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Update on End of School Trip and Lots of Spending

May 26th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Hi everyone... thought I'd give a quick update on F's end of the school year trip. Well, it didn't go well. Her anxiety was triggered by two things: she scraped her leg and was in a river and freaked herself out about it getting infected (but didn't ask the teachers for polysporin) and at camp, they used a communal washbasin which she declared completely unhygienic and then freaked out that she was going to get some awful disease from it. So there you go, her anxieties in a nutshell (oh, that and a fear of unhealthy foods and habits like too much screen time; it's a health thing).

She called me hysterical, and I had to pick her up. I wanted to go, pop in, calm her down, get a nearby hotel and see if I could get her to stay. The teachers felt the same, but the person at the camp (not part of the school) said that F would be compromising the "group continuity" if I came and went, or if she came and went. (By the way, these kids have been together for 6 years, so to me that is group continuity, and plus they all know F and her anxiety. It's not a secret, and the kids are all super supportive).

Plus, she was promised an alternative to one particularly scary part of the experience (walking 30' in the air in a slot canyon by pushing on either side) and the camp person said that there wouldn't be an alternative. I was asked to take her and not return.

So, step one was to calm F down, and explain that just getting in that van and driving 3 hours was an accomplishment given her fears, and spending the night was an accomplishment. She kept saying "you're not mad at me?" and said she felt like the adults all hated her and just wanted her to go.

Step two was to give her an alternative experience and not punish her for trying this trip, but reward her. I mean, she could have refused to go at all, but she tried so hard!

I took her to a hike at this crazy volcano and ice cave, then out to lunch (if you are ever in Grants, NM, which you won't be, this place is awesome). We got a hotel, and stayed the night and went to Acoma Pueblo the next day where we met the nicest Australians on our tour, and then to the Sandia Tram in Albuquerque where we went on another hike. None of this was super cheap, but it was worth it, and the money was in the vacation fund. We are not doing a big trip this year, so this mother-daughter thing was so worth it.

Now, back home, and I am just hoping that this doesn't break her confidence.

So, step 3 is to have a better plan for the upcoming Fall trip at her new school.
- I am thinking an opt-in configuration rather than opt-out. So instead of the "pick me up!" phone call, I will plan on picking her up unless she calls to say "I can stay." That was she will know that she only has to get to a certain point.
- Even if I go pick her up at the designated time, I want to work out with the school advisor that it could be a 10 minute hello and she can stay after we talk for a few minutes. Just seeing me for a few minutes and knowing I'm not hours away may be enough for her to stay.
- Work out that there is one person, not several, who help her if she is having a panic attack.
- Talk to her advisor and the middle school head and work out all the details ahead of time.
- If she is promised an alternative, they need to stick to that promise.
- Discussion with the advisor and middle school head about anxiety and that this isn't just an overprotected kid; we may ask the psychologist she saw last year for a letter.

Honestly, I think my wonderful daughter should be praised up and down for how she manages this. She is a straight-A student and an amazing athlete. She doesn't have social anxiety or school anxiety or public speaking anxiety. No one can even tell there's an issue. She meditates and has great techniques for managing her anxiety. But this was pushing her waaaaay past her comfort zone, and she still wanted to do the trip! So kudos to her!

3 Responses to “Update on End of School Trip and Lots of Spending”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I'd say that is a wonderful accomplishment. I think you are doing well to help her, too. Smile

  2. Laura Says:

    That's a big anxiety to handle, especially when they struggle with small ones. I'd say have her reflect on coping mechanisms that did or didn't work this go around. We call it a "strategy inventory" and we re-visit things periodically. And if it's too stressful for another trip in the fall with a new school or admin, I'd not insist that she go. I think part of learning to advocate for themselves is to let them say "yes" or "no"'. My child with the most anxiety had limited opportunities to practice for high school while in junior high. I'd give F a big high five for her effort and success!

  3. Buendia Says:

    Thank you, and Laura - those are great ideas - a strategy inventory!

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