Sticks and Stones ……..

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Kindness is one of the biggest values in life that I want to teach my six year old son.

He is already a very thoughtful little boy and his life to date has been somewhat different to most children  his age. I am so proud of him.

With tears rolling down my face, I remember a time where I didn’t think I would see my son grow up. I thought as long as I taught him how to be a kind human being, he would go far in life, and I would have no worries about him.

Being kind however, is not enough to get you through todays tough, cruel and unkind world. Being kind is not enough to get you through cruel words and cruel actions.

I remember a saying from my own youth: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Words devastate. Wounds can heal but words can have a lasting impression. A very traumatic, lasting impression.

My son has had a lot of upset in school. I have spoken to his teachers numerous times. I am my son’s ONLY advocate and therefore I will always communicate my son’s distress to the people I trustingly hand over my son to, hoping they will guard him from any physical/emotional harm in the school setting. So when my son comes home saying children have been mean to him and that he’s spent the whole of play time crying in a corner on his own, I need to make changes to protect my son. I will not have my son’s heart broken.

I need him to stand up for himself. I need to teach him how to stand up for himself. I never in a million years thought I would ever be roleplaying ‘mean situations’ with my son, but that is what we have ended up doing. For example, a while ago he was taunted and called a ‘baby’. I pretended I was Rory being called a baby. We discussed what a baby was and he was definitely not one of them! I explained they were just untrue words that someone has made up to be mean and hurtful.

We have gone through how to handle those heart breaking situations where groups of so-called friends don’t let you join in to play. But how do I explain to my son what he should do if someone becomes physical with him? I have always disagreed with the ‘if a child pushes you, push him back’ approach. That was until now. I don’t want my son to think violence is acceptable at all, but what I do want to install in him is that if he feels threatened in any shape of form, he can do what he feels necessary to protect himself from harm.

One of the reasons I take my son to Tae-Kwondo lessons is so that he learns the power and strength of his own body to fend off attackers. But most importantly, he is learning the power of his voice as an initial warning.

In Rory’s first year of school, so he was 4 years old at the time, I was mortified to be told that he had bitten another child on the face. Rory was disciplined according to the schools guidance which I went along with. Causing harm to a child was just not acceptable. But this was so out of character for my kind and sensitive little boy. Why on earth did he bite another child, and on the cheek of all places? It didn’t make sense to me. Until Rory finally told me what had happened. He was sat on the floor in a line after dinner, waiting to go out to play. Having school dinners was still a scary prospect for Rory back then and he used to take a little toy in his pocket for reassurance. A boy kept reaching over Rory to take his toy that was in his hand at the time. Rory must have felt threatened by the constant invasion of his space and reacted in the only way he thought he could. He was protecting himself. He got punished for protecting himself. I will not let that happen again.

As an adult, I have come across many mean people. This is unfortunate but a fact of life. I cannot teach Rory that everyone is going to be nice. We all know that is not true. But what I am trying to do is to equip him with the necessary tools to protect his emotional and physical well-being when situations arise. Of course I still want him to be the kind, thoughtful little boy he is, but I also need him to toughen up. It really saddens me to say this though.

As the youngest of three siblings, we grew up where everyone knew each other. No one would have ever dreamed of intimidating me due to the presence of my older brother and sister. Rory does not have those siblings. He has me.

I might sound like an over bearing, over protective mother, but the sole responsibility of a little life is overwhelming. Children need happy childhoods, and I will do my utmost to make sure my little boy has the one he deserves.

I don’t want Rory to accept people being mean to him. What I want is for him to understand that we have to learn to deal with it.  As much as I would like to talk to every child that is mean to mine, and their parents come to think of it, I can’t. Although i will if need be! There is nothing more precious to me than my boy. This is just another hard lesson in life. There will be many more to come i’m sure, that will keep me wide awake at night, worrying. Who said parenting was going to be easy!

Be kind. It costs nothing and can make all the difference to someone.

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“We are NOT a proper family”

Not long after my son started Primary school, he came home stating that we “were not a proper family”. Unbeknown to me, the class theme at that time was all about families. My little boy was very upset. He has only known life with me and him, with regular contact with his father. My son has 2 houses and that is the ‘norm’ for him. I say 2 houses as opposed to homes because in my son’s eyes, our house together is home, the other is ‘Dad’s house’. I find that sad and its something that we are working on.

I was distraught when my son, my baby, my whole world, declared that we were not a proper family. How could he think that? How could he have come home from school thinking that? What on earth were they teaching him about families?

One in four families are headed by single parent families in the UK. Surely his teachers must be aware of the diverse society we live in today! Surely they need to be mindful of different family types and be sensitive to the children who don’t fit into the ‘norm’.

I researched what books were available for young children regarding single-parent families and was shocked by how little was available. I came across one book that was about a bird living in two nests. This was supposed to replicate a child having two homes. My son has always been a bright little boy. He questions everything and wants truthful answers to his questions. A book about birds was not going to help his curiosity about family types! He has always wanted facts when it comes to real life. This does help me enormously, as I used to spend most of my time bullshitting the truth, as I thought I would be protecting him.

But in actual fact, by being truthful and honest, I was protecting him more. None more so than when we went through my breast cancer treatment as a single parent family. I couldn’t bullshit feeling and looking incredibly ill. But what I could do was explain things to my son in a manner that he would understand. I could cuddle him for hours and listen to his daily stories. I was there for him. I was still his mummy and no one loved him more than me! My son needed information, real information. And I’m sure he got through this huge disruption in his life by the information he received.

So with all of that in mind, it has always been my goal to write a series of children’s books based on family types. The series will be based on the character ‘Super Rory’! Super Rory lives with his mummy. Super Rory lives with his daddy. Super Rory lives with his 2 mummies. Super Rory lives with his 2 daddies. Super Rory lives with Nana and Grandad etc. (the list is endless). Once that series has been completed, the next series will be based on real-life family situations such as Super Rory’s mummy has cancer. Super Rory’s mummy is sad (with postnatal depression). Super Rory’s mummy/daddy is in prison. Super Rory goes to play at Charlies house (a deaf family). Super Rory’s family welcomes new neighbours (a refugee family) etc. (Once again, the list is endless).

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It will be based on my very own superhero character (Rory!!) who has shown me his ability to get through difficult situations, and his level of understanding of these difficult situation is a lot higher than I was giving him credit for. They are going to be ‘real’ books to normalise family types and the difficulties families face but with a child-friendly level of understanding. An endearing character that children will associate with. And most importantly, they will be simple and easy to read.

Transforming Cancer Care services and positively supporting single parent lifestyles are my 2 passions in life. I need these projects in my life! After an unsuccessful attempt at returning to work, I am even more determined to make a success out of these passions!

My aim is to have a series of books based on family types in all Uk primary schools, so no other child has to come home, like Rory, saying they don’t have a proper family. That is just unacceptable in today’s day and age. But there are over 25,000 primary schools! I need your help!

I have contacted a leading Single Parent charity to see if there are any opportunities to collaborate. I have been researching self-publishing. I have been looking into financial grants to help get it all off the ground. I haven’t got round to emailing one of the most well known single parent authors: JK Rowling! But it is a possibility! As is pitching to the Dragon’s Den crew!

I’m using the power of social media for any ideas on how to make this a reality. I have been talking and planning for far too long! Please contact me with any suggestions. Thank you x”

 

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