Last week my eldest daughter went with the rest of the year 6’s from her school to the Isle of Wight for 4 nights ( Monday-Friday). She’d never been away from home for more than two nights before, and when she had, normally one of her sisters had gone with her.
We knew it was going to be an experience for both of us. After a little wobble on Monday morning, she was fine once she saw her friends and got on the coach. I was the one feeling strangely bereft as I watched her drive away.
Last week was weird without her. Three kids still kept me plenty busy; I believe that kids just expand to fill whatever gap they are given. It doesn’t matter if you have one, three or six. Give them the time and attention, and they will take it.
We had less arguments last week. DD1 likes to think she is the boss of the house and makes a fuss if one of the younger kids does something she doesn’t approve of. It was nice not having her barking directions at them every 30 minutes but everyone really missed her.
For the first couple of days, life just seemed a bit quiet but by Wednesday I was properly aching for her. I kept thinking about what she was doing and hoping she was having a good time. I sent her a couple of letters which got to her very quickly, but her postcards to us took 3-4 days to arrive and she got back before they reached us! Post to the IOW is obviously better to the Island than it is off!
The one thing that surprised me is I realised how useful DD1 is when she is at home. She’s a typical 11 year old; moody, bossy and obstinate at times, but she does come in handy for keeping an eye on her siblings, helping around the house and she can be trusted to pop down the shop for something now. It was quite hard to adjust to not having that sort of assistance on tap.
I wasn’t there to see her off the coach on Friday, but DH went to pick her up instead and got a photo of her, as requested.
If she looks tired in this photo, that’s because she was. She got home on Friday around 5pm, went to bed at 8pm and hardly moved for 12 hours. Then she didn’t leave the house all day Saturday. By Sunday evening she was slowly getting back to ‘normal’.
Lost of people told me she would be ‘different’ when she got home, but I haven’t really noticed this. Maybe she’s a little bit moodier, a little snappier and less easily placated. But mostly she’s been the same as before.
But she had a wonderful time away.
They were kept busy and after the first night, where the girls in her room stayed up late enough to see in the next day, they were asleep by 10pm every night. The food was good and she had enough to eat. She plucked up the courage to take part in an activity she thought she would find challenging. She managed to have a wash every day and had even washed her hair once. She did manage to lose her warm jacket on the last day though and we’ve had no joy in getting it back.
The best thing is she’s happy to be home and we are relieved she’s back safely.
And because DD2 is in year 5 now, we get to do the whole thing again in 2014!