Q started year one last week and spent much of her time praying to Jesus she’d get a teacher with ‘kind eyes’. I did tell her that I sure hoped Jesus had more pressing matters to attend to than her year one class placement, but turns out she got the teacher with kind eyes which, of course, begs the question, is Q’s Principal Jesus?
I wasn’t sure she’d spent the week doing much more than colouring in to be honest, until the other night while she was having a bath.
‘Mum, resilience means when you run the bath water too cold, i’ll cope.’
Ok, sure, it’s not the example Webster’s would use, but it’s pretty cool that her teacher introduced a word, attached it to a concept and she’s thinking about and applying it in her own life which is, after all, the point.
Well done Miss Kind Eyes. You’ve achieved in 2.5 days a feat I’ve been trying to accomplish for 6 years.
When I’m not charging my daughters for bananas, I spend a lot of my time talking about morals and ethics and codes of conduct. Typically I try to make it relevant to their world of schoolyard negotiations, whatever book we’re currently reading and how not to be an arsehole to your sister, but with world politics as they are, for much of last year and certainly now, we’ve been talking about broader issues and concepts. ‘Is Trump as bad as Hitler?’ Q wanted to know the other morning over breakfast as Gregory and I were discussing the morning’s headlines. Funny she drew the parallel herself, because I’d been thinking about that very thing a lot lately, getting sad and reading thoughtful articles like this one by Andrew P Street and Doaa Al Zamel’s horrific account of fleeing Syria in a recent Good Weekend.
And then I saw this.
A friend of mine had posted it on Facebook. Every advertisement and window of the subway carriage was covered with a swastika. Into the uncomfortable silence a man had said; ‘hand sanitizer gets rid of sharpie. Who’s got some?’ Given that a New York subway has more germs than Edie’s feet, you’ll find sanitizer in most New Yorker’s bags, so they set about removing graffiti that had no place in 1939 and certainly has no place in 2017.
I love America. I really do. Like the t-shirt says, I heart NYC. That city made my dreams come true. It was my home for 7 years. I became a professional performer in that city. Teachers who taught me much more than time steps and Sondheim live there, along with some of my very dearest friends. I went on a date with a Chef whom I thought had asked out the wrong Hostess and then married him 18 months later in an old foundry in Queens.
If I hadn’t met Gregory and been fortunate enough to have children, I’d still be there, trudging to auditions on a snowy February morn hoping to beat out the other 250 women ahead of me in the line, living above the bakery in Astoria and picking up a couple of day old bagels from the bag they leave outside after closing on my way home each night.
Sydney might be my home, but NYC still has my heart.
In 2002, when I first moved there, the war on terror was in full flight. Souvenir shops in Times Square were selling toilet paper with Osama bin Laden’s head on it saying WIPE OUT TERRORISM, the Lincoln Centre Arts library had had its hours cut because funding to the arts had been siphoned off to pay for the war and some muppet had tried to make us call french fries, freedom fries because France had denounced America’s invasion of Iraq.
Sometime soon after that I saw a production of The New Moon by Sigmund Romberg. I can’t remember the exact words, but towards the end of Act 1, the character Robert Misson stood at the front of the stage and said; ‘one can be loyal to one’s nation whilst yet forswearing its leader’, and the entire audience erupted into applause.
The New Moon debuted in 1927 which means we, as a species, are really, really dumb. Dummies who do and say awful things to each other and don’t seem to be able to learn.
No wonder I find it hard to teach my children, I knew it wasn’t my parenting skills.
Q and Edie know it takes 24 excruciating hours in a floating tin can to get from our door in Sydney to their grandparent’s door in New York, that when it’s our day it’s their night and that much of the nation stops to watch a game where grown men run around in lycra tights and it’s not even ballet, so sometimes it’s hard to make the happenings in America seem real, let alone those in Syria and other war-decimated lands. Especially since I don’t let them watch the news for fear they’d need therapy before they’re 30 when they’ll definitely need to go to sort out all the ways their father and I screwed them up.
But it’s still important these topics are up for discussion. And so tonight we talked about how you can protest and write letters and march in the streets to tell your Leaders you disagree with their moves. That you can support charities like one of our favourites, Australian Red Cross, and promote or attend events like UNICEF’s #CookForSyria that our friends are participating in to do their bit from afar. We talked about Hitler and compassion and Syria and human rights and refugees and Dictators and racism and religious freedom and Trump and democracy and history and principles until they both got bored and said they wanted a bath.
So we went to the bathroom and I turned on the taps and said;
‘It’s 39 degrees outside. I don’t want to hear about resilience. There is no way this bath is too cold.