As we turned nervously into the school we’d selected for Girlchild and Boychild, I was in awe of the vast greenness of the wetlands that lined the driveway. Waterbirds, wallabies and blooming wattle. Divine. Acres of fresh air and native plants were surely a far better choice than the concreted rat maze we’d left behind. I hoped the kids would be happy, that the transition would be painless for them and they would be comfortable in their new world. Magically it appeared. The sign that assured me they’d fit right in:
And so they have. They love it here. What kid wouldn’t love a school that has a vegie garden, baby animals and a surfing academy? But the transition hasn’t always been so painless for me.
I’ve always said I should write a book titled The Oldest Mum in the Playground about the perils of later-life parenthood and the joys of being mistaken for the grandmother… or the nanny. It’s something I’ve always been self-conscious about. Moving to The Rock hasn’t eased that. Not even a teeny-weeny bit. Most of the mums down here look like they could be dating our older son. Oddly enough, it was a Cape Barren goose who provided my sign.
These elegant large-bodied creatures abound down here. OK, so their honk sounds disconcertingly like a snorting pig, but their grace is undeniable. And they mate for life. I have absolute respect for them. So I was more than a tad disturbed when one pair chose to make their nest in the middle of the roundabout at the school's kiss-and-go drop-off point. Not just that, this couple was starting very late in the season.The other parents were already proudly showing their progeny how to forage and swim when this female settled to sit on her ill-placed eggs.
The school bells rang, the cars came and went, the buses rumbled by. And still she sat.
Some days her partner hovered nearby. Other times he clearly lost interest and wandered off to find something decent to eat. But she sat. She sat as the other mothers herded their broods and preened themselves in the sun. She sat and watched as the fluffy chicks about her grew to be unkempt adolescents, feathers askew as they filed behind their parents.
My heart broke for her. Her laying had been too late. Her eggs were no good. She’d have no babies to tuck under her wings as the cool night airs fell.
And then it happened.
She had her reward.
I had my sign.
This is home.