On Saturday night my 14 year-old daughter returned home after an 8-day trip to France with her school. We have known about this trip for a few months-ever since she chose to do French at GCSE and have been looking forward to meeting her French girl coming here next March. The preparation was fun-meeting with the teachers who would be accompanying the children on the trip,watching videos and photos of last year's trip, finding out a little about her exchange-partner- a 15 year old called Lucille who describes hersef as "sympathetique" and "seriouse", buying the necessary new clothes and, of course, presents for the French family who will effectively be her "family" for 8 days.
But suddenly, around about 24 hours before she left, it suddenly dawned on me; my baby was going to be in a completely different country for 8 days ; I would not be able to see her, hug her, chat face-to-face or feel in control of what happens to her-panic! Of course, K was blissfully unaware of all these feelings-she was too excited-not a tinge of anxiety or nervousness, unlike her 3 friends who would be going too.
Friday night arrived,we drove her to school at 10.45pm and said our slightly teary goodbyes and waved them off, feeling somewhat flat as we returned home.
There then followed ( for me at least) the longest week of the year-I couldn't settle to anything. My thoughts were not in Yorkshire, but in Normandy. I waited eagerly for the blog updates every evening and the texts from K updating us on what she'd been up to.
Then came the phone call-the tearful, homesick girl who just wanted her family and to be home-if anything was to drive me straight to the computer to look at flights to France that was it! Thankfully after an hour of texting she sounded a little happier and was able to go off to sleep, and me to a sleepless, worried night. Next night brought another tearful call and again we spent some time chatting via text.
She assured us that she was getting on well with her French girl and her parents, despite them not speaking any English and she was really enjoying the day-time activities-she just desperately missed home and family.
Finally Saturday came and after making welcome home cakes (brother and sisiter) and banner we all set off to school to meet the coach.
As soon as she got off the coach she burst into tears-hugs all round and then finally home and lots of pampering and catching up on sleep.
What a learning experience!I hate to be separated from my children and worry constantly about them if they are away. I have also learned how much home and family mean to my children- not just K who missed us so much, but my other 2 children hated her not being here too and family dynamics were very strange for that week.
Getting up on Sunday morning and seeing K fast asleep in her (extremely tidy-well I had to do something to keep myself busy!) bedroom felt so good-life was complete once again!