Our 11 year old daughter has been awesome in supporting her 9 year old sister settling into a new school this week. Friends, family and regular readers will know that our 9 year old daughter has been homeschooled these past three years, due to school anxiety; but having made a lot of progress in overcoming anxiety (such as now being able to participate in team sports) she expressed an interest in trying school again at the end of last year.
Her older sister goes to a wonderful girl’s school in Wellington – which she attended prior to our time living in California, and re-enrolled on our return to New Zealand in October last year. Our 9 year old joined her sister, at the same school, on Monday this week.
We were prepared for her start at school to be challenging, as was our daughter; in a two steps forward, one step backward, kind of way. We were also realistic in knowing that for her introduction to school to be a success it would take a huge team effort, with everyone on the same page (family and school united).
My dear hubby had deliberately delayed committing to a new job, knowing how much he would be needed (of course we feel incredibly blessed that he is in a position to be able to do this). We have a younger daughter, about to turn 5 in February, that we didn’t want to be negatively influenced by her sister’s anxiety – and so two parents would be needed to really make everything work. One parent (me) would focus on keeping our youngest child happy, whilst also acknowledging our oldest daughter’s wonderful support and maturity, and the other (hubby) would help our middle daughter settle into a new environment and overcome the physically debilitating symptoms of social anxiety.
So,hubby is taking care of the morning school drop off, liaison with school, as well as settling our middle daughter at night (he’s actually sharing a room with her to help her sleep). He is, in a word, ‘amazing’. The school are also amazing, with the most caring, solution orientated, pro-active, open-minded and attentive teaching staff. The head of the junior school is incredible (from past experience and currently). I really am in awe of her incredible skills.
Whilst hubby is doing all of the above, I am focusing on the simple tasks of keeping the washing up to date, the kitchen clean, the decks clear and the school notices actioned, as well as having the pleasure of caring for our youngest daughter (who is at home full-time at this stage; since there’s no legal requirement for her to be at school till she’s 6 in New Zealand; and she gets ample socialisation from the local neighbourhood, community and her sisters).
To be completely honest; I am not the best person to support my middle daughter directly – as I too suffer from mild anxiety and depression. I work hard to keep this under control, with regular exercise and mild medication; but find it difficult to cope when there’s extra tension (when our daughter was crying with stomach pains of nerves the other morning, I then spent the morning, after she’d managed to successfully go to school, trying to hide my tears from my youngest daughter and weeping whilst putting the washing away). Later in the day, when the summer sun had cooled a little, I headed out for a mind calming run – returning with my senses alive to every beautiful scent in the garden.
Thankfully my dearest husband, and friend of 22 years, is a tower of strength, wisdom and patience (he has definitely lived life a few time over!). He’s taking some time out on his paddle board to keep those calm words of wisdom flowing too.
Meanwhile, our dear oldest daughter is settling into Year 8 at the school she loves, whilst being incredibly encouraging of her 9 year old sister, starting in Year 5.
She spent some time selecting positive quote of inspiration – and then printing them off and displaying them above her sister’s bed – as a surprise; so very thoughtful, kind and caring.
Our youngest daughter is also being sweet, in her own little way, giving hugs and being a distraction after school (she’s also helping her Mummy set up a wonderful holiday home we’ve just bought in the wine country capital of the Wairarapa – Martinborough!).
So, big changes at the start of 2015 for this family – but all with a positive step forward too.
On a final note, I’d like to add that I’m opening up in a big way in this post; as from past experience I have learned that sharing helps other people to feel able to open up. I don’t share this for any other reason. Parenting is not easy and the more that people feel they can be open and honest, the better our community will be. It really does ‘take a village to raise a child’ – and as much as I struggle to reach out and be open to this in reality, I am learning, with every step on this journey, how very true that statement is.
Here’s to happy school days (and happy weekends in Martinborough too!) x