There is a little epilogue to the story. I arrived at school for the last lessons this morning and a mother drove in behind me and came up to give me a little gift which she said she hadn’t managed to organize last Wednesday - when her four delightful little girls had their last lesson. She handed me a jar of Chivers ginger preserve and a packet of green tea with lemon – saying she had no idea if I liked that sort of thing but she thought if I did I could think of them at breakfast every morning during the holiday.
I then took a risk. I do not normally discuss families with other parents but I suddenly felt I had an ally here. This mother is actually quite friendly with mother X – something I discovered when mother X was at mother Y’s house stuck with a puncture. I had the boy with me for his lesson and mother Y rang me to ask if I could hang on to him until they had found someone to come and collect him. I did, of course, but never got a thank you from mother X.
I asked Mother Y if she knew mother X well. She hesitated a moment and then said that she did, that she liked her but that it wasn’t easy. She then asked me if I had had problems. I said yes, but didn’t go into details. I added that I thought mother X was not really very well. Mother Y put me a little more in the picture, filling me in on some things I didn’t know and giving me some examples of behaviour she herself and this Catholic community had had to manage. She also said that she had learnt a lot from watching the way the head teacher of the school their children attend deals with mother X. This school is run by nuns and mother Y said that the nun in charge always remains calm, patient and good humoured but firm. (I suppose that is easier for a nun than for me!!)
What really struck me was the kindness and compassion of mother Y towards this difficult family – and particularly towards the children who are stuck in the middle of it all. She said something that I think put it in a nutshell. It was this: “X is the prisoner of her own reactions.”
That struck me as a phrase I would like to share with you.
I think this has taken more out of me than I realized – I don’t think I have ever been so tired at the end of a school year. But lots of end of year things went really well and after a few good sleeps I should be back to normal. Anyway, the holiday has finally begun and if you have been following the Cat Thread, Brynner is back!