An Open Letter to Dante: My First Born (On your First Day of School)

Well here we are…

On the eve, before your first day of school, the emotions bubbling to the surface. The last day of freedom until you become a big school kid. I never expected to feel anything but glory on your next life milestone. I always saw you commencing school as an adventure; a stepping stone into wonderland and possibilities. Never in my deepest thoughts (and through waves of emotion), did I sense I would be a sobbing mess three days on- drowning in my own tears and reminiscing about all the hurdles we faced for you to arrive earthside. Reflecting on your heart struggles, then struck by nostalgia how far you’ve come and how you have always taken us down the road less travelled with nobody to navigate us- but you. By our side and full of life lessons.  You’ve always showed us the positive outlook on of every experience and lesson.

At some point that morning, I looked into your eyes.  Whilst listening to your stories and wisdom, I saw hope for humanity, and the type of world I pray for you in the future. I welled up inside. Praying for you seems like yesterday and somehow your early childhood time is now owned; a memory etched.

We had a magical, morning exploring: the back beaches like we have for the last six years. Our happy place. You were lost in exploration and a beautiful admiration of nature. Searching rock pools, comparing and sorting rocks and climbing the cliff face barefoot. I squatted a March fly, you turned to me and questioned, “I thought you were vegan and loved all animals mum. That wasn’t very nice.” It was my natural reaction to being bitten. But it stopped me in my tracks and made me rethink why infact I did squat that fly? He is so quick to be hypocritical of those he looks up to. He notices the difference between what we say as parents and what we do and wants to understand that moral grey area. He reminds us to stick to our own moral compass because he will copy our actions.

Then we had to go home, time to prepare for your big day tomorrow. You demanded, “Mum let’s negotiate that”. You’ve been throwing around, ‘negotiate’ as your catch phrase tag since before you were three. I explained that your little brother Iggy needed a nap and was tired. You offered for my consideration, “Well when I go to school, I won’t be able to play with him anymore. Ten more minutes, please Mum, please” (you like to add an extra please in there when you really want something). So we did just that. We stayed an extra hour. Then Iggy became restless and you finally offered, “Okay Mum, Iggy’s tired. Let’s get him home”.

So we left, and you graciously offered to carry both the picnic rug and beach bag as I juggled an overtired Iggy back up steep sand dunes.

So back at home we were preparing for that first day of school. I won’t lie- you were unsettled and quite frankly, difficult. What you didn’t know? I was unsettled and grieving too. I was never expecting to feel like I was losing you to yourself, your stronger desire for independence.

After an epic late afternoon and evening which felt like the Battle of Evermore, an intensity that left me questioning my sanity, I sent you to bed. Where, you continued to challenge the moment with over tired calls. You were dying of hunger, toilet, thirsty, toilet, hungry again, and of course, just checking if there was any wee left. Finally, you were tucked up in bed. As I packed your lunch, the nostalgia rolled back in… with a whole lotta love in your brioche roll, joy in your lamination squares, adventure in your sliced oranges, kindness in your crackers and gratitude in your cherry tomatoes. All garnished with my tears.

Over the past nearly six years, you’ve taught me to love and to be loved, you’ve taught me to be brave, resilient and to have gratitude for the small things in life. You opened my eyes and my ears and I’ve realised in the past I’ve made opinions based on second, third, fourth, fifth hand information, with truth lost beneath layers of translation and personal perception. Your being, our journey, innocence and attitudes have reshaped me into a better version of myself. I know I’m far from the perfect mum, but I’m all the wiser and kinder from being blessed by you.

And even though you are only five years old, I get most of my inspiration from you…

Once in a while in life, there is a wave of someone or something dealing hand after hand with a rigged deck. This last year was like that. Usually, I’d just fold. Walk away, frustrated and rebellious… but then come back for another try. The next day I would bring a peace offering; blaming my frustration on the moon. But you’ve given me a voice and something to fight for. Now I call it how I see it, when I see it. It’s been challenging but only now, I feel that it’s no longer dealer’s choice. You’ve helped me remember that you can’t trade wrong and expect; inner peace and soul for anything less.

I’m inspired by the genuine kindness in your heart.

I’m inspired that even though you are so young, you know how to give and receive love.

It inspires me that you don’t walk through life with shady judgemental goggles. You keep checking in on the homeless guy with the trolley at the park. You worry when he’s not there and wonder where he eats when he has no kitchen. We need more of you.

It inspires me that you try your best to make a difference, no matter how small. I quote you, “It’s okay Mumma, we can put the bad things right.”

It inspires me that you see the good in people, even when they disrespect you. I can thank grandma for that one.

It inspires me that you don’t define yourself by how others may perceive you.

It inspires me that your natural childhood ego only comes from good will.

It inspires me that you challenge my dreams for you with your own dreams and independence. You know what you want and your not afraid to speak it.

It inspires me and warms my heart that you compliment random strangers and that you finish (most) days gleefully yelling your catchphrase, ‘The is the most, best day of my whole entire life!’

It inspires me that you don’t just hear other people your actually listening. You reflect on conversations and unpack them later in detail.

It inspires me that you carry so many unanswered (and sometimes unanswerable) questions. But an answer is never enough; you want to know, ‘But, why?’

It inspires me that you question what is normal. You question hate and injustice and why some things are the way are.

It inspires me that you’re honest and open when your feeling jealous and that you can freely express your feelings without fear.

It inspires me that you get lost in, and connect with nature.

It inspires me that running deep through those veins you have a mindset to serve, not to be served.

It inspires me that you embrace change and the challenges of making new friends. You’re determined to be friends with everyone. You have no social hesitations.

I promise to not take for granted the miracle that is you.


But I do worry as life isn’t always fair and also, you aren’t always compliant. You aren’t always quiet, sometimes you are stubborn, wild and free marching to that damn beat of your own drum.

Like every mumma, I think you are it. I worry that I get you, but they won’t.

I worry that they will mistake your stubbornness, wild and free ways for naughtiness. I worry they won’t be kind and that your spirit will be crushed and not nurtured in the right way.

I believe in education and community, But I do worry about curriculums and who’s setting the standards and why. I worry that school has too many limits, rules, boxes to tick and that you won’t fit into the boxes. Then you’ll be reshaped to fit. I worry that expectations will erase your creative spark.

I know you’re going to get upset, and you’re going to have to navigate through this on your own. At least, with the guidance of your teacher and peers. When you do the maths and takeaway sleep and the mundane hustle of getting ready (for whatever), you’ll spend more time with your teacher and class than I will with you, during mornings, nights and weekends. One girl who I taught for years (who you’ve named your god sister) summed it up at four years old, ‘You’re my day mummy and my real mummy is my night mummy’.

I do want you to make mistakes, and work through consequences of your decisions. But then there’s sadness that I can’t always be there to support you.

I want you to learn how to wait. Instant-gratication is not how you get by in the world. And I know your a long way from understanding this. I worry I’ve given you too much.

I worry that you’re too easily influenced. I worry that you’ll get lost because of your kindness and natural desire to belong.

I know I can’t protect you forever, and I want nothing more then for you to be independent and strong. I want you to work hard even when you don’t enjoy it, and are struggling.

I want you to know without any doubt how much I love and adore you and that there is absolutely NOTHING in this universe that will ever separate you from my love.

With mixed emotions and a grateful heart I walked you into your classroom. You questioned why I was still there.

Your ready, but I’m not.

I counted down the minutes until the bell rang. You walked down the hill with your back pack half the size of you and your class. It seemed like all the other children embraced their parents with warm hugs. You couldn’t have cared less, you were more interested in climbing a tree.

I asked you about your day. You requested, “Mum I don’t want to talk about school, it makes you weird. Tell me about my birth.”

I realise I’ve selfishly made this about me. So I tell the story of how you came to be and then the penny drops…

The moment I realise we no longer have any secrets. You’re going to share everything in class. Most likely using words like valva and insemination. I’m hoping that you wont be ‘that kid’ and the teachers ‘get’ you. Hopefully they will give the same loving eye-roll that I do when your bold honesty oversteps civility and deal with the spot fire with grace.

Love Mum


Dante wears:

Imagine Peace – slouch romper personalised by his own request by his friends at Rocco & Mia

Vintage sunnies Ray Bans

The Bowie – Felt hat by his favourite milliners Fallen Broken Street

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Dante: My First Born (On your First Day of School)

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  1. Tink you write beautifully and capture the emotions of moments so eloquently. Your fears about Dante and school are fears I didn’t have and so they took me by surprise when my little boy’s ‘spiciness’ (this is what my teacher friend calls the so called ‘naughty’ kids – the ones that don’t fit the way the system does things) was corralled.
    Dante is going to make it through and love it and when it’s hard – how blessed is he to have such a deep, reflective and loving mother who will catch him when it hurts.
    And I hope his teachers (and other teachers!) read this. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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