There's a kind of hush, all over the world, sang The Carpenters. Well, there's a kind of hush in our house at the moment. There's a distinct lack of meltdowns and major tantrums, no screaming like a banshee, no horrible language, no hitting. As rollercoasters go, we're in the dip. We have a chance to take a breather.
It changed a few weeks back after what I affectionately like to call The Big Weekend. Two events happened that weekend - Missy's birthday and Brownie Camp.
At first we decided that Missy would only attend Brownies during the Saturday daytime. We felt a sleepover was too soon, particularly one that wasn't at a family members house. Anyway, we had her birthday as an excuse and told her we had things planned, like grandma coming over. But then her best friend joined Brownies and best friend was going for the whole shebang, for both nights. Missy begged me to let her stay over. So, we ummed and ahhed and digested and cogitated and decided that, if she really wanted to, Missy could go for one night. Two nights just wouldn't work anyway, what with her birthday. She was over the moon.
Then the build up started. Missy had already been overly excited for her birthday since the beginning of the year. I'm not joking. She's already talking about what she wants to do next year and who might come along! Then the meltdowns started, about three weeks before the weekend. Worry at bedtime, screaming at the top of her voice, meltdowns, trashing her room, anxiety to the nth degree, backchat, threats, hitting, biting, throwing things at me. You know what, I can't even describe it. I'm sure other adopters will get the picture. Maybe think of a feral cat angry at being caged up. We knew what the anxiety was about - birthday and her first sleepover without us there. She cried that she wouldn't get a cuddle or hug from us at Camp, we knew she'd be worried about finding the toilets at night, worry about would we miss her. She even asked if we would have a celebration party when she came home. We tried our best to be therapeutic, talk about every scenario, talk about what we'd do when she came home. I had a word with Brown Owl and ensured she was in the same dorm as her best friend. I spoke to her keyworker and explained how anxious she was. I apologised to neighbours for the hideous sounds coming from the house every day and, no, nobody was being strangled. Bless, they were lovely, always are.
We started to think it was a BAD idea suggesting she could go for a night and we should have stuck by our first decision. I felt guilty that we had put Missy in this position. We should have just stayed with the original plan of her only going for the day. But we couldn't go back - any suggestion of not going, of it being fine for her to decide to stay at home was ok by us, just made it worse and she'd be sobbing and begging to go.
So the Big Weekend arrived. Naturally she couldn't sleep the night before her birthday, or the night before that, or that.. But she had a lovely day. A quiet day on the whole, we just went out with one friend for tea. The next day we had to be at Brownie Camp for 10am. Missy was a little quieter than usual. We knew she'd be ok during the day, it was just nighttime was the big worry.
We arrived at Camp - a place where the Brownies had been before so at least she knew the layout - and immediately saw her best friend. We unpacked her stuff, gave her a massive hug, took a deep breath and left. I kept my mobile phone close all day.
Daddy and I enjoyed a rare night out together, just local though, no more than 10 minutes away. No calls from Brown Owl thankfully.
When we walked in next day to collect them, Brown Owl tapped me on the shoulder and told me she had been absolutely fine. And indeed she had. She LOVED it. What a MASSIVE RELIEF. I think the fact she'd missed her group's washing up duty had pleased her from the start. She'd made lots of arty crafty stuff, ate lots of sweets, made new friends and gone to bed very late after watching Annie (yeah, I know, bet Brown Owl didn't think about that one - luckily Missy loves the film). She can't wait to go next year for two nights and, you know what, all being well I think she'll be fine.
So since then, there have been no meltdowns, no violence, no piercing screams - just a calmer Missy*. There are no eggshells to avoid. Nothing is being thrown or broken. It's a happier house to be in.
* Missy's 'calm' is of course not a usual 'calm', still a level of anxiety remains.