"Unless you hear otherwise, pick me up at lunchtime," he said this morning. "Any reason why?" I asked. "We don't have any lessons in the afternoon today." "Really?" "Well only RS and then we have two frees." "But you know," I responded, "it's not just about lessons, it's about all the other things that add up to being in school: social stuff, etc..." Anyway, we'll see what happens.
As I said yesterday, there are a number of reasons why he is still finding school difficult. One year ago he found school impossible, so we must be thankful for (not so) small mercies. And I know we can't rush these things. But I also know that it's not always a Good Thing to be a permanent 'safety net' he can run to whenever he needs to. Not at this stage, at any rate. Back in the Bad Old High Anorexia Days when the alternative might have been for him to flee across the school field and jump into the river or just go AWOL, maybe... But not these days.
So it's difficult to know the best and most helpful thing to do.
The best thing is probably to be there if he really needs me, but make it clear that I "might be out" or "working" or whatever, so it would "help me enormously if you could do a full day" kind of thing... Or just to treat every new day as if it was going to be a full day at school rather than, as before, taking it for granted that I would pick him up at lunch. Play it by ear and gut instinct... this usually works...
Yesterday afternoon I drove past the local secondary school at home time and watched a bundle of sixth form boys the same age as Ben laughing and joking as they walked down the road, each of them looking just like a 17 year old boy should look like, not stick-thin and pale like Ben.
But comparisons like this aren't helpful, really, in the same way they're not helpful to any parent of a child who is different from its peers through illness, disability or whatever. Or worse.
I know he's finding it particularly hard at the moment; I can always tell. He was pretty down in the dumps and silent last night, and we had an argument when I was preparing tea. He was hovering around watching me cook (echoes of the Bad Old High Anorexia Days), telling me how I should cook the Chorizo in the paella ("Cook it first, then remove it from the pan and dab off the fat"), me ignoring him completely except to say "I will cook as I always cook", then him zooming in with some kitchen paper to dab the "masses of fat" off before the tin of tomatoes went in and it was too late...
When I challenged him, he gave me a lecture on healthy eating. (Yep, we parents are all familiar with these 'lectures' about saturated fats, blocking the arteries, heart attacks, blah blah blah blah...)
Well you know that yesterday I was frustrated and angry with things so I was spoiling for a bit of a fight.
But the Good News is that it wasn't like in the Bad High Anorexia Days. Well, not quite. Sorry, but I couldn't help saying "I can never get my head around why anorexics are so obsessed with 'healthy eating' while on the other hand they are busy damaging their bodies, sometimes quite seriously"...
A red rag to a bull, I know, but I'm only human. I'm not perfect. And when he said, "You know mum, that kind of comment isn't helpful to me AT ALL." I responded with "Well all of this isn't exactly helpful to ME, either. I'm a person, just like you, you know..."
It wasn't a Bad Row. In the past, it would have spiraled out of control and Ben would probably have walked out of the house or started thumping things / throwing things around. But he didn't do this last night and I kind of knew he wouldn't.
So, despite everything, I can still see massive improvements and positive things.
The Very Good News is that I can now speak my mind without worrying like heck that I'm treading on eggshells and about to detonate a lethal explosion.
In other words, I'm feeling positive... strange as it may sound!