MY first trip to Sydney was on a school camp. Mum had to chaperon or I couldn’t go, because I had a bad reputation, even in Year 4.
The second visit to Sydney I was chaperoned by my social worker – the big, fat, hairy man. I stayed with my family in a place called Coral Tree. We arrived later than the family. My mum, stepfather, brothers and sister were already playing team games in the swimming pool. I was jealous. By being late, I felt already like the outcast. Because who were we kidding. I was.
I don’t know the right description for Coral Tree. So I checked the internet. The Northern Sydney Local Health District said “Coral Tree family Service is a statewide, tertiary service for children with mental health problems.”
Families were admitted up to five days with the problem child at Coral Tree for “a tertiary level of intervention.”
I remembered Coral Tree as a tacky building with purple walls with messy children pictures on them. We played lame team building exercises. We played with toys with our step dad and went through “what if” scenarios with him while psychologists watched us through a one sided glass window.
The step dad hated it. We hated it. It was bullshit.
But Coral Tree had a Super Nintendo, with Super Mario World. The one with the Yoshi. So my brother and I were in front of the rec room’s TV any chance we got.