This is my plan: Over the next few months, I am going to somehow find those other kids (and their families) who are entering 7th grade/middle school together who will NOT care if someone is “different” or “off” or “weird” and I am going to introduce them to each other. I want to have them know and remember each other’s faces so that when middle school starts they will have friendly faces in the halls and classrooms. (Also…I hope G and I will be able to recognize those friendly parents’ and kids’ faces!)
I both got this idea and started my search at the Middle School Orientation for parents with children in the “Special Education” program* (more on this, soon). Every single one of the parents there had direct, specific and personal concerns about their child getting bullied (among other things).
The woman to my right was crying as she spoke about her daughter being bullied “because she’s just…’off.’” Her fear about middle school was both reasonable and powerful. As she spoke, it occurred to me that my G could be a “friendly face” for her daughter – a peer who would never think she was “off” -- and who wouldn’t care if she was, anyway! So I slipped her our digits with a little note to this effect.
I turned to look at another woman a few (empty) rows behind us, who’d been talking about her son’s difficulties in tying his shoes, how anxious and unhappy he will feel about this if other kids are judging him (and we’d almost all been nodding), thinking to give her our number too and her face was just – STRICKEN. She looked terrified and devastated and devoid of hope. Almost blank. I – with my sloooow thought process – processed that and then vowed to reach out to her as soon as we stood up. But she rushed out.
I am still thinking about “the lady who left,” because I feel like we need each other, and our kids need each other more…If I see her again – and recognize her, please – I will be quicker.
I will have neither dignity nor restraint when it comes to this mission. Nor will team members be limited to incoming 7th graders! Even online and long-distance friendships can be part of this new, classy, influential team, TEAM FRIENDLY FACE.
So, hey! Lady! And anybody else who might participate! If you are reading this, email me, okay? At the very least, take a moment to consider joining this team – or forming your own -- in whatever way feels right for you and yours. Let’s get our kids (or ourselves, or whatever!) together and build TEAM FRIENDLY FACE!
Full Spectrum Mama
P.S. A TEAM-worthy post, courtesy of an honorary TEAM member: http://seriouslynotboring.com/2014/04/10/a-smile-instead-of-judgement/
* I wrote to the middle school special education people at the meeting:
I hope this finds you well. Thank you for last Tuesday's meeting.
I was wondering if there is any way to reach out to other parents, families and kids in this group. I think it could be enormously helpful to some of these kids to have as many friendly faces as possible in the halls and classrooms as they transition to middle school. I would be more than happy to be in charge of trying to make something happen, and to pay for materials (mailings?), host any event, etc. But I know because of privacy laws you cannot divulge any information to me. Perhaps I could write an email that you could then send to the other parents? I know that would be an effort for someone to input the email addresses but I think it would mean a lot to some of the families, especially the kids...Thoughts?
Thanks so much,
Thanks so much,
[Full Spectrum Mama]