31 August 2015

Of Deadly Australia

A few nights ago, after our own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, we decided to read about Alexander as we tucked into bedtime, because we all know, it doesn't get worse than that for a white, middle class American child (I mean, waking up with gum in your hair? Tragic.). As I read the last line, my daughter surprised me with her response:

Me: "Mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia."
Micaiah: [confused, like someone just said the most ridiculous thing she's ever heard] "But how can there be days like that in Australia? There are no people in Australia, or they'd die!"

I giggled to myself. My indoctrination was working.

A number of years ago, while I was in the throes of lonely middle school years, my family tossed around the idea of a move to the land down under. My dad had been given a rare career opportunity that would take us all to Australia to live for two full years.

Already a traveller at heart, I was elated! Two years in Australia?! We'd get a koala for a pet and go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef on weekends (hey, let a sixth-grader dream, ok?). And the only thing standing in the way was our answer - yes or no?

Uh, yes! Duh, yes. (said the sixth-grader in me)

But then there was my sister - who was not in the lonely middle school years, but in the thriving high school years - the ones with friends, with prom, with basketball games and graduation. She would be giving up the two final years of those moments for this adventure. And she was not having it. To be fair, I don't actually recall her declaring this in any sort of diva-like tantrum. It was more of an understanding my parents had of where she was in life and what she needed.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

All I heard were my dreams for our pet koala being flushed down the high school toilet. High school was lame, friends were over-rated and being stuck in land-locked Missouri was not worth any of it.

But, now, as I look back with fresh eyes, I am grateful. And I'm not going into some sappy, "if we'd gone my life would have been different" direction - but rather, "if we'd gone, I might not have survived." Because in the years since, I have discovered something:

Everything in Australia wants to kill you.

It's true. In fact, after much research (or sitting on the couch as facts swarm at us from internet and television), my husband and I have come to this very real conclusion. Because every time you find a list of the "top deadliest," "most poisonous," and "scariest" it's Australian native creatures and plant-life that top the list.

Like spiders who don't just attack because they're scared - but will HUNT YOU DOWN*. Plants that induce such pain that those who touch it opt for suicide rather than endure the torturous agony. Snakes (and not the innocent, cute kind - because I don't mind those) that slither right into homes.

I mean, seriously, death around every corner.

Thus, as a responsible parent, I have passed this information along to our children. We've watched YouTube videos of deadly plants, and I was sure to point out where the majority of those came from. My kids know it well: Australia = Death. And I had no idea how well I had passed along this message until that night, as we read about poor Alexander and his hated railroad train pajamas.

And, suddenly, through my daughter's brain-washed eyes, that innocent children's book took on a much darker turn. I mean, just how bad is it when your marble washes down the drain, that you would turn to Australia as your hope and dream. And thus, it has become clear to my children, poor Alexander has turned suicidal in the face of his dessert-less lunch and white shoes with white stripes. He clearly has nothing left for which to live.

Imagine there shock, therefore, when I re-assured them, "There are actually people who live in Australia . . ."

Maybe I need to re-consider my educational strategies . . .

*Please note: these facts about Australia are true. I did not look them up or bother with cross-references. Because I've heard them. On the internet, no less. So, absolutely true. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. . . . But don't quote me on that.

**I've also heard there are pretty things and neat people. But I'm sure that's just a conspiracy contrived from the Australia Board of Tourism, who realizes it might otherwise be difficult to lure people to a former penal colony. See - once upon a time, they understood and they sent people, DANGEROUS people, there to DIE. Pure fact.

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