As you may know, my son was away on a 5 day school residential trip to Ironbridge last week. We all missed him, however it was my daughter who seemed to miss him the most, much to our surprise. She’d got upset every morning he was away and we had to print a photo out of him so that she could take it in to school with her, I think she may have even slept with it one night! Yesterday he came back, and my daughter had made him a very cute welcome home poster that she stuck to a window in our living room and we’d also made him some cupcakes with letters spelling out ‘welcome home!’ in sprinkles. There had been lots of lovely updates and photos from the teachers that had been posted on Twitter throughout the week, and it looked as though they had had an amazing time. Great weather, lots of fun activities and day trips out and most importantly all the kids (and teachers 😉 ) had smiles on their faces.
Despite it actually being quite nice to spend time with just my daughter, and despite it being heavenly not to have to deal with Xbox anger every day, the house really hadn’t felt the same without him – it was as if a part of the jigsaw puzzle was missing. So when Friday rolled around, we were all proper excited at the prospect of him coming home. Now, I am by no means naive. I knew full well he’d be absolutely knackered – he’s a bugger to get to sleep at the best of times let alone if he’s sharing a room with 4 of his mates. – so I expected some degree of narkiness from him. But what I didn’t expect was to feel so bloody upset and angry within about 2 minutes of him getting off the coach!
We stood there and watched as the kids got off the coach and as we made our way to the school hall to get them signed out properly, he grunted something incomprehensible at me. OK fair do’s he’s tired and he’s carrying a sick hat, clearly he’s not feeling well, I’ll leave it – pick your battles and all that. But when I watched as all the other kids were hugging their parents and it looked all so lovely like some kind of Walton’s reunion, it made me start to well up. Why was my child not doing that? Had he not missed us? Were we really such bad parents that he’d rather have stayed in Ironbridge? How had we raised such an emotionless monster?
After we’d got home, he’d gone to the loo and had settled himself on the sofa, he calmed down a bit. But having had a week without screens, his very first question was “can I go on my Xbox?”. To which the answer was no. Followed by a “can I watch TV?”. To which the answer was also no. He stropped a bit and then went to empty his bag and got a bit more chatty about some of the stuff he had done. This was more like it, this was what I was after. He suddenly stopped himself as he was running through some of the stuff he had bought with his spending money – it mainly consisted of sweets, food and drink (no surprise there!) – but bless him he had bought us all a present. However, as he went to pull them out of his suitcase he realised that two of them had got broken in transit. Nothing too major, they were some plaster hanging decorations; a dolphin for his dad, a star for me and a duck for his sister. One of the points of the star had snapped off and the duck had been beheaded. It was nothing that couldn’t be fixed, but it was as if it was the end of the world. Full on meltdown, tears, shouting, kicking, the works.
This rollercoaster of emotions continued throughout the evening; when we told him to go to bed early, when he sat on the whoopeee cushion he’d got for his birthday only a week before popped because he sat on it too hard, when we told him he couldn’t have a cake after he’d done his teeth. He was flipping between this knackered, shell of a boy to this raging hulk of angry energy and the rest of us were left wondering what the hell was going on. My daughter got really upset, she’s a sensitive soul and hates seeing other people get upset and angry, and that made me get upset. We’d been desperate for him to come home, and now if we were being completely honest, we kinda wanted him to go away again. Eventually he calmed down and mooched into the room to sit on the bed next to me. He gave me a big cuddle, apologised, said it was because he was tired and that he had missed us. He said he found it hard to control his anger (something we need to work on – tips appreciated please folks), and that he was just feeling sad because since being back it felt like all his things were breaking.
Amazing what lack of sleep can do to a person isn’t it? I’m sat here writing this and I keep checking the time and listening out for movement. Because if he even dares get up before 8am I fully intend to march him right back up there again. Now, I just need to break the news to him that he has to finish his homework on William Morris before the weekend’s over…. or maybe ‘ll get my husband to approach that one.
Here’s a reminder to myself, that even if a scene looks like an episode of the Walton’s, looks can be deceiving. No one is perfect. No family is perfect. No child is perfect. I’m glad my imperfect lot are all back together again 🙂
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