‘Crack’, I actually think I heard my heart break this time, not a shatter, not an implosion but the subtle warning sound that ice makes when it threatens to crack under the weight of the pressure above it. A hairline fracture that will forever be vulnerable, a road on the journey of life.
Yesterday was the first day that my darling aspie girl begged me not to leave her at school and I know that the emotional fragility that she was experiencing was being mirrored in my soul too. Every tear that ran, every lip that quivered, every finger that clasped to me, every breath that heaved, her whole body was telling her (and me) that she could not cope with school today. It took me by surprise as she has never refused school before, she has dutifully steeled herself, put on the itchy uniform, got her sensitive hair brushed, eaten her breakfast silently, patted the dog goodbye and got in the car as usual.
About 5 minutes before she arrived, she asked me to do a U-turn and just go home. I chatted, keeping my voice clear and calm and chirpy (although I could feel a knot developing in my stomach and the nerve under my eye begin its tell-tale twitch). ‘Come on, it will be fine’ I said. It didn’t work. I cajoled, I said ‘Mummy has to go to work’, ‘I’ll see you later’, Let’s walk in together’ etc. Futile attempts to get both of us going, a well used tactic that sometimes works. We passed the Headmaster who tried to be jolly, noticing the distant look she had, the way she clamped her head to my chest, the way she furiously wrapped and unwrapped her scarf around her hand. We got in the door, walked along the corridor and nope, the feet would not move any more.
I wasn’t angry, I was concerned, I didn’t care what the side-glancing mums or inquisitive children thought, my world was this beautiful, fragile girl in front of me. The tears were silently flowing, washing lines down her face and clinging in great blobs to the front of her school jumper. What should I do? What do I say? How to I handle this? We walked calmly to the library and we sat quietly and cried. Both our tears fell, blurring our vision, wiping my warpaint off and creating a puddle of synergistic empathy. ‘I love you’ I said, ‘I want to go home’ she said. ‘I know it is hard’ I said ‘I want to go home’ she said. We sat, looking in each others eyes and realised that this was a moment to remember, a fragile time that needed to be heeded.
Everything in my body wanted to take her hand in mine, walk out of the school, get the dog and go for a long, long walk in the glorious autumnal sunshine. Leave everything behind, let everything else fade into the background and make her happiness/freedom/needs the priority over all priorities no matter what. But did I do that, no I didn’t. ‘We can’t just leave’ I said ‘Why not’ she said…I couldn’t answer, I didn’t know the answer.
In the end, a member of staff came in, showed empathy and tried in an efficient way to let me head off to work & get my darling girl in to class. I fell mute, I felt as though I was under heavy anaesthetic and could hear and feel all that was going on but not react to it. All I saw, as I made my way to the door of the library, was my lovely girl, arms outstretched mouthing ‘Don’t leave me here’…
Did I do the right thing? I have no idea. Did she get to class? Yes. Did she engage for the rest of the day? Yes. Did I see her at lunch and get a hug? Yes. Did she have a lovely evening at home? Yes. Did we both spend the rest of the day in a slightly blurry place? Yes. Will I do the same thing next time and walk away…. I think the answer is no. What will I do instead? I have no idea.