The Best Laid Plans


I had it all perfectly scheduled.

Which is how I should have known, of course.

The summer? Has already come undone.

The plan was simple. Flea would finish school and spend 2 weeks with her Dad. Then she’d head off on a PGL adventure for four days with her friend, during which time I would book myself into Champneys for a few days of not talking to anyone and eating alone while reading a book. Sounds sad, I know, but honestly – two whole days of speaking to NOBODY is basically my dream these days.

After our respective solo breaks, Flea and I are heading off on a long weekend break, before jetting off for a month-long road trip for the rest of the summer.

See? It was an excellent plan.

Except the plan unravelled spectacularly less than 12 hours after dropping Flea at summer camp, when I got a call from the camp to tell me that my daughter was homesick – had literally been sick through distress – and they’d been unable to reach me all day because my phone was off (on account of my not wanting to talk to anyone). Apparently, Flea told the camp organiser, “I don’t want to do all this stuff. I just want to be with my Mum.” 

Not such a brilliant plan, then.

I had a chat with Flea on Monday evening, and again today (she’s still struggling).  She likes the place, she likes the food, she’s enjoying the activities, but she’s sad. She doesn’t want to come home, because she knows that will mean her friend would have to come home, too.

I’m a bit at a loss, if I’m honest.

Flea’s been on countless trips without me – holidays with her Dad, camping with Beavers and Cubs, bushcraft camp with school, the ski trip to Switzerland, countless sleepovers with friends. She’s been on PGL trips before. And this is the first time we’ve ever encountered homesickness. If you’d asked me a week ago, I’d have told you Flea is the kid least likely to EVER feel homesick. It’s positively insulting how glad she is to be shot of me, in the ordinary course of affairs.

And yet, here we are. Flea is homesick.

I tend to think with kids who are homesick, a bit of tough love is usually the most sensible approach. Just as I would with a kid on Beaver camp, I’ve told Flea to buck up, that there’s no reason to be sad, she’d be bored rigid watching me work at home, and that if she throws herself into things that she’ll soon forget about feeling sad. That it’s natural to miss home, but that’s no reason to miss out on a great experience, and I’m proud of how hard she’s trying to get into the spirit of things. And that ultimately, if she can’t make it work, then of course someone will bring her home, and not think any less of her.

It sucks, though. And I don’t feel like bucking up, personally.

What makes it bearable (and stops me jumping in the car now and going to rescue my poor baby) is that the team at the camp have been thoroughly lovely about the whole business. They’re supportive and reassuring and I know with absolute confidence that they will be handling Flea with patience and kindness and just the right amount of jollying along. I am sure that she’ll get through the week because of their support (and because she’s stubborn as a mule, like her mother, and hates to give up on anything) but I suspect it might be me that needs a few extra hugs by the end of the week.



21 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans”

  1. Homesickness is a very weird thing! Always seems to strike when you least expect it. I’m sure she will be fine but knowing your child isn’t truly enjoying what they are doing is quite unnerving! I’d take some peace in the fact that she is enjoying most of what she is doing, her stubborness will see her through but I suspect you both will need those hugs this time round!

  2. That’s so rubbish. What a dilemma. Sound like the PGL team are doing a great job and hopefully you will be able to get at least some relaxing time alone. If you are at Champneys in my neck of the woods ( Tring) shout if you fancy a drink and a moan at my local.

  3. And she will probably never remember this, and yet you will. Not fair, is it?! Sorry to hear your peace has been broken, and there’s not much you can do except sit and wait it out now. Kids, who’d have ’em, eh?! I prescribe chocolate, lots of it.

  4. Oh I really feel for her – I used to get homesick a lot as a child. If I’m honest, I still get it at the age of 31… My boy does too and it’s a very hard thing to rationalise. You KNOW that you’re being silly and that you’re in a nice place and should be having fun, but the only thing that makes you feel better is going home. I hope she gets past it and it’s just a wobble, but I think you’re a lovely mum for giving her a path to come home if she needs to because I think that if she felt stuck there it could be much worse. Hopefully by knowing she could come home, it’ll make her feel much more able to stay.

    1. I suspect it’s one of those things you can’t rationalise someone out of – it’s under the heading of “you feel what you feel” and you’ve just got to let kids learn to deal with difficult emotions, I know. Hard, though.

  5. From the age I was allowed by school to go on PGL I went every year and hated it. I asked to go every year. It was only when I got there I felt terrified but I never admitted to it. When I came home I bare faced lied, proudly presented my green (canoeing!) undies to my Mum to salvage and told both her and my Dad it had been spectacular. It was always the abseiling that got me. I’d be forced by teachers to try, get to the top of the tower, quiver, beg for an instructor to take me down and then feel horrendous when on the ground as all my peers carried on merrily. I was fine staying away normally (and did a lot from a young age), I thought PGL was brilliant in principle but it made me so anxious when I arrived. I don’t know if it was because it was in the middle of nowhere – we lived on a main road in a densely populated town and it felt a million miles from anywhere. The horse riding. I remember now, that terrified me too and I was always worried about being left behind or having a house that cantered away from the group. But I kept going back. And on the last trip, just like any decent cheesy film, I nailed the abseiling. I’ve done far more impressive things in my life than that since but still the sheer joy from completing that abseil stays with me. My little sister cried on her first Brownie camp and my parents went to get her immediately in the middle of the night. She’d never stay away from home after that and whilst she’s gone on to travel the world alone as an adult it took a really long time to work up to that! I have no idea what I’d do but equally thinking about how I managed to cope with things myself makes me think I’d opt to apply a dose of tough love – until Andy jumped in the car to go and fetch the blinking child!

    1. God, Ruth, I hope that’s not Flea! I’m pretty sure she loves these trips – she’s an adventurous soul and genuinely climbing and watersports and abseiling are pretty much her favourite things to do EVER, so I’m extra floored as to why she’s wobbly this time, although I suspect it’s more to do with what’s been going on at home than what’s going on at camp -it’s been a tricky year for her, in lots of ways, and I think maybe it’s dented her confidence a little. Sigh. It’s never easy to know the one right thing to do, though, probably because there isn’t one!

  6. Tough, tough, tough… I can’t imagine what you must be going through. You’ve definitely nailed that one, telling Flea to toughen up, but also reassuring her you would get her if it really was that bad. I’m sure you’ll remember that holiday forever. She probably will forget feeling homesick by the time she’s started enjoying herself. Being homesick is a weird thing, isn’t it?

  7. Ah yikes that would pull the rug out a bit. I imagine her to be a lot like J, who is the most independent girl I know, who can’t wait to be shot of me. I don’t know what I’d do if she suddenly lost that on a trip. Well I do, I’d do what you’re doing, but it would be really tough! Grit your teeth – road-trip sounds awesome; it will soon be over.

  8. Poor Flea! Homesickness is a fickle beast though, I can go away for 4-6 months and be fine, yet sometimes I go away for a long weekend and all I want in life is my own bed and a good cry…

  9. Homesickness is a funny thing isn’t it? It’s horrid, I know, and it also can strike when you least expect and when you don’t seem to have any particular reason to feel it compared to another time. As you say, I’m sure she will be glad she stuck it out – but that doesn’t make it any easier while going through it. Glad you have some brilliant plans for the rest of the summer together.

  10. Aww you’re daughter reminds me of mine, not because they’re particularly similar, but because they’re exactly the same age and we seem to be going through the same things at the same time (it could’ve almost been me writing your puberty post recently lol). My daughter was homesick too on her PGL in May, she enjoyed the activities etc like you say here, but missed me and has told me she isn’t doing to big trip next year! I don’t think you can ever second kids and how they’re going to feel. I have no advice but hope Flea enjoyed the rest of her tip as much as she could 🙂 xx

  11. Oh poor Flea, and poor you. I really hope she stops feeling so sad soon and can enjoy the activities and things.

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