Saturday, 10 September 2011

New Parents' Evening

Well everything went much as described. I got my flowers, the New Parents chatted away, the Headmaster gave his usual speech (7th time I've heard it now...) and a lot of free wine was consumed by those that weren't driving. And I wore my 'normal parent' hat all evening. Except when talking to those few people 'in the know', out of hearing of anyone else...

First there was the Deputy Head who took me aside to say staff had been suggesting ways that Ben could become more involved in things this year to help him integrate back into the social side of school. The Music teacher wants him to audition for a lead role in the seniors' musical. And Mr C said Ben had been given the job of Charity Coordinator for his 'house'.

Then I bumped into S, the school nurse. I've got to know her so well over the past couple of years that we're on hugging terms. I've even had lunch with her a couple of times and been invited to her house. She's been a true tower of strength to me in ways I could never hope to repay. In fact I'd love to stay in touch with her after Ben leaves the school.

"Any more thoughts on writing a book about your experiences with Ben?" she asked. Actually I'd forgotten about that. But it's another of the reasons I keep all the notes, forum threads, letters, emails and blog entries to do with the eating disorder, so in the future I may be able to put it all together into something of use for other parents.

Finally I served wine next to P, another PTA member who's been great support (she's the one I spent ages on the phone to while sitting in Sainsbury's car park in tears the day before the 2009 Christmas Fair).

Not many other people know. To explain the reason why I've been keeping a relatively low profile for the past couple of years, the PTA Chairman told the rest of the committee I'd "been ill". (Her decision; to be honest I don't mind people knowing the 'real reason'.) So last night everyone was commenting on "how well" I was looking compared to last year...

In his speech the Headmaster said "Over the next 7 years you will come to know each other very well, seeing the same faces at every parents' evening..."

True. I've seen the same faces at every parents' evening over the past 7 years. Last year wasn't too bad, but the previous year I was painfully aware of how different Ben looked to his peers; of those guarded glances from other parents as they pretended not to stare. After all, they'd seen Ben over the years, too. And back then the transformation into the anorexic Ben was too dramatic to ignore. I was also painfully aware of how Ben kept close to us, ignoring his peers completely when, pre-anorexia, he and his mates would go off somewhere to mess around before Mr J marched in to tell them off.

We haven't had a 6th form parents' evening this year yet. Hopefully it will be no different from how it would have been had anorexia never hi-jacked our lives. It's 'our' last year at school and Ben is in the 2012 leavers' year which is the year of the school's bi-centennary with various celebrations. So I'd love it to be a good year...

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