Monday morning. Start of a new week. It's busy in our house with all the things that should have been done on Sunday night. In and amongst everything else I notice that my eldest is quiet. She mentions that she doesn't feel great but apart from the uncharacteristic silence, she looks fine. Not pale or peaky. A bit tired maybe but nothing to worry about. And as I am remarkably unsympathetic with anything short of terminal illness, I give her a brief once over and then carry on with my morning.
When she leaves for school she is still quiet but I kiss her and wave her off. Ten minutes later my phone rings. She is too ill for school and she's coming home. OK, I say and send her straight to bed.
Now that I have to do something about it I start to think about what might be the matter. I cast my mind over her weekend. Following an extremely busy week, she went to Pizza Express on Friday night for a birthday party. Saturday was her drama class and then she went to her friend's for a trip to the cinema and a sleepover. She came home at lunchtime on Sunday, had some lunch and then went to an audition. Then she played with her siblings, did her homework and saxophone practise and went to bed.
And there, in a nut shell was my answer. My daughter was exhausted. And it was my fault. In and amongst our busy weekend, I had not given any thought as to the impact that back to back activities and no down time would have on my 12 year old. I only noticed when she collapsed by which time it was too late.
I went to speak to her in between listening to reading. cleaning teeth and chivying clothes on to my younger two. I told her that she was not ill but tired because she had done too much at the weekend. I said that she had to alter her priorities and that she couldn't get to a place where she missed school because she had made herself ill by being too busy. " You should have said no to the sleepover," she said. I pull a face at her and she gives me a wry half smile back. I leave her to it. She is, of course, right. I should have exercised more restraint over the activities and made sure that she had time to recover from the rigours of the week. But she was happy and having fun and so I just let it happen.
To be fair to me, I am usually more careful. My default setting when she asks me to do something is generally " No". But somehow this weekend I forgot that she is only 12 and, at the same time, my duties as her mother.
When I got back from walking the little ones to school she was dressed again and ready to go. She had decided that there was a difference between ill and tired and so went to school. I was proud of her attitude and her ability to make such a mature decision. But I think we have both learned something today.