Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sparks Jump Up

Our 5 year old daughter goes to Sparks (Girl Guides youngest division). For this weekend they were supposed to go on a two night camping trip, without parents...! YIKES... I was not comfortable with that at all, neither was DH; this would be DD's first overnight anywhere alone. I felt her first sleepover should be at home. We let her decide and she didn't want to go to the camp at all, she was too worried, too anxious, and wanted to be in her own bed.

So all week we talked it out, trying to prepare her, talking about what camp is really like so she could make her own decision not based on our feelings. We tried to be as neutral as possible in our info so as not to colour her decision either way. By Wednesday she was adamant she was still not going at all. We told her she had to face some of her anxieties and at least go for the day on Saturday, and I'd pick her up after supper on Saturday evening.

We planned a sleep over with her little girl friend a few doors down for Saturday night (tonight) so she'd have a similar experience to share with her Sparks troop at her next meeting and not feel like an outsider for deciding not to stay for the sleepover part. At first, she was mad that we were making her go at all, but that alternated with her being excited to go and have fun too.

Last night... the aforementioned friend's mom cancelled the sleepover. DD's little girl friend ended up with two ear infections and a flu so she had to postpone. But that then disappointed DD enough that she decided she would like to consider the camping trip sleep over as an option for tonight, since she was so excited about a sleepover at all. So last night at 10 pm, we packed up everything she would need to stay for the sleepover part, and got her ready to go to camp "just for the day" today to have fun and a "long Sparks meeting".

She was very anxious and nervous and stayed up until almost 1 am talking it out to me and working it all out in her mind and heart.

She woke up this AM tired (as am I) and we got dressed. We had a little behaviour incident during dressing where I think she was trying to act up to make me say she was grounded and she could not go (LOL), but I used humour to defuse the situation and got her dressed and in the truck with minimal issues, and off she, 13 month old baby brother and I drove to the camp.

I had to stop for gas, so the drive was about a half hour, although we have the advantage of living close to the camp used for all the Girl Guides of all ages across our region. We got there and she was excited to go inside to see her group. Then she got in and was afraid to sit down with her troop. Her leaders welcomed her, and everyone was glad to see her, and they took her coat - but she kept her gloves (security blanket issue in case she decided to bolt out the door I think LOL) and they got her comfy at the table. It was 8:30am and all the girls were eating breakfast. She refused their breakfast, which I knew she would do, since it was bacon and french toast, but agreed to apple juice.

The place was packed with all the local groups from Sparks, Brownies all the way up to Pathfinders and junior leaders... eating breakfast and chattering away. She ate her preplanned backup for breakfast - a granola bar she brought from home.

I got her stuff up into her bunk area and passed in permission slips, etc. while she ate her granola bar. I talked to the leaders about her anxiety and worries, and that if she needed to call home for reassurance that was ok, and that sleeping over was totally optional and up to her. They know that she is not planning to stay but she is prepared to if she wants to. I warned them about her need to be warned a lot in advance for changing activities or she'll dig in and such, and asked them to only call me if after a distraction of a new activity and some hugs and "you're safe" pep talk, she didn't settle if she started to want to come home. I told them about how when she gets really worked up, she might need help settling down, and that at home she asks for it, but she might be afraid there, and that settling down means a quiet room for 5 minutes, and holding hands counting to 10 and breathing deep with her. The area leader for all of guides was there as well, and I really like J a lot. She promised me she'd keep her eye on her and help out if needed, since when she joined Sparks, she and I had extensive talks about DD's issues and how Guides would help her overcome some of those and help her with her social growth in a safe environment. So, she has a more in depth grasp of DD's ways of thinking and what would help as well as the benefit of experience from being the longest running leader there. She is now guiding some of her past Girl Guide's daughters, so I'm sure she's come across a few more soft, tender-hearted anxious little girls before. Her Sparks leaders are a bit new to this and have demonstrated lack of responsibility in some areas that gave me and DH concerns, but with area leaders and long running leaders there, I felt better about her going.

I am proud of myself too. DD has never spent the night away from family, and only one without us - once when she was 18 months or so, and she stayed camping with her grandmother at Mazinaw Lake while we had to travel back to Toronto for a Dr.'s appointment. That was a hard time for attachment parents like us... so this is her first decision on her own to go way and possibly stay overnight somwhere.

I was a strong mama, I reassured her when she cried when I went to leave, when I just wanted to scoop her up and say, "Ok come on, lets go out for breakfast and have a cool mom/daughter (baby brother tagging along cause he needs boobies) day". But instead, I soothed and reassured and I answered all her questions. I told her about when I was a little girl and went to camp for 7 WHOLE days and cried when my mom left too, but then cried not to leave when she came to get me to go home!( I was 11) She giggled, then she cried again. I had to show her they had a telephone so she could call me if she needed to, and she had to check for a dial tone. She asked where the doors were in case of a fire to get out, so I showed her. I showed her the bathrooms and where her bedding was and where she might sleep if she decided to stay. She loved the bunk beds and was happy about that. I showed her the craft room, and J told her about the trail they would be going on a hike on. As I was telling them about the pack she had to take and that she liked to collect rocks to study, a Brownie leader piped up that she had a fanny pack to collect rocks and pretty sticks too, because she loved to do that as well. I said she could take home only what she could fit in her fanny pack to carry home, and it was ok with me, if it was ok with them. She was happy to see an adult who likes to collect rocks and they made plans to walk together.

She was smiling again, and then as I prepared to leave, she cried and begged me to stay, but I told her I had to come home to feed daddy and baby brother, and I promised her I'd come back to get her right away if she wanted to go home but only after supper. She had to stay for the day. I ended up staying for a half hour or so, preparing her for the transition of me leaving and her staying.

As I was leaving, I had to sort of not let her hug me and verbally reassure her and just walk out like it was the most normal thing in the world to give your kid over to perfect strangers! She started to cry a bit and went to the table to sit like I told her to go do and have fun. She went to sit at her table and put her head down to cry, an I thought my heart would break. All I could wonder was.. "is she thinking right then that I am abandoning her...!?" Just then a junior leader came up to the table and got her troop to clean their table off and to go do their dishes and she got involved in that, so she forgot to get really deeply upset :)

I waited in the truck for about 10 minutes, and snuck back in to see her playing in the craft room with her troop and a junior leader, doing ok. So I snuck back out and I drove home...and I cried the whole way home......I cried for relief that she was having fun, I cried cause I missed her already. I cried cause I remember my mom making me stay at camp and thinking she was mean to make me stay, and I cried because I realized that I bet she cried on the way home too from dropping me off at camp, too. I cried because she wasn't missing me, I cried because I was worried for her, and I hope that she will really enjoy this visit, and not let her anxieties ruin a possible fun experience for her. I cried cause I don't want her to want to stay for the night, but I know that if she does I'm going to have to deal with it. I cried because I WANT her to stay for the night, and I'm afraid she won't. I cried because she's my baby and no one can take care of her like I can, and I cried for relief for the break this sleepover will provide me, if I don't get too anxious, and I can make myself actually relax.

I'm pretty cried out now, and I'm just tired. So, I'm going to go back to bed and have a nap, since baby boy just fell back asleep. I just called the camp and they are playing games and getting ready to head out for a hike and she is doing good. I knew she would be fine... and then I cried, because I sort of wished she wouldn't be "fine" too.

Sigh.... mama never told me there'd be days like these.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The perfect Winter day

Having acquired cheap cross country ski equipment to outfit the whole family recently, we decided to go out for a day of cross country skiing in a wooded conservation area and have a winter picnic.

The Weather Network's forcast of today being the perfect winter day for outdoor play was our motivator to go for sure, given we're not likely to see enough snow from now on till spring to go out again.

With baby in back pack, and lunch and a blanket on the sled I hauled behind me, we headed off into the back woods.

After about 45 minutes we stopped and had a snack of hummus and crackers, hot chicken stew, baguettes and koolaid. Dh took some photos of the cute litte creek running beside us while we got set to eat. As I was putting stuff away, Dh and DD trommped off to go lok at the creek and a dead racoon. DD put her foot through the cute little creek and got a really wet foot.
I gave her one of my second socks and the zip lock bag from the baugette to put in her boot, so she could ski back out.Dh did the best he could to make her dry and warm for the trip back out. Still given our solutions she was cold and wet, which sucks for anyone...but for the most part she was a trooper and is a great little skier for 5 years old.

The baby had fun in the back pack, and slept all the way back out to the truck where we parked.

Once home hot chocolate, warm baths and naps were in order. Dh will be paying for this perfect winter day for weeks now with his CFS, but I'd say it was worth it. It was a nice afternoon. I hope he feels the same.

Here's a few photos of the day.

Dh is the photographer, so I snapped this as we started out. The only photo of him, since he took all the rest