There have been times when I intervened in events and therefore may have changed the course of history. I knew when I was doing it I could have been stopping big things but I still did it. I did not take the chance and let things happen naturally. Sometimes I regret it.
Once I took two of my children and two of their friends to the football at Waverly. I had my set likes and dislikes and I liked going to the football every week. I thought it would be a good idea to take my children and introduce them to the game. Hopefully they would enjoy it. I started taking them when they were quite young. My children were mostly well behaved but they tended to get bored easily. When he was young Tom especially liked to go for walks during the game. He was more interested in the crowd than the game. I tried to keep an eye on him by making him made him wear his white bike helmet so I could see him walking in the distance. I believed this made it possible to keep an eye on him more or less and because he was wearing a bike helmet he might have been assessed as less of a target. But once I lost concentration and he was gone for more than a whole quarter. He turned up halfway through the next quarter pleased as punch at what he had done and the adventures he had had. I was extremely relieved. I kept a closer hold on him after this.
I guess my children must have discussed going to the football with their friends because in time I got requests asking if others could come also. I was reluctant to do this as I know my personality is not suited to controlling other people. Children do not like me telling them what to do. But in time as the children got older I could hardly refuse.
When Tom was 12 I agreed to take his friend Chris. Tom and Chris were both 12. The other 2 children in the group were only 7 but looked up to Chris. I found Chris a handful. He was a real leader of children. They would follow him anywhere. I already knew Chris was a bit of an expert at getting under people’s skin but I thought I would be nice. Before we even got to the ground he had caught James’ hand in the car door. It is a fact that Chris was hard to control. I did not feel in control of anything during the game. After the game even less. It was Chris’s idea to run onto the ground just as the siren went and of course all the children followed him. Just after I had corralled them in the centre of the ground it was Chris’s idea to follow the players into their rooms and of course all the children ran after him. They could all run faster than me. I finally caught up with them in a dimly lit room at the end of a long corridor. Brisbane had lost so there were not many people trying to gain admittance into the inner sanctum. The 20 or so waiting people were being held in the bottom corner of this room. The man on the inner sanctum door was at least 10 metres away. Suddenly he pointed at us and made a gesture that one child could come and he pointed to James. Of course Chris started running towards the door but the man made it plain that Chris was not going to be let in but only James could be admitted. No - not you he said – him – and pointed to James. Chris kept going but the man blocked him and sent him back and again emphatically pointed to 7 year old James.
Life is full of big questions in hindsight. What if I’d done this or that differently? What if I’d thought more about what I was doing before I did it? Of course we can never know. Maybe nothing would be different. Maybe our fate is entirely set in stone and nothing can change it. But we can certainly have regrets.
James started to walk to the door to the inner sanctum. I was placed in a conundrum. What would happen when he went through? When would I get him back? Could I keep the other 3 under control while James was inside?
Of course I knew what was in the inner sanctum. I had been there. I had experienced the heady atmosphere and the sense of privilege of being there at much the same age as James. Once to everyone’s amazement my father had suddenly taken me without any permission from my mother into the player’s room of a team that the Great Bobby Rose coached. He just left my mother and my younger brother standing in the concourse and said to her we would be back in a minute. A short word to the doorman and we were inside. How did he do this? What gave my father this mysterious power? I only found out much later although my father never said. The fact was both my father and Bobby Rose were brother Masons. Yes Bobby Rose was a member of the Masonic Brethren and he must have told my father the magic words to effect entry. I have to admit I was wide eyed. Amazed. The pure excitement at being in the great man’s presence in these circumstances was to be experienced and I have never forgotten it. Bobby Rose welcomed my father and made a fuss of him. I could hardly believe what was happening. We did not stay for more than maybe 5 minutes and while it was too long for my mother he placated her by saying he could not disappoint Bobby. My father was an enthusiastic Mason and would have gone to Lodge 5 nights a week if my mother had let him.
What was I to do about my conundrum? James had started on the 10 or 15 steps he had to take before the door opened and he would be admitted. Should I allow James this experience of a life time? I had 10 seconds to decide. But I was always a selfish person. And I did not want to take the chance of some disaster happening with Chris who was already abusing the doorman for not letting him in. It wasn’t abuse under his breath either – it was personal. So I called James back and like the obedient dear fellow he was he walked back and by doing so missed the experience of a lifetime. I knew what I was doing and I regretted my actions even then. I immediately put my hand on Chris shoulder and said we were leaving and he had better behave himself. I didn’t let go of him until were at the car.
For myself I am full of regrets. None of which I like to recall but which play on a loop inside my memory. I regret so much in my life. I have done things that were plain stupid. And some have had long lasting results. Some were never foreseen but mostly I could have done lots of things better. Why did I call my wonderful son back? Pure selfishness really. Did I change his life? Who Knows?