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The New 'Kid' At School

Being a new face on the playground can be harder for the parent then it is for their kids.

We have all been the new kid at one time or another. Whether it was moving to a new town or beginning kindergarten, college or even a new job, everybody knows what it’s like to start over. Just imagine that feeling though, standing on the playground… as an adult!

I met a great lady this weekend who is just that: “the new kid.” Having moved here a few weeks ago, she’s got two kids at , a husband who’s working full-time and is trying to carve out a place for herself.

She explained to me that it can be hard coming into a tight-knit community like Dedham when you don’t know anyone, especially after having built a close group of friends in her former town.

I started thinking about how I felt when I first moved to Dedham. Andy and I were newly married and, with the exception of a few neighbors, we really didn’t know that many people. When Ben started kindergarten, we slowly began building our Dedham network. Add to that more kids, sports, becoming involved in town events, fundraisers, etc. and before we knew it, we had become bona fide Dedhamites. And I realized how much I had taken it for granted.

When Ben was in first grade at Riverdale, I remember how awkward I felt doing the morning drop-off. I was working full-time in Boston and therefore my husband who worked at Nobles knew the lay of the land at the elementary school much better than I did.

It was our first year there and not being too familiar with the morning playground etiquette, I stood by myself for the most part unless I saw someone (thankfully) that I knew. I would see all the friendly Moms and Dads who did this everyday and I was jealous.

Over the years, as my job moved to a home office and I met more people through the kids’ activities, I found myself much more comfortable when I did drop-off or pick-up, as I had now become just another one of the Moms and Dads at the school.

Oh, the irony… as much as we look back on those junior high cliques with horror, we tend to find ourselves recreating them as adults! Granted, now they are not because of hairstyles or social status (and happily, no horrible ‘80s fashions to go with them), but still they are there.

If you’re a member of the Parental In-Crowd, you don’t even realize they exist: it’s only those on the outside who feel them.

So join me here: the next time you see a Mom or a Dad standing alone at drop-off or pick-up, remember what it was like to be the new kid and make sure to introduce yourself. Invite them to a school event, join a committee or just to enjoy a cup of coffee the next morning as you watch the kids tear through the playground. I know that the 2006 Alex would have really appreciated that.

As for the 1984 clique-despising Alex, well, she’s just glad that leg warmers aren’t in fashion anymore.

Lisa Moran September 21, 2011 at 01:23 PM
Then you would be proud of me Alex...last night was our Open House at Avery & I was the PTO speaker. Every year when I speak, I invite ALL of the new members of the school (thus those parents who know no one) to stand...not to embarrass them, but so we can welcome them (with applause!) and so that everyone knows who they are and can begin to welcome them with open arms. I also say something to that affect.....I do that at all of my dance / pageant competitions as well. It's very important to feel welcomed and part of the group....and not just when we are kids!! Good article....but I "loved" the 80's fashion!! lol Lisa
Alex Shumway September 21, 2011 at 05:51 PM
I'm so glad! Honestly, I have also been guilty of just hanging out with the parents that I know and not looking around enough...but going that extra mile to make sure that they get to know people, like you did lastnight, is huge. Kids tend to get over that "new kid-ness" a lot more quickly than parents do!
Jennifer Barsamian September 29, 2011 at 05:57 AM
Nice one, Alex!

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