Last week at school was our Sports Carnival. It is always a fantastic day for the children and for the staff. It is one of those days when the barriers between students and teachers dissolve, it becomes house team against house team and for a small moment in time we are our student’s peers. Our Academically weak shine on the sports field, and for that one day of the year they become ‘Top Of The Class’. It is also a day that proud mums and dads line the sidelines to catch a glimpse of their son or daughter, most taking time off from a busy day at work, to support their little person as they run what seems like the longest race in the world.
One older sibling had come to support his brother, after having left primary school several years ago he as enjoying his trip down memory lane. He approached us teachers in the tents for a chat and a catch up. One thing he said has remained in my thoughts every day since we spoke.
‘I remember my last sports day here, but the oval seemed so much bigger than it is today’. Of course in reality the oval had never changed, but the young boy who once ran here had turned into a man. His body had matured, his perceptions had changed and his ‘present’ had become reflective of his current circumstance, he was now an adult.
It got me to thinking about how as children we must experience growth and change in order for us to move forward as well adjusted adults and with this change, comes an acceptance of adult truth. Yeah sure it was warm there, it was safe there in our minds while looking at aspects of our life through a child- like lens, but this lens is not reality, it is not what is ‘real’. We protect our children from the evils around us by allowing them to use this ‘lens’, because without it, people are just a bunch of pretty shit adults who practice little of what they preach, and for at least 18 years we want to help shield them from the truth. The Tooth Fairy, Santa, fake phone calls to the police when you try and con your son into owning up to a petty theft, it is all part of this rite of passage.
I look back on my childhood and how lucky I was to have many heroes in my life. As a little girl I remember looking to these people as the light on my garden path, I looked to them for truths and in the most part modelled my own adolescent morality on what I was ‘taught’ was the right way to think and believe. At the time, through my ‘lens’ they were one hundred percent an authority on life and living. Sadly, as age and maturity would have it, with each birthday I clocked, a little more of the lens became cloudy. Each year a little more hurt, a little more let down, a little more tired of waiting, a little more ‘used’. The invisible cloaks that those close had held up to protect us slowly but steadily fell to the floor, what we thought were our foundations had become complete bullshit and replaced with not so nice things and not so nice people. There will always be those in our childhoods who claim high morality, who are quick to condemn those not living up to the high standard they are faking for themselves, but soon enough ‘reality’ has to step out of the shadows. Rooms become darker, days become longer, school ovals became smaller and heroes must fade away to nothing.
There are of course those who for whatever reason choose to stay living as ‘children’ and ignore this passage of truth. Blaming others as a child would, feeling a sense of entitlement, manipulating loved ones around them as a child would, throwing their toys from the pram as a child does and making choices with no regard for consequences- as a child does. For these people you can only hope that in their lucid hours, they can still remember what is real, what is the truth, for it is only when we are truly alone that we are left with what is ‘truly’ right. You can lie to others, but you can never successfully lie to yourself. Maybe in those hours when the consequences of the ‘victim’ mentality’ are the loudest thoughts in their minds, they can see that it is actually an impossibility in life – that on every occasion it was always someone else’s fault, maybe just one or twice being ‘right’ should have come second….and yet because of all of this they choose not to see that they are still loved, because it easier this way.
If you are lucky, losing this childhood perception is hopefully your first real encounter with grief. Once you learn to accept that it isn’t really ‘anything you have really lost’ but more ‘what never really was’ you can move forward and try be the best adult and parent you can be.
To my dear boys, whilst I can never promise to keep you from the truth, I can always promise you this:
As a mum now I know that it should never be my child’s job to carry and protect me, but always my job to carry and protect my children. It doesn’t matter how old I get, or where life takes us……my love for you is paramount. There will never be anyone more important in a mother’s life than her own children, and nor should there be, for the intentions of those not in blood, can never be as pure. You will never have to wonder if I choose ‘you’, for the answer will always be…..yes.