Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Does this count as a parenting fail or is it all in my head?

This.  But more animaly and colourful.
Over the years I've had to prepare and send my kids to many, many activities.  Notes come home, calendars are updated, essential items purchased, tasks are ticked off and we move on to the next.

When they were younger I found kid related activities, especially performances and concerts, very daunting.  It always seemed like a miracle when we arrived at the right place at the right time with the right stuff.

And mostly we did. Of course, there have been a few hairy moments.  

I remember receiving my first note about an end of year dance concert (Sarah was 4 (tiny tot), Josh 2 and Issy a newborn blob who spent a lot of time in her capsule).  I read and reread the instructions about hair, makeup (!) and rehearsal times.  I still managed to stuff it up, and with my 2 year old and newborn, arrived 45 minutes late to collect her from the dress rehearsal at the theatre.

Luckily a kind and very organised mother (her youngest (of 4) was the dancer, so she was all over it) had stayed with Sarah until I arrived.  She didn't make me feel bad at all.  But I was guilt ridden for days.

Over the years, we've done many more dance concerts, band performances, violin recitals, gym comps, choir showcases, sports carnivals and assemblies.  These days I am used to the drill, and on most of these kinds of occasions, I'm hard to rattle.

And after one epic excursion failure a couple of years ago, I've also nailed the school excursion.  And even band camp, which is two nights away, but in early autumn and just up the road, holds no fear for me.  Any forgotten item can simply be lodged with a parent going up for their volunteer shift and all is well.

But now, we have upped the ante.  It's time for school camp. A proper one, far away with no recourse in case of forgotten items or homesickness.

Sarah left this morning for 3 days away.  She is going to Mogo which is very far south, and allegedly very cold.

It's fecking cold here so it must be freezing down south.  I'm a Queenslander, so when it comes to cold, I am a very delicate, sensitive flower.

We took the list supplied by the school.  We packed according to it.  It optimistically suggested we could fit a sleeping bag, pillow and towel, plus warm clothes for three days and toiletries into an overnight bag.  Once the first three items went in, the overnight bag was full.  So we moved to a rolling suitcase.

This allowed Sarah to add her onesie, ugg boots and a stuffed dog.

Because it's cold way down thar, we were also instructed to have beanies, scarves and gloves and a warm jacket.  On the weekend, Sarah and I found a half price jacket/raincoat at Kathmandu we were very happy with.  We then bought a fetching green stripy beanie.  It was also half price.  Bargain hunters.

So at 6:25 this morning we set off to pull the suitcase 50m to the school gates.  10m up the street I ran back for the travel sickness tablets.  20m further on we realised she didn't have a brush or hair elastics apart from the one she was wearing.  I sacrificed mine for the cause.  She wasn't worried and said she'd borrow a brush.

We arrived at school to find UTTER INSANITY.  Children ran and screamed in the half darkness.  Suitcases fell over. Children fell over fallen over suitcases.  Sarah waved at a few friends, but her particular cronies were not there so she stayed with me.  She's like that.  The madness swirled around us and as it did I realised many (not all) of the girls were wearing beanies with animal heads and dangly sides.

Probably half of them had this style of beanie.  Suddenly Sarah's black and green stripy number looked a little dull.

For a moment I was back at a school camp where EVERYONE had green army pants except me.  The feelings of not fitting in all rushed back.  My eyes darted around, counting animal beanies and funky earmuffs.  At least half, maybe a small majority.  Enough for a kid without to wish they had one.

I very briefly considered running back home for Issy's crazy earmuffs.

I also thought about driving to the (closed) chemist.  I wondered if the neighbours kids might have one.

I knew it was pointless.  Sarah (the stoic) pulled on her green stripy beanie, looped her colourful (thank god) scarf around her neck like I'd taught her and said hi to another quiet little soul standing near us.

More animal headed children whirled past.  The teachers started to call for order, Sarah kissed me and went to her line.  She seemed utterly unphased.  I was a mess.  Internally of course.

I kissed her and left.  There was nothing more to do.  She had everything she needed.  There were enough kids with boring hats on.  And she had her onesie so at night she'd fit in with the crowd.

You see, I have PTSD from my camp experience and I think that's what threw me.  But I don't think Sarah cared.  The way she acted, she certainly wasn't going to let a little thing like a boring hat ruin her first camp.

I got home, got on the treadmill, watched last nights Australian Story and cried and cried.  Partly because it was a very sad Australian Story and partly because I simply can't do everything for her like I used to.  And my baby was going awaaaayyyyy...

I really think it was me who was upset about the hat thing.  She may not have given it a second thought.  I won't know til Thursday night.  And by then she'll be so full of news and excitement about her three days away that it will be forgotten.  I hope.

I can tell you this, when Issy goes to Mogo in four years time, she shall have a silly animal beanie with dangly sides.

And no doubt be the only kid wearing one.

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