My ten year old went away with school on a three day residential and it is safe to say that they were the longest three days of my life. Oh my godfathers. It doesn’t matter how many times I have been through this before with my older two, this is one thing that never gets any easier let me tell you. I missed her like crazy. Well, we all did in fact. It’s funny how the dynamics of our whole family change when one of them is away. The house just felt so quiet without her. And I wouldn’t mind, but she isn’t even one of the noisy ones!
It was a big deal for her to go away with school. She really is a sensitive little thing and as much as we tried to prepare her for the trip, I couldn’t help but be worried. Of course I worry about all four of them in a thousand different ways over a thousand different things every single day but I can’t help but worry about her in a different way to my others. The word sensitive gets bandied about all too easily these days but when I say that she is a sensitive little soul, I mean it in its truest form. (I found a great article here about highly sensitive children if you want to take a look which basically sums her up to a tee!)
The thing with parenting a sensitive child is that sometimes it feels like you are the only one to really understand them. And going away with school meant that I worried that she would be lost in a sea of thirty children. As you can imagine, the thought of her being worried or anxious when we’re not there to comfort her made me feel sick to my stomach. But and it’s a big but, it is also our job as parents to prepare her for the big wide world. It would have been easy for us to say no to this trip but I was determined that she wouldn’t miss out on the experience. It is our job to guide her and help her find ways to cope with situations like this. Being sensitive is just who she is. I wouldn’t change her for all the macarons in Paris. But it is important that we teach her how to survive as it were in a world that doesn’t understand her sensitivities.
To help her prepare for this trip we talked through all the things that she would be doing while she was away in great detail. We took a (long!) drive out to show her exactly where the train station was and the place that they would be staying and I think this really helped her. She doesn’t like ‘surprises’ she likes to know exactly what is happening and when. At school too, they had a question box for the kids to ask the teachers questions about the trip in the run up which was a great idea. Obviously, this was the first time that many of them had been away. But this was especially great for her. I think she popped a new question in that box just about every day! Ha!
So when I packed her away on Monday, it really wasn’t a case of knowing that she would be fine. It was a big deal for her and us. It really could have gone either way. So you can imagine my absolute joy when on that first night they posted on their class blog. There were lots of photos of their first day of adventures and there she was, grinning her little head off. Oh the relief! I actually cried big fat happy tears I’m not going to lie. The thing is that she doesn’t do ‘fake’ smiles not even for photographs. If she smiles, it is because she is one hundred percent happy. And these weren’t just smiles they were huge big grins! I was so so proud of her. So so happy that she was enjoying this trip with her friends. And so it went on for the whole three days right up until we collected her (still smiling!) yesterday afternoon. And we celebrated her return with a welcome home cake almost as big as her. What can I say, I bake away my worries. The cake just kept on getting bigger and bigger…
I will never quite get my head around how my own happiness is so tightly knit with the happiness of my children. All four of them of course. What is that saying about making the decision to have children is deciding to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body? It is so bloody true.