Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Blog 5 - School: Year 1 to Year 4

Jumping the fence, off I went to primary school. The kindy was next door to the primary school and we would often peer through the mesh in the dividing fence and look at the children who were playing happily and noisily on the swings and around the giant old gnarled trees that grew in the grounds. Now I was there.

Do you think it is in primary school that your personality is formed? Your self-esteem is built or torn down? Your self-worth as perceived by others around you are nurtured or destroyed? I do.

Roses, camellias, daisies, African violets  = size of popularity

Primary school was reflective of the world outside the gates that I had been introduced to as a toddler. There were the kind protective friends who I had made in kindy and others I had made at school. The children who came from kindy knew me 'as me' with no judgement and they loved me for who I was.  Lunchtimes were filled with playing on the playground, beam, hopscotch, elastics, knuckles, playing with our Barbies or writing stories. My friends invited me to parties, sleepovers, and on play dates outside of school too. Being with my friends equaled fun and good times.

But there were also the self-esteem destroying tongues which tortured me with their name calling. Majority being boys. I can still hear their voices in my head. Ignoring them and telling these monsters to go away didn't stop them from targeting me. Sometimes the verbal bullying became physical with me being pushed over. I never fought back.

No anti-bullying campaigns, no adults standing up for you, not even my mum who became a teacher at the school when I was in Year 2, could stop the name calling...no discipline for name callers. Your friends and your siblings were your anti-bullying campaign...and they were for me.

I loved learning and did well academically.

Outside of school I was involved in Brownies and then went onto Girl Guides. I loved both. I also  went to tennis and swimming lessons and learnt to ride on my mother's adult bike.

I also loved it when my cousins came to visit my Nana and Pop who lived next door to us, or my other grandparents who lived in the next street. My cousins knew me 'as me' too and we just played and had heaps of fun. Playing dress ups, singing, dancing, laughing, playing games, playing with water etc. are all wonderful childhood memories I have.

In those early years I continued to be monitored by the paediatrician. Apart from needing glasses, which I refused to wear, I was fine. Wearing glasses invited more teasing and I wasn't going to open myself to more.

In 1975 Dr Stable referred me to an oral surgeon and a plastic surgeon to see if they could help me. They did not have the expertise to help me but they told my parents that the Australian Craniofacial Clinic had opened in Adelaide led by Professor David David and that was an available option.

Could there be hope for my face? Should they take me there?

While my parents were contemplating whether to take me to Adelaide there came news that a craniofacial clinic was being set up in my state. My parents were surprised. The following year in 1976, I went to see Dr Tony Emmett, the plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Dr Emmett had spent two years in Paris learning the revolutionary reconstructive techniques from Dr Paul Tessier who had pioneered craniofacial surgery and knew Crouzons.

Dr Emmett told my parents that there was surgery available that could correct and rebuild my facial features. Mum and Dad were nervously excited.

Over the ensuing months, I went to see various specialists and had x-rays and photos taken. I was to have a plaster mould of my head taken (with straws up my nostrils) but thankfully they changed their mind. I didn't want to have that done!
But not all my specialists were supportive of me having the surgery. My eye specialist Dr Paul Spiro was adamant that I should not have the surgery as it was too great of a risk to my eyesight.

What would you do?

My parents weighed everything up and decided to go with it hoping and praying for the best.

Me and Dad. I was the apple of his eye.

© 2012 by Jenny Woolsey
No part of this blog may be reproduced without prior permission.

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