My second week was completed at a preschool. Ironically it was at the preschool I went to as a little girl. I was supposed to do my whole two weeks at the vet’s but I seriously was not coping. Mim did her work experience at a Day Care centre and came home every day so happy with great stories about the children and her day. She suggested in the middle of my first week to try and change and go to a preschool as well. I was a bit hesitant to jump at this idea as I had no previous experience or desires to work with young children. I was afraid I could not relate to them very well. As I had never thought of this as an avenue to take, I decided I may as well give it a go. I talked with the teacher at Tafe, and arranged to go to a local preschool. I have never regretted this.
The thing with children is that they make you feel important. They are a good judge of character I believe, and they wouldn’t just go up to anyone. The fact that the children at this centre took to me in just one day meant so much. They sat on my lap, followed me around, introduced me to parents, and even played chasing games with me. I enjoyed my first day there so much I couldn’t wait to go back the next day. I took my violin one day, and one little girl said to her mother in the afternoon “this is my friend, and she has a guitar.” The children and the staff really valued that I took my violin in and asked me to bring it in a few other days.
As well as the children being so great, the staff also were. What I found previously with being a work experience student is that the staff can make you feel very uncomfortable and inferior. They don’t treat you as they would any other member of staff therefore not giving you a real view of what the workplace is really like. The preschool staff were not like this at all. From day one they included me in most things. I was made aware of what was going on during the day, or how to do things certain ways. I felt very comfortable and happy there. Funnily enough I even felt comfortable to eat there. It wasn’t overwhelmingly easy but I believed it was important for the children to see me eat. One day at the lunch table I managed to get into a discussion with the children about healthy eating and why eating every day is so important. That was when I realised I needed to take lunch for the children to see me do what I told them to do. My lunch did not consist of much regarding kilojoule content, but because it was in bits and pieces it looked like a lot. The one thing that I half enjoyed and half freaked out at was morning tea. One of the staff members made teas or coffees for all of us, and served this with a bit of cake. I was astonished that I was included in this, and so I accepted it thankfully. By the end of the week I realised what I had done and had an absolute heart attack. What got to me the most was that I wasn’t concentrating on my eating and I allowed myself to slip. I should have been looking at how I allowed myself to eat simply because I felt accepted by them all there. I was rather sad at the end of the week because it was such a pleasure to work there. I talked with the director to see if I could do some voluntary work there once I had finished this Tafe course. She was delighted at the idea and really encouraged me to come back.
While I was doing work experience at the preschool WIRES had another kangaroo for me to foster. His name was Furgus. He was yet another social kangaroo. He came along to my music rehearsals as well. I felt the same sense of worthwhile ness that I had felt with having Harley. It was knowing I was doing something that is helpful to someone else. I was hoping I would have less time to focus on me because I had something else to focus on. In some ways it worked but in other ways it didn’t. We were back up at tech now for about another two weeks, which meant eating properly
Eating was driving me nuts. Why does food have to be so central?! I hated more the fact of having to eat when I wasn’t even hungry. Mum had a go at me one night for not eating steak. I really just didn’t feel like it, and I don’t particularly like steak. So immediately she assumed I was starving myself again. She hardly even cooked anything that week for dinner, it was mainly takeaway. It was around this time that I grew a dislike to cooked meals to eat at a set time. It was too regimented. Too planned. The more I realised I had to eat the more fat I felt each time. I was so afraid of putting on weight. My stomach stuck out after every meal and I hated it. I tried not to look at it because it looked pathetic, and I felt pathetic. The nightmares that I’d had during the period of my HSC were back. I had nothing to relate it to this time and they really frightened me, mainly because half the time I thought I wasn’t going to wake up in the dream.
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Tech was coming closer to an end and we were all cheering. One of the guys in the class, James, lived only around the corner from us. We recognised him but tried our best to avoid him because we thought he was just a sleaze. He admitted that he and his mate often watched us walk to the shop and talked about us. However, as the course went on we got to know him as he was and realised he was quite a cool person. Some nights we went around to his place and chatted or wrestled with him. One night, pretty late, Mim and I decorated his mail box with balloons and a chef’s hat. We wrote on the balloon “hi I’m James the Jolly good Chef who can cook pumpkin soup”. He thought it was quite funny of us to do this.
One day Mim wasn’t able to go to tech because she had an appointment with the back specialist. James and I caught the bus into town together then walked up to tech. The more we talked the more I realised how much I liked him more than a friend. On the last day of tech Mim and her friend Steve had gone on a holiday to Coffs Harbour. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to spend time alone with James and get to know him. My main concern was him liking Mim as did every other guy. It wasn’t that I was jealous, it was more the feeling of always being second. I was just the sister, the ugly and dumb one. Mim has always been the most attractive one with the best personality. I had nothing to compare to her. She had the look and the talk, and she knew how to charm men. Me, I didn’t have that. I was afraid to flirt with guys especially around Mim because I was worried she would say I was being silly and acting like a teenager. I looked up to Mim and I didn’t want her to think I was stupid.
The Saturday I got my P’s Mim was still away so I went over to James’s house to share the good news with him. We sat talking for a while, then watched a bit of television. The feelings were getting stronger between us and I knew he could feel it to. The next day he came to visit and we just talked for a while again.
Those few days I couldn’t believe how well I was doing. I was actually losing my appetite and couldn’t eat. But I put it down to that was the week James and I got together.
It was so nice to have someone feel this way about me and to want to spend time with me. It was strange too. Initially we spent a fair amount of time together as a new couple. It was mainly in the night time or early in the morning.
I was now doing my voluntary work at the preschool, two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays. James walked me down to the preschool both mornings of the week and I felt unusually special. The preschool staff had nice things to stay if they saw him dropping me off and that was good. It kind of felt normal in a way to have a boyfriend and for people to ask questions about us. When I say normal I mean normal to society. Through my school days I had a few boys who were great friends but never felt confident enough to take things any further. I always assumed boyfriends were for the beautiful and could never see why anyone would ever want a relationship with someone like me. I barely had the nerve to even talk to any other guys who were out of my group.
Obviously as the previous pages have reveal I was coming out of my shell since leaving school. Working voluntarily at the preschool gave me more opportunity to
discover who I was. I felt appreciated there, and found it easier to enjoy myself naturally without worrying what anyone thought of me. To be there was extremely fulfilling. The staff and the children both appreciated me and demonstrated this in various ways. The children did this just through their natural ability of trusting and having fun with me. To have the children literally hang off me was an obvious indication that they liked me. The staff often included me in everything, making it easy for us to sometimes forget I was only voluntary. The tasks were shared equally (such as cleaning, preparing paints etc) and there was no unfairness as in giving me the tedious and meaningless tasks. At times I was even entrusted to read to the children, or hand out the fruit. I was given a go at many things and gained a lot of experience. I felt I also contributed to the preschool myself by bringing in my violin occasionally and also my kangaroo Furgus for the children to observe and learn about. He soon went off to rehabilitation to be released.
Being at he preschool really boosted my confidence and gave me more insight as to what I wanted to do in life. I had never considered child care up until now, but I realized it was something I could do and could do naturally. To love and enjoy the children’s company was a blessing, then to receive it back was so worthwhile and gratifying.
The string quartet was advancing nicely. We rehearsed regularly up at Vicki’s house having lots of fun. We averaged about two functions to play for a month, and were able to pocket money from all of them. We built up a wide repertoire of music and I continued to arrange music into four part harmony for us. From time to time we branched off to play duets. In this case it was usually Jess and myself. It didn’t happen very often, but was good for the experience.
Jess and I built a stronger friendship over time. I quite often found myself at her place having a meal with Jess, her husband Chris and baby Kate. The meal thing was a bit scary because I was not in a position to run to the toilet quickly afterwards. Their flat was very small, and I was most afraid of being heard. The only thing I could do was eat very little. Sometimes I just didn’t care because I was having too much fun to even worry about it. What felt important to me was the fact that they wanted to spend time with me and proved this by inviting me over often. I sometimes felt wary of this always afraid that sooner or later they would get sick of me, but it didn’t appear the case. Eventually I felt able to trust Jess to tell her most things and I opened up a fair bit to her, especially with things about James. We talked at great lengths about our relationship and she tried cautioning me about him. She was just looking out for me in general to make sure the relationship didn’t move to fast. Vicki and Fiona were the same, keeping a watchful eye and trying to make sure I wasn’t going to get hurt.
Regrettably the relationship with James moved faster than I had wished. Most nights at his house started out watching some show on television. Sooner or later we would start kissing, and our hands moved over each other. We usually ended up on his bed kissing and touching each other, but not having intercourse. Most nights he pushed and pushed for me to have sex with him, but I always persisted with a no. I was scared that it was too early in the relationship to do this and it would end up to be all the relationship was made up of. I was also scared because it would have been my first time. Eventually only a couple of weeks later I gave in. Part of me was just curious, and I wanted to know what it was like. The other part was giving in because I was afraid of being dumped if I kept on refusing. I can’t say it was the most pleasant experience for a first time. I felt like a little rag doll being poked into without any thought or consideration. There was no gentleness about it at all. He got what he wanted, or so it felt, so it didn’t matter how I felt throughout it. It wasn’t discussed much afterwards, then the next week we broke up. Never had I felt so used or so naïve. This situation made me feel imperfect, as though I was not good enough for him, not exactly how he would want a girlfriend to be. I was then ashamed for having let it happen.
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Before this all happened Mim had moved out of home to live in a house on the corner of our street with a friend of hers, Steve. I visited her often because I really missed her. Sometimes I had meals there to and I managed them quite well. Mum wasn’t paying much attention to my eating habits at this stage, she was barely eating herself. Occasionally she heated up a McCain microwave meal for herself and I was able to have what I wanted. In some ways it was better not to have to sit down every night for a meal, but I wasn’t really benefiting from it at all. There was no routine and I began picking at small foods.
Even though Mim only lived on the corner I missed having her in the actual house. As well as missing her I was jealous of her. She had moved out of home, and was no longer under the control of anyone. She didn’t have to put up with mum’s moods anymore. I was always the one who desired to make a clean break and get out. I wanted to live in a house where I could do anything I wanted, to leave the doors open, to know the neighbours. I felt closed in in our house. Mum hated going out and rarely did so, and tried preventing us from going out. The house appeared dark and glum. It was no wonder I liked spending time at Mim’s. She made a break and all I could feel was desertion. How could I blame her though. She needed her independence and freedom, something she wasn’t getting at home. Mum relied heavily on Mim to do many things for her which would have been a fair bit of pressure for Mim.
Unfortunately within only weeks of moving in Steve proved to be a complicated house mate. This was causing Mim a lot of grief and she had to decide whether to keep him there or not.