Arrested Development


As the little travellers jumped from the back doors the usual morning instructions/requests were asked and employed. Making eye contact with each one I asked direct questions for direct answers, I was Frost to their Nixon. “You’ve got basketball – Gate 5, 4 o’clock” he nodded and jumped commando style from the backseat. “You, Math or French, your choice, tonight, make the most of it, grab a teacher, see you at 4, Gate 5” she rolled her eyes and was gone. “You, basketball, Gate 5, 4 o’clock” she smiled, happy with my work braiding her hair I was da Mum, da main Mum she’d joked earlier “love you Mum”. And when I got to him, wide eyed and waiting “You, erm, nothing tonight right? If you go to the cafeteria I can meet you there”. He balked, there was no exit, we’d hit crises mode in negotiations, “not by myself, I don’t want to be by myself, you have to come and meet me, don’t make me be by myself, promise you’ll come”.

And just like that, all my plans had come undone. I promised I’d park at a different gate and meet him.

“Everybody back! We’re meeting in the cafeteria, 4 o’clock. I’ll be there at 3 to meet Fred” I screamed towards the three backs walking towards the school. They pretended not to know me but acknowledged they’d heard with a “you’re so embarrassing” mortified glance .

He raced to catch them, one turned to wait and in a second they were behind the school wall, gone. I sat at the crossing and watched a mother walking three small people through the gates, she looked rushed, I did what many mothers of my age do, a slight upturn of the lips with the gentlest of smiles – that was me once. I looked down towards my lap at my bare legs, I was wearing bathers and an overthrow with a pair of birkenstocks – I was THAT sure my children wouldn’t want me to walk them through the gate.

I met a woman the other night who told me she never misses previous stages and ages of her children. I questioned how and why. “Because it would be living in a state of arrested development, you have to enjoy each of your stages, enjoy what you’re doing in your life”.

I’ve been learning how to make digital story boards this morning. It’s part of my university studies. I’m making a doco using iMovie but the process has to be recorded in a digital story board. While uploading new film I found a clip from six years ago. It showed a Friday night at home, the kids were playing on the floor surrounded by mess, they looked so tiny yet so enormously large with energy. I looked frazzled, relieved to have made it to the end of the week.  While they were so incredibly cute and sweet, I was yet to write, yet to return to study, and still dreaming of a bath that didn’t involve either participants or an audience. I now often bathe alone while eating chocolate and watching episodes of The Newsroom.

While I watch my children walking away from me, growing bigger and more independent I need to be sure that I’m growing with them. It’s exciting for both of us – arrested development can be indulged in with that slight upturned smile, but for no more than a second – there’s too much to be done.

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