Misunderstood

by Heather

I have a memory of going to the side entrance of a building in North Adelaide for an appointment with the speech therapist. I must have been 4 when mum took me, no doubt by bus, me holding her hand. She was worried about the poor quality of my speech. Being the third child she had others to compare me with and I wasn’t up to scratch. I called my sister Karen Karden and Daddy was Darden and the two were often confused by others. I was misunderstood. A drink on milk was a ning of mulk and a glass of lemonade was a linga-linga-lade, but we only had that at Christmas.

The speech therapist reassured mum that I would grow out of this by school age but if you know me well enough, growing’s not in my genes. Mum was provided with a list of intricate sounds and dutifully she set to work to have me practise these daily at home. Unfortunately she didn’t think to do this while my sisters were at school. Instead she left it to the evenings when they were home to listen. My attempts would set them off in fits of laughter. As I tried to copy the sounds oog eeg aag arg, oog eeg aag arg they would laugh and titter and chuckle. I have a vivid memory of being in the kitchen and the pair of them in the passage peeking in as I went through my sounds. No doubt they had been banished for discouraging me. This became a family story to repeat and laugh about and share with others.

There was a day when I presented myself to Mum and Nanna in the laundry busy washing and squeezing the clean clothes through the ringer.
“Mum, I want my paints “ Mum heard.
“Not now I’m busy” she answered.
“Mum, I want my paints”.
“Yes I’ll get them soon when I’m finished the washing”
“But Mum I want my paints” I repeated clutching my crutch.
“Ooh you’ve wet your pants, ok I’ll get you some dry ones”
Oh so misunderstood

One Saturday morning Dad took me with him while he had his hair cut at the barbers on Port Road, next to the deli by the bus stop. I became bored while he was in the chair so he passed me a shiny sixpence and sent me next door to buy a packet of Smarties. I remember reaching the coin far above my head to the counter and pronouncing as best I could, “Smarties please”. Back I walked into the barber’s shop, eyes full of tears as I held up an unwanted white paper bag. In it was a pasty. Again, misunderstood.