She spent three weeks at the school previous to starting at the residential unit, and already I had seen a difference in Charlotte. She had settled into her new school really well, the routine back in her life after her extended summer holiday, the change of school wasn't difficult at all. I was very pleased that the transition had gone so well so far.
Then she started at the residential unit, and that's when it really hit me. The first night, I called them and they said she was fine, had settled in ok, but the second night was a different matter. I called again and they said she had screamed when they took her back to the unit instead of bringing her home. I fell apart completely. I was full of doubt, couldn't make sense of why I could have done such a thing to my little girl. I couldn't believe that we had convinced the SENDIST panel that this was a good idea, how could it be? I had been so certain that this was right for her, that it was the perfect environment for her to grow and learn, and now I just wanted her back home with me.
I cried my heart out that evening. My friend called me and we chatted, she did a great job of calming me down. She told me that it didn't have to be permanent if I really didn't feel that it was right, and that I could take her out of there at any time. I'm still her mum and still in control. I thought about it and knew that she was right, but it was also only right that I gave the school and unit a chance to prove whether it was the best place for her or not.
It seems so strange now that I was 99.9% certain beforehand that it would be great for her, and indeed, we had proved that it was right for her, but now it's happened, it's difficult to believe. I'm also very aware that I am her mum, emotionally tied to my little girl, fiercely protective of my daughter and dedicated to her wellbeing. Having to let go of my child before she is an adult is the hardest thing I have ever had to experience, to admit that someone else is better placed to do the best for my child than I am. So, my very emotional response to the situation was quite probably not the most sensible thing, but totally natural.
On the other hand, after barely a week in the unit, Charlotte had settled well. They are having the same issues that we faced at home, but she is joining in activities with the other children and has been enjoying doing her makeup and playing with her toys. She is remarkably resilient and is coping a lot better than I am! So just maybe I did make the right decision after all....
Only time will tell now, but I'm calmer, and willing to see how things go. Wish me luck!