Today I walked home from dropping the girls off at nursery and school and cried. I cried because my big girl was up until 9.30 incredibly distressed and because my little girl was up at 4, incredibly distressed.
This bedtime blip is definitely linked to school. So much change, so much noise, so many people, so much much more being told when to do something, was always going to be hard for Big. In nursery she still had the illusion of control, in school that illusion is slowly dissolving.
But I cried, (am crying) because I cannot comfort Big. My very presence seems to make her more on edge and more upset. Rocking her, soothing her, holding her, these things don’t help because she doesn’t like it when I touch her. She was so angry last night, clearly trying to disguise her fear and she wouldn’t even let me get near.
She cannot tell us what it is that is making her feel so scared, if there are particular things or if it is all of it. So she shows us with violence and anger, ‘school has changed, are you going to change too?’
The girls share a room, this is through necessity not choice, we have no other room though we are seriously considering getting a sofa bed and moving Little into our room. At night they need such different things, Little likes noise, Big doesn’t, Little likes it pitch black, Big doesn’t, Little likes constant touch, Big doesn’t. It’s so hard getting it even remotely right for either of them. And often it means that neither get the sleep they need.
What I’m slowly learning is that I can do whatever I can to plan and maintain things at home but anything outside of that is totally out of my control. I can put things in place, sensory activities, reading stories, quiet time, to help minimise it when she gets home but so many thousands of things might have happened in the day that I can never seem to hit upon the right one. It relies on the understanding of so many other people and it relies upon them seeing the need to understand.
This morning on the way to school, Big shoved Little by the head and pushed her to the floor. Little’s screams were so loud that the children on the way to high school stopped to see if she was okay, Big kept on walking. When I tried to talk to her about why that might have happened, (I didn’t ask questions, I wondered and I spoke gently about how both she and Little might be feeling just now) she put her hands over her ears, kicked me and sat on the floor. And so it goes every time. I cannot provide comfort for my big girl. I do whatever I can, whenever she will let me but I am not a safe place for one of my children. And a big voice inside my head is saying what am I doing wrong? How can I not be able to help her?
Big is half days at the moment. I’ll go and pick her up at lunchtime and she’ll tell me the day was pink (happy). And then slowly everything will come out, not through words but through her only way of telling me. The only way she currently has to show me how scared she is. And I’ll do my best to be there for her, to help her understand how she’s feeling. Because as someone very wise just advised me on Twitter, that’s the only thing I can do. Just keep doing it.