Young Love


I remember when I was in my first year of school. I loved my very first teacher so much. Every day when I left to go home, I would hug and kiss her goodbye. I don’t remember exactly why, but I do recall the strength of my feelings. I was four and a half.

I can also remember the first boy I fell in love with. I wanted to be in his presence every minute of the day, but he barely knew I existed. This was when I was five or six. I was devastated.

The only boy that liked me back then was really sweet and kind but I was in love with “Matthew”. The sweet and kind boy that liked me followed me around everywhere and I thought of him as “Moon Face”. I never called him this, but that is how I referred to him in my mind because he reminded me of the happy and smiley character out of the “Magic Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton. Perhaps, his heart was saddened by my lack of enthusiasm for his school boy advances. I’m sorry Moon Face.

In grade 5, I remember playing kiss chasey. The only boy that chased me was the one I didn’t want to be kissed by. I ran into the girls’ toilet and slammed the metal gate shut against his onslaught but he burst through like an angry bull and smashed the gate open. My arm was crushed between the brick wall and the metal gate breaking my wrist.

Not a good start to the game of love.

I’m writing this not to demonstrate how pathetic my love life was in primary school, but because I am now in a position to watch my boys fall in love in their early years of school just as I did. Thankfully, I can say that they seem to have more luck than me.

One day, my eldest, when he was in grade 5 (so around 11 years old), slipped into the car and sadly told me he had broken up with his girlfriend. I love that he’s not too shy to share these events with me and we discussed it for a while. He was surprisingly accepting but I gave him my empathy, love and a big hug when we got home.

The next day, when I picked up my children again, my third son, (not to be left out), sadly told me he had broken up with his girlfriend. Trying to hide my amusement (he was only 5), I asked him if he was alright. Just as he started to answer, my fourth son (3 years old) piped up and said, “Can I have her?” To which son number three replied, “She’s not a box of chocolates!”

I was quite impressed that Felix (number 3), was able to so eloquently articulate his understanding and respect for girls at such a young age. I guess then, that I’m not at all surprised to find that at the age of nine, he is head over heels in love and so tender that he may just give Price Charming a run for his money.

They are cute together; just young and innocent love. Holding hands and spending time together is the extent of their relationship, but they don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to be together. At home they write each other letters which are delivered shyly in the playground and on weekends they try to arrange more time together as well.

Today, I found a letter Felix had written to Chloe. It was really lovely so I asked him why he didn’t send it. He said he was going to and I told him it that the words were so beautiful that it read like a poem. Felix turned to me and said, “Mum, it’s not a poem, it’s a song I wrote for her.”

Felix posted this little song on his blog today (he would love you to have a look) as well as writing it for her in a card. I wonder if he will sing it to her.


Letter of Reason


Dad solemnly handed me a three page, hand written letter outlining his rationale for me not moving out of home. They were valid grounds, but I read them with an air of annoyance and tossed the note away (I wish I had kept it). I do remember some of the list, which included:

  • Needing the financial support of my parents to complete my degree.
  • Living in an environment conducive to study
  • Looking after my health with my recent diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis
  • That my Irish boyfriend (yet another Peter) was not the best choice of people to support me in the above…..and the list went on.

They were all genuine concerns, coming from a place of love, and Dad could not have been more right; but as I mentioned¸ the letter ended up in the bin and I moved out.

I think that part of the reason for my belligerence was that I had reached an age where I didn’t want to be accountable for every night out or every sleep over a friend’s house. What my parents didn’t realise was that compared to many of my friends, I was a late bloomer and hadn’t experimented nearly as much, or as early with some of the things that went on at school. Also, coming from a household of three brothers, I felt there was a definite imbalance when it came to the freedom given to my brothers and the freedom given to me.

Dad was right though and perhaps he saw through the happy-go-lucky character that Peter made himself out to be. Having been in the merchant navy in Ireland before he came to Australia, he was a big drinker and it wasn’t long before I discovered the many down sides of this. We enjoyed parties and pubs like most of our friends, however, it was about 3 months into our shared living arrangement that I was subjected to his alcohol induced schizophrenia.

One evening on our walk home from a night at a pub called “The Geebung Polo Club”, our happy banter suddenly turned to jealous accusations. I have always been the type of person to talk with someone if they speak to me. Isn’t that manners? But due to my generally friendly and vivacious nature, several boyfriends have chosen to misconstrue this as flirting. I say “chosen” because it has always been a choice.

In an unexpected onslaught, I found myself slammed up against a parked car with allegations and fists flying. His posture was that of pure rage and his face red from the strain of his vehement and cutting bullets of abuse. He left me in the dark street and walked home on his own. With nowhere else to go at that time of night, my only choice was to dust myself off and drag my bruised body and bewildered mind back home. What the hell had just happened? Early that morning, he woke in a drunken daze, opened my closet door and pissed on all my clothes.

Now most emotionally intelligent women would have packed their bags and left the next day…surely. Conversely, after his profuse apologies and assurances that it would never happen again, I tucked the incident away and went on with life.

Everything was fine for a while. I had believed him when he had told me it was a “one off incident”, “totally out of character”. When it happened again, I was just as surprised as the first time. This time we were at home and some neighbourhood friends had popped in for pizza and a few drinks. As the night progressed, he became more obnoxious by the minute. I can’t even remember what set him off but I can clearly recall him shoving me up against the wall and holding the carving knife to my throat. My dog Pepe, although small, was as loyal and ferocious as any trained attack canine could be. He flew at Peter (well his ankles) in an attempt to save me from his wrath. The distraction worked, but Peter kicked my dog so hard in the ribs that he bounced off the opposite wall, but Pepe just shook his head and went in for the second round.

It was about 3am and I knew I couldn’t stay a moment longer. Peter went to have a cigarette and I took this opportunity to make a call to my friends, Lynda and Shane. This couple had been my friends since high school and they had always been generous of heart. Without a second thought, Shane jumped on his motorbike and made the half hour trip to come and rescue me. With my helmet on and my dog bundled up between myself and Shane’s back, we sped home to the familiarity of their safe and happy home.

Dad’s dim predictions had become a reality.  My studies had suffered along with my health. My University results were pathetic and my life in a shambles.

One of my reader, a father of daughters, asked me how he could help to protect his daughters from such a horrible and dangerous situation. I think the first step is being aware, as a parent, that this can happen. Just like child sexual abuse needs to be discussed openly with your children at a young age, boyfriend abuse needs to also be on your list of awkward topics when it becomes relevant. Knowledge is power, and your daughters are more likely to recognize it for what it is should it rear it’s ugly head. 

The only qualifications I have for giving this advice is that I have obviously been in this situation; so these are solely my own opinions. However, there is a lot of great information on the internet and I have added a couple of links including a really informative blog for both parents and daughters, should you wish to know more. Good on you Sean for asking the question, your daughters are already streets ahead.

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