Tuesday 7 June 2011

A normal school day?

As you know, Ben has been doing mornings-only at school since October. Today is the last AS Level exam day and he has two exams, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon which will mean him having to be in school all day. Not only will this mean quite a bit of free time between the end of the am and beginning of the pm exam (having to socialise), but it will also mean returning to SCHOOL DINNERS because, at Ben's school, pupils don't take pack lunches.

Ben's had a tummy bug for the past week, although he's ploughed on with his eating regime admirably. Maybe it was a mix of anxiety about today and the bug, but he didn't sleep well last night and said he felt "ill" this morning.

But it felt hugely different from a similar morning with the eating disorder. Apart from his tummy ache and lack of sleep, he seemed like "normal Ben" who I've been treating in exactly the same way as I used to - without any special treatment to allow for / cope with anorexia behaviours, many of which have completely disappeared (fingers crossed...).

Yesterday he went into school for a revision session and said he wasn't going to go if his gut was playing up. But I insisted that gut ache wasn't a good enough reason not to go to something so important, so off he went. ED, the eating disorder, simply wasn't there; it was just like a normal parent talking to a normal teenager.

Sitting here I feel echoes of the old anxiety creeping in from the days when Ben would be in a heck of a mood and make my life hell on his return from school and throughout the evening. Stress levels were off the scale...

I also feel echoes of the worry that Ben will cut back at school dinners. In the Bad Old Days he'd make a beeline for the salad bar or soup, followed by fruit.

On one occasion he got that he couldn't handle being in the dining hall at all and freaked out, sprinting out of the hall, out of the school, across the playing fields and (worryingly) towards the river. Thankfully he was followed by a member of staff who brought him back to the building...

And on many occasions he'd hide in the boys' toilets or somewhere in the grounds, texting me with frantic messages of the kind that makes your heart thud to a stop when your phone goes. Much worse was when he texted the landline and it would "call me" with a robotic woman's voice relaying the grueling text message.

It will be interesting to see how he handles today. But we haven't talked about it that much, or the dinners issue, as I know it's something he needs to do by himself.

If, in the hopefully very unlikely event, he calls or texts me today, then I will firmly refuse to pick him up or 'pacify' ED, the eating disorder.

But (says she tempting fate...) I don't think he will.

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