Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Prize giving and more results

Waif has been nominated by her teacher for the school drama prize - I had no idea she was good at drama.  Someone is nominated from each class so there is no guarantee she will get the prize, but she is chuffed anyway.

She has also come top of the year in art, with 100%.  I am not surprised - the theme was the human body in movement and her prep included pen and ink, pencil and mixed media studies of the anatomy of the human form (free hand skeleton, muscle groups, different dance poses), photoshopped pictures of Older Daughter performing a ballet leap with superimposed images at different stages and each with different coloured tinges, bright watercolour effects of sky and background and lino prints that she had made herself.   Half of me, okay 99% of me, is so very very proud yet a tiny nagging corner worries that Waif is relentlessly determined to do nothing less than perfectly.

They had an outside speaker in school yesterday doing "Who wants to be a mathionnaire?" which was like a maths quiz with electronic voting.

Waif was cross as she had come second.

"Who came first?"  I asked.  "The teacher" she said "and he cheated as he had heard the same questions the period earlier with another set."

Today at Waif's school is World Cup Football day with events centred around footie for the boys, whilst the girls have a lecture and workshop on "Friendship".  I hope it is instructive - friendship issues are so important for pubescent girls, and so life determining.

Term is winding to an end as tomorrow is Sports Day (Waif is hoping to win the 300m - I have told her she needs more muscle mass to win the 100m) and Friday is a day off in preparation for Founders' Day on Saturday - Waif is heading off to on the Friday to Thorpe Park with some new school friends.  She is anticipating free entry with her Blue Peter badge.  H and I are worried about her Blue Peter Badges - she has the full collection (completely self directed) except for the Gold.  The only way to get a Gold Badge is to save someone's life.   Hmmmmmm...,,,first she has to put it in danger!  We are watching out for steep drops and uninsulated electric cables.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


We had a party at the weekend and my sister came to stay.  My sister is quite one off - very practical and no nonsense.  She casually told me that she had been in Waif's room and read her diary, and that Waif was being bullied at her old school just before and during the start of her AN:   I first noticed her losing weight rapidly in early 2009, tooke her to the GP in June 2009 and started at the Maudsley in September 2009.  I am afraid to confess that I now have also read the diary.  I know many of my readers will think that I have invaded Waif's privacy, and I have.  If it is any comfort, I have not read her recent diary, just the one my sister pointed to from Autumn 2008.  Waif had left it out on her bed so perhaps she wanted someone to find it.

My blood is boiling!  How dare a bunch of 12 year olds  - one in particular - pick on my kind, sweet, fragile Waif and make her life miserable to the point where she stopped eating?  It's heartbreaking.  I am SOOOO glad she is out of there.

Funnily enough, I had met the girl in question only once and had had such a strong feeling of disgust at her (I know that is a strong emotion to feel about a 12 year old but is not overstating the point) that I phoned the Headmistress a few days after and explained that Waif would be sitting the entrance exam for boarding school for Year 9.  My husband thought I was over-reacting and shouldn't mention the appalling behaviour at Waif's party.  In fact he wouldn't let me name names even when the HM asked for them.

So, some background.  Waif  is amongst the youngest in her year, having an August birthday.  On her twelfth birthday in 2008 she had a party here at our house.  The idea was some games and tea in the garden with a lot of her class - she didn't want anyone to feel left out through not being invited and, as it was the middle of the Summer holidays, we banked on about half of the class being away leaving a manageable party of about 12 girls.

As expected, about half of the girls, including Beatrice (not her real name) came along.  Many of them I had I had not met before as it was only the end of Waif's first year at the school and they live all over London.  I was firstly shocked by the NOISE that they made, and I am used to large groups of children, having been a teacher for a few years before I went back to law.

Beatrice speaking was more like a foghorn and she spoke rudely across all the others.  Her volume and size alone made her intimidating, as did also her hostile manner.   She commanded the swing seat in the garden as she held forth to her court, paying no attention to organised games or her hostess's wish to have a party.

I handed out food in the garden on paper plates.  There were not many thank-yous.  They then had ice lollies and threw the wrappers, paper plates and leftovers over our lawn without, seemingly, any concern whatsoever.  I am not really getting across the full atmosphere here of general hostility and presence.  Anyway, they were being so loud and so lively, and being all 12 and living next to the park, I decided to send them off out for half an hour to blow off some steam.  As they were so unruly, I asked my husband to go keep an eye on them whilst I cleared up.

He followed them at a distance with the dog but was forced to intervene when Beatrice, and some lackeys, started shouting "You're a chav, you're a chav" to strangers in the park, quite possibly putting themselves in danger as well as being appallingly rude.  These are all wealthy, supposedly well brought up girls.

He went up to them and told them to stop at which point Beatrice started loudly shouting "Rape! Rape!" at the top of her voice in the middle of the crowded Royal Park in London.  This was her host!!!  My husband is a man not many would mess with.  At 6ft 4 he has real presence.  I could truly not imagine what it must be like to be in class with this girl with less imposing teachers.  I reasoned that you would have to decide to be with her or against her, and either would be a difficult choice.  Waif's class was forever being put into detention at school for the setting off of fire alarms, leaving a turd (FFS) on the teacher's chair etc etc.  The problem with Beatrice is that she was also very smart and able to slide out of the firing line for blame.

Anyway, after this party in August 2008, I decided that Waif should sit for boarding school for Autumn 2009 as her name had been down anyway for years.

This is the entry from Waif's diary on 30.09.08.  Remember she is just 12.

Today wasn't really anything special...I have decided that I really want to go to boarding school.  By mistake my PE shirt in basketball was undone 3 buttons (I was wearing a vest!) and Beatrice goes "Waif, take you and your boobies elsewhere."

I am not the type of person to get offended by remarks or anything like that.  It's just that it's SOOOOO embarrassing because everyone burst out laughing.

But then again, I think of the two closest friends I have ever had: Lucy and Emma and I wonder if it's worth it, missing two of the main people in my life, not even mentioning my family I will miss when I board.......but I guess sometimes evil rules over good and bullies win.  When I start at boarding school I plan to make a fresh start with new friends and NO enemies."

I find this heartbreaking!   My lovely, kind girl contemplating wrenching herself away from friends and family just to escape the likes of Beatrice making her life a misery.  I am half inclined to send Waif's diary to the Headmistress.

Anyway, in case the time line is not clear, Waif took the entrance exam in February 2009.  I had no doubts she would get in as she is exceptionally bright.  But it was not to be - there turned out to be only one boarding place available in Year 9 for a girl and it went to another child who did better than her in French.  She was French.

This is when Waif began rapidly to lose weight.  She also expressed a desire to go to ANY school apart from the one she was at.  The school she was at is fantastic academically (top ten in the country in some tables) and although I questioned her repeatedly, she refused to tell me that she was unhappy there so my husband and I kept her there, wanting stability.  I can kick myself now!!!  I can't believe we didn't listen to her more carefully, or that she didn't feel she could talk to me about her unhappiness  :-(    Of course, I was working back then so my eye was also not properly on the ball.  I started my sabbatical in late September 2009 and, if you have been following my blog, you will know that almost the first thing I did was find Waif a new school.  By then her weight had slipped to 35kg and I was desperate to do/ try anything, and thought that she probably wouldn't be at any school for much longer, but in hospital.  Why did I let it get to that stage????

But mainly my anger is directed at that poisonous girl Beatrice.  I am certain she has many redeeming features (who doesn't?) and does not realise the havoc that she causes to a lot of children at that school, but even so....grrrrrrrr...

Oh, at the end of the party, I decided to say something to Beatrice's mother when she picked her up.  An hour after the end of the party, still her lift had not arrived.  I was watering outside the front of the house - half keeping an eye out for parents, when an idiot drove far too fast down our road, music blaring, skidded to a halt, reversed rapidly and mounted the pavement.  I was appalled, and then shocked as the man who stepped out of the car said he was there to pick up Beatrice.  I saw that there was no point mentioning her behaviour to him of all people.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Exam results

Waif has begun to get her exam results.  In biology (one of her only 2's for achievement) she came top of the whole year with 100% in a higher tier GCSE paper 2 years ahead of her actual GCSEs.  Yes, she over-revised. The psych had set her the task of doing badly in one of her GCSEs - for instance, Spanish or Latin both of which she is giving up.  She came third in the year for Latin and revised like mad for Spanish despite me trying to dissuade her - results should be tomorrow.

We have lately been having a little trouble with the journey to school:  Waif has not cycled for about 3 weeks as some children at the school told her that "only lesbians go on bikes" which she took to heart.  She is very concerned about being cool/ popular.  She has had her hair highlighted from quite blonde to very blonde and is now sporting a tan from Marbella at half-term and looks like the most feminine, fragile, beautiful girl you can imagine, and nothing like a lesbian!  She also dislikes the bus that she could take.  Apparently it is a very, ahem, lively bus-stop after school with all the boys and girls crowding to get on the bus.  Waif got pushed over in the tide as she was getting on the other day and is therefore nervous of that too.  I have suggested she wait for the next bus but actually her school is in quite a dodgy area and even I wouldn't like to be hanging around waiting for a bus on my own right there.  So I have been mainly driving her.  How will this fit in with my going back to work in the Autumn, I wonder.

Anyhow, Waif has announced that she does want to cycle tomorrow - perhaps she is more confident now that she is coming top in exams, and today came first in the year in sprint heats for Sports Day.  I used to be a runner (still do a bit) and am pleased that she is quick too.  It's a good sport to be talented in as you don't really have to practise.  Being a mixed school, there is always kudos associated with being an athlete.

Waif's last examination is tomorrow: her favourite subject, art.  They have been told to prepare at home on the subject of the Human Body.  Waif has had out books on physiology and has been faithfully copying out bone structures and musculature in a detailed way.  She has also photographed Older Daughter doing a high leap in ballet costume and has collaged a time lapse photography effect in black and white with tinges of colour on each image.  She has turned the combined image into a silhouette which she then made into a lino print.  Waif has also been copying out sketches of people in different poses in different media: inks, pencils, crayons, felt-tips.  She has probably spent a total of 40 hours preparing for her art exam tomorrow.  My only concern is that the final results are so exceptionally outstanding (I am entitled to be biased for I am her mother) that I have a horrible suspicion that the art teacher will wrongly assume that someone has done it all for her.  They have not.

If I can persuade Waif to send me copies digitally, I will show you some of her art work over the next few days.

Food:  hmmmm...despite being keen to be a proper weight by September, Waif will still not eat a morsel more than is on her meal plan.  Ho hum, she does at least eat everything that is on the list but there is definitely still a large element of control, and where there are options, the lower calorie choice is always favoured.  Hmmmmm...further to go.  With her french exchange coming at the start of the Summer holidays, I am going to face a difficult decision of whether or not to allow Waif to go away for 10 days.  Perhaps I need to be straight with the other mother and let her decide if she can cope and/or let me know if Waif is not eating and put her straight on a train home.  I don't want to let anorexia ruin her life.

Older Daughter's Friend has a mother who is a camerawoman.  ODF told me that her Mum helped make a video on anorexia for Beat where they filmed two identical twins, one of whom had had anorexia at 12.  She was a full head shorter than her healthy twin.  I may tell Waif about that tonight so that she is aware of what she is trying to avoid........

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The day after

The day after a Maudsley visit is always difficult for the Waif.  Initially, she used to have a day off school to recover, but that was not possible today as she has examinations.  Waif came into bed with us in the night, having had a nightmare about the Cumbria killings, or "the man with the shotgun" as she puts it.

Unwisely, I also chose today not to accompany her to school as I wanted to get to the gym (I have a triathlon in 3 weeks time and need to get some traning in and still have time for Mummy tasks and admin, like job applications (!) during the day so I got up at 6am to walk the dog, make packed lunches, find school shoes, protractors, compasses, cook breakfast and find my gym kit by 7.10am).  Unfortunately, at 6.30am, Waif discovered that she unexpectedly has a maths exam today that she had thought would be tomorrow, it then started to rain at 7.30am as she was setting off on her (mile and a half) walk to the busstop.  So I had a very tearful call on my mobile from her 200m from the house, whilst I was already a tube ride away.  I told her to go home and ask her father for a lift.  Then her key wouldn't work, and H wouldn't answer the door (he was shaving) and it was still raining (another tearful call).  It all worked out eventually but poor Waif was not in the best way this morning  :-(    

Yes, there is no doubt something in the 2 comments on yesterday's post.  I need to look again at Waif's perfectionist attitude.  The last thing I want to do is criticise her, especially for such a positive virtue in normal circumstances.  At least her new school is MUCH more relaxed than her old one.

I texted Waif mid morning to find out how her first exam went (she texts me over a dozen times a day usually) and she said "It was as I expected.  Most of them cheated."   :-o     She is funny.  She was unimpressed yesterday at the teacher who turned up late to start their exam thus ensuring that they missed break.  She will not forgive or forget lightly.  Shudder, I would not like to be that staff member at the next parents' evening, to which Waif will come along.  Also, her Head of Year has lost her history book....Waif is certain that she handed it in and then was away when they were handed back.

"But why would he say he didn't have it?" I asked her.

"He was too lazy to look" she retorted.

Sigh, I have no doubt she is right - her memory and organisation are faultless.  I also wouldn't like to be him either.

I predict one day Waif will be Prime Minister.

Monday, 7 June 2010

9 months review - gain of 200g

We were back at the Maudsley today after half term.  As it is 9 months since Waif started going, we had to fill in all the mental health questionnaires again.

Once more, Waif and I were both of the opinion that she is a very happy, sane child:  she is not obsessive about things, she does not have panic attacks, she has no feelings of worthlessness.  This is all brilliant!  As the psych noted, Waif is not a typical case.

The psych said that 9 months was the normal time for treatment and that ideally she would like to discharge Waif  BUT she can't as Waif is still only at 82% of her ideal weight (she began at 76% but the target weight has been going up as she gets older and taller).  Waif needs to be 95% of her target weight before discharge.  We asked the psych to tell us what this would be and she told us 48kg at the moment.  She also said that Waif would not begin puberty until she got to that kind of weight.

Waif and I are aiming for a discharge by September..she seems genuinely on for it!  7kg to put on in 11 or 12 weeks.  Wow.

In the real world, Waif went to Marbella for a few days over half term with her father and had a wonderful time in the sunshine, coming back blonde and tanned.  H said (correctly) that Waif can be demanding company.  She can.  She is demanding and rewarding:  she gives a lot and expects  a lot back.

Hmmm...I didn't mention to the psych (forgot) that Waif missed the last 3 days of school before half term as she was worried about her upcoming Spanish exam: she is giving up Spanish so has not put in much work but she does not want to do badly in the exam, so she is hamstrung about whether to be working really hard at Spanish to avoid a B, or whether to concentrate on subjects she will be continuing with.  She did 9 hours revision yesterday (Sunday) which is a bit OTT at 13 yo, but still impressive.

We got Waif's grade card - she basically has a string of almost unbroken "1s" for effort, achievement and organisation.  1 is outstanding, 2 is above average, 3 is good, 4 is poor and 5 is unacceptable.  There is a card to provide parental feedback which my husband filled in and posted (without consultation).  In it, he apparently asked what Waif could do to improve her history  (two 1's and a 2) and geography (ditto).  He didn't comment on her other 9 subjects where she was faultless!  Sigh, no pressure then!

Waif is such a sweetheart - I suddenly felt quite ill last night and she told me she would clear up supper and she brought me a cup of tea :-)  :-)   What a darling.