Something odd happened last weekend, something that I really don’t understand. My family went on holiday. That wasn’t the unusual thing though, they go away for a long weekend every year at easter. What was unusual though, was baby girls reaction.
We spent some time with my family last Wednesday, and it was mentioned in passing that they were going away on Friday until Monday. Baby girl was quite interested to hear this and started asking ‘why’ ‘when will you be back’ ‘why can’t I come’ ‘where are you going’ etc. It wasn’t really mentioned again then until Friday morning. Baby girl commented ‘Nanny and Grandad are going on holiday today aren’t they’ and then a few other random remarks about them being away. The weekend continued like this with comments from baby girl about them being away and how they would be coming home on Monday and wondering what they were doing, she even found their holiday destination on a uk map that we have displayed in the playroom etc.
Now don’t get me wrong, she loves her nanny and grandad, but she doesn’t really mention them this much in between weekly visits with them, and if it hadn’t been mentioned, she’d have never even known they were away. They go away every Easter, Perhaps she just doesn’t remember last year or the year before, she has been in a state of sleep deprived craziness I guess.
Then Monday came. ‘Nanny and Grandad come home today’ is what I was greeted with first thing in the morning. Followed by a constant stream of questions throughout the morning about what time they’ll be home, will they have breakfast and dinner before they leave or just breakfast, will they go straight home or will they go somewhere else. By this point I was starting to realise that she was clearly feeling anxious about them being away. (I know, I know, I should have realised sooner, I suck!!).
The rest of the day just went down hill from there. Baby girls play was all negative, it was all about naughty children, broken bones, dead people, injured animals, dead animals, people hurting each other and going to jail and people being killed. All 3 girls were playing together and whilst big girl was the one giving out orders and telling her sisters what to do, baby girl was the one defining the theme of their play today.
It was awful to listen to. Judging by the heightened anxiety levels in middle girl and big girl, they also found it difficult. I intervened in their play several times that morning, I suggested alternative themes for their imaginative play but it always led back to something tragic and awful, I even stopped imaginative play and set up some structured activities but it made no difference. In the end I had to stop play altogether and we spent the remainder of the day watching a film and being calm. There were still the odd comments throughout the film from baby girl about death and injurys, I just refocused her on the film and reassured her everyone was ok.
Baby girl will often use a negative theme in her role play, but usually when I intervene she will move on and play something with a more appropriate ‘happy’ theme. But not this day.
As I said in the beginning, I really don’t understand what it was all about. I understand that her outward play was a reflection of the negative feelings she had inside. What I don’t understand is why she was feeling this way?!
I know consistency, reliability and predictability are the things that help children that have suffered loss and trauma to survive. And I know baby girl has suffered the most loss out of all my girls.
Holidays, days out, change, have never been something my girls have really struggled with. Until now it seems?!
So why now, what was it about this trip that freaked her out so much!?