Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Things that might happen...


Early yesterday morning I waved goodbye to teenager for the week as she is on a school trip to France - staying is a chateau, doing various activities such as abseiling and also visiting war graves in Northern France.  She seems to have squeezed most of the contents of her wardrobe into her very heavy suitcase for the four nights she is there, but appears to have forgotten a rather vital accessory - her hairbrush.

Inevitably, I spent the day waiting to hear that they had got there safely.  Texted her on the coach around midday to see how the journey was progressing.  No reply.  Tried again in the afternoon. Still nothing. I knew all must be well as I'd have heard from school if there was a problem.  But kept inventing things that might have happened. Coach crash; abducted at service station; fire in Channel tunnel...Was 7.30 before she eventually got in touch with a brief dismissive text saying her phone had run out of charge on the journey. Mobiles actually makes things worse for the overanxious mother like me.  They give an illusion of security, that you can make contact quickly but then it's frustrating if you can't.

She's 14 now and so I have to let her go off and be independent without pestering her all the time.  But it's tough and not just on occasions like this trip.  A couple of weeks ago on a sunny Sunday afternoon she set out for a ride on her bike around the village with the girls who live next door. Great, I thought, a bit of fresh air and exercise for a change.  So mowed the lawn and half an hour passed.  Still not back though the circular route takes no more than 30 minutes. Went to the supermarket to stop myself stressing, certain they'd be back when I returned.  No.  Took dog for walk across fields and listened out for the usual squealing which indicates their presence.  Nothing.



It was a beautiful afternoon - sun shining, daffodils and blossom.  Attempted to banish negative thoughts and be mindful. Listened to birdsong, but imagining ambulance sirens instead.  Future nightmare scenarios spooled through my mind and I was choosing funeral songs. Visualisation comes easily to me, but only the bad stuff.  Tried instead to visualise her wedding, but failed.

Nearly back home with heavy heart when I heard the telltale squealing behind me.  Three girls with hair streaming behind them and four boys all on bikes. Nice boys, old friends from primary school whose mums I know. They'd met two of them and then called for the others.  Relief swept over me, but hid it well.

The problem is, of course, bad things do happen all the time.  Phoned NZ sister at the weekend and she told me of horrible drowning accident which had occurred on the beach near them.  Was off again, visualising the horror of this poor woman watching her husband rescue her young daughter only to drown himself.  And who could not be moved by the raw grief of the relatives of the passengers on the missing Malaysian aircraft?  I was a bit uncomfortable with the cameras intruding on this.

I'd welcome any advice on how I can stop myself worrying about things that might happen. Or is this just how it's going to be?

7 comments:

  1. Oh yes I empathise - I have that T-shirt. Number Two Daughter went to France in October on a school trip and Number One is off to Munich next week (they're 16 and 13). I just remind myself that they want to do these things, and I can't protect them forever, but it would be a lie to say I don't worry. These are the sneaky little aspects of parenting that they never warn us about!

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    1. One more night to go and then she'll be back. Have stopped worrying so much now they are there. Now just miss her - house much too quiet. Hope you get through next week without too much anxiety

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  2. I recently read a book by Lenore Skenazy: Free range kids (how to raise safe, self-reliant children). I found it a good read as it tackles some of the worst fears head on. It is for the American market but British parents are not that different from American ones. I think. My children are definitely of the free range kind, for example, my 10 year old walks her younger brothers to school, safely. She loves the trust I place in her and honours it always. I do have worries just like you but try to be quite analytical about it, for example I might well check the statistics if I am worried about, lets say, coach crashes. It helps me to evaluate the actual risks that the children are exposed to in their daily lives. I know, this analytical way does not suit everybody but it does help me to keep my fears in check. I also try to remember that children are now safer than ever before. I do get lumps of worry in my tummy, particularly when an outing takes longer than expected. In these cases, I remind myself that when I am enjoying myself, time seems not so important and it passes really quickly. I try to explain my worries to the children because I don't think they have the slightest idea of what parents go through.Teenagers in particular seem to have lost all sense of time. I don't think that bad things happen all the time, I think the media may make it appear so, and quite graphically so, too. You are doing great because you don't stop your daughter from making those all important experiences that will shape her adulthood. Do you talk to your daughter about your worries? Cx

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    1. 'Free range Kids' sounds like a good book. Thanks for taking time to reply. I know all these things logically and that my fears are irrational but it doesn't stop my overactive mind! I have talked to my daughter and she assures me that she is always sensible and careful.

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  3. I hear you. I have an older teenager who has just started going to the pub and discos with his mates. He's hopefully heading to college away from home in September. I guess all we can do is tell them how to keep safe and hope they remember our advice. But it seems only like yesterday since I was a teen, doing all the things which I'm sure worried my parents.

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    1. I think it's because I remember how reckless I was at her age that I worry so much now! I'm not looking forward to the pub/ disco stage. That must be tough.

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  4. I know of a parent from my parenting course who had an (unknown) tracker put in her daughters mobile phone! she would not come home regularly at night, she can now watch where she is going on the tv screen! and see where she goes! I wonder if all phones will have these eventually! My son announced (while already out) he would be staying at an unknown friends after his first gig on Saturday. I eventually managed to get the post code and house phone number. Fortunately the mum sounded quite switched on and knew several people in common, but I still found myself looking on google earth to see where they were! It's tricky, Heather x

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