A Pack of ratbags.
I just rediscovered this old photo amongst some I was scanning in. The three girls in this are our eldest Melissa pouring a bucket of water over the other one who shall remain nameless. Alison is on the right in the stripey swimmers throwing two half eaten green apples ...
What happened here made me so proud of my kids, the way they stuck together. The one getting the bucket of water had been making Alison's life at school a real misery. She was a bully - emotionally. Many times Alison would beg me not to make her go to school...till finally I went to the principal and was informed that many of the other girls parent's had complained about her as well. The fact that the parents were "IN" with the school may have explained why they took so long to act. Good training for adult life. This kid would decide one week that you were "out" and the whole class of girls would isolate you. The next week it was another and on and on. She had the kids so confused that they were doing everything they could to avoid being the one picked out.
So it came time for Alison's birthday in October (still cold enough in Australia) and of course this kid had to be invited. Melissa knew what she had done to Alison and she was ready for her. We were all in on it...( i had the camera ready on cue, and waited on the verandah where I couldn't be seen) Melissa devised a game... apple bobbing...but never told the kids what the prize was...so the bully won of course..then the prize was announced by Melissa...it was a bucket of cold water, and to have the apples thrown at her. She couldn't say anything because she'd won the prize and came first, but for days we snickered about it,...nothing like a bit of sibling support to put things right. Not long after this this kids parents were called in...they had no idea. Things settled after this, but when I found this photo, even though the girls are 34 and 31, and a generation almost has past...they are tight this way. Alison even said in her speech at the wedding reception when Chris and Melissa married, all five foot one of her..."And you'd better look after my sister or else"
Others may have got their revenge in a more violent way, but the pleasure that this gave us stayed with us and even today I can hear them snickering when they talk about that birthday. Sadly the apples didn't connect, which may be a good thing. Her parents would be likely to raise Cain against a pair of ratbags like Don and I.
I use the word "ratbags" because I found out just after Don was killed, that some of the parents (those important in the school hierarchy), spoke about us and said that we were a pair of ratbags. One of them broke ranks and thought I should know...Why...after all these years when our kids are now the age we were then. In Australia there are different ways of using ratbag. It can be done with affection or as a big putdown...but knowing what we did and achieved, by being vocal and fighting for what we believed in...I consider being called a ratbag by that lot a compliment. Now that time has passed and some of those parents have also had "things" happen to them, in the street they come up to me and are so friendly, telling me to keep fighting for justice etc etc blah blah... and I cop It sweet, but sometimes its all I can do not to spit in their eyes.
The image of our girls taking matters into their own hands, planning it and letting us in on it knowing we'd be on their side...is all that really matters to me. Maybe we were a family of ratbags... but God it was fun. The kids only had to flick an eyebrow sometimes at others and it was all we could do to not burst out laughing. We would be all walking behind Don in town sometimes and just by the set of his shoulders you knew something was coming. I know what became of the bully, and she turned out okay, who knows maybe our little lesson helped a bit...