Snap Shot #66 – Hard Yakka

JJ

There’s a scene in the film Jasper Jones where the thirteen – year old main character (who happens to be named Charlie) is punished by his mother, magnificently portrayed by Toni Collette. Because he had snuck out the night before, his disappearance causing a big fuss, she has him dig a huge hole and then fill it back in. Although I had read the book, something about actually seeing young Charlie toil in the blazing WA heat triggers a memory from when I lived in Perth. I was older than Charlie, probably about seventeen. I too had snuck out at night and would have managed to have snuck back in unnoticed except for one thing: I can’t vomit quietly. The entire household would have been aware that I was spewing my guts out in the wee hours, thanks to an overindulgence in substances prohibited to seventeen-year olds. But no one got up to scold me, so I crawled into bed thinking I had dodged a bullet. Not so. The next morning, the sun already well on its way towards a scorcher, my old man walks into my room. “Get up and get outside. Now!” Disorientated, nauseous and my head pounding, I stagger out into the blinding light. My dad gestures towards our unkempt garden. “You pull every weed in the backyard. Then you do to the side and then to the front. When you reckon you’re done, have another look. Because if I see a single weed anywhere at all, your ass is grass.” Unable to utter a word of protest, I get on my hands and knees and start weeding. The sun climbs higher and my spirits sink lower. My head feels like its full of a million monkeys, each armed with a tiny hammer. My hands blister within minutes and sting for hours. My back aches, begging to be horizontal and asleep. But I persist, my skin sizzling as the temperature soars. Finally, I finish. I stagger back in and collapse onto my bed, hoping my ass won’t end up as grass. But looking back, I now rank that hellish morning as the most effective punishment my Dad ever dished out. Productive too – unlike digging a hole just to fill it back in.

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