Today Angel was going on a school trip. They have been going to a farm every week for the last month. It's quite a drive (1.5hrs each way) and a long day as they don’t get back to school til 5pm. Hubby has been going on the trips but couldn't today and I couldn't go either. We told Angel Dad couldn't go on the weekend before the trip and she said she wouldn't go if he couldn’t. I talked about the film we had just watched in which a character says sometimes it's good to be brave and challenge ourselves and that maybe if she went, she will feel pleased after.
Angel - Well, how are you going to make me go?
Me - Umm, I could say ‘no telly’ this weekend (she only gets telly on the weekend during term time) but I don’t want to make you go. I want to find a way that feels OK for you to go .
Angel - I know you're going to make me go.
Me - What could we do that would make it feel better to go? What about if I text your teacher and let him know that you are feeling wobbly about it and see if you can sit with him on the way to the farm and stay close to him?
She agreed that would be a good idea and her teacher texted back and said ‘absolutely fine’ and tell Angel he would look after her.
I was still ambivalent though, and struggling to know the right thing to do. It was especially hard as she hasn’t been having the easiest time in school with a friend recently.
I said to Angel that maybe we should just wait and see how we all felt in the morning. I talked it through with hubby after she went to bed and we agreed that we wouldn’t make a decision until we saw how Angel was the next day.
Actually, this morning she was pretty cheery and when we talked about going she said something about taking a toy, before saying that she didn’t want to go. I took that as my cue that she was going to be able to manage it and moved forward accordingly.
The thing with Angel is there is very little pretence, maybe because we established early on that all feelings are acceptable and OK. I know people reading this may be thinking she just didn't want to go to school or was being manipulative because she wanted daddy to go with her but she doesn't do that kind of manipulation and on the odd occasion when she does, it's been so blatantly obvious that we’ve both burst out laughing.
I think we’ve also set up an environment where she is heard and taken seriously so she’s never had to invent things to get our attention.
She seemed pretty OK when she left with hubby to get dropped off but he called me on the way back to say she had cried a lot and didn't want to get on the minibus. We have a long conversation about whether he should have just let Angel come home. I am really upset to think of her being upset and I suddenly get what it’s about as we discuss that it only really started when she had to get on the minibus.
It’s about the driving away. I think about all the times she was driven away from one life to the next and I get it completely and utterly. I feel devastated. I wish we had listened to her and let her stay home. Hubby is pretty shook up too and says, ‘I just can’t wait for the day to end so we can go get her’. I love hubby so much. I text her teacher. He texts back, ‘she is fine now’. I think, yeah of course she’s fine now, she knows how to shore herself up. World class at it! Doesn’t mean she’ll be fine later!
I realise I’m a bit angry lol. I think it’s triggered off some stuff for me as I have some guilt around a work trip I went on that was too long and too far for both of us (8 days in Thailand). Ever since I went on this trip when she was five, Angel has had this thing about me driving away. She’s fine if I’m going to the tube but if I’m getting into a taxi, she gets really upset….. like I’m leaving forever.
Dad and I go to the school to pick her up together. She is really pleased to see us both there. She wants to go to the park to let off steam. She always needs to do something physical if she has been stressed. I ask about the day; ‘Terrible’. I say that I’m sorry we made her go and I think maybe it was driving some place far without us that was stressful because of all the times she had to leave people and places behind, when she was little. She listens intently and ‘umms’ and ‘yeahs’, moving with intent towards the park, like a pent up horse pulling against the bit. When we get there she says, ‘Let's play hide and seek’. Funny she picks that game, like reconfirming she doesn't have to see me, to know I am there.
On our walk home, having given her some undivided attention, I extrapolate that even though leaving had been hard, the day had actually been pretty cool. She built a chicken coup, drilled and sawed and was rather pleased with herself.
We still let her have the next day off though. Being close to us always allows her to recalibrate and it felt like she needed it. We talked to the SENCO at school who called it, ‘a heart day’. Love that… think we could all do with a heart day sometimes (-;