Tom is growing up

Tom is growing up in an ocean place
of royal blues and white breaking waves,
on his daily outings he sifts Bondi Beach
through his fingers and watches intently
the joggers, seagulls and other toddlers
in prams on the promenade.

Tom knows what ‘park’ means
and when we arrive he calls,
“mama, mama” and wriggles like
an upside-down beetle in his stroller
until he is freed.

His favourites are the see-saw horse,
the baby swing, the bottom third
of the slippery-dip and the fine wood-chip
covering the ground which he scoops,
scatters and pats on the curved surface
of the golden plastic tunnel.

 

Tom’s friends

Tom’s friends are the rainbow lorikeets
that squawk and swoop outside
his bedroom window at dusk,
the Bondi dogs whose owners sit in coffee shops
and allow him to stare and pat,
long-haired cats that slink and
roll onto their backs on sunlit footpaths,
street-wise pigeons pecking for scraps,
seagulls waiting for us to finish our lunch,
and Timothy, the stuffed raccoon,
Alice, and Finn.

 

At North Bondi park

At North Bondi park
the bottom of the slippery-dip
doubles as a drum,
Tom stands on the wood-chip
and beats his song, his drum shines
like newly polished silver
resonating from his
dimpled hands.

 

Ouch!

I pinch my thumb
in the tight catch of
Tom’s high chair strap
and gasp with pain,
Tom studies me intently
from his perch
and makes soft
cooing sounds.

 

© Fiona Johnston

“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.

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* Gloria Steinem