Jake has returned from his summer holiday in France. Ten days early. Three nights of heart wrenching phone calls – I (sob) miss you (splutter) so much, mummy (more sobs) and trying to communicate with ex in-laws who don’t speak the same language has been testing and upsetting for all involved. I tried to get the level right when he phoned home each evening – attempting to strike a balance between don’t move I’m coming to get you and get a grip Sonny Jim and pull yourself together. The truth is, I felt like grabbing my passport and heading out the door after the second call.
It’s been a really tricky one. Whether or not to ‘rescue’ Jake and erase those wretched feelings of homesickness or leave him to work through them knowing that the chances are he would have settled down and had a whale of a time, maybe. I was also trying to not let my emotional baggage confuse the issue. Wrestling with my own cross feelings that this wasn’t going to be the holiday he hoped for and needed – no cousins to play with, aunt to cuddle or papa to catch crabs with. Just a nine year old boy and his devoted but distant grandparents. They adore him but affection, tickles and silliness wouldn’t have featured over the next ten days. Nor would, crucially for my little chatterbox, conversation – a language divides them.
The whole situation turned as sour as a box of unripe lemons with two wildly differing approaches to parenting not helping an already strained situation. Jake was begging to come home and I felt useless in my uncertainty about what to do.
“You decide! Not the child!” was screamed at me repeatedly last night drowning out the sound of “the child” weeping in the background. I held the phone away from my ear. Er, really? When “the child” is distressed and unhappy then, in my universe, that means doing whatever necessary to make things better.
So, now he’s back and happy as Larry. Meanwhile, somewhere across the Channel, the finishing touches are being put to a voodoo doll with my name on it. My ex-in law’s opinion of me as a destroyer of happiness now cemented forever.
Maybe I did do the wrong thing by letting him come home? Maybe I should have put my fingers in my ears and “la, la, laaad,” as my boy broke his heart hundreds of miles away. I just followed my instincts. If I can fix things for him now then I will. There are inevitably going to be many occasions in the future when I can’t. Tough love? Maybe one day but not just yet…