I turned 45 this year. What that means, of course, is that I’ve collected a lot of stories. Recently I was reminded that not all of them are good ones.
"Mrs Harding and Mr Harding* - are getting a divorce,” my mum told me in the car one morning on the way to school. I didn’t know what 'divorce' meant until my mum explained.
My mum paused.
HE HITS MRS HARDING.
I looked out the window but my brain couldn’t make sense of what I was hearing.
When I was in grade four I had a sleepover at my friend Susie’s* house and as we sat in her room dressing our Barbies and listening to Blondie, she nervously giggled about her mum’s current boyfriend, Jason*.
“Sometimes when he’s in the shower, Jason calls me in to ask me a question.”
She made an “ewww” face and we both laughed. I remember feeling confused and scared and not really understanding why a grown-up man would want a kid to see him naked. We were nine.
At thirteen when I was in high school there were whispers about the ‘quiet girl with the big house’ whose dad sexually abused her. I’m not entirely sure I understood what I was being told. I certainly know it never occurred to us to speak up. To tell an adult. It was information none of us knew what to do with and we didn’t want to interfere.