My eldest isn’t a rule breaker. On the contrary, he follows rules to the letter of the law (with the exception of course of Mummy-imposed rules regarding bedtimes, teeth cleaning, the dropping of clothes on the floor etc). He wants other people to follow them, polices his brother and sister and can’t understand people who break them – sometimes willingly!
Now he’s in a big, new, scary world. He’s a very small fish in a large sea of around 2,000 pupils, some of whom are technically adults, and there’s a whole new set of rules to follow. And he’s scared.
I feel sorry for him. Because he isn’t ever going to break those rules, not just because he disagrees with breaking rules, but because he is a good kid. He’s not going to break them ‘accidentally’ because he isn’t going to misbehave. But he is living his life on the edge of fear, those rules constantly niggling away at him.
After the initial excitement and happiness of the settling in period, read about that here he has gone back to his old ways. He’s being quiet about school, we don’t know a lot about what’s going on. We assume he’s happy, but we’re not totally sure. We don’t know what subjects he has when.
So my husband tried to engage him in conversation – what is he enjoying, who are his friends, has he had any bad days? What was his worst day so far?
He answered without hesitation – ‘The day I forgot my uniform card’.
The uniform card has to be carried at all times. If you are caught wearing you uniform incorrectly, it will be stamped by a teacher. This is A BAD THING. If you don’t have your card on you, you will get detention.
He’s a Year 7 boy from a nice, middle class background. He is not a rebel. He’s got a brand-new, smart uniform. He is never going to be asked for the uniform card. He is never going to need it signing. Yet my poor boy lived through that whole day in a state of fear. He’d broken a rule, albeit unintentionally. He couldn’t see the bigger picture, that he wasn’t going to have to produce the damn card anyway because he clearly wasn’t contravening any rules. So that day was the worst of his short secondary school career.
The other day I got a phone call shortly after he’d left for school.
A little voice said nervously – ‘I’ve forgotten my violin’.
He’s worried again. I need to take the violin to him at break time. I plan to arrive five minutes into break, but he rings me as I’m driving.
I meet him by the open school gate. ‘I’m not allowed to come out’ he whispers. I pass the gate across the divide. Because I’m not allowed to go in. We would be breaking school rules.
As I get in the car, he turns to me and smiles and waves. It is one of the nicest smiles and waves I’ve ever seen. It conveys so much and I understand it completely.
It says ‘I love you, Mummy, but I call you Mum in front of my friends now because I’m at secondary school, I’m very grateful to you for bringing me my violin, I was feeling nervous before, but I feel better now, I’m going to wave to you, but I’m going to keep it small and discreet because it’s not cool to wave when you’re in Year 7’.
So my son breathed a sigh of relief and I got the nicest wave and smile ever from him and no rules were broken. This time.