The new kid at school - past horror revisited.....

I don't know about you, but I hated being the new kid - and still remember the feeling of dread like a horrible man-sized slug slurping around in my belly before going into a new class or playing for the first time  in a new neighbourhood.

In fact, thinking about last night's PT meeting at Leah's new school - I still have it. . .THE DREAD.  I can mask it better today (I hope). Well, I didn/t dissolve into tears entering the classroom and I didn/t cling onto Alan's shirt sleeve for more than a couple of minutes . I even talked to somebody I didn/t know and when it came to all-round-introductions (always my worst part of any event)  I managed to say my name and my daughters name without stammering or losing my voice. So that's OK, I am telling myself, I am not 5 anymore and things are looking up.

But do they? Every morning when I leave my 5 year old standing or playing by herself in a classroom full of kids who all seem to know each other - I have to choke back tears of despair as I revisit the feelings of loneliness and exposure that haunted my childhood as the NEW KID. Yes, I am aware that these are not necessarily her feelings and that I am dragging my emotional baggage into her classroom. But how can I be sure? When it comes to talking about her day at school it goes something like this

So - did you have a nice day at school

(and before you roll your collective parenting eyes: I know NO yes-or-no questions, but that s me - warming up...)

yes (I had it coming)

What was the best thing that happened today? (getting better by the minute aren't I? )

painting (...???)

What was not so nice? (really trying hard here)

Nothing (that's good - isn't it?)

Who did you play with?  (now I am probably already sounding a bit desperate)

Nobody (totally straight face - absolutely NO emotions)

And that's usually where the conversation falls flat as she is clearly bored with my entry level interrogation skills. I also know not to press the point and make her feel that there is something wrong with being HAPPILY by herself only because her mother spent her childhood and most of her adult life hovering on the outside of crowds of people all happily socialising - feeling there is something wrong with me. I just don't have it in me. There was even a brief time (before I learnt the art of saying NO without offending the rejected party FOREVER)  when the prospect of yet another braai with male beer bonding around a red Weber and us women banished to an area closer to the kitchen - sent me spiralling into depression. I just couldn/t do it: the sheer boredom of hours and hours of discussing husbands and kids (that was before I had them), books I would never read passed the first chapter ( and before you ask:  I don't do Women Are From Venus -  am literally/poetically challenged: I only like murder and violent crime in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith, Nicki French and Val Mc Dermot) and movies I hated (like: City of Angels - insert sound of vomiting here - ) .... ok ok, I have to bring this sentence to an end. But you get the picture...

I guess, what I learned in my late forties was to accept my limitations as a social butterfly and stay happily in my coccoon, occasionally I would even invite a butterfly for tea- as I really enjoy their sparkle within the safety of my comfort zone. As a result I can now proudly count many (weeellll, one or two) a sparkly butterfly amongst my very limited group of friends.... (and lovely queen Althea, you sparkle the brightest amongst them all :-))

So - what did I learn from all this with regards to my daughter?  Will she have to battle with feelings of  "just not fitting in " well into middle age before she can finally come to terms with the fact that she is more of a  One-Friend-At-A-Time person than the cheerleader type? Or can I help her to accept the unique and wonderful person she is?

At the moment she seems to be more of the Who-Stands-In-The-Corner-And-Observes-type personality. And if I manage to leave my trunks of emotional clutter at home and just take what she chooses to tell me at face value, it might not be so dramatic:

What she's saying after all is basically
-I had a good time today, I enjoyed the painting part and I choose not to play with anybody  as I am still in the process of making up my mind about people ...

And if this is good enough for her, it should be more than just fine with me. I should be happy for her to be able to be herself!

Because what made my childhood as the new kid so miserable was not being who I was  but people (PARENTS mostly) trying to change me (and of course the horrible nicole perodot in 4th grade - but that's another story).

 Later on it was of course all my own doing, hanging on to misery by trying to become some socially acceptable image of myself rather than being me and thereby attracting people who actually liked me instead of pissing off those who did not even know me... hmmmm all sounds horribly complicated? Well it's not.

Bottom line: My daughter's job in life is not to heal my emotional traumas. I can not make her into the most popular girl at school to get some late sense of gratification with regards to my school career.

The only thing I can do is support her on this journey into grown up life and show her that I truly see her as the unique, beautiful and above all totally loveable person she is. If she really believes this, I have achieved all I need to achieve (and of course beat the beeeejayzus out of nicole perodot should she reincarnate as the class bully).

Now I take a deep breath as I get ready to pick up Leah from school and can't help asking: How was school today.


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