Washing Powder

Washing Powder

I collected Peter from his residential school today and his clothes smelled of the school washing powder.

So what?

Jo sat an exam last week.  Her mum and dad knew nothing about it until the last minute.

DJ had his hair cut without his mum or dad knowing.  The first they knew was a photo he sent to them.

It matters.  That doesn’t mean it’s all a bad thing, but it matters and it hurts.  The fact that the care staff at Peter’s school do his washing and that Peter trusts them to do it, is huge.  At his last school “Peter to do his washing on a Friday” was one of his five awful targets.  He is ‘demand avoidant’ (his significant anxiety problems can become overwhelming if he feels people have expectations that he can’t meet).  He was 10 / 11 years old at the time and not long out of a mental health unit.  Which ever way you frame it, it was inappropriate.  It was too much to ask of him but he was judged on this utterly stupid target all the same.  When he didn’t manage to keep track of his washing he ran the risk of a member of care staff doing it for him and ruining his clothes.  It became a loose, loose, situation that slimply served to drive up his anxiety.  Either way he rang me hyperventilating with stress, anger and worry over mouldy swimming kits and ruined clothes more than once.

Peter has sensory issues, and since mainstream school destroyed his mental health I have been looking after him and unable to work.  Finding clothes that he found comfortable was difficult and he worried about the cost.  So he worries about his clothes, he found the pressure from the ‘target’ very stressful and then when they got ruined he was distraught.

So you see I am grateful that the staff at his new school take such care of him.  That he trusts them to take care of his clothes after such a short time there.

It hurts all the same.

There is another point to all of this too.  The journey/path/fight (what do you call it?) that we have taken to the point where our child is able to access the education, care and therapy that they need is, for everyone I know, for one reason or another, horrendous.  So actually, as DJ’s mum points out – you want to be involved in the good stuff, the successes.  Please don’t take those away from us too?

Not once in a million years did I think Peter would live away from us for much of his childhood.

We want our children to have whatever they need to have an exciting, happy and productive childhood, and want them to be in a fit state to live independently and happily as adults.  We don’t, however, ‘want’ our children looked after by other people.  It’s what they need but please don’t think, for one minute it’s what we wanted them to need.

No one gives birth to their child expecting that 9 or 10 years later they will be living most of their childhood away from home……

The washing powder smells nice.  For me its a happy smell (if there is such a thing), a reminder that Peter trusts his care staff.  They do his washing for him.  The waking night staff will iron it for him too if he wants them too……. and he likes that.

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4 thoughts on “Washing Powder

  1. We all want to do what is best for our children. In some cases that means sending the to a residential school where people with expertise can coax them along the road to independence. Something we probably couldn’t do so well on our own. My son is at residential school, too, and I have always said exactly the same. We don’t gaze at our little babies and hope for the time we are going to send them elsewhere to live. It’s a really hard decision. And then we usually have to fight for it…adding insult to injury. It’s hard, being us 😥


  2. interesting post. Thw washing powder smell gets me too – it is a very strong reminder of his father’s ongoing control over our lives. Such a small thing; yet so powerful. The boarding was not my choice – it is not good for my son. His father additionally fought for 50:50 shared care in time so I see my son for 4 days a month. It hurts. I dont see it as a step towards independence (which would be amazing) – I gave my son much more growth at home.


  3. For a child with sensory issues, this is actually huge. Sometimes we are too close to be able to see the woods for the trees. I find it odd TBH that nobody seems to have actually asked whether Peter (or others) would prefer to continue with the same washing powder that is used within his true home. I can understand why you feel hurt.


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