Life, laughter, cartwheels and mixed messages

Adelaide city breathes music and life and laughter in March. The streets come alive with buskers playing instruments, singing, dancing, making merry mayhem…

Yet nestled right in the city are the Botanic Gardens, adjacent to parklands and the aging Royal Adelaide Hospital. It’s a glorious garden full of peace and quiet.


This day was a bit different. WOMAD was about to begin across the fence. The music of rehearsing singers from Africa filled the air, and a joyful chorus of birds echoed back their response.

I wandered through the gardens and encountered a class of school kids on rambling lawns. They ran and jumped and cartwheeled and flipped. I watched in admiration, with my memory taking me back to trying to learn how to cartwheel…never successfully.

‘How wonderful!’ I thought as I watched them.

Then, I noticed that only half of them wore shorts. The other half wore skirts – according to uniform requirements.

At their age (about 7-8) it didn’t matter that they flipped and cartwheeled. But my heart saddened when I realised what will happen in that school in about a year.

And that will be the end of the flipping and climbing and jumping and cartwheeling for the half that must wear skirts.

The school will tell them in words ‘You can do whatever you want to do. Be brave. Be strong. Be active. Be a leader.’

Yet every time they must put on their skirts, they’ll know that the world is telling them something different.


Julie Hahn 12 March 2017




2 thoughts on “Life, laughter, cartwheels and mixed messages”

  1. Too true, Julie. Tiny toddler girls wear pretty, long and full prairie skirts which so often hobble them in most play situations. I believe some schools are allowing girls the option of choosing trousers or skirts as part of the uniform.

    1. Thanks Erika. I remember the argument against girls wearing pants to school when I was at primary school– 50 years ago! Will we ever learn?

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