Can you just read over this please, Mum?
When is it due?
I look at my watch. 11.23pm.
Well it was due today, but it’s ok, I’ll hand it in first thing tomorrow.
Flash back to 1999.
When is it due?
Oh come on! How many times do we need to have this discussion? Huh?
Apparently for the term of my natural life.
Miss Dodson is going to kill me if I don’t hand it in!
Alright, show me what you’ve done so far. Where’s the rest of it? No, seriously. This is it?
The diary of a convict transported from Great Britain – I did the same project when I was at primary school and I loved it. Less enthusiastic offspring declares that my relish for the task must have been due to a closer chronological proximity to the era.
You probably knew some convicts, mum, or at least their parents, right?
Yes, that’s right. My best friend, Fanny, used to love telling me about her grandad the gypsy tinker from Leicestershire who stole a pig and was sent to Van Diemen’s land.
Back when the world was sepia toned.
So we I set to work rewriting the sentences that made absolutely no sense and filling the gaps between ‘1793, Dear Diary, I stole a loaf of bread…’ and ‘this concludes my first hand account of life as a convict. The End.’
When I was happy with my impersonation of an eleven year old impersonating an adult convict it was time to create a credibly aged document. This involved smearing the cover with dirt and burning the edges of the pages.
It’s entirely possible I confused the aesthetics of an unearthed convicts diary with the routinely grubby and singed offering of a pirate’s treasure map, but what the Yarrrrrrrrr, it was the best I could muster at such short notice.
While the child may have been quizzed by Miss Dodson on her comprehension of the words ‘disconsolate’ and ‘atrabilious’ –how else to describe the mental state of our hapless diarist, I ask you? – We were marked a solid ‘B’.
Ms Dodson prefers projects with lots of colours, mum. I need some fluoro textas. Remember for next time.
I have to hand it to my incredibly lazy daughter, she quickly figured out to play me like a cheap guitar and soon the bulk of her school assignments were being ‘proof read’ by me.
She knew spelling mistakes drove me nuts and that poor grammar and syntax were the bane of my life. She also knew that if she poured a large glass of red wine and stood behind me massaging my shoulders as I skimmed over her book review I would inevitably rewrite it.
Yes, yes…I’m an APPALLING mother. I know. I can sense your collective parental outrage from here. I am controlling and critical…No…Wire…Hangers!
And when all the visits to galleries and museums, bedtime recitations of Austen, weekend Shakespearean DVD fests and subliminal Mozart, somehow failed to stimulate her humanities gland, I just took over.
On the upside, she is remarkably proficient at mathematics and given I am entirely innumerate, it seems only fair and proper that she spend the next fifteen years preparing my tax returns.
You should know that my impetus for redrafting this University assignment was not red wine or massages…no, no, it was that we really need to maintain at least a credit average to ensure my dearest, darling, eldest daughter’s semester in the UK next year is LOCKED IN.
Empty nest. Hell yes!