Different

Cara McKee, a writer and mother-of-three living in Largs is embracing being unique…

This morning we parked near the school, as usual, and my elder two hurried off – too cool to be seen with me – while I spent some quality time cajoling my youngest to leave the car. For someone who’s so unwilling to get into it, she’s awfully fond of staying there. Today her tale of woe was about her literacy class, in which they would have to write what they are going to write in a planning book, and then write it. Oh! The horror!

I sympathised with her that her teacher was clearly mad, but tentatively suggested perhaps all that writing practice would help her get her letters the right way round. Out she begrudgingly came (leaving her bag behind, of course) which I, like the well-trained assistant I can be at times, retrieved placing it on her shoulders and quickly shutting the door to avoid any chance of a retreat.

On our way in we paused for another mother getting her boys out of the car. They scrambled out happily, bringing their bags with them, as if such behaviour was normal. The first stepped onto the pavement, glanced at the school, and shouted, “WOO-HOO!” Truth be told, “woo-hoo” is not something I’m used to hearing on schoolday mornings and to have it shouted in such close proximity made me jump.

“Don’t worry,” my youngest said, “He’s different.” Oh my word, I wished the ground would open up! I studiously avoided any eye contact with the mother, and hurried Miss 6 into school, praying hard nobody heard. But actually, I reckon that’s my problem, not hers. Later on she told me more about the boy, who has Play-Doh to play with when he starts feeling wobbly or cross, and Miss 6 thinks he’s great. She says he’s kind and funny and she’s not even jealous of his Play-Doh (although she does love the stuff).

I’m still not sure anyone wants people proclaiming their child to be ‘different’ in the street, but I guess we all have our random ‘woo-hoo’s and our hairy fits, and I’m glad our schooling now can go some way to embracing our kids’ differences and letting everybody shine in their own different way. It can’t be easy in a classroom full of different kids and I thank our lucky stars we don’t have the awful hoops English kids have to jump through which only give their teachers enough time for rote learning.

Although no school is perfect, and I know some classrooms are busting at the seams and have kids with troublesome behaviour, I am glad my kids’ school do their utmost to support all the kids, including those having a harder time than I could imagine.

Even when things are tough, kids can learn useful lessons about positive ways of dealing with challenging behaviour and coping strategies that suit them. Miss 9, for instance, removes herself from the classroom to work in the library when she needs some peace and I am so pleased that she can do that.

I hope my kids’ experiences of going to a school that finds ways to help everyone will help them to embrace differences and welcome all the ways there are to be and all the different things people have to offer.

Cara’s recently had poems published in Snakeskin and Product Magazines and on the She Might Be website. Find her blog at caralmckee.blogspot.co.uk

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