The School Playground
It’s the end of term today and there was a celebration assembly at my little one’s school. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have worried about going into school for something like that. Nowadays things are different. I think because my circle of safety is so small, edging out of it is hard. When Stanley went to nursery, it took me a while to feel comfortable, and I don’t mean leaving him, as I knew he was fine, it was more me. I worried that the staff would think I wasn’t good enough, but I don’t think I ever gave them reason. I’d question everything I’d say, usually after I left, and struggled to make connections with other parents. Stanley was there for the best part of four years and it became part of my safety zone. I knew he was safe, and I knew I was too. The people there opened their arms and let us in. In fact, I forgot I even worried about it. In September, Stanley started school. We picked a small village school, to give you an idea, he is one of only two boys in his school year, of which there are a grand total of five children. The size meant it would feel homely, but of course, the other parents all knew each other, and I didn’t. Once again I was on the outside trying to work my way in.
School was not one of my favourite places, and I think because of that it’s extremely important that it’s a safe and happy place for our kids. We’ve chosen schools that aren’t necessarily the closest but offer what our kids need, often making things harder for ourselves, but it matters so much that they enjoy their time at school. Of course with Covid, things have been different and many of the social events schools have aren’t really as social as they were before. So while I found the playground a challenge, that was all I had to do as I dropped off and picked up, saying a quick hello, normally from behind a mask. No one could see if I was anxious and we weren’t encouraged to hang around, following a one way system in and out so there was even less chance of running into someone.
Today was different. It was a termly assembly, and I had to go on my own. I find it hard walking into somewhere on my own anyway, feeling like all eyes will be on me, but walking into the village hall this morning to be met by the faces of other parents already there was difficult. But I did it; and then in a bid to give myself something to do, I joined the queue for a cup of tea. Now the thing is, today was different and I didn’t hide. I saw a mum I chat to sometimes who was sitting on her own. Normally I’d overthink, decide she’d chosen to sit on her own, and go and sit somewhere by myself. Today I didn’t do that. Today I approached her and asked if I could sit with her and she actually seemed pleased! We chatted a lot before the assembly began, and after too, on our way back out to the car park. I’m not overthinking anything I said and did, which is strange, (it’ll probably hit me later), but right now I’m happy that I made the effort. It’s hard breaking into something new, to make new friends when you’re not as resilient as a child, but it’s possible. Yes, sometimes you have to put yourself out, and make an effort, but it’s okay. In fact, sometimes, other people are really grateful that you have made the effort.
I’m not saying every day will be easy, because I know from experience that mine at least are up and down, but as I’ve said before, I deal with them now, rather than hide. I learn from my experiences, and I try to move on. So, don’t be afraid of saying hello to someone, it might be that they really need to see a friendly face.
Take care of yourselves,