Mother courage

At long last we have had our child and adolescent mental health
referral. James and I saw the child psychologist last week after a
wait of more than a year.

We went into a homely room with lots of toys and she introduced
herself and told James to call her by her first name (something
that every doctor we have ever seen has singularly failed to do).
She asked me lots of questions about James’s life – from
birth through to early years to now. She wanted to know about our
family – who was in it, what were they like, what we do – and James
revelled in having the chance to chat away to an adult he
hadn’t met before.

He told her all about his sister, his pets (in great detail),
about his worries and his feelings. I had been very anxious about
how he would cope with this, but he really seemed relaxed and
managed to tell her about a lot of the problems he is having and
how that affects him. Towards the end of our session, she asked him
what he would choose if she could make three wishes come true. He
said that he would like children at school to be nice to him; he
would like to be very clever and build a big Lego model; and he
would like to have some friends.

It’s hard, so hard, to listen to your child talk about how
they are not happy and, despite having waited so long for this
appointment, it was a bitter sweet experience. As the psychologist
helpfully pointed out to me, dealing with very difficult behaviour
and riding the emotional rollercoaster that goes with having an
unhappy child is not part of your game plan as a parent. It was
really helpful for me, and ultimately for James, to have an
acknowledgement of how difficult parenting can be, to be told that
it’s OK to get it wrong sometimes because you are only

But, it was great for me and for James to know that we have some
support. We already have follow-up appointments booked in and have
some “homework” to do that involves playing, praising and having a
good time.

We’re off on holiday soon and it will be so great to be
able to be together as a family away from home, school, work and
all the usual pressures – we’ll have lots of time to

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