Brunswick School, Whanganui, 1969.
We have just watched the most exciting moment of my entire 10 years. On a borrowed black and white television we saw Neil Armstrong step onto the moon. Mr Taylor has our attention. Oh where are mankind's limits now!
Soon, said Mr Taylor, by the time you children are adults, the human race will have solved world hunger. Our needs will be met. And we in the rich countries will have more leisure time. We should start now to think about our ambitions. Medicine, engineering, music? We will discover new wonders in this world and beyond.
We'd all seen the Biafran children half our size with their swollen bellies and pleading eyes on TV. "Eat your dinner. Think of the Biafran children," is Mum's most recent illogical but effective dinner time tactic.
Back in the classroom our lesson is to imagine the kind of job we want in this exciting new world at our doorstep. Clearly, being a girl I couldn't be an astronaut as such, but what about a space hostess floating around the command module serving weightless drinks to the astronauts? Watching between drinks for the Earth to rise above the moon's horizon, just like in the picture.
Dunedin, 2021. My grandson just turned 10. An afternoon with Arlo is a fizzy whirlwind of infinite possibilities, reminding me of the 10-year-old Brunswick schoolgirl and the excitement of being alive. In a single hour we climb trees, compose a song and a poem, plant onions, grub thistles and discover some new and fascinating things about earthworms.
I wish I could tell Arlo how my teacher's predictions came to pass in the 52 years between us. How we humans understood the responsibility that accompanied our man-on-the-moon achievements. How we learned to treat our precious earth with respect and care. How we in the 'first world' set to the task of banishing world hunger, cancelling poor countries' debt and ensuring everyone on this planet had a roof over their head and food in their belly.
Mr Taylor knew more than he let on to us in 1969. I didn't know then that Biafran children were starving as a result of decades of colonial rule that split Africa into random slices to suit Britain and other European nations, leaving turmoil far beyond Biafra's short life.
But I listened out of sight when Mr Taylor used to visit Dad and heard them curse our government for sending our boys over there: Vietnam. Dad banged his fist into the table. He wasn't an angry man, so I had an inkling there was more to learn than how to use our abundant future leisure time.
No, greed did not begin with my generation. But we sure picked up the ball and ran with it. Mr Taylor's idea that we would naturally stop consuming when our needs were met seemed to go extinct along with the New Zealand bush wren.
Today we're on the edge of a precipice. Somewhere between my 10th birthday and Arlo's a race began, not towards a fairer world with more leisure time and food for all, but towards an insane insatiable lust for more stuff, no matter what. Can we turn back? It's going to take the kind of courage my childhood hero Neil Armstrong showed when he stepped onto the moon.
I have Arlo's effervescence to remind me of the energy we all possess, and to keep me fighting for a world where he can thrive. We have a date with his astronomy book and the moon when the weather clears.
Rosemary is a Whanganui born and bred grandmother and climate activist living off-grid near Dunedin