The case of the missing school girl who appears to have run off to another country with her teacher this week has really made me think. Hearing the news on the radio and seeing her picture in the papers as I’ve been out and about has really struck a chord as I’m a parent to 3 young boys. I wondered how on earth any parent could cope if this were to happen to them; how would I? As the week has progressed we are hearing more details of the case, how the school were aware of the ‘relationship’ and how it was under investigation. Maybe this was the cause of the sudden disappearance of them both we’re not quite sure but at least there could be a possible reason and we hope that she is safe.
I was in the kitchen yesterday buttering bread whilst Ollie was stirring the beans and the radio was on. During the news break there began a heartfelt plea from the mother of the girl to ask her to get in touch, that she loved her and she wasn’t in trouble. You could hear the distress with each word as she desperately tried to stop herself from crying knowing this could be her only chance for her daughter to hear her. I was getting emotional and when she had finished I turned to Ollie and said that there would be nothing he could tell me that would mean I wouldn’t want to see him again. I told him that even in the toughest of times when he thinks we’ll be cross with him that he can always turn to Hubbie and I. I told him I would love him no matter what and I explained that this mother was asking for her missing daughter to come home. I said that we could clearly hear how much she loved her daughter. We then had a chat about running away and why people do. I said it’s because they could have something that’s so awful that they can’t face it, they are in danger at home or they need to get away from something. We talked about him talking to us about all the nasty bits in life as well as the good bits and it’s true but it took this poor mother’s distress for me to realise that.
So much of parenting is unsaid. I love my children so they must know this…., Let’s not talk about strangers as this may frighten them, Let’s not talk about the dangers of the internet as it may never happen to them and so on. I must admit to being a bit of an ostrich about these things and not really facing up to them but this mother has shown me that sometimes the bad conversations have to happen just as much as they good. How is Ollie supposed to figure out that I will always love him? He’s 8 and I set firm boundaries and rules with consequences so when does this translate into ‘It doesn’t matter how bad things seems or what you have done I will always love you’. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it actually needs to be said…
I want to wrap my children in cotton wool and protect them from the wolf at the door and all the other nasties that are there to hurt them but in reality I can’t do that. In reality they will start to spend more time away from me and that’s where the real dangers lie. Not all older boys at skate parks are there purely just to skate, not all adults are trustworthy and to be believed at all times and sometimes things happen in life that maybe you didn’t mean to happen (or maybe you did) and you need to face up to the truth and be honest.
When I went to college to do study for my A Levels there was a boy whose brother has gone missing. It was clear this was a huge cause of distress for him and his parents as they genuinely had no idea where he was. I sympathised relating it more to my sibling relationships and knowing how I would have felt should this have happened to me but now I’m a parent and I see things so differently. I cannot see how I would carry on if any of my boys just disappeared and the anguish I hear in the missing girls’ mothers’ voice is palpable and I understand it totally.
So I have told Ollie about how I will always love him and will tell Hen and Tobes when the time comes. I will now also begin to have more of ‘those’ conversations that I have steered away from in the past. Keeping them wrapped up in their bubble is an ideal that’s just not really possible in the real world and I believe Ollie certainly needs to slowly know about the realities of life but also the magnitude of his mother and father’s love for him.
The rules and boundaries will still be there, the consequences of ‘dicking about’, being nasty to his brothers and all the other perfectly normal 8 year old boy calamities will also still be there but, I hope, he’ll also have a sense of security in knowing that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how bad things may seem we will never turn our backs on him. He will always be our son and have a place with us and we will always love him no matter what…