Been a bit busy lately to do any writing, but here's another excerpt from my book…
I tried to perceive some pattern or order in what seemed a chaotic world, or failing that to at least create some small order in my own environment. As a little girl, I had played dolls tea parties with other girls – and been very disconcerted when they actually wanted to play with the dishes and cups I had so neatly arranged! I stopped playing dolls tea parties. Something similar happened with the ‘dress-up’ bag of adult cast-offs my sister and I shared, I enjoyed the actual dressing up and ‘arranging’ of costumes more than the playing. In fact, I wasn’t really able to think up these free-flowing, ever-changing dramas as the other kids did, and I tended to simply follow their lead. Once, all dressed up, I pranced out of the bedroom and around the house, wobbling in my too-big high heels, to the adults’ amusement. I remember smiling at their laughter, and anyone looking on would have thought me ‘normal’. But my smile was due to relief, not shared pleasure – for once, I had ‘got it right’.
Outside, I climbed trees, and played chasey and hidey-go-seek and Cowboys and Indians with my siblings, and would have seemed ‘normal’ enough then too. But if others wanted to change the ‘rules’ of these games, I would complain furiously. “You’re supposed to stay dead!” Once I ‘knew’ a rule, I did not want it changed! Changing rules, actually any kind of sudden change, made my stomach go all wobbly. As with dressing up, I was unable to ‘improvise’, or truly meld with others. I could only follow rules, or the lead of others – or be the ‘boss’! And if I was ‘in charge’, I was very bossy, rigidly so.
I also loved to play rugby with my siblings and our father at home. Strangely enough, though I was never any good at school sports, somehow I could ‘do’ rugby. I loved the hard running and tackling. It seemed to meet some need in me for whole-body activity and physical contact. Other times, my father would wrestle with us, all of us piled onto him, trying to hold him down. I loved this game, and was probably the hardest ‘wrestler’. For all of this, and my preference for shorts and trousers over skirts and dresses (to me they were simply more practical), I was labelled ‘a bit of a tomboy’….
…Sometimes I read fairy tales, and there I came across the idea of ‘changeling children’, swapped at birth, and wondered for a while if I was one. But I truly couldn’t imagine other-worldly creatures popping over to New Zealand to grab a child! When I was a little older, I wondered if I was adopted, if that was why I felt so different to everyone around me. But simple logic (something I believed in even at this tender age) told me this couldn’t be true either, and I eventually gave this idea up too. There was no explanation for my ‘difference’. The labels still kept coming though – I was ‘away with the fairies’, ‘lost in her own little world’, a ‘day-dreamer’, a ‘strange child’, and more, as others tried to grasp my ‘otherness’.