There are kids in our schools who are scared and alone. They are terrified because they are alone. They can be tough to reach and this is the very reason that we need to keep trying, keep showing up for them every day. We need to find them, reach out to them, talk them through and hopefully help them to find their people.
I have three kids who have had vastly different experiences but for today I will talk about just one of them. Gender assigned female at birth, identifies as non-binary, pronouns are they/them, diagnosed a selective mute as a toddler, ongoing anxiety. They struggled in school to make connections and keep connections, mostly due to their selective mutism and the absolute fear struck in their heart at the thought of having to speak. The number of days filled with tears, sadness and loneliness around not being able to connect are too many to count. The fears I harboured as a parent that they would find a way to exit this life early are burned into my memory.
For years I said that they would find their people and life would get better. For years and years. They, frankly thought I was full of it, that they had no people, that no one would ever ‘get them’. The number of times we cried, I held them, tried to reassure them, and offered as much support as I could to no avail. The devastation we felt. The same emotion but different for each of us.
Then school finished. University started. Covid came back. Online learning took over. The push to online meant that they did have extra time to do their art and game. They told me that they had met some people online gaming who they had become good friends with. Cue mother look…online friends? Really? And in my head…this can’t be good and I don’t think so! They chatted into the wee hours every day and my doubts started to dissipate, I had never heard them talk and laugh so much outside of the family unit. Like actually laughing loud enough that they could be heard down the hall. My heart, nervous for them and excited at the same time, filled to overflowing.
Fast forward to last weekend where they decided to meet IRL. I was more nervous than they were. They were excited. They left on Saturday and didn’t come home again until Monday. We were texting all of that time and they were letting me know that they were having a good time. When they came home they said, ‘Mum. I did it. I found my people.’ The smile on their face. The joy in sharing what they had done. The look of absolute relief that they had people who ‘got them’. The feelings to describe how we felt in that moment are too big for words. They are no longer alone and that is better than anything I can express.
We have these kids in our schools. You may not notice them. There may be things that they are dealing with that prevent them from reaching out. Please reach out to the kids who look like they ‘don’t have people’. They are dealing with a sadness every day. Overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and brokenness. No-one should feel like this. It is too much for a young person. If you notice them, reach out.
Check out other articles Cassie has written here.