Dear Mum in the Playground,
I am writing to ask you if you could please stop your whispering and pointing and giggling with your friends, while clearly talking about me and my family with your friends when you see us in the playground. Do you really think I haven't noticed? Not only can I see you, I can hear you, I'm not stupid and I'm very observant. You also need to remember that I have 4 children, and sometimes my children hear you as they walk up behind you, they too have ears, and are not stupid. I know you're gossiping about us, and I'm sure you have nothing better to talk about than me and my children, and I suppose I should be flattered, but actually I'm just annoyed.
Yes, Rowan is in a wheelchair, and yes he has a tube coming out the bottom of his T-Shirt sometimes. Does it really warrant a point and a whisper, so that all your friends look and stare, and then all go back to whispering. Honestly, it used to happen in the playground and I'm sure we're all a little old for playground games and gossiping aren't we? Maybe you have nothing better to do with your time than gossip? Why don't you come and talk to me, say 'Hi', smile, 'good morning' or even something as mundane as mentioning the weather. Or if you want to know what that dangly thing out the bottom of his T-Shirt is, come and ask me, it may make your gossip not only factual, but also perhaps a little juicier.
I know you think you're better than me, and that's fine, you probably are. I know I'm stood there in my trainers, hoody and jeans, no make up, hair scraped back, but I just don't have time to spend putting on make up. I wish I did sometimes. Between getting up, and getting to school I have done about 100 things. You're lucky I remember to actually get dressed myself. And by the time I pick the kids up, I am ready to throw the towel in. Can you imagine doing the school run in high heels, it's a mile walk each way by the way, not to mention all up hill to get there. Not only that but we have 3 school runs a day to do. Between those school runs I have performed more medical processes that most nurses. Between medications and therapies, and popping to appointments, I also have to remember to get that TPN out the fridge, and make sure we have something for dinner. Only, I have to make sure I have enough for 2 seperate dinners, sometimes 3. I have cleaned my bathroom and done 2 loads washing. I have washed up several times, and swept my kitchen floor, twice. Can you imagine doing that in heels and pair of expensive trousers or with my hair down, leaning over the toilet?
I know you think I have the 'weird kids' and I know you didn't invite Cameron to your son's birthday party because he's the 'weird' kid. I also know you invited every other boy in Cameron's class. Do you not think your child over hears you when you talk about my son? Do you not think that hurts Cameron? Do you not think he wants to know why he can't come? Maybe I should send him over to ask you. But I won't, because I don't want his heart broken. I won't tell him that he hasn't been invited because he's THAT kid in class, the one that no one knows what to do with. But you know what? If you take away the speech delay, and you take away the diet, and you add a few inches to his height, he's EXACTLY the same as your child. You know, your child plays with my child in the playground. They play football, they play tag, your child doesn't see Cameron as the 'weird kid' he sees him as Cameron. Maybe you should learn from that. If you just talk to me, you may find we're not so different at all, and if you talk to me, that diet isn't so scary when you find out that you don't actually have to make any extra effort as I'll do that for you, for him, so he can be treated like everyone else. And you know what? His speech delay won't affect you either, because it's highly unlikely he'll even talk to you! But nevermind, I will make up some excuse for your behaviour, maybe your child was only allowed to invite a certain amount of children, maybe your child forgot Cameron, there are so many boys afterall! Maybe they are going to go and do something that Cameron doesn't like. But he knows. He's not stupid.
I know you think my children are 'babies'. I heard you say it. Yes, occasionally Cameron does go into class crying in a morning, and sometimes he will cry when I pick him up. Yes, sometimes when I pick Cameron up from school he runs and hugs me so tight it's like he'll never see me again. Yes, sometimes Katrina is screaming that she hates me, in a morning, and other mornings she's a perfect angel. Yes, she too sometimes is so excited to see me, and will scream 'Mummy' as she comes out of her class, and run and give me a big hug. My children show their emotions. Cameron goes into school crying because he knows he's not going to see Mummy for a few days, while she's in hospital with Rowan. Katrina screams my name and runs towards me and hugs me because for once I made it out of hospital on the day we were supposed to, and it's a huge shock. Sometimes Katrina shouts she hates me, because she's not been able to go to her friends house, or is missing out on something, because of Rowan. You see life is hard in our house. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, and situations and things move so fast that they often can't keep up. Sometimes they need those quick tight hugs, to hold on. Sometimes Cameron cries because he can't hold the tears in anymore. My children have see more and been through more than yours have, and I hope ever will.
My children, all of them, know all about TPN and Hickman Lines, Gastrostomy tubes and Jejunostomy tubes. I bet at least one of my child knows how to put the feeding tubes back in. My children know what a line safety pack is, and what a blood sugar machine is. They all know what those are. They know what food contains gluten, and what doesn't. They know all about growth hormone injections, and how to work various pumps. My children have a kind of knowledge I wish they hadn't. My 4 year old thinks a baby drinks a bottle through it's belly button. That is normal for him, much in the same way your toddler thinks a bottle or breast is normal. That doesn't mean they are 'weird kids' it just means they have a little more to deal with, and maybe they'd appreciate a touch of normality every now and again.
I know you're dying to know what's 'wrong' with Rowan. You stare at him in his wheelchair, you point and whisper, you stare at me, as I leave him in the wheelchair to help Ayden play on the equipment. I am not a bad mother, he can move that chair himself when he wants to. You look at me as he screams. He is having a tantrum, just like every other 3 year old, only he has the added problem of being anxious, and you know what, he's not stupid either, he notices everyone staring at him. I know you comment on the 'baby'. And I'll forgive your ignorance. I'll let you off the fact you KNOW how old he is if you REALLY think about it, because he was the 'baby who couldn't even eat properly' 2 years ago, remember that one? When all the children in the playground were taunting Katrina? I know you know, I saw you there, saying nothing, staring.
When we were kids we were taught to treat people how we want to be treated. I'm guessing you forgot that. I guess you also forgot that you shouldn't say anything if you can't say something nice. I'm not even asking you to talk to me. Infact I'd rather you didn't. Or maybe I would talk to you, entertain your probing questions so at least when you gossip it's fact and not fiction, but it would be for my children's benefit. Not yours or mine. I also can't be doing with the two faced stuff. Amazing how when you're on your own and not in a group you suddenly attempt the niceties. What is it, an attention seeking behaviour in the playground? Like to be the centre of the group. Good for you. If it makes you happy.
You see, amidst my panic attacks, and my tears, and the breakdowns I have while standing in that playground while you stare and whisper and point, I notice things too. I overhear things too, when I turn up a little early and it's just you and I in the playground and you are on the phone. Or when you go and have a quiet word with the teacher. You see your life is not so perfect either is it? And we're not so different afterall, just I learnt better manners. I know you go to the same mental health place I do, I heard you on the phone, and I saw you trying to sneak into the toilet while I was waiting outside. Unlike you, I don't judge people. Rather than be embarrased about it, remember you're doing something about your problems. Just like I am. You see your child who is lashing out at you, is showing his emotions, just like my children show theirs. And while you do your hair and your make up, and put on your expensive clothes and look down your nose at me, underneath it all you're just as anxious, and lost as I am in the world.
I'm not asking you to change your ways, I know that's too much to ask. I'm just asking you to think twice about what you're doing and what you're saying, and who you are saying it infront of. If you want to gossip, and make things up, knock yourself out. But please don't do it around your children, or mine. If it makes you feel a little bit more superior, and a little bit happier, then I'm pleased for you. But just remember, one day it will come to bite you on the arse, it's called Karma. I wouldn't wish my life on anyone. It's not always a bed of Roses, I have been in situations, and seen things, that I would never wish on my worst enemy. But at the same time, it's taught me to ignore people like you with their comments, it's taught me to appreciate the little things in life. So while my children are giving me that hug, holding on to their world, I also appreciate it, that they are still able to show me affection, and they aren't scared to tell their Mummy they love her infront of everyone. I hope you do end up with your perfect life, I really do. I don't want a perfect life, I don't want perfect children. I want MY life, with MY children. Because that is exactly how my life is supposed to be. In our house, we're all weird, in our house, we all fit, in our house, everyone is weird, and everyone fits.
Unlike in your life, where my children don't 'fit', in my life, everyone fits, because there is no such thing as a mould, or a slot where they should be. You'd fit too, if you wanted to. One day those friends of yours will realise, that gossip you heard at Campbell House, meant that you were at Campbell House too. Maybe they already have, and gossip about you and your children behind your back, infact they probably do. But you won't see me joining them, as my children are far too important to me. I used to like being the centre of attention too, I liked having lots of friends, but I learnt the hard way that 99% of those 'friends' are just using you for entertainment and when you really truely need a friend, you don't really have any. I hope you never find that out, or maybe one day it happens to you, and you will remember me in that playground, and think twice. Maybe there will be a moment, when I am the one that offers you that tissue as you meltdown while waiting to see someone at Campbell House. Maybe there won't, but the difference between you and I, is that I would offer you that tissue, I would return your child if s/he runs out the school gates, I would pick up that bookbag if you dropped it while juggling children and bags and lunchboxes. I would never alienate one of your children because of something that might mean I have to put a little bit of an effort into. And I would never gossip about you, or about the things I overheard. I was once where you are now, and I got hurt, very very hurt. And things never did get better, not yet anyway. So while you're laughing and talking and staring at my expense, all I feel for you is pity.
I hope, that whatever you say or do in your life, makes you and your children happy. And I hope you never have to go through the things that I have been through. While I have learnt life's lessons the hard way, I have also learnt the beauty of people and situations that you never will. I have met genuine people who care about my family, not people who use me for entertainment. I know people who would be there for me in a crisis. And while my friendship ring may be absolutely tiny compared to yours, I learnt what a friendship is really about. Trust, Honesty, Openness, Acceptance. These are things my children have learnt already.
Everyone is completely different, yet the same.
So, I will no doubt see you in playground this week, whispering and looking, pointing and giggling. And I will carry on, giving my children hugs, wearing my trainers, with my hoody and my hair scraped back, thanking someone somewhere, that we're not in your shoes, and feeling lucky, and appreciating the moment.
I hope one day, you see someone else like yourself, and remember.
From, your source of entertainment.