Be Careful What You Wish For…
For what seems an eternity now my 10-year-old daughter, Georgie, has been counting down the days to her four-day school trip to France. She’s had a couple of happy weekends away in the last year or so (fun residential courses at Kilve Court near Bridgwater), but this was always going to be “THE BIG ONE”.
I had mixed emotions about it. I wasn’t even sure she ought to go to be honest. Georgie has social communication issues – that’s the Ed.Psych’s description of it anyway and I guess she must know what she’s talking about. It basically boils down to the fact that Georgie has low self-esteem and problems expressing and controlling her emotions. If she gets angry – and she gets angry quite often – there’s not much getting through to her until her adrenaline level tails off and you can get close enough to hug and reassure her. It’s scary for her, being so out of control, and it’s caused more than the odd sleepless night of worry for her parents too.
So on the one hand I worried that I wouldn’t even be in the same country if she had an “episode”. But on the other – and it makes me feel bad even writing this – the thought of having four days of peace, four days when I wouldn’t be on tenterhooks around her mood swings, when I could let out the breath I always seem to be holding around her, was undeniably tempting.
I’m sure it’s perfectly normal for me to feel that way but I still feel guilty that I do. Let’s file it away with all my other character flaws, to be taken out at regular intervals for a good flogging, yeah?
Anyway, the school has been incredibly supportive of us and they thought it would be good for Georgie to go on the French trip, so today the day finally arrived and and off we set at sparrow’s fart to meet the coach outside the school.
At which point, of course, I stopped looking forward to four days of peace and wished I could hug her to me and keep her close. I smiled with forced cheer, as only a mother knows how, and told her what a great time she was going to have and how quickly the time was going to pass and that she’d be back home before she knew it – I wasn’t sure if I was jabbering away to reassure her or myself to be honest but she rolled her eyes at me and laughed and jabbered nonsense back at me.
The coach arrived, the luggage was stowed, teachers counted heads (in English and French, just to be sure) and all of a sudden the moment was upon us. Georgie hugged me tight and looked up at me nervously. And all of a sudden this small person, who so often seems hell-bent on shouting at, hitting, hating and damaging the people and things around her, was just my little girl, who needed her mum’s love and reassurance as she embarked on this scary adventure. A little lump lodged in my throat.
I held it together as she got on the coach. She took a window seat and smiled down at me with a small, brave wave. The coach hung around interminably, even when everyone was on board. Just go! I kept thinking. Go, before I crack. I kept watching and smiling at her, waving cheerfully, and she sat there, her smile looking smaller with each passing moment.
And then I saw her dash a tear away with the back of her hand. Her little face crumpled momentarily, she tried to smile again, but more tears were coming and she was using both hands now to swipe them from her wet cheeks.
And the coach pulled away.
The lump in my throat as I write this is choking me and I don’t mind admitting that I’m wiping away a tear or two myself.
She’ll be fine. Of course she’ll be fine. She’ll have a great trip. She’ll be so busy the time will fly. She’ll be home before I know it.
And I know now that when I was jabbering away to her earlier it really was more for my benefit than hers. I love her to bits and knowing that makes me feel a bit less guilty for not coping with her problems sometimes. And I know, despite all the heartache and worry and stress which sometimes seem overwhelming, that I’ll be much more careful what I wish for in future.