First impressions count

As my boy set off for his new school in his new blazer he looked so smart and handsome and grown up.  I wondered what impression he would make.

Because first impressions count. And I remember from my own secondary school (and university) days – those first impressions really are first impressions and they start on day 1.

I had an uncomfortable first year of secondary school, before gradually finding my feet through years 8 and 9 (although we didn’t call it that then) and feeling truly happen from year 10 onwards. For the whole of my first year I was in a mixed-ability group for all my lessons and I was the cleverest by a considerable margin. Two of the ‘naughty boys’ took a dislike to me. A dominant group of girls also took a dislike to me after I shouted at them when I’d heard them bitching – they’d said, and I remember it to this day, ‘She thinks we like her and we don’t’. Well I didn’t think that because I’m not stupid. And I told them so. Possibly not my best move. Here is a list of the ‘crimes’ I committed in those early days at secondary school:

  • Having spots
  • Having short hair and looking like a boy
  • Being clever
  • Being ‘posh’ ie my dad was a solicitor
  • Standing up to girls bitching about me

I don’t want my boy to go through this. I want to steer him in the right direction away from all this nonsense.

I’m glad he’s had his hair cut. His hair made him stand out. Some people thought he looked cool. But he may have come across people at secondary school who took a dislike to it. I’m glad we will never have to find out. With his shorter hair, he fits in.

My boy has a slightly geeky way about him, but he doesn’t look a geek. I don’t want him to look a geek because I don’t want him to get picked on. If he chooses to look a geek later on, that’s his decision. I want people to look at him and see a beautiful, friendly boy. A boy they want to be friends with.

He’s lucky that he’s been put in a class with four boys from his old school – one of his friends, one of his best friends and two others. (When I started secondary school I was in a class with the two people I hated most from my primary school, which didn’t give me an easy start.) That’s great, but I don’t want him to be tied to them by history for the next five or seven years. I want him to keep his old friends and make some new ones too.

So I bought him a cool school bag. Superdry. Yeah I know, what a waste of money on an 11 year old kid. But I want him to make the right impression. It’s not just that I want the cool kids to like him, it’s that I don’t want anyone to actively DISLIKE him. Because having someone actively dislike you at secondary school is not easy.

So with his own beautiful face and his cool bag, I am setting him on the right path.

It’s a delicate line he (and I) has to tread. Cool kids are often just a stone’s throw from naughty kids. I don’t want his cool bag to set him out as one of THOSE cool kids. I want him to make friends that are on the geeky-nice-cool continuum, not on the cool-naughty continuum.

What do you think? Am I over-thinking this? Am I doing the right thing for him?

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. The thing about high school; apart from it being big and ‘scary’ is that is often allows kids to be who they want to be. My experience as a teacher and a parent has shown me that smaller schools do limit kids and being in the bigger school often gives them more options in terms of friendships and they do usually gravitate towards children who are like-minded or have similar interests. You probably are over thinking it but that is because you are a very lovely mum!

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  2. Thanks very much – thanks for reassuring me and thanks for saying I’m a lovely mum!

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  3. Yes you are over thinking this, but I don’t think that is wrong – you remember the pit falls and hope to avoid your son making or falling into said pits. However, his experience of school will be his – all you can do is hope to set him off on the right path – which you have done. Fingers crossed he doesn’t come across the same types of children you did!

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  4. Thanks very much for commenting, ladies, I really appreciate it. Glad you agree I’m setting him on the right path, RJV. The big difference now is that they are set for some subjects from the word go, so he’s not going to be with the dossers and badly behaved kids, which I’m sure will be really positive for him.

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  5. Your post really highlights the anxieties we have about our children at school. Today my daughter has started in Reception Year and I worry about how she’ll get on in her school career. We have experienced the highs and the lows of school and we know what may be ahead. The thing is they also have to learn those lessons the same as we had to and that’s one of the hardest things about being a parent. Ideally we should live in a world where children all accept each other and no-one ever gets bullied. Sadly school reflects life out there at work and this is not the case. I hope your son has a great time at his secondary school and is able to just be himself and feel confident about himself. Personally I think all branded stuff should be barred from schools to prevent the whole issue of the “Have’s” and “Have Nots” arising but I do live in the real world and know that these are things that are out there in the real world and we all have to experience it. Having said all that – isn’t the same out there for us parents in the playground as well? It’s like going back 20+ years seeing everyone sizing each other up!!

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  6. Thanks very much for your comment, Gem, I really appreciate it.I hope he can be himself too, but sometimes it’s hard to be yourself when you feel people are judging you. Sadly if they banned the branded stuff it would be M&S uniform v Asda uniform – kids will always find some difference to exploit!
    Totally agree with you that it’s the same for us parents – I still feel it now after seven years in the playground. My friend’s daughter has also just started reception and she’s finding the playground very stressful herself 🙁
    Good luck to your daughter – I hope she is happy in school.

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  7. I hope he went on okay. Now you look back to this post I am sure you can see you did your very best for him.

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  8. Reading this brought back all of the horrid memories about school. I truly hope that none of our kids have to experience bullying in this way – just because they stand out. I was also in a mixed ability set and it really did NOTHING for me at all. Like you, I was probably the cleverest in there but didn’t work because I didn’t have to. Unfortunately it also meant that the not so clever ones, would single me out as being square or whatever. Kids can be so horrible! Thanks for linking 🙂

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  9. The pressure at school is unreal! It’s sad that we want to encourage our children’s individuality at the same time as wanting them to ‘blend in’. I don’t think you were over thinking it at all, It’s completely natural to want to protect your kids from any unnecessary unhappiness and if that means a Superdry bag and new haircut to fit in then so be it! I hope it all went well and he is happy 🙂 x

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  10. Thanks very much, everyone, really appreciate your comments. Even nearly a year on, it’s still something I’m aware of! This first year seems to have gone well for him. Long may it continue! x

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