Monday, May 14, 2012
The Schoolyard Queen and other friendship tales
I was the Cinderella of the school yard. Untidy and awkward, but always armoured with black eye liner. Sometimes I had Smiley as a prop and she was soooo cute back then, and Angel's friends would always pop over to say hello. I would chat to their Mums, but I didn't make any lasting friends that way. And by the time she was ten, Angel would just wave goodbye at the door and head off with her pals.
In different school yards I've played the role of career mum - late, heel-teetering, briefcase and umbrella clutching - sporty mum - in runners and lycra - ageing rock chick mum - black, silver, attitude - and unpopular mum at my son's school once his behaviour got out of control - hoodie, headphones.
There were more characters too, but perhaps I should let them describe themselves. Or maybe you can help me?
My school-yard skulking days ended two years ago, and despite the downside, I do miss them. Now two younger children are in special needs education and are collected by bus. I miss walking to school with my son and the chats we had, even the Pokemon monologues. I miss the news and gossip and rumours - often just as useful - about the school and the staff, children and parents - though in his final year in mainstream, I'd say that aspie boy and I were often the topic of the day. No more meetings with teacher by chance or design, and especially at my son's school, I feel I barely know them or what goes on once he disappears through the doors.
Now I lurk in the virtual schoolyard of Facebook and Twitter, which also has a huge cast of characters, but mostly on my side. If not, I just block them, something that's harder to do in the real world. So I get to discuss all the big schooling questions on-line and at the Rainbow Junior Arch Club. Many of the people I have met on-line have become real life friends and some of the special needs mums I met through the Club are now friends on-line. That's the way it goes, and it is so much better than the isolation that special needs mums must have endured in days gone by.
Unlike many parents of children with special needs, I have not lost friends as a result of the different life that I now lead, apart from the natural wasting away that happens to some relationships that have run their course. Some friends I have known since childhood, some for the twenty years that I have lived in Dublin. They are all still part of my life and a great way to escape special needs for a while.
So I am very lucky with my friends. But I wonder how others get on in the schoolyard now. Once again I live just down the road from Angel's primary school. And every day I watch the parking spaces fill, the traffic wardens suddenly materialise, and anxious mums and dads with toddlers and buggies head up and down the hill to collect their kids. Do they enjoy the experience?
Note: This was inspired by The School Gate a lovely post by @MrsBorderreiver and I meant to write it in time for #specialsaturday, the online ‘global’ campaign that aims to raise awareness of children and adults living with special needs.
Please join the cause by joining the facebook page -https://www.facebook.com/SpecialSaturdayhttps://www.facebook.com/SpecialSaturday
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