It’s funny how competitive we are as parents. All of us. I’ve never really thought much about it before now, yesterday all across every social media platform I saw parents (mainly Mothers) getting nervous/excited over school places for their 3-5 year olds. Which is fine of course and I remember so well how delighted I was when Jay, my eldest got his place in the school of my choice. You’re so allowed to be excited but it also got me thinking about how vain we all are and how it’s all about us really. The parents. Well all about me at least.
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute it’s not little Sally’s first choice, it’s yours. Her Mum or Dad. You’re pleased because she got into your first choice of school. This got me thinking about me and how vain I was when I first learnt that Connor’s school life wasn’t going to be as straightforward as I assumed it would be. Connor was already in his local nursery class when he was diagnosed with Autism. Things had been tough settling him in just like any other child going to school for the first time, he had the usual separation issues but it’s also way more complicated than that. I was dead set on him going to a mainstream school, a ‘normal’ school that I wasn’t even prepared to discuss any other eventuality (this is one of my biggest regrets). Had I not let my vanity get in the way he wouldn’t be in the situation he’s in now, that’s the only way I can explain it. Vanity, because what else was it? It was my issue, my problem. I just couldn’t cope with the thought of it. It was a reflection on me and people would judge me. I must be a bad parent because why else would he be there. What an idiot. A naive, vain idiot. Had I not let my ego, my vanity get the better of me I would have understood much quicker how much of a better future my son will have if I do things his way and not mine. (Now if your reading this thinking “shut up I can be excited if I want about my child’s school place” then please understand that I am in no way suggesting you shouldn’t be, this is a reflection on me and not you. I was just a giddy about Jay starting school. This is about how this has made me feel now. Just me).
The minute we realised Connor wasn’t coping which was pretty quickly, I said ‘he’s not going to a special school’ and I dug my heels in and made sure he went to mainstream. I was such a fool because i didnt take the time to understand and I assumed that he would be shoved in a school, get no qualifications and everyone would just forget about him. I can honestly say that I’m ashamed of myself for thinking that and judging before even learning about it. Me a Mother of a disabled child so quick to judge without knowing, I wish I could go back in time and slap myself. Never before have I been so narrow minded and I never will again.
We are now a whole year on and Connor is still in his mainstream school and we have spent the last 12 months battling with the education system for funding and support, dealing with a nursery teacher who told me she’s just a “glorified babysitter” and she “can’t teach him anything”, putting up with a head master who is so afraid of his own narrow minded staff that he did nothing and said nothing when they left my son in a dirty nappy for over an hour and a half because they refused to change him “it’s not their job”. Each and every day it’s a new battle with the school that I chose to put him in and while I sit and cry and shout about how this system has let my son down and continues to do so each and every day, all along it was me who wanted him to go to a mainstream school. My first choice of school and now hes stuck with it. Does this make me a bad parent? I can’t help but think it does.
In the last year I’ve learnt so much about these special schools. These incredible schools and the therapies and education they offer. About the wonderful staff who work in them and I am now battling every day to try to get my beautiful boy there, where he needs to be. His first choice.
I watched everyone’s photos and status updates of how happy they are about their child’s school place and I was just miserable. I couldn’t be happy for anyone because I let my son down so badly by making the wrong choice.
All because I was to vain. So there it is a post all about the school placements and how I feel about it. All about how I feel. Me.
I’m so vain, I probably think this post is about me. I’m so vain.
Natalie Abraham AKA Mostly Mummy