Today is going to be a good day. Correction – today is going to be a GREAT day. Today my twins start school. No misty-eyed moments for me this morning when I drop them at their classroom, except for the tears of joy as I anticipate a whole six hours of freedom and me-time. I won’t be one of those anxious mothers, hovering at the door, trying to catch a final glimpse of their little one. I can enjoy a leisurely cup of hot tea, while reading the newspaper. Now there’s a novel concept.
Was it really five years ago, as I was feeding, bathing, burping, changing etc etc two screaming bundles of joy, that I would dream about this day? The first day of school was like that light at the end of the tunnel which other multiple mums kept telling me about. Back then it was flickering candlelight. Today it’s a 100-watt halogen.
But then I didn’t count on how cute they would look in their oversized school uniforms, or how little they seem with those great big backpacks. They’re really just babies still. What if they can’t unwrap their glad wrapped sandwiches at lunchtime? I won’t be there to help them.
Well, time to go. First I need a photo to remember this important occasion.
‘Smile girls!” I say, as I snap a couple of pictures. They’re like matching bookends in their identical checked dresses. ‘Let’s get into the car now. Don’t want to be late for your first day.’
My heart starts to beat a little faster as we near the school gate. All the older children look so big. I help them put their bags in the lockers outside their classroom. A blonde lady is standing at the door directing lost looking children and parents where to go.
Inside the classroom, bedlam reigns. Children are chattering at maximum volume. Desk lids are slammed and some children are crying in their mothers’ arms. My panic begins to escalate. Just as I’ve decided I’ve made a horrible mistake and should consider home schooling, the blonde lady arrives clapping her hands for everyone’s attention. Peace is restored along with my sanity.
‘It’s time to say goodbye to your parents now children. Your first day at school is about to start.’
Two quick hugs and I walk quickly to the door. My throat closes up as I glance back over my shoulder. They are listening attentively to their teacher. She says something funny which makes them laugh. I realise they’ve forgotten me for the moment and will be perfectly fine. Is that the hint of tears I feel prickling my eyes? Can’t be, must be the wind.
I almost skip down the footpath to the nearest coffee shop where a hot cup of tea and today’s paper awaits. Today is going to be a great day.
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*
I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves – thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.
* Gloria Steinem