A parents anxiety into their son starting school.
This week I had the pleasure of being invited to my sons first school to meet the teachers and parents and see the school etc.....
And it made me nervous... Anxious even. On top of the usual feelings that comes with your first child going to school for the first time and that step into their next challenge. I am feeling an extra anxiety as I don't know how the new school and students think about individuality. How they feel when they hear or see a boy who likes barbies? How they will react or what words will be used when he expresses his enjoyment of playing with dolls?
It does indeed worry me, because the one thing I wish for all children is for school to be a good experience. I loved school growing up, I enjoyed the learning experience, being challenged and the friends I made. I did have moments of bullying and unkindness but it wasn't an excessive relentless bullying that we read so much of today. I want to think that I've supported my child enough to be confident in who they are and bold enough to not care if they are different to some people. Because we are all different and that is actually OK and what makes us all interesting.
Even when at the school open evening for the new parents, we had to write down our child's interests and it naturally made me worry for my child. However what was nice to see is how popular mermaids are along with dinosaurs and barbie, oh and PJ masks. And across different genders.
Which made me realise: its me, the adult, who has the anxiety over my child's likes being gender 'correct'. Not my child or indeed any child that we have come into contact with. It always feels like it's my over thinking and worry.
Yes some people have made comments or passed judgement; yet very few. However I always hear their comments ringing round my head like that is the majority. Why have I allowed myself to believe that it's not OK for my son to enjoy playing with his princess characters? That this form of play will open him up to a life time of bullying?
For me it always comes back to why is it not the bullies who need to be taught the value of differences between people? To be taught that aggression is not tolerated and that there are better ways to deal with internal anger.
It also comes back to me as a parent to say I need to prepare my child for situations which we all face at some point in our lives. When we feel isolated, alone, misunderstood and up against others- we have to provide our children with the right support and tools to face those feelings and know that that's normal in life. And that we do overcome the feelings and show them how to face them. And for our sons, to say its OK to feel emotions, to be upset, to cry, to discuss these feelings - because that support is what carries them through to adulthood knowing that their inner voice matters and is supported.
School in these new times, a time of social media, of instant gratification, of keeping up with the kardashians (no longer Jones) - is a time so different to when us adults were at school. And it'll be interesting to see how these play out over the coming years for us here at My Boy Can. I just hope that with the continuation of promotion of positive male campaigns that help us discuss issues with our sons, that it'll be a much more supportive time for our sons coming into the institution of school now.