After an incredibly tough few weeks where Mie (7) has hidden in her mind more and more every day, I felt a sadness wash over me. I felt as if I had lost all connection with my beautiful child. I had reached the point of exhaustion. We discussed as a family that I needed to take a break, but it didn’t sit right with me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the uneasy feeling inside me. I couldn’t decide where to go for my weekend away, what do do or who to see. It just felt wrong.
Suddenly I realised that what I needed was deep and meaningful connection with my child. I wanted to immerse myself in her presence. I wanted to fully connect with her, to show her I’m present, that I’m there for her, that I have her best interests at heart. I decided that what we needed, as mum and daughter, was a weekend full of super fun activities, no books and just us.
I splashed out and booked us into a little self contained unit next to a fancy old world hotel near the snow. Mie loves fairytales, science fiction and fantasy. I knew she’d love this special place with chandeliers, panoramic windows and a swimming pool. I arranged that we’d have access to the hotel facilities even though we couldn’t afford to stay in it :o)
Mie was nervous when we drove off. I told her we were going to stay somewhere special and she’d get to go skiing. After an hour she started to talk a bit; mostly questions. She asked if I thought the boys would be bored of the drive by now. I told her there was a bag of activities by her feet including an old iPad of her Grandpa’s. Her eyes bulged, so I let her play maths games. A real treat for her.
We stopped for lunch in a cafe and she coped pretty well. She got to choose where to sit. It took only a little coaching for her to believe the food and drink was hers. She was quite proud of herself for using her logic to work it out.
It took us about four hours to get to the mountain and she didn’t complain once. She was a bit puzzled when we got there and I started to dress her in her ski gear, but she was keen to carry her own skies up to the field. She even stayed outside by herself whilst I sorted her ticket.
We skied together for a few hours. I either had her between my legs, held her hand or she held onto my ski pole. She was quite nervous, but also happy and excited. We stayed until the field closed, then drove down to our accommodation. She loved the unit we were staying in, happily bouncing on our bed and checking out every corner. As I treat, I let her play a game on the iPad whilst I made dinner. She only wondered for a very brief amount of time if the dinner was hers.
We walked over to the hotel in the dark. Mie not worried at all. Then we found the low ceilinged basement where the swimming pool is. She was a little concerned then. Even I find that place a little eerie, but I acted like it was totally normal. It didn’t take me long to get her in the pool. Water is her element. I call her a water fairy. Liquid or frozen, water brings out the best in her. We played in the pool for an hour by ourselves, which was wonderful and so much fun.
On the walk back to our little house, Mie led the way in the dark and we marvelled at the frost sparkling in the moonlight on the grass. I’d forgotten our tooth brushes, but found her dad’s in the car. She thought it was weird using it, but didn’t make a fuss.
That night I went to sleep with Mie cuddling me tightly. We’d stayed up late playing games together and talking a little. It was blissful. I felt so happy.
The next day she freaked out a fair bit when we went for a buffet breakfast in the busy hotel. She kind of froze on the spot. It took me a very long time to get her to eat. We were there for at least an hour. I kept telling her we had plenty of time and that there was no rush. I think that might have been how I got her to relax.
We checked out and went back up the mountain. She wouldn’t let go of my ski pole. I really wanted her to ski on her own and trusted that she could. I told her she needed a ski lesson. She became very subdued. We got to her lesson and she wouldn’t look at the instructor and wouldn’t go with him. The guy didn’t mind. He said for me to come along. I hung back as much as I could. Mie started eating her glove. The ski instructor started eating his glove. She began to follow him shyly. I edged away. She became braver and went to the lift with him. He guided her the whole way.
The teacher was incredibly enthusiastic, very patient and very tolerant. He was unfazed by her shyness and seemed to trust that she would learn from him. The best thing he did was say ‘she hasn’t spoken a word to me, but that doesn’t matter because she is listening and she’s a natural.’ Mie heard this and it really boosted her confidence. Everyone is always expecting Mie to answer their questions and be somebody she isn’t. The instructor just let her be herself. He was incredibly non-judgemental of my quiet child and so confident in her ability to learn. Truly, the world needs more people like him.
She spent the rest of the day skiing down the hill by herself. I couldn’t have been prouder. Such a beautiful day we had together.
Mie’s nervousness returned as we were driving home. It was difficult to get her to eat. I let it go and we spent our time listening to an amazing audio book. She didn’t speak to her dad when we got home late. She didn’t speak to him the next morning. I don’t think she spoke to her brothers either. She cried before school. It was heart breaking.
But then, her dad put her to bed that night and she started giggling and talking. Not about her holiday, but about things in her room. Tonight, I put her to bed and she talked to me too. Mostly about her wobbly tooth.
I feel like a door is opening into her mind