September 24, 2007
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. Aiigh! What to do?
Well, we don't know what most people would do, but we've decided to take action. We want to help our kids. We want to give them 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 angst is both universal and timeless. We want them to know that other people totally understand.
So, we are asking you to send us your most memorable stories about surviving, succeeding, or sucking it up while dealing with the other kids at school. We're going to post one of your stories on this blog every week day, starting October 1st. We'll keep posting as long as the stories keep coming.
Once we've got at least twenty good stories, we'll compile them into a book, which will be called (duh) "Can I Sit With You?" You'll be able to buy the book via Lulu.com in mid-November, at which point you can crow to your friends and relatives about your success as a published writer. (And convince everyone you've ever known to buy one as a holiday gift.)
The catch? Well, we're not going to pay you. Heh. Didn't we mention that? Sorry. We're hoping that the glory of your name in pixels and print will be compensation enough to donate your writing to some kids who could really use it, in more ways than one: the books' proceeds will directly benefit our local, income-challenged special needs PTA, SEPTAR. (Here's where we mention that we're both parents of special needs as well as typical kids, and on the board of said PTA.) If nothing else, you'll have a warm, do-gooder feeling in your belly, and an ISBN# under your belt.
We're hoping to get a lot of good, very different stories. We'd especially appreciate autism and other special needs perspectives, but we want whatever you've got ... to get off your chest.
Come on! Everyone's doing it. You know you want to. Please don't make us snitch on you for not sharing.
-Shan & Jen
P.S. If you have a great story to submit, thank you! Please check out our cheeky yet legally binding submission guidelines.