I have had the amazing privilege of writing a short introduction to myself and my blog over at Anya's brilliant and welcoming blog for us Older Single Ladies who also happen to be a Mum. She blog's at Older Single Mum and her heart is to challenge some of the perceptions of single Mums - or should I say - the misconceptions of single parenting often portrayed by the media. She does this very well and also invites others to share their stories too. She contacted me and invited me to write something - so I did - you can read it here. As part of her own funny stories she also has many other inspiring ladies who have shared their Single Mum Stories - shattering a few more pre-conceived ideas. So, take a look at Older Single Mum and read more brilliant Older Single Mum's Stories. Thank you Anya. I am honoured to finally be an Older Single Mum - and especially to feature on your blog. It is great to have a growing network of other bloggers and to break yet more isolation that being single - and older - and a mum, can often bring. If you have found me through reading her blog, welcome and please say Hi!
This week I will be leading a seminar for child and youth workers on the theme of Inclusion and the provision for children and young people with Special Needs or Additional Needs within the clubs or programmes or activities they run. My heart will be to challenge a few perceptions and to encourage them to think out of the box, beyond the label - as well as to provide a platform for us to learn together and gain a deeper understanding of what each individual need is as well as seeing them develop and grow - without them just attending our group. For a long while I have taught in these contexts that we need to look after the quiet ones - you know the ones who will stand when everyone else is standing, the one who follows the others and site quietly during any sessions run - but they aren't actually getting the maximum they could from the programme. They need 1:1 support too, probably, at times. The answer equally for the ones quickly labelled as a "handful" or "naughty" or "awkward", is not to exclude them or ban them for the next week. They need boundaries, yes, but they also need an engaging programme and the opportunity to succeed - school may well not fit for them easily, and their home life may or may not be great - but lets do the best we can as leaders for them - and lead them - and not leave them behind or write them off once again as failures. So, yes, I hope to challenge a few perceptions - and misconceptions.
If I look at a few labels or statements spoken - that lead to perceptions that are held over my own life:
- premature - illegitimate ( as my medical records read)
- not recommended for adoption ( as my adoptive paperwork reads)
- fostered, adopted,
- excluded from nursery, miserable at infant school and most of primary school,
- known as awkward, feisty, loud, a challenge, daydreamer, strong willed, fat, clumsy, as a child.
- Divorced, single older Mum.
I am thankful to those children, my peers, who dared to persist in befriending me, the classmates who heard me singing in assembly when I was 12 and who encouraged me to sing in the choir as they thought I had a nice voice.
I am thankful to those youth leaders and one or 2 teachers that I particularly, remember who seemed to believe in me and who invested in my life. Those who within my community nurtured and who dared to think out of the box and give me a chance to succeed.
I am thankful to my parents who dared to take me on, welcoming me into their family and to adopt me and to raise me as their daughter, despite what my adoptive paperwork said and against the professionals advice. They loved me, relentlessly taught me and re-taught me, believed in me and shaped me into the person I am today.
Where would I be if some perceptions weren't challenged?
I am up for challenging some perceptions this week.