The Road I Must Not Follow
Hazelbrook, New South Wales
I remember when, as a very small child, my parents asked me that inevitable question! ‘What will you be when you grow up?’
‘I’ll be a truck driver!’ I answered enthusiastically.
‘Oh! No you won’t!’ came my father’s utterly shocked reply.
I was quite shocked at the vehemence with which he spoke and have often since thought about that exchange. I wasn’t sure even then why I said I wanted to be a truck driver. The thought had never occurred to me before. I do remember thinking about how lucky they were to take such long trips, and how brave to sleep out in their cabins along the way. I remember too, very well, how shocked I was at my father’s strong response. In truth though, I felt rather amused to have evoked such from him, though I would not have dared to show it.
I was not planning to jump in a big truck and take off tomorrow, after all!
However, I think even in those tender years I had already developed an opposition to my father’s stated beliefs about the separation and definition of the roles and purposes of the sexes.
I think he really worried in his macho, “men were created to lead” kind of way. He didn’t like that I already argued so many points of view with him (a trend which I maintained for the remainder of his life, I’m afraid).
He was, in his own way, a religious man. That is to say that he appeared to like that the particular church he attended seemed to support his views: ‘a man should be the head of his wife and children; a wife should be obedient; children should be seen and not heard’. Children were meant to believe everything their parents told them and not argue the point and girls, especially, should not have opinions which differed from their fathers.
As I grew up, I remember often being called “opinionated” as though that was a very undesirable trait for a girl! The word sounded rather like a swear word!
It was the demand for absolute acceptance of his opinions, obedience and adherence to his view of the world that often got me into trouble with him. I did have opinions! What is more, I was inclined to express them as strongly as he expressed his own.
In his mind then, I was “opinionated”!
I argued with him long and hard, but eventually would always walk away in a huff because his word-power was so much greater than mine. He could argue me into utter confusion. No hope at all did I possess to ever win an argument with him!
I can smile today because he forced me into thinking about words, and I enjoy them so much more today.
I never did become a truck driver but am happy today to see that there are quite a few women doing long trips behind the wheels of big rigs, and the huge machinery used in mining. I am glad they are able to have that choice.
For me, it was never really more than a challenge to my father in my young mind.
I have quietened down somewhat over time and I feel certain that if he could see me today, he would have a grin from ear to ear and think, ‘I won that one over!’
However, I know I am still strong in my opinions and beliefs and have lived my life accordingly. I am fervent about the rights of women and children. Along the road I have discovered that I was wrong at times. I have also learned that I could and should not foist my own opinions upon the ‘children’ I raised to think for themselves … No matter how much I may be concerned about their choices.
Truck driving was for me, much to my father’s eternal relief, “the road not followed”! In actuality, it was the road I never wanted to set foot upon! It has, however, brought me many smiles along the way as I remember my father and his attitudes to life and living. It has also set me on the road to sadness as I remember how hard it was to get close to him without tacit agreement.
Bio: Robyn calls this piece a story of childhood memories and says it shows how we can view them a little differently as we age.