When I was five, just started school, the Principal rang Mum to tell her I'd been telling terrible lies and she should tell me to stop it. I'd been saying I had 67 brothers.
I grew up on a marae (meeting place/house) in the middle of a city.
Good old Mum - a woman before her time - said I was right. That's what she had told me and according to us it was true.
In New Zealand, in the 60s, the government had these schemes to encourage Maori from rural areas to the cities to learn trades.
The old people were concerned about effects the urban impact might have and would not allow it unless the boys had somewhere like home to be.
Maori hostels were implemented for this transition. My folks ran one of them. I had three blood brothers. The rest were hostel boys. 64 went through there per year and stayed on average four or five years, aged from 15 to about 19. I was four years old when my folks went there.
Mum was often interviewed by the press and for an article about her role as 'Mum' to so many, relayed this story. I have the newspaper clipping.
I had also been told off for not looking at the principal in the eye while talking or being talked to. I was told I must be a liar.
When I was young this was a sign of respect. Times have changed - I look at peoples eyes now, but I wasn't comfortable with it until well in my twenties.
I did feel like I must be a liar. I did feel unbelievable. I did feel inferior. It was a hopeless, resigned kind of sense.
Principal must have left at some stage because I don't remember her ever again for those school days.
I'm pretty sure it was here - that the sense of what family was kicked in on a conscious level for the very first time. Mum stuck up for me.
What this incident did for me
I learned young the concept of loyalty.
What it felt like for someone to stick up for you.
Learned about perpective/viewpoint.
Learned about validity of belief.
Learned what it felt like to be 'redeemed' - the 'liar' status had been negated.
Learned something of cultural difference.