Friday, April 23, 2010

Baking Makes It All Better... well except for Mother Guilt

Bread rolls, made with fresh yeast about to go into the oven.  Right now my house smells beautiful,  yeasty and bready and cosy.

Have been in the kitchen this morning.  Its been a rather tough day in the children department and though I had grand plans for cleaning the bathrooms and washing beds, instead I've just pottered in the kitchen, mulling things over and keeping my hands busy.

Miss 5 is an anxious child, and since her school had its practice "Stranger alarm" - where the kids practice what to do if there is a 'stranger' on campus - her anxiety has exploded into a full blown phobia centring on the school bell (she tries to hide each time it rings). It also includes a terror of our back garden (after the black snake incident) and bugs/spiders of any kind.  These days she refuses to go outside at all.

I spoke to Miss 5's teacher about the bell thing on Tuesday, after she came home and told me that she'd been so scared by the school bell ringing for a little longer than usual that she'd hidden.  Her teacher was aware of the problem and we chatted about a few strategies to deal with it. Then this morning there was a car alarm going off in the car-park and Miss 5 fell apart, convinced that it meant there was a stranger, coming to get her. 

I marched her up to school, being all no-nonsense about it, but when we got there she was white faced, shaky and crying.  So I stayed to calm her down and talk to her teacher again.  As we were waiting outside the classroom the first bell rang and in a state of overwhelming panic Miss 5 sprinted off across the playground looking for somewhere to hide.  Not even the fact that her mother was standing right there was enough to stop her.

I rang the school counsellor the moment I got home and the upshot is that Miss 5 is, at this very moment, starting on their program for kids with anxiety issues.  She'll get ongoing support, activities to do at home and a chance to talk things through with someone trained to be no-nonsense or sympathetic at the right times - which will be something of a change from her mother who, it appears, is gifted in getting it wrong every single time.

Holy Crap this parenting business is hard work.  I know kids are born the way they're born (hell, look at Miss 4, who invented a new game last night where you hide under the table and then try to poke your opponent in the eye with a pen - mummy didn't handle that well either).  I know that I'm rattled because even though I've loved and protected Katie all her life, she ran away from me in panic and not to me.  I know, as well, that she is in the grip of a phobia, and an unreasonable level of anxiety, and that she's not thinking straight, or even thinking at all. 

But, I do still wonder, as I'm baking away in my kitchen, if I have failed somewhere.  If I could've done it all a bit differently.  Yes. Mother Guilt. I has it badly.

Sigh.

7 people love me:

belinda said...

Ok, sounds like a very bad day. Are there things you could have done... maybe, but probably not. You have caught it and got her the help she needs not to have a life totally crippled by this.

I have a favourite saying that is the being you see in front of you is 95% nature and 5% nurture and it don't matter if you are talking about a child or a puppy it all goes the same way. Parents get the chance to accent a child's tenancies either up or down but underneath it all the child is who they are.

Their journey is to find a way to cope with those challenges. Your job is to help her find the tools to do exactly that.

Kind Regards
Belinda

Miss 40 said...

I know how hard it is too hun. My now 8 year old is terrified of alarms as well. Smoke detector goes off and he runs in panic and hides, not good if there was a fire, only time and reassurance and a no nonsense councellor can help. I found that testing the alarms often and letting him know it was just a test etc helped as well. Only time has helped. He is still afraid of alarms but beyond a racing heart, he now copes quite well.

Chin up, you have done the right thing, found the problem and addressed it immediately. There was never a handbook for this kind of thing, big bummer.

xxxx

Mel said...

You are doing a great job. Don't blame yourself. She will be ok.

Liss said...

Well I'm with you about the baking to unwind - and yeasty bread that does what it's told (i.e. rise and look beatiful) and tastes delicious is a good start!

My heart was racing and then fell to a thud a couple of times reading about Miss 5's anxiety. It must be contagious because even I am feeling anxious just reading about it, I can't imagine how this wouldn't keep you up at night!? It's wonderful to hear you have the right support at school to try and reign it in a bit.. but you know kids do tend to write their own book even though we give them the pen and paper and teach them how to write (if you get the metaphor!) hang in there - sending you lots of love and strength xxx

Sami Lee said...

My princess has become terrified of bugs all of a sudden, even teeny tiny one's that can barely be seen with the naked eye... and some I think she only sees in her imagination. Not sure that my tough love, you'll be right he won't eat you attitude is the right way to go either, but patience wears thin when I have to start taking her to the toilet again because she's scared of imaginary microscopic insects. Yes, sigh.

Caitlyn Nicholas said...

Thank you all for your good and wise advice. It is no easy thing to see your child anxious, terrified and vulnerable. Its a fundamental instinct to protect your child and when its not happening, its makes you feel like you've failed at such a basic level.

Parenting is so incredibly challenging. Some days I seem to make endless mistakes, so its just so good to have people around who have been there, or are experiencing it too. Your comments help, in so many ways, to restore confidence and calm. Thanks and more thanks.

The counsellor had a good talk with Miss 5, and her confidence is already starting to creep back. I have seen a change in her, she has lost the pale, stressed look she had, and I think she is sleeping better.

Over the weekend she has been role playing stranger danger with her sister in a positive way and is no longer trying to hide or run away. She was explaining to me that 'school is a perfectly safe place to be.'

The battle certainly isn't over with her anxiety issues, but at least she's not diving under desks each time she hears the school bell. :)

Liss said...

Well I'm with you about the baking to unwind - and yeasty bread that does what it's told (i.e. rise and look beatiful) and tastes delicious is a good start!

My heart was racing and then fell to a thud a couple of times reading about Miss 5's anxiety. It must be contagious because even I am feeling anxious just reading about it, I can't imagine how this wouldn't keep you up at night!? It's wonderful to hear you have the right support at school to try and reign it in a bit.. but you know kids do tend to write their own book even though we give them the pen and paper and teach them how to write (if you get the metaphor!) hang in there - sending you lots of love and strength xxx