When I was little there were a couple of things that happened that sort of helped define who I was. I spent my first few years of life in Lowestoft, in Suffolk, famed for being the most easterly town in England. I was born in Hertfordshire though, but my Dad’s work took us there when I was little.
I was always a shy little boy and that didn’t change when I started school at Northfield Infants school in Lowestoft. I vaguely remember having one friend, a lad called Matthew Spillings but other than that I don’t remember a great deal. When I was 7 we moved back to Hertfordshire, to a different school and a different life. I was thrust into a Roman Catholic primary school that had practices completely alien to me. I never found it easy to fit in at the best of times and moving into a school where everyone had been together for nearly two and a half years was very difficult. I was picked on but no more so than a lot of kids are. That’s life. The thing that did get me a lot of unwanted attention was my teeth. I’d always sucked my thumb you see and by the time I was 7 I was really goofy (for want of a better word). I had a recessed jaw too, which gave me a terrible overbite that I couldn’t even undo temporarily by pushing my bottom jaw forward.
It wasn’t long before I picked up the nickname goofy teeth posh-o, which stuck with me through much of primary school. I wasn’t posh but given that perhaps 15 people out of my class of 30 either had English as their second language or their parents second language, I must have sounded posh to them. We had a large population of Italians in my town!
And so I carried on, being considerably less popular than my little brother and painfully shy all the way through primary school.
I hope that both our kids are more self confident that I was. I certainly have tried to give them the opportunity to mix from a young age, as has wifey, They both spend a day or two a week at a childminders mixing with other kids away from us, which should help of course but I think already the boy is looking quite shy. I think this is mostly due to his verbal dyspraxia, which at times makes him quite hard to understand. So far at nursery school the kids are young enough not to be horrible to him or make fun of his speech. We’ve recently enrolled him in junior karate because this is supposed to be good for self confidence. So far he’s clung to my leg for the most part of two sessions but he’s improving.
He is coming out of himself though, his artwork is suddenly becoming awesome, which shows his is getting better at expressing himself.
Time will tell I guess but at least I can show some empathy and I know what to look for!