My 8 year old is a stunner. Even if I do say so myself.
Actually, it isn’t just me who thinks it – everyone comments on what a lovely face he has.
He looks Scandinavian: blue eyes, chiselled jaw and white-blond hair.
He has always hated his hair. He once told me he wished he could paint it. When I asked him why he said because he wanted to be like everybody else.
I, on the other hand, have always loved it. I would repeatedly tell him how lovely it was and how handsome he was, but it fell on deaf ears.
That was until we moved back to Sweden. Now, he is just like everyone else. They all have white-blond hair (well, not all, but near enough) and he now fits in just perfectly.
I commented on this to him the other day. He smiled. A smile that said, yes you are right mum. A smile tinged with relief. He fitted in.
I always knew that he was more Swedish than he was English. I can’t really put into words why but it wasn’t just his physical appearance. He just seemed out of place in the UK, like he wasn’t quite a match. Always on the periphery, but never totally included.
He is a wary little thing (not shy, no, just wary) and not very open. But in the two weeks since he has been at school, I have seen a shift. Almost unnoticeable and not quite tangible, but a shift none-the-less. Maybe a shift that only a mum could see?
He goes to school with a smile on his face and he comes home with one, too.
And tomorrow, he is having a friend over for tea. That’s a big deal in our house. He has only ever had one other child come for tea and she was his best friend for years. In fact, he only ever had two real friends in the whole time he was at school in the UK. He doesn’t seem to make friends very easily but when he does, it is with every fibre of his being, so much so that he doesn’t feel the need to have other friends.
He told me that the teachers here help him and that he likes it. He gets special help with his Swedish and his level of English is obviously way above his peers, so has separate lessons for that. He usually hates having attention drawn to him, doesn’t like being the odd one out, but here, it seems almost like a badge of honour for him. He actually seems to be relishing the attention, for the first time in his life.
I guess he feels worthy and valued. Things he never felt in the UK due to over-subscribed classes and an under-staffed school. He was neglected and over-looked repeatedly. The middle-of-the-road achiever who never stepped out of line. Totally and utterly let down by the people that should have been nurturing him, lifting him to reach his full potential, recognising his individuality.
In less than two weeks, the school here has managed to do all of the things that they couldn’t in the UK.
And this is why we came back.