Once the uniforms are donned, the shoes laced, the lunchboxes packed and the backpacks shouldered, the first day of school becomes very real. When you multiply that reality by three, Day One of Kindergarten becomes a red letter day indeed. When Cheryl and Lincoln Wills wave goodbye to Xavier, Lachlan and Mackenzie at the gates of St Patrick's Cessnock, they will feel a mixture of relief and sadness and a sense of hope for the journey that lies ahead.
Lincoln has never forgotten that when he collected a stroller-for-three from a father of older triplets, before his children had been born, he was asked if anyone had told him what it would be like. Linc replied in the negative. "It's a living nightmare," was the man's unequivocal response.
Lincoln and Cheryl disagree entirely, although they acknowledge that becoming first time parents in triplicate was, and continues to be, a challenge. It is also a daily joy.
Xavier, Lachlan and Mackenzie are excited about the prospect of school and they have clearly been well prepared. When I visited, Lachlan demonstrated his prowess at packing lunch and all three are surrounded by opportunities to learn. Numbers and letters are prominently displayed and a lifesize (well, almost) dinosaur graces the boys' room. Xavier is proud of his knowledge of dinosaurs and he's longing to learn more.
Mackenzie looks forward to writing and colouring, Lachlan wants to learn to paint, while Xavier's excited about "Everything!"
Mackenzie contracted meningitis shortly after birth, which resulted in her being left with a mild form of cerebral palsy. Cheryl, a teacher at St Paul's High School Booragul, has happily invested many hours in practising skills with her. Principal of St Patrick's Penny Tully assured Lincoln and Cheryl that support will be provided for children with special needs.
Cheryl and her three older brothers are former students of St Patrick's and she and Lincoln were more than happy for the next generation to follow. Many first-timers look forward to meeting new playmates at school, but the Wills trio has built-in companionship. As Cheryl says, "They're great friends, and they're great together."