Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: The worst that could happen

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  • Deborah,

    I became a hostage to fortune the day my elder daughter was born. It happens to all parents; suddenly, the worst that could happen is not something that could happen to us, but something that could happen to our beloved child.

    I think that's what motivates us to seatbelts. I know that my daughters are far more likely to be assaulted or raped by someone they already know, rather than a stranger, but I still fasten up that seatbelt, and warn them not to get into cars or go anywhere with another adult, even if that adult says, "Mummy said so." I walk to and from school with them, because they have to cross a major road (two lanes in either direction) and several minor roads, and even though there is a controlled crossing on the main road, I have on occasion seen cars sale serenely through a red light there. So I fasten up that seatbelt again, and check that the traffic has actually stopped, before sending them across the road.

    That's why this story and others we have seen in the media of late, of children stricken by cancer, is so frightening. All those seatbelts are no bloody use whatsoever. What a wretched thing for wee Belle, and her parents.

    I hope the exhibition is a roaring success.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1446 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    I hope the exhibition is a roaring success.

    Thanks Deborah. So do I.

    I don't yet have an advertising jpeg for the exhibition, but I expect I can get one. Does anyone have a website they'd be willing to carry it on? I'm sure the organisers would be very grateful.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Being able to wake up and discover it was a bad dream would be the preferable option,

    God yes. The reality is that you wake up from a good dream & reality crashes in.

    Our daughter's 15, one of her friends & netball team mates has just been diagnosed with aggressive leukaemia. It's just not fair.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • David Hamilton,

    Will going here and choosing Cancer Ward Appeal under the Apply To bit have the same end result in terms of the $$?

    All the best with the exhibition, I hope it goes well.

    Hamiltron • Since Nov 2006 • 111 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    That's a great suggestion David, thanks. You just need to choose Cancer Ward Appeal from the drop down box.

    I should clarify here that we haven't been involved in staging this exhibition but our family is gladly giving what help we can.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    I don't yet have an advertising jpeg for the exhibition, but I expect I can get one. Does anyone have a website they'd be willing to carry it on? I'm sure the organisers would be very grateful.

    well here's a scan, cropped, yada yada, not the best quality. it should give an idea of how powerful the images are.

    it proves that you can capture pure love photographicly.

    living with cancer

    ive not used imagehost before, hope it works.

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    I didn’t get molested that day in Taupo. I got delivered back to the scout hall. The tractor never tipped over.

    more and more often these days there are times when i think i must have walked through a tunnel of light in my childhood for these type of things to not befall me, when they definitely befell children in my neighbourhood.

    the difference between david and myself is that "the car i climbed into" was occupied by a paedophile, but i was still "dropped off back at the clubhouse", unscathed. these days i look at being a pre-teen 6ft mutant as a blessing...

    with no kids of my own my concern turns to my nieces, and i do worry. but i don't let that worry become all-consuming? sometime you need the near-miss falling off the tractor to teach you what danger is.

    all the best for the exhibition. there's nothing like the knowing that our own troubles are meagre compared to those who aren't given our fortunes, and nothing like the object lesson of our peers suffering to bring a crazy world into focus.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Craig,

    more and more often these days there are times when i think i must have walked through a tunnel of light in my childhood for these type of things to not befall me

    I wonder this too, and why, as far as I know, they didn't befall my friends either. Kinder, gentler times? Sheer blind luck? It was Canada but I don't think things were much different there in the 70s than they were here.

    I think Deborah's post really summed up how it feels to be a parent sometimes. Someone told me that having kids is like taking a piece of your soul and sending it out it to the world and I do feel that - the sheer terror of letting my toddler even leave the house. I don't know how you fight it becoming all-consuming, especially given the news about the students killed in the flash flood yesterday. All the seat-belts in the world can't protect against something like that. I've actively started trying to avoid knowing the details of so many things that involve harm to children, simply because they fuel my anxiety. The cynical part of me says that's exactly what the media is after in some cases, fanning the fires of hysteria and fear in parents and others. I hope this exhibition goes well, Starship is the kind of place you are glad exists even if you never ever want to visit it.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    more and more often these days there are times when i think i must have walked through a tunnel of light in my childhood for these type of things to not befall me

    The lights went out for me, but the lights are back on now, but oscillating.

    I wonder this too, and why, as far as I know, they didn't befall my friends either. Kinder, gentler times? Sheer blind luck? It was Canada but I don't think things were much different there in the 70s than they were here.

    The Canadians have pulled there heads out of the sand in that regard, we haven't quite done that yet.

    My daughters school teacher said "she's doing well, she's average at maths, excellent at everything else." Fortunately, she's walking thru a well lighten tunnel, I make a personal point keeping the lights burning. I sometimes, totally freak out about how badly things can go wrong, I remain vigilant about not projecting my own excessive anxieties. because thats what they are my own excessive anxieties, not my daughters. She seems to thrive in proportional to her shoe size, serene ignorance. All's actually well today.

    Very emotionally moving blog, David. It's got me thinking a bit deeply-er outside of my own self. I feel sad for the people that have to deal with not making it thou the most vulnerable stages of life, it's when the word love really do's mean something profound.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • ali bramwell,

    more and more often these days there are times when i think i must have walked through a tunnel of light in my childhood for these type of things to not befall me, when they definitely befell children in my neighbourhood.

    I also have felt this ...exact image actually Che Tibby...and something a learned friend tells me is called survivor guilt, because the other children befallen were much closer than 'the neighbourhood.' We had the paedophile that lived next door, and (disasterously) stayed with us after his wife kicked him out.

    We found out 20 years later when the police were finally investigating the trailing string of broken children, that he was already known well before. But the wisdom of the day was that getting married was evidence of being cured; ie he had always preferred boys so if he was managing to perform with an adult woman everything was ok.

    It seriously sucks that kindness to a neighbour can cause such harm, and makes a difficult to refute argument for community disclosure.

    ...and meanwhile, almost comically, at primary school we were sternly advised not to get into the white van. presumably other color vans were ok? weird. Although not as perplexing as being told as a nine year old not to eat any colourful pieces of paper a stranger might give me! I can remember reassuring Dad with my tongue firmly in my cheek that I would 'definitely try to remember not to eat any paper.'

    these almost superstitious rituals to keep harm away when the rabid dog is in your house already. (colored pieces of paper? I imagined eating the christmas decorations!).
    Cancer and paedophiles...whooo, too heavy.

    Thanks for ending that post with a positive suggestion, I will donate to that fund, it will make me feel better about the others things I cant change.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2007 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Today's cartoon from Mike Moreu sums up this morning for me, after listening to one of the mothers of one of the kids that made it out on the drive in.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Hi,

    is there an charity name and address people who can't get to Devonport can make a contribution.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    My youngest daughter came close to dying of pneumonia when she was 4 years old. I spent about 10 days and nights at Kenepuru Hospital in Porirua until she was well enough to come home. That was hell. I can only imagine (barely, dimly) what months of such a life with several / many such episodes might be like....and no guarantee of a good outcome.

    Gutting.

    Great post, David. Thank you.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    I've lived in a couple of Family Homes as the child of residential social workers.

    The last one had a neighbour who acted outwardly as a kindly Grandfather figure.

    One of the girls in our home was my age (12yrs) and especially close to him.

    Every now and again his wife would drop around a desert. That desert co-insided with the young girls visits next door.

    I haven't worked out if it was guilt, a bribe, or to check up on her, but his wife clearly knew and did nothing to stop it.

    He got name suppression and a suspended sentence.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    The cynical part of me says that's exactly what the media is after in some cases, fanning the fires of hysteria and fear in parents and others.

    I used to think it was cynicism, but that's probably too harsh a view. It's more that people are hard wired to be more interested in some things that others, react more to some things than others, and the media (which is really just a bunch of people too anyway) just reflects that.

    A lot of reading I've been doing recently suggests that our instincts about risk and danger are just crap. Complete crap. We get wound up about things that aren't very likely and stay casual about present and serious dangers.

    Asking yourself "how likely is this event, really" is an important part of media literacy and maintaining your sanity, just like asking "what is this trying to sell me" and "what are the hidden messages."

    Yeah, news about hurt and sick children gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies now too. Which is why I practise being an emotion-free android, otherwise I'd go nutes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    He got name suppression and a suspended sentence.

    yeah, this guy was called peter [something?] and he lived in maketu, BoP. he was an ex-scoutmaster. one of those guys who just work a little too hard to be around boys.

    i'm not even sure if he's still alive. but if he is, the wounds i've seen in childhood friends are as fresh as the day he created them. i deliberately don't seek him out, even though i'd like to, for fear of losing the humanity we all foster.

    i have to remind myself that it's not even me he hurt.

    maybe that's at the heart of the nation outpouring of grief. we see ourselves at the centre of something unthinkable, and it brings us closer to other people in a age when distance is a given, and an expectation.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • ali bramwell,

    nice one Stephen Judd.

    That whole level of absurdity and incongruity in the way we talk about risk socially fascinates me.

    my sister (also an artist) made a peice of artwork, a few years ago now, that was pretty pointed and surprisingly hard to look at.

    picture this: a glass box containing a very small pair of plain white cotton knickers neatly folded, but extensively burnt. In case you didnt get it already it was titled 'liar liar'.

    the point of telling you that being similar to the one SJ already made:

    We get wound up about things that aren't very likely and stay casual about present and serious dangers.

    That persistent xenophobic instinct creates irrational hysteria about about 'the stranger' - but as a herd we will apparently do whatever we can not to have to face that knowledge that danger lives a bit closer. too unbearable. easier to think about something else.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2007 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Martha Craig,

    I'm not religious, before I had kids I'd never said "there but for the grace of god go I". Since I've had children, I seem to say it to myself almost on a daily basis.

    Petone • Since Nov 2006 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Rebecca Williams,

    to my horror, it was my family who had to face up to child cancer, just before christmas in 2005. my little niece, just 18 months old, was diagnosed with leukemia. it was a rare form, one in a million type of leukemia. but she got the best match in terms of a bone marrow transplant, and incredibly, she has survived. she turns four in june.

    i won't go into the sheer, unending horror that was her treatment for herself, her parents and for the rest of us who love her dearly and could only hope and hope and hope that she would be well again.

    thank you so much for this post - and thanks to anyone who has enough disposable income to donate to the starship oncology ward cause - these are amazing people, doing an amazing job, against the odds.

    i'll send the link for this post to her mum - no doubt it will put her into tears again, but she might just come and have a look at the exhibition with me, too.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Che - Thinking back her story was a lot worse than that.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    whoops - her life was a lot worse than just the part I relayed. Not trying to compare events in different peoples lives.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    @shep: no drama. no-one here's competing for horror stories.

    That persistent xenophobic instinct creates irrational hysteria about about 'the stranger' - but as a herd we will apparently do whatever we can not to have to face that knowledge that danger lives a bit closer.

    my favourite lyric is dan le sac.

    "not every man talking to a kid in a park is a danger.

    some people are just nice"

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • ali bramwell,

    The nice man in the park fits the stranger danger model.
    the nice man in the scout hall doesnt.

    male teachers need support and encouragement. children need something different. we can do both those things that best by not overreacting and by not ignoring reality.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2007 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    male teachers need support and encouragement. children need something different. we can do both those things that best by not overreacting and by not ignoring reality.

    Absolutely true. I'd like to add that male victims of sexual abuse also need support, not further victimization due to ignorance. It's most unfortunate that when men have been sexually abused as children, they are then stigmatized as {insert misconception here} the same is definitely true for women, with compassionate reservations.

    OK enough said, Now what was I saying? Statistics?...

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

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