parent opinion

'My name is Nikki and I'll do anything to get my 11yo daughter elected as a school prefect.'

Hello, my name is Nikki and I want to be a prefect mother.

No, you didn’t read that incorrectly. I don’t want to be the “perfect” mother, I want to be a prefect mother – and by that I mean I want my child to be elected prefect in the upcoming school elections. 

Now don’t get me wrong. For the first 48 weeks of the year I am a normal parent that understands that my child is not the best or brightest or top of the class. But when the note comes home asking for prefect nominations, something changes within me.

Much like The Hulk it consumes me, takes over my logic and reasoning and turns me into a green-eyed monster, and I do not like it but I cannot stop it.

Beforehand, I tell them that it doesn’t matter; that the elections are a popularity contest and that I love them no matter what. But then the green monster strikes.

I become like a Donald Trump staffer, studying the other candidates and compiling the strengths and weaknesses of 11-year-old girls (sorry, the other candidates). I ask my daughter to conduct a straw poll at lunchtime to canvas the general feel of the playground to see what the wants and needs of the electorate are. 

Side note: the difference between parents on the first day of term vs the last day of term. Post continues after video. 

Video by MMC

See, I need to get the poll data so I can put together the perfect campaign speech. Yes, I write the speech. Do you think I would leave a leadership speech in the hands of an 11-year-old girl?  Do you know what’s at stake?

Please let the record show that for the rest of the year I don’t even look at, let alone help with, my daughter’s homework. 

But something about the prefect race changes all my parental morals. You better believe I write that speech (only to have my child rewrite it in their own words – apparently 11-year-olds don’t use the words ‘parliamentary privilege’. Who knew?)

I wasn’t always like this. A long time ago I believed the best person got the job based on merit alone, but like most political campaign managers, I’ve been introduced to the harsh reality.

It isn’t about whether you have served your school community. If you have a younger sibling in another year, they can stack the votes. Do you have jokes in your speech? Then you’re as popular as The Wiggles.

Nikki cousins
Nikki and her daughter. Image: supplied.
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As I look down the barrel of my last primary school prefect election, I do wonder why I'm so wound up about it.

Is it because I'm living my unfulfilled dreams through my children? No, because I was myself a school prefect and I still have the rusty badge and moth-eaten tie to prove it.

Is it because my oldest son, who is now in year 12, lost out by one vote in his primary school election to a child that was supposed to be excluded from the race due to disciplinary action?

I’m not bitter about it. Seriously, I'm not.

Is it because I think my daughter can do a good job in the prefect role? Partly yes, she is an amazing child who loves to serve others.

Nikki cousins
Nikki's three children. Image: supplied.

I think it's because while I love my kids for who they are and am proud of them unconditionally, there is a tiny piece of me - a piece that I keep hidden 48 weeks of the year - that wants my child to stand up on that stage at the end of the year with a shiny badge that blinds all the other judgemental parents that have looked down their noses at me all year.

At the end of the day that's what it boils down to. I want everyone at that silly school that my child goes to (that in 20 years will be irrelevant) to know and see the amazing person my child is.

The person who cares about her classmates; who gives up her lunchtime to collect used books for children in the outback. The person who overcame reading difficulties just to be able to stand up in front of the school and read her prefect speech. To see the person that will still be kind, funny and caring with or without a shiny prefect badge.

So as I sit here teaching my child the campaign song I have spent the last three days perfecting, I know that I have raised a resilient child who can handle the result - win, lose or draw.

Me, however, that's a different story.

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