Elijah and I ventured to the North Hills for a playgroup on Tuesday. It turns out that almost everyone there is a homeschooler and a few are unschoolers. The group is also secular, which as most home/unschoolers know can mean the difference between fun and formalities (nothing personal against Christian homeschoolers, just the overall feeling I get at most of their gatherings). The playgroup is hosted by the UU Church of the North Hills, but not really tied to the church. The group has the run of the grounds and buildings all year round.
We had a fairly good time for two anti-group people thrusting ourselves head first into a group where neither of us knew anyone. I know, I have no idea what *I* was thinking. However, I think we’ll make the trip up there next week and see how round two goes.
While we were there, we got the pleasure of seeing a Robin Hood play put on by the majority of the kids in the group. Here are a couple photos**.
**if any of the parents who were there are reading this and you would like copies of these pictures or to see the dozen or so more that I have, please send me an email or leave a comment below.
While I enjoyed visiting a bit with several of the other mums, Elijah had a hard time of it. There are several parts to this. First, we were outside almost the entire time — in my post about going unshod, I said,
“I never thought that I’d produce such a child that is timid about going barefoot. However, I think being barefoot outside is only part of the larger aspect of being outside, which is very chaotic, unpredictable & ever changing; it’s often too much for both of us and our sensory integration hangups.”
Being outside is tiring for us both. We enjoy the air, the warmth and such, but it is often overstimulating. Being outside is Chaotic. And when you combine natural chaos with being a newbie to a group, you have a recipe for disaster — rather emotional disaster.
Second, there is a large group of ‘established’ children. And with this group, not so much unlike school children and nothing like a group of only unschoolers, this established group might not have too much room for another child. While from what I could tell, except for a couple of little girls, the children were all friendly with Elijah, but Elijah is the dreaded ‘new kid’. And his mum looks nothing like all the other mums, but more like someone these children might see walking out of a tattoo parlor or escorting women across the picket line in front of Planned Parenthood.
Thirdly, Elijah had his feelings hurt very early on (15 mins into being there), because there was a group of children running off to play something and he was trying to keep up with them. From his point of view, he was trying to be part of the group and the group was running off/away from him. For those of you who know my son, you know that he is extremely sensitive. For him to perceive that a large group of children is running away from him is not going to set the stage for joy. We should have left then, but for some crazy-ass reason I coddled him and we pushed on.
Thirdly, there was a semi-organized game of street hockey going on out front (2.5 hours later). I wasn’t out there. I was inside talking with other mums. I was NOT doing my job. I was NOT being the mum I know I need to be. I allowed US to fail. The next thing I know, I am being summoned outside by two mums and I hear the words “hockey-stick” and “hitting”. I still don’t quite know the while story. I believe Elijah wanted to play, didn’t know how and was offended that the other children weren’t mind-readers and weren’t explaining the game. I believe that Elijah was “high-sticking” this way and that way, yet being careful (I heard those words out of a parent’s mouth), but apparently whacked a mum on the arm who asked him not to hit another child with the stick. I still don’t actually know if he hit another child or not. I know he was upset and felt like everyone there was against him and not beside him…as did I.
Again. I should have taken us out of there. I have no idea what the fuck was wrong with me. I think I was trying to play that social-game of being “nice”, when I should have just fled the scene. I calmed the boy down and figured out he was frustrated because no one told him how to play hockey. Simple enough. I went over to the group of kids and explained that Elijah would like to play hockey, but doesn’t know how and asked if they could explain things. They all were more than happy to oblige. The game went on without much issue…Elijah was accidentally hit with a stick, but recovered alright.
All the mums seemed understanding and seemed to care about Elijah’s well-being, as well as the safety of all, but then I got The Phone Call today. The lady from the church called me. About hitting, kicking and stuff. Kicking? Really? I love how these things get blown WAY out of proportion. She understood that there were some issues with hitting (kicking, etc.) and so on at the playgroup. At this point, I felt like my son was in school and his teacher/principle was calling me to inform me that my son was getting in bloody fights or pulling girls’ hair or some other terrible thing. *I* got *in trouble*. I’m almost 28 yrs old and I was reprimanded for having a sensitive child who did what a lot of children his age and in his position would have done. However, it could have all been avoid if we had just left like 15 mins into being there. Apparently, some of the mums thought more to tattle on E & I than to talk it out with us, inquire as to what the issue was or try and help us out. Thanks. A simple hand up, not a hand out is all I’m asking for here folks.
What have I learned (yet, already knew). Just leave. Don’t say goodbye. Don’t walk, run to the door. Get the hell out of there. So, next week (oh, yes, we ARE going back next week) we will just keep the car running if necessary.