I have pretty strict parents. Not mean, or cruel, but definitely strict. Report cards were often littered with margined comments of - "need to improve". My school bag would be graded at the end of each day with gold stickers rewarded for organization and cleanliness. Bedtime was strictly adhered to and most shockingly to my classmates, there was absolutely no tv on a school night. "Not even when you eat afternoon tea?"
"How about the morning??"
"No cheese tv?" (apologies to my international readers for this unabashed Australian reference)
This would continue until boredom availed and a sense of hopelessness crept in. You may now be thinking along the lines of my peers. "What? No TV, not at all??" but to be perfectly honest, the 'saying ignorance is bliss' is true to it's meaning. I really didn't know what I was missing out on.
The only thing I was aware of that need changing was my bedtime. Bedtime was 7:30, no I wasn't 4, it was a time set well into my high school years with the only difference being that later on I was allowed to read for an hour once under the covers. I quickly discovered that the well placed timing of reading lights being switched off and on meant that this could be extended to at least 11. That is unless mum stumbled in earlier and switched them of for me, grumbling about waking her up. I became hooked, hooked on the feeling of staying up past your bedtime. I longed for new years eve where beds weren't laid in till after midnight. I loved the sounds that came with the night, the scurrying of possums on our tin awnings, the loan cars crawling down the street and the faint clinking of glasses from the people next door who, like me, appreciated the late hours of the day.
You can now fitly Imagine my delight when we received the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on one particular christmas day. I didn't really know the movie, in fact it's live action contents didn't thrill me at all at first. Our video library comprised 90% animated films with the exception of mums creepy 80's workout instructional's. That was until I read the back, there in tiny black font, right beside the barcode, was the number 144. I realized with a surge of excitement that it meant the movie was over 2 hours long.
Do you know what that meant?? It meant that if I timed it right, when mum said "you can watch one movie before bed" this baby could take us into hours WELL after our bedtime. How could they be so naive I thought with glee, this movie was my ticket to late nights, to staying up, to being a grownup. I must have watched that movie at least 52 times that year. Every week when given the choice of what movie we'd like to watch it was out of it's case and into the VCR before mum even finished the sentence. Alex and I even endured the disgustingly sappy "lovely lonely man" by Scrumptious so we could stay up 3 minutes longer. Although sometimes the thought of her swinging and running round her garden on fast forward was too much of a temptation to resist.
That year it became our mission to stay up. Something Alex gave up soon enough when the thought of going to bed with lights still on was more comforting then the impenetrable darkness of being the last one in bed. For me though, it was just the beginning. As time wore on I came up with new and more elaborate ways to push back my bedtime. Homework commitments, tidying my room, I still remember the night I took out all my clothes from the drawers and convinced mum I wouldn't be able to sleep till they were all folded neatly away.. . I realize this doesn't exactly make me a night time rebel to be idolized by small children looking for ways to escape bedtime, but it was never about not doing what I was told - something I couldn't really conceive of due to what I'm sure was elaborate brainwashing techniques by my parents. No, staying up offered more than the thrill of being up when you shouldn't. It was an escape, a time when I didn't have to be anyone, or talk to anyone. There was only blackness, and in the blackness, the opportunity for my imagination to create worlds.
Happy imagining everyone
Speaking of movies I love, if you haven't seen Coraline yet you need to! in fact, stop reading right now and go and get it and watch it tonight! ^_^