Is is stigma? I’m not sure, but I do feel that there are dark clouds of suspicion that hamper many conversations.
A little while ago I met Lily’s new school SENCO. It was a short informal chat at the school gates. She was friendly, open and clearly passionate about SEN. I enjoyed meeting her and was delighted that she was joining the staff.
A little while later Lily was struggling, she has trauma symptoms from witnessing years of extreme states in Peter (alongside the trauma of him going away to hospital) and was becoming overwhelmed. It was affecting her at school. So I spoke to the SENCO and we met again, but this time the atmosphere was different. I put it down to it being a busy week. Anyway, she was supportive and I thought nothing more of it.
Fast forward to yesterday. My second (and all being well last) meeting with the SENCO, and I sensed an elephant in the room. Lily joined us for the last part of the meeting and sensed the elephant immediately. “Mrs SENCO is scary” she said later, “She had daggers in her eyes. I am never going to a meeting again”. Mrs SENCO is kind and skilled I believe, and will ensure Lily gets the small amount of support she needs.
For me it’s a bit like she has been ‘warned’ about me, like I pose a threat of some sort?
It is all so unnecessary. Peter was at this school for 7 weeks. The old SENCO wasn’t terribly helpful and the safeguarding lead made a massive mistake after Peter left, but I felt we had a good relationship otherwise, especially with his tutor and the couple of teachers I had met. I chose to send Lily there and I am glad I did, it is a nurturing school with excellent teaching and a kind ethos. It feels gentle, friendly and the quality of the teaching feels really good. So why the dark atmosphere?
I have no idea as to the contents of the elephant: what Mrs SENCO thinks she knows, what, if any, her concerns might be or what her views are of our situation, because these are never discussed. So the elephant sits there with us which is a real shame. A massive shame.
It’s the same with parents. I took Peter out of his first, First School. After all he was having hallucinations about his teacher who had written to say he would not be following any professional advice unless he agreed with it (and he didn’t agree with any). A while later Lily was so distressed by being around this teacher that she was threatening to run away from school. The head teacher was worse than useless and part of the problem, so I moved Lily. No big deal.
These dark clouds that seems to attach themselves to parents too. I have no idea what the gossip was/is surrounding Peter, his epic breakdown and me not being a fan of their precious village school. I could really live without the occasional atmosphere though; without this apparent stigma and being treated as though I may have some thing dangerous about me. Quite frankly we have had enough to deal with, but smile and friendly chat that the gates of this next school can turn the atmosphere cold when it is with a parent from that last school. Half the time I don’t recognise them but they certainly THINK they know me!
I do wonder what it is they think they know? I sometimes think that I would be better received if I had served a short spell in jail.
Over time some of the ‘cold shoulders’ are warming up a little and The Elephant doesn’t affect all of them on either inside or outside of the school gates. I feel I have a lovely relationship with a number of the teachers and I am genuinely fond of them. Many of the parents are friendly too. As for the rest? Ugh. The not knowing is irritating. What exactly did we do that was so terrible?
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