So, we’ve struggled through six days of the new term.
It’s been a long six days. Until yesterday I was serenaded, and yes that is sarcasm, by yells cries and screaming from 7.30 am until I dropped her off just before 9 when magically all would be silent as the actuality of school loomed.
However, there had been no after-school meltdowns, so I was quietly confident that the new term had started well. M hasn’t really told me anything about any of the last six days, but neither has she ranted and raved. Until today.
I had no idea what caused the upset this afternoon but one very grouchy wee girl came home, and found fault with every single thing. I swear I was even breathing the wrong way. In a rare calm moment we had a cuddle and I asked if anything had upset her at school. She said no.
OK then, what next? I had made sure she had a snack and a big drink, as I find hunger or thirst amplifies any sensory behaviour. And then I left her to it as my eldest boy was returning to school this evening and I wanted to be sure everything was ready for the taxi.
I hate saying goodbye to my boy, and it is never easy after the long summer break; today I had tears in my eyes. M came to give me a hug. “He’ll be back on Friday Mumma, that’s not long, don’t be sad”. She was patting my back as she said this, just like I have done to her and her siblings on numerous occasions. So sweet.
Then she stated that she needed to go for a walk. “On the beach please”. I decided that dinner was fine as it was in the oven so off we went. No one else wanted to come so we headed off together.
M found a piece of slate and insisted on carrying it around with her. She wrote her name in the sand with it, made up stories about it, and lovingly washed it in the sea a few times. She does get quite attached to inanimate objects, especially stones, so a slate was a variation on a theme.
Towards the rock pools we found 2 sets of new steps leading up from the beach to the caravan park; I say new but I haven’t been up that end of the beach all summer so they might have been there a while. M decided we would “have an adventure” so up we went.
Apparently we were fighting our way through lions and tigers in a jungle until we got to the top. The slate had (I think) become a weapon at this point.
We headed along the beach path for a while back towards the house until M got concerned about the amount of tall grasses tickling her legs and we headed home via the caravan park and the road.
On the way back I thanked her for comforting me when I was upset earlier by R leaving. She answered that she used to get upset but “now I keep it in here” (pointing at her chest). I asked why. “So’s I can be happy, I don’t like being sad. And you shouldn’t be sad either Mumma, R is coming back and then you’ll see him.”
And then I got it. I am almost certain that there was nothing wrong at school today. She was upset because she knew R was leaving. And she didn’t cling onto his legs and wail and scream like she has done in the past – no, she “kept it inside” BUT she was still upset enough for the upset to seep out of her before he left. I thought it was the walk in the fresh air that had settled her but now I think it was the act of waving him off; it became an absolute and not an abstract that was too difficult to process. And she was, I think, trying to tell me that she was processing it all, working through her emotions.
But I wasn’t listening well enough. Not at first anyway.