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I live opposite a school In Queensland. This morning, the little ones aged from 5 to about 7 years old are arriving back to have their first day in the classroom for what seems to have been an eternity. I went outside to watch the Mums and Dads pulling up, dropping their little boys and girls off and I smiled. The sound of their excited chatter soon filled the air. 

Then something happened. A little girl was standing at the pedestrian crossing and while she was waiting, another little girl called out and started running towards the first one. The first girl looked up and spotted her friend running down the footpath. They squealed with delight and, as they met, they wrapped their arms around each other so tightly that it seemed they never wanted to stop. 

And I started to cry. 

As they eventually broke apart from their happy embrace, they held hands and skipped across the pedestrian crossing and, if smiles are sunbeams, the sky would have been so full of sunbeams it would have put the sun to shame.


All around them, other children were chattering, laughing, touching each other as if they were making sure that it was real and not a dream. Parents were catching up, talking ninety to the dozen and waving as another car drove by and the driver was recognised. It was an atmosphere that I had not felt for weeks that have rolled in to months.

Tears were falling down my cheeks. How could such a small thing, two little girls hugging each other, reduce me to an emotional baby? I walked back inside and rang Redhead, my Mum. Only yesterday we had sat together on Mother’s Day ( which this year coincidentally fell on my birthday ) and we had felt so low and so despondent that we wondered if we would ever laugh again. Would normal ever come back? Oh, yes, we were grateful to have each others company, but it was a day that seemed too dreary and silent to be celebrated. Such absence of normal had been wearing us down and left us bereft of hope in the future being anything more than a constant round of sameness.

When Redhead answered, I burst into tears again and told her about the little girls. She started to cry and the two of us shared a brief moment where she could see the little girls in her minds eye and could imagine the joy in their blessed little hearts.

THIS is what we all miss: normal. Little kids off to school with their friends, the sound of joy in the air, their energy and their pleasure in their friendships.

People have often said to me that they do not know how I can live beside a school. The noise, the sports days when the cheering and clapping and din of little human voices – but they miss the point. I love living beside a school BECAUSE of it, not in spite of it.

As I finish writing this, the kiddies have all moved in to the classrooms and the parents are heading home or off to work ( if they still have a job to go to ) and I will soon hear the bell that announces playtime when they will eat their ‘ little lunch .”

How we have been reduced to tears over something so trivial as two little girls embracing is a tragedy. That our lives have been so sorely damaged by an irresponsible Chinese Government is monstrous. How our Governments have handled this is worrying. The financial and social implications will have long tentacles that will impact on us as human beings for a long time.

I can hear the crows spreading the word : the kids are back and there will be tucker a plenty today! The bush turkeys will magically leave my garden and head back to the school grounds to find a better cuisine.

Never will I take for granted the sheer delight of a childhood shared with friends and the warmth of emotion in knowing that two little girls are back where they belong. In Normal.


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