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Mom Friends -- Here We Go Again

Laylee's switching schools next year. She tested into an advanced program that suits her special needs perfectly. I'm not talking about her hearing loss. No, Laylee's REAL special needs are her desires to read chapter books during recess, conduct science experiments for fun, give class presentations at all times, and invent her own secret languages with painstaking detail.

I think it would be fun in our family Christmas letter next year to just write, “Laylee has transferred to a new school that will be more adequate to address her special needs.” That way people can interpret it however they want. Does she have a learning disability? Is it because of her hearing aids? I get so sick of braggy waggy holiday cards that I'd totally love to send one out that made our family sound like we were ambiguously average, bordering on down-trodden. “Magoo (5) falls down a lot but doesn't seem much affected by the repeated head trauma. Dan does his best to make it to work as often as possible. We are hopeful that Wanda will take to walking and other forms of physical exercise in the coming year. She is dreadfully out of shape.” But that's for another post, a few months from now.

With the new school will come the need for new friends. I'm not really worried about Laylee's ability to find birds of a feather. She's going into second grade in a class full of kids with similar interests and temperaments. I think she'll do just fine. She always does.

But what about me? Mom Friends are pretty crucial and I'm feeling sort of blah about starting the whole process over again. At her current school I've made friends volunteering in the classroom, working on the PTA, attending church and sitting around the soccer field. I know many of the families in our neighborhood and I'm comfortable. If I need to swap rides to a school event, I dial someone up and I'm covered. Sitting at a school function, my friends and I plot ways we can let the kids participate in the school talent show with as little parental work as possible. We talk about the teachers -- which ones would be best suited to which child and how to work with each one in a way that would be most productive.

My Mom Friends give me confidence, fill me in on all the information I need to know and help me feel comfortable as I navigate my way around the school. They know my kids and look out for them if I'm not around.

The new school is planning a picnic for perspective students and their families to come and meet each other. It's a potluck thing and if it were at our current school I'd have no shortage of people to talk to or things to talk about but at the new school I'm a bit nervous.

From what I've heard it's a pretty tight-knit group of parents and teachers. They all know each other and don't do a lot of outreach at this event. I picture my family sitting alone, nibbling on appetizers and smiling hopefully while everyone else mills around happily chatting and catching up.

Last night Dan mentioned that we should be the ones to reach out even if we are the new kids. I'm sure he's right but I'm still not looking forward to those first meetings, the grinning and handshaking and asking about each other's children, the trying to remember everyone's name, forgetting and then having to ask for them again. It's like a strange sort of courtship, convincing other moms that you're not totally nuts so they'll feel comfortable sending their children over to your house for play dates and group assignments, asking for phone numbers and hoping they remember you when you call them.

All of this worry has made me think about the parents at Laylee's current school who may feel alone or out of the loop. I'm generally too busy with my Mom Friends to notice them but I'm sure they're there. Maybe this will be good for me, this sudden need to put effort into these relationships if I want them to happen. The chance to see things from an outsider's perspective may be what I need to step outside my comfort zone and invite others in.

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