New kid in town

My DH started a new job recently. For 35 years he has worked outdoors in ever changing locations. Scaffolding and crewing hot air balloons. But at this new job he works indoors and in one spot and doing a job he has no experience of. The few days before he was due to start he was as nervous as a kitten.

It took me back to my multiple first days at school. I went to a couple of primary schools in the very early years through house moves. I can remember always feeling a little bit like I was not part of the established gang, not quite fitting in. ( I think now that that was less about being new and more because frankly I'm a bit odd and never will be one of the "cool" kids)

Not cool
Then when it came time to move to secondary my parents chose to send me not to the one closest to my primary school but one a few miles away. Only one other child from my class was going there with me and I didn't really count her among my small group of friends.

The start of the September term came and on the first day mum dropped me off at the gates. It was very quiet. I wandered in through the doors. Was I early? No one was there to greet and organise the new 2nd years ( as we were called then). I was brave and crept around the corridors wondering where everyone else was. And found a teacher who explained that everyone always started an hour later than normal on the first day of the autumn term. This message had gone out to the local "feeder" schools but not to mine. We found my fellow primary classmate lurking nervously in the playground and that kind teacher made sure that when everyone else arrived we were settled properly.

There followed a succession of new starts. It's awful isn't it, having to find out where the toilets are, when its coffee time, who are the nut jobs among the staff or clients, what number to dial to get an outside line, all the while trying desperately to remember a growing list of new names and match them to faces.

And then when I had the children it was a whole other new list of firsts. Walking through the door of the toddler group for the first time- and with DS#1 permanently asleep for the first three (and last four) years of his life I couldn't even pretend to play with him and was left twiddling my thumbs grinning nervously and giving off desperate mad woman vibes.

Playgrounds are the same- full of chatting parents and carers in huddled cliques. Like cocktail parties where you hover atthe edge of a group and laugh in the right places in the hope of being included. Well, worse than cocktail parties 'cause you don't have the benefit of alcohol to steel the nerves!

It strikes me as I type this that people who know me in the "real world" might be baffled by this description of me as shy, nervous, without confidence. The words brash, loud and domineering might spring to mind more readily. But I attribute this outward sign of security and confidence to all those new starts. All those times I had to walk through a new door, start again in a new classroom or office, move to a new house and meet new flat mates and neighbours. It all builds up that armour.

Grinning like a loon
with a new friend
at Britmums Live
My motto is that of the well known drinks company. "what's the worst that could happen?" And yes, along the way I've made faux pas and been mortified. But the world turns and I'm still here and have learnt from my experiences to try and be welcoming and friendly to new faces. Even just a smile can help that new person feel a little bit more relaxed. Britmums Live was a perfect example of that - inside I was wobbling like a jelly - outside grinning like a loon. But it seemed loads of other people felt the same, and we all smiled at each other and made friends.

And as for DH on his first day? He found the toilets, and the kitchen area, didn't break anything or lose any limbs and came home with a spring in his step and a smile on his face looking forward to tomorrow.

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