“SUMMER’S over, kids. Time to get to school,” Mum calls to wake us up. She’s happy because she got a job working in the supermarket behind the deli counter.

My brother Rick doesn’t like school. He gets into trouble. My sister Gem is in year three and I am in year one. Today is our first day at our new school.

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My new teacher is tall and has short dark hair.

We are drawing pictures in class of something that happened during the summer holiday. I am drawing us moving house in the car and trailer with the van with our beds and boxes in it. All the pencils are sharp and there are lots of yellow, which is good because it is my favourite colour and at my last school we didn’t have many yellows.

Miss Preston comes round to see our work. She says my picture tells a big story and asks me if I like my new home. I say “yes” quickly and carry on working. She is really tall and has long arms and big hands and looks a bit like Uncle Pat.

Miss Preston has a really little guitar. She says it is small enough for koalas to play. It only has four strings and she says it’s called a ukalilly or something like that. We sing If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands and she plays it. Then we have reading groups. I am in the koala reading group so maybe I can play it one day too.

We have assembly. There is a teacher with a sparkling top on and one with a skirt and yellow glasses and one that looks like she is from the Olympics. There is a man teacher with a tie on and another with a grey jumper and black pants. Miss Preston is wearing a green jumper and blue pants. When she sits down I can see she has brown and yellow stripy socks on like a giraffe. She looks like the men teachers. I try to imagine being really long and having long arms and legs like Miss Preston. It’s hard.

We go into the playground to have lunch. I have a buddy to play with to show me where to go. We watch the soccer. Miss Preston is playing with the bigger children. Rick is there too. Miss Preston juggles the ball in the air for a long time. Everyone is counting out loud and when the ball hits the ground they are at 34. Rick looks happy. I think he likes my teacher.

Miss Preston tells us really funny stories. Sometimes from books and we look at the pictures, but the best are the made up ones when we are all in it. I was a big bear today. I had to roar at the children in my cave and they had to scream and run away. I tried to be really big to make my legs stretch but I am still really little. I liked roaring at them. I looked at Miss Preston and roared and she laughed, too.

People in the playground say that just because Miss Preston has short hair it doesn’t mean she’s a man and that boys and girls have long hair if they want to. In assembly one of the school leaders told us to celebrate our differences. She said we live in a multicultural society and we should respect other people. I don’t really know what that means.

I look at my teacher and feel happy. She is different from the other teachers and I really, really like her.

Auntie Anne comes round to cut our hair.

“How do you want yours little one?”

“I want it really short,” I say. “I like short hair.”

And then I do have short hair and I really like it because I don’t like hair tickling my face.
At school some children run up and say, “Short hair, boys hair.” And run away again. I go and make a world out of sticks and stones and mix the sand and dirt until the bell goes.

Miss Preston sees me in lines. “What a lovely smart haircut,” she says, smiling.

I look up at her and smile back. “My Auntie Anne cut it.”

“Well, she did a great job,” she says.
I get my fruit and my home reader and sit outside my classroom. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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**This article was first published in the February edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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