I tried to re-arrange my face into a look of nonchalance but inside my stomach was churning. I was very aware that the whole future of our relationship rested on my reaction to this particular revelation. Say the wrong thing and she may never confide her feelings about boys to me again. So while my panicked brain shouted at me: ‘She’s going to have sex too young!’ ‘She’s going to be pregnant before she’s 12!’ She’s going to have a dirty back street abortion which will KILL HER!’ I somehow managed a weak smile and a ‘How nice. Does he have your rubber?’ And then it was easier to act normally as Poppy went off into a detailed explanation of the rubber exchange.
She went back to school after lunch leaving me mentally exhausted. But once the ‘Pregnancy/shame/abortion/death’ thoughts had calmed over a cup of tea, I reached for our special book and started to write.
Our ‘Special book’ it just for the two of us. We share our thoughts, fears and hopes in there and keep it in a safe place – usually under her pillow. No-one else is allowed to look at it. And it really is great. I am not very good at saying the right thing but writing things down a little later helps me to take a deep breath and get to the nook and cranny of how I feel. And for Poppy, she has reached that age when she also finds it difficult to express herself, so I think it helps her. And she loves having something that is there for just me and her.
So I started to write about how it was lovely to see her so happy. I wrote about falling for a boy when I was around her age but he moved away after a year leaving me very sad. However, we wrote to each other for more than 10 years. I asked questions about Raphael - What does she like about him? Does he also like drawing? What does he do that makes her smile? Then I closed the book and felt differently about it all. And I felt hope. That maybe I will get through many more years of being an okay mum.