I’ve had this blog post kicking about in my “drafts” for weeks now. I have written, re-written, tried to write it one way, then another way, and nothing. I even tried a letter format. Emotional and having had a wine or 2 (*cough*), I asked Smudge to proof read it…which he did. And he said it sounded like a sentimental death bed letter and he made a face like his skin was crawling. Bums. That was supposed to be my emotional packing punch of a post in an exciting new and evocative format! Rubbish. (Git).
So, I am just going to do this the blunt way.
Ed and Alex of the future, gather round and listen up.
Lunchtime a few weeks ago and we were walking past one of the local primary schools. Wired and pumped up on Quavers and fruit shoots from lunch were a pack of 4-7 year olds (age undeterminable), lolling their chubby, blue uniformed limbs between the gate rails that seperates the inmates from freedom. Normally they try and get your attention by shouting nice, normal, boring things such as
to us freebirds, gawping in awe, a bit confused that yes, in actual fact, people who don’t go to their school don’t just shut down like robots and get stored in a cupboard from 9am until 3pm. Non-schoolies get to walk about without adhering to a strict timetable of maths, English and playtime.
Ed had whizzed ahead on his scooter, tongue lolling about in the wind, like a little ginger puppy when I saw him stop at the gates and start answering some questions.
We NEVER talk to the kids. I don’t want to be the cause of stranger danger memos being handed out at hometime. Harsh, but safe. So approaching Ed (at quite a speed), I hear this little bumwipe of a brat point at Ed and say
“Euurrrrgh. Who is THAT?! Na-na-na-na-nahhhh!”
That little sh*t. I mean, to be fair and rational with retrospect, it isn’t the vilest, nastiest thing in the world ever said. I am sure Sharon Osbourne or Jeremy Kyle could have delivered a much harsher line. I’m not 100% sure, but most likely. But what I heard in that little brat’s comment was 14 years of panic and fear and nervousness that I had experienced in my own schooling.
Lets give that kid the benefit of the doubt and agree it was the E Numbers talking. But, regardless of whether it was him or another kid who was round the back of the scooter shed pushing a smaller kid about for not having the right trainers, every school has some little kid who has the ability to make another kid feel weird and different and wrong. And now we are looking at schools for Ed, I am getting really twitchy about not being able to intervene and protect my kids from people like that. I have done a pretty good job so far of protecting them. I followed a miserable old man round the supermarket once because he rolled his eyes at one of the children (who was crying, loudly, and yes, shouting) and said really, really nastily and really loudly
“For Chrissakes! That bloody noise!”
Livid, sleep deprived and (hey, guess what!) not actually enjoying the noise myself, I chased him with my trolley with said crying, shouting child sat in it and said
“SORRY?! Do you have a problem?!”
A bit mental possibly….but he irritated me. And I was not having him refer to the children like that.
But, I can’t go in to school with Ed. I can not pretend to have a Benjamin Button style disease. I can not pretend to be Buddy The Elf’s cousin and sit at a teeny tiny little table. DAMMIT!
So, what to do, what to do? How can I ensure my kids have confidence? Here are some things I am going to tell them…
Always remember this – you are unique. There is no one like you in the world. You are one of a kind. It is good to be different. Never take the word “different” as a bad word. The world thrives on different and unique.
It will seem important to fit in at school, and in some parts of it, you will have to conform to rules and get on with being told what to do by those in authority. That’s just life and is called respect. But at the same time, it is OK to think outside the box and question things. Politely. Alex, this may be harder for you than Ed. When a teacher asks you to
“Please do as you are told!”
“Why?” like you do to me.
It is OK to break moulds and be yourself. To not be what people expect of you. Don’t get pigeonholed. Even by us, your family. Keep your own mind and your own thoughts. Be confident with them, without being cocky.
There will always be, in every school, in every college, in every workplace the mean little troll who will pick on your differences and try to make them something ugly. Try not to let them. That mean little monster is miserable inside and his views are not worthy of your time. Ok?
Be arty, be sporty, be nerdy, be quiet, be loud, be popular, have 4 friends, have 100 friends, be shy, be outgoing, I don’t mind. Just be yourself and be happy.