Joe Hockey: 'The lesson I learned on my son's first day at school.'

Every parent knows that sending your child off to school for the first time is a moment of seriously mixed emotions – and Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey is no different. Today, he writes for Mamamia about letting go of your little on on his first day of school…

Speaking on the Today show recently, for a brief moment I reflected on my son’s first day at school in between the same old political questions.

Karl Stefanovic didn’t miss his opportunity.

“First day at school?” the Today show host asked on behalf of his huge audience. “Did you cry?”

Pause. Awkward.

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I grew up with my mum telling everyone that the happiest day she had for years was when she offloaded me, the youngest of four, onto the teachers at the local primary school. So there I was, 44 years later, thinking that my wife and I would be celebrating “freedom day” as our youngest passed through the school gates for the first time.

But, like so much about modern parenting, I learned another lesson when it came time to drop little Iggy off at school on his first day.

Joe’s wife Melissa and son Xavier with Tony Abbott after Minister Hockey’s Budget speech to Federal Parliament in 2014.

With his blonde curly hair and blue eyes he is indifferent to dad, Iggy is mummy’s precious baby — and he knows it.

For at least a week before his first day at school we couldn’t get him out of his school uniform. He was so excited about his first day that he would practice carrying his school bag around the house.

His mum just found it harder and harder to let go of her youngest charge. As the first day of school approached, mother and son spent every minute together at the shops, around the house, at the zoo and even doing city loops on the open roof tourist bus around downtown Sydney.

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So, despite a scheduled meeting with my boss, I knew I had to be there for the first day of their new lives apart.

As the mums gathered at the local coffee shop before the scheduled late start on day one, I sensed that my wife was not alone with the struggle. The nervous chatter and regular glances at the first day children playing together in the courtyard, underscored how out of touch I was with a mother’s emotions on the day.


In between moments I learned a little more about the modern mum. Many mums indicated that now was the chance to start the little business they had been thinking about; others were returning to part time work; others still were worried about the new pick-up and drop-off logistics in their lives.

All were struggling with the new life balance.

A letter to Joe Hockey from his son sits in the Treasurer’s Parliament House office.

As we walked through the school gates the tears started to flow. Not me of course, because dads don’t cry…right?

Parents and children filled the small school hall and up on stage was our kindy teacher and a number of older boys and girls who would mentor our children during their first year at school.

From the corner of my eye, I could see my wife squeezing Iggy’s little hand as the names of children and mentors were called out. It took forever to have his mentor Sam come down and grab his hand to lead him to class; in fact, Iggy was the last to be called.

Then, all of a sudden, it was time to go.

With his shorts stretching past his knees and a little tear in his eye, our little boy turned to his mother and said “I love you”. Naturally they hugged and Melissa would not let go.

Iggy looked at me holding the camera and came over for a kiss.

This was the moment I went from tough guy to wimp. He knew it.

He said “I love you, dad” — then walked off to class for the first time hand in hand with his new mate, Sam.

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Parenting is much harder than politics.

Every day as a dad, I live the unexpected. There is no dad’s manual and the kids seem to grow up much faster than I did.

As we walked through the school gates I knew I was leaving a little bit of my heart in the playground…

And a few shed tears at the school gate.

How did it feel the first day you dropped your kids off at school?