.
The saying that children are more resilient than we give them credit for is very true and thankfully in spite of these two humiliating ordeals I could still find time to enjoy what I thought, at least at the time, to be a happy childhood. Mainly because now I slept in a nice room with my other three siblings, two biological and one step, on the top bunk bed between clean sheets and knew in my little girl's heart that there would alway be a nIce breakfast to welcome me the next day in Aunt Maureen's cozy and well run kitchen.
Monday through Friday Aunt Maureen would wake us up fairly early, probably around 8 am or so and then seat us around the wooden table covered with a pretty tablecloth in her warm kitchen and we would eat either corn flakes or rice krispies or malta bella porridge from colorful tupperware bowls. Then after we had washed up she would see Theresa off to school. No loonger in Jan Van Riebeek now but attending South Field Junior in Southfield, instead of the black tunic with a white shirt and black lace up shoes, Theresa wore a pretty dark green tunic with short sleeves , white socks and pretty brown school shoes. She was eight and a half and I was still five.
In January 1960 I turned six and for this birthday Aunt Maud baked me a cake in the shape of a school because I would soon be starting my very first year but was not looking forward to it.Born with a very strong sixth's sense I somehow already knew that I was not going to do well and of course I was right.
First of all I hated having to get up extra early and dreaded the walk to the bus stop wIth Theresa. It seemed so long and tiring.