"Can I sit with you?"
Could more stress be crammed into fewer words? Though to some people this phrase means merely, “Yay, new friends,” to a lot of us it means instant school anxiety flashbacks.
And possibly an intense need to crawl into a hole, or vomit.
Dealing with the other kids at school was complicated even if you didn’t have a label. For those of us who were socially awkward, culturally juxtaposed, same-sex attracted, gender-cocooned, income-challenged, “weird” sibling-saddled, differently-abled, atypical looking, religiously isolated, on the autism spectrum or who somehow just didn’t fit in, it could be brutal. Even though most of us eventually developed coping strategies, grew up, left school behind and tried not to think about how much that time in our life sucked.
Until some of us starting having our own kids. And saw those kids start to flounder, saw them start fretting about how to fit in, saw them consumed with random everyday angst. Argh! What to do?
Well, I don’t know what most people would do, by my co-editor Jennifer Byde Myers and I took action. We started The Can I Sit With You? book and blog project to share tales of the schoolyard with the children and parents who need to hear them.
We want to give our kids some ammunition, or at least some mental armor. We want to show them that almost everyone has been mystified or terrorized by the schoolyard social scene, though for different reasons and in different ways. We want them to see that their feelings are both universal and timeless. We want them to know other people totally understand that schoolyard anxieties can be about more than bullying.
And we want you to participate during BlogHer's Tales of the Schoolyard series. Surely you have a story or two from your past about being isolated, taunted, or picked on -- or about crushing, bullying, or sticking up for yourself or a friend?
You can comment and share your schoolyard memories on this post, because that makes for great conversation -- you won't believe how many readers might identify with your Can I Sit With You? experiences. I'd also like to invite you to share your longer stories as posts on BlogHer or on your own site. Just leave a link here in the comments.
Jennifer and I will use the comments to keep tabs on your stories, and we'll take the best ones -- good or bad or totally conflicted -- and publish them both on the Can I Sit With You? blog, and in the third, forthcoming Can I Sit With You? book (we have already published two collections: Can I Sit With You? and Can I Sit With You Too?). Contributors will be helping on a whole other level as well: we donate all book sale proceeds -- 100% -- to SEPTAR, a not-for-profit supporting families of children with special needs.
Here are three of our favorite Can I Sit With You? stories, to jump start your wayback-to-school musings:
- SJ Alexander: All's Fair in Love and Mucus
- Michael Procopio: The Sound of Musicals
- Sabrina Enayatulla: If it Wasn't for Caller ID, I'd Still Be Dialing Strong
This is a chance for catharsis and community all in one tidy blog post. What more could you want? And what are you waiting for? What are you -- chicken?
Happy writing and reminiscing!
Shannon Des Roches Rosa
Squidalicious.com parenting first, autism second
CanISitWithYou.org real tales of schoolyard terror and triumph
Blogher.com contributing editor, parenting children with special needs
Thinkingautismguide.com The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism
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