re­ceives some par­ent­ing ad­vice from his six-year-old.

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Contents - David co-hosts To­day Ex­tra, 9am week­days, on the Nine Net­work.

“Ev­ery other kid is go­ing to be in a Swans kit and my son is The Last Em­peror”

School has changed. Long gone are the days when the swim­ming car­ni­val and sports day were the high­lights of the year. To­day, those re­main, but added to the busy cal­en­dar are Jump Rope for Heart Day, Book Week and many themed dress-up days. In­clud­ing the one that shook my world a few weeks back: Red Day.

It sounds omi­nous. Red Day. Red Day at Leo’s school was a chance for kids to come in their civvies, wear a touch of red and make a gold-coin do­na­tion for a cho­sen char­ity. Which sounded harm­less enough.

But then the day ar­rived. We were rush­ing around for school/work as usual and my wife in­formed me as to what Leo was go­ing to wear to school on Red Day.

On a re­cent trip to Malaysia, Leo was given a tra­di­tional Chi­nese suit. This is what he had cho­sen to wear. Head-to-toe satin. Ev­ery other kid will be in a Swans kit and my son is The Last Em­peror.

Now, I am no stranger to anx­i­ety. For some who have lived or are liv­ing with it, it creeps up and sur­prises you. For oth­ers, it may be bub­bling away in the back­ground, only to leap out from a shadow when you let your guard down. Mine has been w with me so long, even my anx­i­ety is weath­ered.wea He has been by my side for He knows me, knows what pushes my but­tons and some­time some­times in my life he has, I’ll be hon­est withw you, been in charge. If I pic­turep him, he is pasty, su surly look­ing, wear­ing black j jeans, a leather jacket and is smok­ing. Ac­tua Ac­tu­ally, I think I just de­scr de­scribed Char­lie Sheen in Fe Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off. So in the morn­ing, when Leo walked out lookin look­ing like Bruce Lee’s bigges big­gest fan, I started to sweat slightly and asked my wife,w “What about his red StarS Wars T-shirt? Or somes red socks? It is only a hint of red, right, not a whole out­fit?” By this time I start to spi­ral and catas­trophise my beau­ti­fulbe son’s day. He will b be mocked. He will be bu bul­lied. He will be a lau laugh­ing stock and the mem mem­ory of this day will burn. It will burn the back of his eye­s­eye 35 years later, like that time I dressed up as Grou­cho Marx in ’84 and no one thought it was cool.

One could say I was be­gin­ning to, lit­er­ally, see red. But it was too late. We had to leave or be late for school and, to be fair to Leo, he stood his ground.

So we headed for the car. This is when my son had a heart-to-heart with me. Man to… well… boy. He turned to me and said, “Dad, I know you’re anx­ious about this, but it is what I want to wear.”

OK. Now the six-year-old is my ther­a­pist. He was telling me, in essence, how to par­ent him, and I was amazed. All my fears dropped away and I re­alised I trusted his judge­ment. I was pro­ject­ing all my is­sues onto him and he re­jected them. He wasn’t me. He is the new gen­er­a­tion and I needed to let him go and be who he wanted to be.

Turned out he was right. No one else dressed up to the ex­tent that my son did, but no one flinched. He owned it. He loved it and had a great day. He is go­ing to be fine. I still need some work.

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