Do you remember your first day at school? I don’t. But it must have been traumatic, because I do remember the weeks after my first day at school. My mum would walk me to school, not all the way. Not every day. Sometimes we would get halfway and then the ‘bigger’ kids from next door would walk me the rest of the way. But I can remember looking over my shoulder and seeing the receding image of my mum, and the approaching school, and then I’d feel my lip start to quiver.
It is said the eyes are the window’s to the soul, but the lips are the seismographs of sadness.
Mine would start with a little quiver, but soon waves of tremors would build up until my lip was quivering uncontrollably. At that point I’d know how sad I was and the tears would come. Its funny how we can deceive others about our fears, and even ourselves, but when our bodies give us away, then its hard to hold on to our deception, even to ourselves. Once my quivering lip betrayed me, I knew I was sad, and I would run.
I would run home to mum. Crying. My seismographs trembling so hard I couldn’t speak. Who knows what nameless fears I had?
It must have been terrible for my mother as well. I wanted to be back home, safe. Where I knew Mum would look after me. Who wants to go to school? There are people there who we don’t know, who tell us what to do. People who have 30 other kids to look after. Do they care? Terrible things could happen and no one might know. Or worse, they might know, but not care.
Better the safe cocoon of home, and someone who will look after you.
But thats not the real world. That cocoon will go, slowly or suddenly. Its hard giving it up, but that’s better than having it ripped away without control by an uncaring world.
I haven’t thought about those feelings in years. But yesterday, as I walked the two eldest kids off to first day back at school, I heard them pointing out the new kids, the ‘preps’. I saw a mother pushing a very small child ahead of her. Like a mother duck herding her flock of one.
“He’s definitely new!” said Cam.
“Yeah. I do not know that mother. This must be her first time too!” Ava said.
And in the simple way that kids have, they were right. But the kid looked happy. He looked like he was looking forward to his adventure. Good job Mum, I thought. You’ve prepared him well. He doesn’t fear the cocoon being pulled away.
But her seismograph was starting to wobble. She knew that the cocoon was going to be unravelled. Even if her son didn’t.
It serves its purpose, that cocoon. It shelters the butterfly while the metamorphosis takes place. But if it doesn’t come away at the right time, then the butterfly never emerges. You need to build your cocoons, but you need to make sure they come away when they should, otherwise the cocoon becomes a tomb.
I wonder if she would make it through school assembly before her seismograph climbed up the Richter scale. I hope her son didn’t see her lip wobble.
What cocoons have you built around yourself, and which ones have you allowed to become tombs to your hopes and dreams?