When I think back on my life and consider the paths I might have taken I can only conclude that my kids have rescued me and that has to be the reason that I’m fighting back tears, early morning in the Primary School’s quadrangle, as I leave Archie and Lewis in their classrooms. Archie for his second day in Grade two, Lewis for his first day at school ever.
Reservoir Mum is handling it a tad better and when we hug she tells me Lewis will be fine. I know this. I remember Archie’s first day and he survived – and so did I – but three years later he still looks too small as he walks away with his giant back-pack and right now I’d just like them both to stay with me.
When RM and I climb back in the Tarago I turn on the radio. The song is ‘I get a good feeling’ by Flo Rida and my jaw starts to ache from the pressure of holding back my emotions and when RM holds her hand out for a Thelma and Louise hand shake I take it and the tension’s relieved a tad and I say, ‘Nine to three-thirty seems like a ridiculously long time for Lewis to be on his own’ and she says, again, ‘He’ll be fine’ and asks me if I’ll blog about his first day.
I say, ‘Yeah,’ and I tell her I’ll funny it up a little but as soon as I say this I realize I don’t want to lighten the mood. I don’t have to let go of the boys just yet. Not fully, at least. Yes, my kids are growing away from me but I’ve still got a lotta years of holding on to do. And I will hold on.
‘They’ll probably tell us he was really quiet,’ RM says, as Flo Rida raps something like got adrenalin, never givin in and I know she’s right. Lewis will be uncertain and nervous and like all well-adjusted kids he’ll modify his behavior to guarantee his place in the social order. He’ll save the full extent of his tiredness and hurts and insecurities until he’s back with the ones he loves best, where he knows his safety and position are guaranteed. We expect some wild swings, and we’ll take them, as we did with Archie, as we will with Tyson and Maki.
Were cruising through the streets of Reservoir and I realise there were many emotions back there in the school’s quadrangle – sadness, excitement, pride – but there was also fear and to move through that a healthy dose of anger is required. These are my kids threading their way through the world and while I expect them to find their own way eventually, and to take the goods and bads as they make them, I also have an overwhelming need to keep them acknowledged and appreciated in a busy world, until they are skilled enough to do it on their own.
And on this particular momentous day that need leads me to this paragraph…
You may say that Lewis has some challenging behaviors, and you’d be right in saying that – because he’s five and awesome – but if you tell me he’s a bad kid I’ll sever your head from your body and place it on a pike on my front lawn with all the others. That’s just the way it is with me and I hope you’ve got the message about that – I’m comfortable being oversensitive when it comes to my kids. I make a point of it.
I really can’t understand anything Flo Rida is saying but I like the chorus a lot and when I wind down the window, turn up the music and drape my arm over the car door I attract the eyes of some P-platers – wannabe hoods – who are standing outside their parent’s house inspecting a hotted-up commodore. They regard me sneeringly and I know what they’re thinking – there goes a buffed-up teary-eyed stay-at-home-Dad in a sweet silver Tarago.
They’re right of course. And their jealousy makes me feel just a little bit better.