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!”

don’t say

“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.



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15 Responses to Different

  1. Sarah Wood says:

    I love it! I’ve just gone through all this – and written a number of posts – with transferring to secondary school. It’s so stressful worrying whether or not they will fit in 🙁

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks mate – cheers for reading and commenting. The whole issue really worries me. I really hated parts of school (was very uncool) and I guess I worry that I may also transfer these feelings on to the boys.

  2. wow what a wonderful blog cuz. bog wash the trolls i say, and smack the heads of bullys oohh child cruelty careful me, make sure no one is looking xxx

    • Hannah says:

      Thanks mate. Is a topic I really worry about, and feel powerless to do anything about. Will be a total wreck next September. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  3. Janey says:

    You made me cry – AGAIN! I loved going to school, it was a welcome break from an unhappy homelife but there were also times I got bullied. Like you, it fills me with absolute dread that my daughter might go through similar and I’m not there to protect her. I thought that worry had passed as Maddie has travelled through junior school relatively unscathed (well, from a physical point of view). BUT my fear has risen again as she is due to start secondary school in September and I remember how cruel teenage girls can be. I’ve already heard some of the ways Maddie and her friends are made to feel inadequate and it makes me feel sick? I try to convince myself that any child who isn’t subjected to jealousy, bitterness and down right meanness won’t learn the necessary life skills to survive in the big wide world but as a mother I just want to wrap my child in as much cotton wool, bubble wrap and happy experiences as I can. Unfortunately, I will have to find a happy medium between the two. I will be using your beautifully eloquent words as a basis for the ‘before you start big school’ talk because I could never say it so well. So thank you Hannah 🙂

    • Hannah says:

      What a lovely comment and a lovely compliment – thank you. xxx
      It is terrifying to think what school will be like. I am hopeful it will be an amazing experience, but like you, it is just such a worry. We know how cruel kids can be. I guess all we can do is keep lines of communication open (as much as is possible with kids and teenagers) and try and keep their confidence up. I don’t know what else we CAN do. Any more ideas or tips???
      Thanks for reading, J, and for the comment.

  4. bonniecroft says:

    as many times in a week as you can possible do it , Sit down and eat together at the table . NO T.V. ON .
    Just you as a family and let the conversation flow ……and as far as is possible you will know what is happening in their lives .and you can endorse all the good things you have said above .

  5. hitmanharris says:

    Really lovely post, Han. Even though my little one is several years away from starting school I have had similar thoughts as you. I didn’t enjoy school and I don’t want George to have a similar experience. I totally agree that giving our children the confidence to tackle these obstacles themselves is the best approach. Your words are inspiring and I have high hopes they will have the desired effect. Be brave and have faith in the fantastic little boys you have produced.

  6. I used to loose sleep about similar. Two of my three are now in school ( they are still only baba’s aged 6 and 4) but the fears have been mostly squashed now. They are all in the same boat in the school yard. The odd “bold” child is usually met with indifference or is the source of gossip rather than upset in my limited opinion. Kids these days seem to be much nicer than when we were small!

    • Hannah says:

      Well that is reassuring – thank you. Glad I am not alone in my fears – nice to have some company. And good advice!
      Thanks for reading and commenting

  7. msmummyoftwo says:

    I love this. I struggle with Pops going p next year to big school. I love your views and how you encourage them to be themselves. I admire this, I hope I can be like this too! xx

    • Hannah says:

      Thank you, and cheers for such nice words. It’s so hard isn’t it? “Struggle” is a good word. It’s just how I feel.

  8. Pam says:

    Fantastic post Han!! I have been been going through so many worries recently as my daughter started at Sandown High (which is now even bigger as it joined with the middle school), bearing in mind she was at st helens primary which only has less than 100 children! My son had a rocky start at Sandown too, and i sometime find it hard to find the right words of advice for them, I will definitly be using some of your words of wisdom from this post and hope my children will be confident enough to acccept that everyone is different, and thats a good thing!!. My daughter so far as loved every minute at Sandown, and my son has worked out his initial problems ( aka-nasty kids!) too. Thank you for your brilliant words 🙂

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