Since Inigo started school we’ve had ups and downs. I’ve asked the school to challenge him academically so that he can have a sense of achievement and mastery of new skills, and I’ve tried to nudge him towards nice kids to help him out socially.
I’ve given him days off when I really feel that he needs a break, and I’ve encouraged him to face up to the challenges of school when he just wanted to walk away. I’ve packed lunch boxes and washed clothes, sorted socks and supervised homework. I’ve been there at assembly, I’ve attended every parent meeting, I’ve done classroom reading and communicated with the teacher at least weekly, sometimes daily.
And he hated school anyway.
It comes down to this. We have raised a feminist. A boy who believes that all of us should be treated equally, and who is deeply affected by injustice. And he’s going to a school where the kids are already deeply conditioned into strict gender roles by the age of five that they won’t even consider playing with a friend of the opposite gender.
As a rule, boys tend to prefer more active games, and girls tend to prefer more narrative play. Some boys like dolls and some girls like football, and in most of the world, that is ok.
But not in Granville.
In Granville, boys run around with sticks, and girls say, “I’m not allowed to play with boys”. Of course there are exceptions, but finding “your people” takes time. And finding your place in an environment that feels hostile is hard enough for a grown up – but for a tender little heart, it can be brutal.
Thankfully, he trusts me. Thank goodness he talks to me. I’m so proud of his strength and determination. I’m amazed by his ability to keep trying, and to keep hoping that tomorrow will be better. And it does seem to be getting better.
This year he is in a 1/2 composite class, and he is being allowed to work with the year two kids. And amazingly, he’s finishing his work, not staring off into space like he did for most of last year. He’s engaging with his peers and the material, and hasn’t once been disciplined for not paying attention. He’s finding his feet socially, and is developing a special friendship with a lovely kid.
And we’ve stepped up the extra curricular activities. I’ve become “that” parent that drags her kid around for every activity under the sun. I decided to trial a few things to see what he liked, then drop down to a reasonable number. The idea was to expose him to life outside of school. Preferably activities where boys and girls are treated equally.
We have gymnastics on Monday, piano on Tuesday, dancing (ballet, tap and jazz) on Wednesday, trampolining on Thursday, and choir on Saturday. He loves them all.
So on balance, I’m exhausted, and feeling crazy. But he’s happier than he has been in over a year. So I’m happy too.
Image by Lumsdaine Photography