Friday, October 16, 2009

How I Learnt About Internalisation and Found My Childhood Innocence in Pieces Behind the Couch

The first time I was locked in a police holding cell I was four years old. I was with my preschool class and we were getting to know the local community. Why we couldn't have just gone to the post office or the newsagent is a mystery, but there we were, behind bars at the local police station, wailing and blubbering because we were never, ever going to get out.

It's hard to be four years old and keep incarceration in perspective, but I understood the lesson: you must be good otherwise you will end up in here.

Bloody preschool teachers. As if I didn't have enough going on, what with worrying about the economics of the tooth fairy and whether we were heading into another ice age (yep, Canberra was an awesome place to grow up). So I internalised this lesson and got on with self-regulating, and have suffered ever since.

For how else can you describe a 33-year old nervously hunched over a photocopier in a university library, casting furtive glances over her shoulder, absolutely sure the Copyright Police will arrive at any moment?

It was probably ok to photocopy those first few chapters; there are certain acceptable limits for copying from published works, provided the copied material is but a small percentage of the overall work and is properly accredited. It was probably ok to copy a few bits from the middle as well, after all the beginning makes no sense without the middle.

But when I reached the end of the book I had most certainly gone too far. The copyright notice at eye level on the wall above the copier was put there just for me, I'm sure, with its menacing list of fines and imprisonments. And when the alarm sounded across the building for closing time, I was sure, for a split second, the photocopier had given me up: the counter had gone too far too fast, every sensor and camera in the library knew I had broken the law.

So congratulations, preschool teachers of Canberra, 1979. Your easy way to pass an afternoon led directly to the fettering of my previously unfettered mind and the end of my childhood whimsy (and free and easy relationship with photocopiers). I say take kids to a petting zoo and let them chase chickens instead.

6 comments:

words, wine, coffee, art said...

Kettle, I'm sure the judge will understand when you explain that you had a desperate, urgent need for that particular book, that it is no longer in print, and it was not available on Amazon.
And if you are posting at 1.0am your guilty conscience must be keeping you awake.
Those preschool teachers do have much to answer for!
Go easy on yourself.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I recall being taken to the local fire station at that age, Kettle.

Apart from a passing interest in becoming a fireman, I don't think I was all that affected.

Mad Cat Lady said...

i never got to do anything cool like that :(

just church every sunday looking up at a larger than lifesized statue of a anorexic-esque fella nailed, bleeding and dying in agony on a piece of wood

I always thought the gaping stabwood on the side always looked kind of like a gill

Kettle said...

Exactly, Words and Wine, thank you. I can only hope there's no statute of limitations on suing preschool teachers (which I'll need to do to recover the costs following my copyright infringement proceedings and resultant escape from jail involving a helicopter). Hey, do you know any helicopter pilots, just by the by?

Ramon I suspect the difference between you and I is that you are a rational, stable type while I am not. I suspect my family would prefer to live with you; don't be surprised if you receive some kind of request to that effect from them.

And MCL, I think you had the most exciting childhood of all. All that smiting and thundering and begatting. I hear the Bible is a real page-turner.

squib said...

I don't remember going on any excursions ever as a child. I do remember that on a high school geography camp, we were taken to a brewery in order to illustrate I don't know urban land use or something

Kettle said...

Squib your childhood excursion to a brewery is on par with MCL's blood and gore religious upbringing for excitement. Is it too late to swap childhoods with you two?