The race

There is an epidemic in our school system
And it is murdering what I believe
Is every child’s godly right:
A childhood, filled with play, creativity, security, naivety and innocence.
It starts early:
Your fine motor skills, gross motor skills, visual perceptive skills, vestibular skills (your inner GPS they explained at the informative parents’ evening) and emotional skills are all analyzed, scored against what is perceived as normal, fitting to the cookie cutter scheme you signed up for.
And if you don’t measure up?
Therapy for you and what’s more, the school can offer it all on its premises, an added luxury. The teacher in charge only has 20 small bodies in her class, but any deviation from the normed behaviour, needs to be addressed all in the name of school readiness. To be ready for school. The next level of the competition, the feared first year where it is expected that your child be resilient at seven and first prize if independent too.
It is ludicrous.
Every second child I know is receiving therapy of some kind and the parents are frazzled, panicked with the fear that there is something wrong with their child.
And granted, you may reason that life is competitive and the sooner they get in the race, the better.
But at four? Five? Six? Seven?
They have the rest of their lives to settle into the race, life takes care of that.
It is ludicrous.

I became aware of the race when I was 10 and it was intrinsic. I wanted to excel. I wanted to be first, do my best. Up until then, I was just having fun.

My mother’s heart pleads for us to fight for our children’s right to be children, to enjoy the few years where life should not be a race, but an adventure.

In closing my rant, while driving my six year old daughter to school and lamenting about how we each have a gift (I could never be a trail runner like Beth’s mom, I write instead and I can still not do cartwheels or handstands – who cares!?) and as long as we do our best, it should not matter who is first. She replied, matter-of-factly while twirling her hair,
if you were a kid, it would matter.
And now it does.

Copyright Hiraeth 2016


When I broke open

I remember everything
About the day
We said farewell to your earthly self.
It was bitterly cold, the church full with no heating.
My school skirt felt tight around the waist and the bench hard, bitter.
My view of the front was obscured by three vases of Saint Joseph lilies. They looked burdened with grief, like their stems had no will to stand.
Once the coffins arrived I felt like I had on too many layers, my ears felt hot and my mouth tasted metal.
I remember muffled crying and snotty noses being blown, tissues being passed around
(those rainbow ones – I held a stack of blue)
The lady in front of me had on too much of a cheap vanilla scent and kept trying to pin a stray hair back in place.
It was clear the minister did not know you and the more he spoke, the more I wished the organ would swallow him whole and spit out that ghastly yellow tie with diamonds on it.
No one sang in tune and never have I heard a sadder rendition of What a friend we have in Jesus
(I kept wondering where He was)
I remember thinking that life would never be the same again, that from now on time will be measured against this, the end in a wooden box
(with no warning)
And I now realise it is true:
On that day in June
I shed the innocence of childhood.

Copyright Hiraeth 2015
PAD Challenge Day 29:
For today’s prompt, write a what nobody knows poem. It’s easy to write a poem about what everybody already knows, though it may be difficult to write an interesting poem about such things. Still, use today’s prompt to explore things people may not know–secret stories, locations, and so on.