Tuesday, 25 May 2010

School days

Recent conversations have brought my time at school to mind a lot recently, coincided with thoughts about how my daughter relates to other children, and how that might affect her in the future.

And, ya know what? Like many, I had a crap time as a teenager due to various factors, but I don't harbour pain or anger at school, or the people I knew there.

A recent post at Feministe outlines how difficult it can be for people who are 'different' to get on in school. I guess things are a little different here, compared to in American schools where such a strict 'class' system is enforced (which I only really know about from TV and film, so, Americans, you can enlighten me if I'm wrong!)

I know I went through many phases of trying to 'fit in' with people, but, in the long run, I was, and always will be, somewhat of a solitary individual. For better or worse, I remember enjoying my own company and spending most of my time figuring out my own thoughts, rather than caring about what other people thought of 'my image' or my interests.

The comments over at Feministe made me think about what I'm teaching my daughter, and what I was taught as a child. I don't really recall any sit-down, pre-emptive talks about 'just be yourself.' Maybe they occurred, but they don't stand out. (Mum, dad, help me here?)

What I do recall, however, are my parents supporting me through every time I felt bad, or needed to let loose and scream, or just to talk about anything and everything.

So I guess my advice to other parents, and to myself, is to always talk to children. ALWAYS make them feel that they have valid opinions and you are interested in what they have to say. Never put them down or tell them they're being stupid. Sure, prepare them for the world, but the main thing is to deal with what's in front of you, how they feel, not stress over every single interaction they might possibly have in their lives.

I think about how I'm going to deal with the messages about gender NP will receive every day of her life, and realise that the only way to teach her is to challenge her: why does she think that's a good idea? Why does it matter what other people think? And listen to what she has to say. She's not even 3 yet, and I feel like I'm barely out of childhood myself, I just hope I've got enough wit and experience to help her through her own challenges.


  1. you are so right - talk talk talk, We do with our three boys - about anything and everything - whenever - wherever and I feel we have a very healthy open relationship. We probably don't know everything they get up to ( and nor do I wish to - the eldest is 15) but at least they can tell us anything ( like they have tried smoking/drinking) an they know we wont freak out.

    I have 3 boys 15,13,8 and a baby girl aged 9 months - just going to check out cafe au lait now as still breastfeeding a lot!!

  2. Hi justherding, thanks, you sound like a busy lady! I know my relationship with my parents has helped me through a lot, so I'm sure your boys appreciate it (or will, in time!)

    It'd be lovely to have more members over at Cafe au Lait, so please do post away!