This meant a lot of things. It meant that if we ran out of milk, the cow had to be brought in. It meant that if Mum didn't have ingredients for a dish, we didn't get that dish or we got a Mum-ified version. It meant that if our shoes were too tight or uncomfortable, too bad.
Of course, the last statement wasn't really as painful as all that, because generally what we wore on our feet always fit. We were barefoot children, and our feet truly enjoyed freedom as much as the rest of us.
We had tough feet - we could run through a patch of wind-dried bindi-eye and didn't feel a thing. Heck, we would DELIBERATELY run through any bindi patch we could find just to prove how hardened our feet were to such hardships.
Gravel roads baked in 40 celcius summer sun (that is over 100 farenheit for foreigners) were merely there for us to test our soles.
Our mother did attempt to civilise us. You never know when the Queen might drop by (or a grandmother) and she did attempt to shoe us.
Every morning before school we would be well shod and hair tied up. Every afternoon after school we would be barefoot and hair flying in the wind. Little did she know that the miraculous transformation took place just over the hill from home on the way TO the bus in the morning.
Therefore, unless we were riding (elastic sides - a horse has harder feet and a lot of weight behind it) or river crossing (volleys required to keep out barbed wire and snakes) we were fairly unfettered children - until the moment came that Mum took us to town.
Most of the time we got out of that little chore - Dad needed us or we would make ourselves as annoying as heck so Mum would leave us with a list of jobs - but there were occasions that our presence was absolutely required.
Generally, those were the days when we needed to be PROPERLY FITTED. Very onerous moments punctuating our childhood memories.
The nearest town was your typical country town - main street with
- several hairdressers (mum cut ours so we didn't see inside);
- butchers (only on special occasions - again, we did our own);
- frock salon (a place of dreams with beautiful women who actually put up with us visiting them);
- jewellers (look from the outside and DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING);
- theatre (we went to see Grease there - twice!);
- cafe (the Rainbow still goes on today);
- chemists (Mum occasionally worked there as a locum);
- grocery stores;
- menswear; and
- a shoe store.
The shoe store was a scary proposition - not just because the plate glass window featured YOU getting your shoes fitted to every pedestrian; not just because the dapper Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue was so attentive to your mother and your feet; not just because the range of styles and colours left a choice-challenged shy girl speechless; not just because the back of the shop started very close to the front of the shop and went back in four narrow aisles of boxes of shoes that went right to the ceiling - but for all of those reasons as well as the terror that you were going to get GOOD shoes, which meant NO MORE FREEDOM and BEHAVE WITH PROPRIETY.
The only answer required of the child was where it pinched - and Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue would do a great deal of squeezing and pinching your foot just so you could tell him exactly where.
Your opinion was not called for - Mum and Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue would discuss the finer details of style and colour. No matter how much your heart may ache for the buckle straps or the red-corked soles - it was not up to a child to harbour footly desire. The power was with the adults.
Ah yes, another moment in Jeanie's childhood that should ultimately lead to counselling. Except that that dance card is full, and thus I found other ways to cope.
At first it was my lack of care that most of my footwear was handed down from my big sister. My big sister who apparently envies me my average foot - it took a long time to fill her shoes, and an even longer time to grow out of them (for me), therefore I had plenty of time to develop this lack of care over my wearing second-hand (or foot) shoes. At least it meant one less trip to the shoe shop.
Then it was the abdication of all involvement in choice in matters of the feet. If the facts of my life were to include quashing of desires for "the buckle straps or the red-corked soles", then I would quash all pedi-desire altogether, and that should teach the universe.
Even when my mother took Mr B-rhymes-with-Vogue out of the equation and resorted to outlines of my feet in brown paper to gather shoes on appro and attempt to gather a distinct desire of shoe out of me, I was not to be drawn. "Whatever" was the answer then, and I am afraid it continued.
To this day - I can give you the time, date and place of purchase of every pair of shoes I own - and that is because there are so few pairs, so few purchases, so much stress and so little joy from the activity for me.
I know - other children had my childhood and seem to be quite normal - but for me, the average-footed middle-child, I can conjure a mountain out of a molehill but never a foot fetish out of such memories.