Monday, 6 September 2010

prison visiting

Waif, Hubby and I went to visit our incarcerated relative yesterday, she who allegedly murdered another relative.

We have never been in a prison before.  After our fingerprints were scanned in and passports checked, it was surprisingly normal.  The room where we met was very like a school gym but with some strange rules, like we couldn't stand up until our prisoner had left the room, and she couldn't take off her cardigan without permission.  Her coffee mug was a different colour from ours so that we could not spit something into a drink and then swap it with her.

 We talked about prison life, deciding that she was probably the only one there who had attended a finishing school on the continent.  She seemed to be a bit of a celebrity amongst the warders who identified us immediately as her relatives and all seemed cheerful and polite.

Sigh, it's still no fun being in prison, though.  She is locked in her cell for 14 hours a night and whilst it is a single cell and she has a tv (DVD player comes with good behaviour later), it also has a smelly toilet which can't be cleaned as the prisoners are not trusted with bleach.  There is a lot of self harm too which must be exhausting emotionally.  The other day she opened the door to her friend's cell to find her there with a plastic bag over her head :-(

Waif sat mainly listening.  I am not sure what she thought about the whole thing, but it must have some effect.  Hubby reckons this whole episode is something we shouldn't mention at the Maudsley as it is irrelevant but I think perhaps it is not chance that Waif comes from a family where issues such as domestic abuse are around but not spoken of.  Hubby's words of advice to Older Daughter on departing for boarding school - his distilled wisdom from years at public school - was "don't tell tales."  Even he admits that his family are not good communicators.

We had an eventful day yesterday actually as on the way to the prison we stopped for a walk and a picnic in Richmond Park.  It is beautiful there and reminds me of my childhood.  We saw a heart engraved into a tree with Stephen 4 Brenda  10.9.78 carved in its middle.  I searched my mind for a Brenda but couldn't think of one.  I wondered if I might see my own name anywhere (obviously, I didn't).  Anyway, after the idyll that was a sandwich in the dappled shade, overlooking herds of deer, dog calmly lying next to us, we saw a poor woman tumble off her bike.  She was in her fifties or sixties and had been carrying a plastic bag over her front handlebar and it had entangled with the wheel.  She went straight over the top and landed awkwardly.  Luckily, the car behind her stopped in time and did not compound the injuries.

She was briefly knocked out and was nursing a possible broken shoulder and wrist (or so it seemed to my inexpert eye) so we shepherded traffic away from her and summoned an ambulance.  Luckily a paramedic soon arrived to take over followed slightly later by the ambulance.

After we left, I pointed out to Waif that Fran might have avoided her head injury had she been wearing a helmet.  Currently, Waif refuses to wear a helmet on her cycle to school.  Waif countered by telling me to look at the stats and to see that she is less likely to have an accident if she is NOT wearing a helmet.

Sigh, I tried the emotional blackmail "Well, do it for my sake.  Think how awful I would feel if you were to fall off and hit your head and I knew I had not made you wear a helmet".  She came straight back with "Imagine how I would feel if you fell off and hurt yourself and I knew you didn't even need to come with me".  

I reckon I lost that argument!  It's tricky as a parent to strike the right balance between benevolent adviser and benevolent dictator.  On the whole I respect autonomy and have always encouraged my daughters to make their own decisions so this whole Maudsley method (parents take control over meals) has been quite strange for me.  It seems to have worked though, even if I suspect that we have been less rigid in meal plans than is often the case.

I am going to try to see the psychiatrist alone for 10 minutes before Waif's next visit to ask a couple of questions about our family life that I don't want to ask in front of Waif.  I hope that is acceptable....we have only ever had family appointments.  Personally, I think it would be good if Waif could also have some time alone with the psych because teenagers often have issues they don't want to share with their parents.

Ho hum, 16 September is our next appointment.  Yikes, I realise that we have been failing to weigh Waif weekly - she is starting to look so much healthier that I guess I haven't wanted to upset the applecart but I know I should do this and will tackle her tonight after school and suggest we get a number down.

1 comment:

  1. I think you need to go to the Maudsley separately. Having you in with the psych, and waif waiting outside knowing that you are discussing her is going to be awkward (to say the the least) and then she is going to demand to know what you said. So you will then either have to tell her (so it was pointless going alone) or lie (not attractive)