Today was a big day. It was the day I had to have a meeting in my son’s school in regards to his attendance, or rather the lack of it. It involved the Principal, his teacher, and the dreaded Educational Welfare Officer who has the power to force him into school and get him removed from my care if so desired.
This was a meeting I have been aware of, and dreading, since before the Christmas Holidays. All through that time I tried my best to push it to the back of my mind, to not let any anxiety build. I had been mostly successful. But when today came, the fear took over. And as that time got closer my worry had risen to such an extent I felt nauseous. My hands shook with nervousness and my mind became a fluttering mess.
Of course, in times like this we rarely focus on what the positive outcome could be. In fact, I couldn’t really see any. I continued to dwell on the negative until it had become all-consuming, and the longer I dwelled the more magnified my possible problems seemed. My emotions fleeted from fear to anger and back again as I thought through all the imagined arguments I might have.
To give a bit of context, and in case you haven’t read any of my other posts (Go on. You might like them 🙂 ). My son has admittedly missed a lot of days at school due to the emotional trauma he has been going through since his mother (My soon-to-be ex-wife) moved out. He missed a lot after the initial break up in March but had settled a bit since then.
However, due to December being the time of both her and I’s birthdays, and his first Christmas without her, all his issues had come to the fore again and the poor child was once again distraught. It was a real struggle for both of us. But as a result more days were missed and the meeting became a forgone conclusion. There was no avoiding it this time. (A meeting had been scheduled earlier in the year after his first prolonged bout of absence but I had talked the EWO out of it by suggesting his issues seemed to have been resolved and as he had returned to school she was happy to do so)
As any conscious parent will tell you it is very hard to control your emotions when it comes to the safety, security and well-being of your child. But I was very aware of the fact that if I let those emotions take over it would paint me, my son’s sole carer, in a very negative light and possibly give the EWO more grounds for removing him from my care if that was to be the case. Something he desperately doesn’t want.
Even so I found myself in a very defensive frame of mind as the meeting drew closer, and even though I was constantly checking myself and my attitude, the pull towards all the negatives was just too overwhelming. Frankly I was a bit of a mess.
By the time the meeting began I could tell my behaviour was somewhat frosty. My ex, who happens to be a social worker, was also there to help further compound my anxiety. The fact that the EWO and her were aware of each other through their work environment didn’t exactly help either.
But as it turned out, the meeting wasn’t actually that bad. I managed to subdue my tongue, mostly, by simply holding a finger over my mouth as people talked.
Now bear in mind also that since the Christmas holidays were over my son had been to school every day and his results from a test just prior to the holidays had him sitting at the top of his class (with a mark of 50 out of 50!) I felt he had crossed a major hurdle. I also felt that all the signs were positive and in my mind they were looking for negatives, future unknowable negatives.
By the time the meeting was over it had all felt rather pointless. Like a tick box exercise for the EWO and the school. And nothing had really changed. I had suggested a possible alternative means to get my son to school should such attendance issues arise again and that was that.
Afterwards I thought about how my day had went. The frame of mind I had been in, which I had let affect me, and to a certain extent my work. I had let myself, my mind, become my biggest hurdle. The worst part of the day had nothing to do with the actual meeting. The worst part was the way I had let my fevered imagination run riot. All that sickness and worry was for nothing. And it existed nowhere but in my head. So my advice to us all, including myself. Don’t let your mind become your enemy.