In a Hand in Hand Parenting Support Group I found myself speaking about my five-year-old daughter’s school and the return of my initial gut feeling that we “had to get her out of there.”
I spoke of how strong the feeling had been six months earlier, at the beginning of the school year, and how I had pushed it down, believing there were no other options open. I cried deeply about the insults and disrespect shown to children in the school environment and expressed my pent up grief loudly. I raged and shouted about the old system not working and cried and cried that having one adult with 23 five-year-olds isn’t right.
During the week following this ten minute session I found myself looking at websites of alternative schools and emailing about a homeschooling cooperative. These beginning action steps had previously not seemed within the realm of possibility.
In a subsequent group listening situation I again found myself speaking, without planning to, about my daughter’s school situation. This time, with the well of feelings already opened, I simply began by crying, sobbing deeply and experiencing strong feelings of grief for my daughter and all the other children, especially the young boys who were sent to the office and made to sit on the bench at recess when they couldn’t sit still in class as expected. I spoke of an unsettling incident I had witnessed and then moved into expressing my rage and protest shouting from the depth of my belly, “These are magnificent little beings and you are stomping on them. NO! I won’t let you. I won’t let you.”
A few days after this, I spoke with ease to my daughter’s father about the subject of considering a different school setting. I had been quite unsure of how he would respond and had put off sharing the depth of my unease about her current school. I was able to speak clearly and assertively about my feelings and what I had witnessed. He was very open to hearing me and shared some common concerns. We have an appointment to tour an alternative free school next week. It’s not yet clear what schooling situation we will choose, but it is clear that there are options available and that we are empowered to make choices from a fully informed perspective.
Having a safe supportive environment available to me allowed deeply buried feelings to surface. The listening that I received helped me to work through some of the trauma I had witnessed and shed feelings of deep sadness and grief at injustice. I suspect that some of that crying was related to my own school experiences as a shy young child. Experiencing and releasing these feelings allowed me to recover my intuitive sense of knowing what does and doesn’t feel right and mobilized me to take action to explore alternatives on my daughter’s behalf.
I have also been considering whether and how it may be possible and/or appropriate for me to contribute to positive changes in her current school. I am deeply grateful for and consistently amazed at the power of attentive listening to enable and support transformation. Nobody gave a word of advice or made any suggestions about how I might proceed. They simply listened with care, which helped unlock the power of my own innate wisdom.
– a Hand in Hand mom