That car journey was something else, you know you have no sense of direction so take a really long route but you know the way up until the very last bit, the kid has to navigate using the mobile. It is a legacy from all the ebay road trips you have done together and it is apparently is good to feel like there is some control over the most uncontrolled situations.
You are in the car bubble, you three, you have lived this breathed it together for three years and you are safe in the car bubble. Actually, it is chucking it down outside and there are leaves on the road so actually this is the not safest place to be at all but it feels it. No one self-harms in the car two feet away from everyone else.
It is a journey you do not want to end, it is like you can suspend time, somewhere familiar, somewhere that feels safe.
The car bubble is a place where you can’t be got at you are in transit, no one knows exactly where you are, it is a peculiar place of safety. You feel like it might never end and you can all stay here in transit never getting there but being safe.
You don’t want to give your kid over to these people however well-meaning and well qualified they only know them through the referral paper work. They don’t know them like you do, they don’t understand how much time and care your kid needs.
They don’t know that your kid has not slept alone for years, that they have needed to be nursed to go to sleep because of their nightmares, that you have spent night after night telling them that they are safe, that nothing is going to get to them, you have slept holding their hand for longer than you can remember, in fact you can now no longer remember a time when it wasn’t like that. Your world is so tiny and they are totally at the centre of it.
You do weird things like signing along to show tunes and Eminem, who really worries about parental advisory stickers when things are this fucked?
All the while you are thinking about the epic fail that you are as a parent, your primary function is to keep your kid safe, to keep them well, this is even before you think of things like making them happy.
Keeping them alive is a pretty basic parenting task and you know you have fucked up royally when you can’t even do that. The guilt of failure is painful and while your psyche is being put through the grater of guilt, outwardly you are positive about it all because you may not have been able to prevent this but it will be the smoothest and least unpleasant hospital admission of all time…..always good to have a goal!!
It is now getting late, people are hungry you know you must be close because due to the mad route you have chosen you have been driving for four hours and off the roundabout you see the Golden Arches, bless you Ronald MacDonald one of the few food outlets where you do not actually need to interact with the real world. Drive through is a godsend when you feel so stretched and shredded that the idea of actually not being able to get the correct McFlurry might cause a total meltdown but at least if it does you are in the car bubble and no one will see it.
The façade is exhausting, you are like a meerkat on speed, looking out for every twitch and indication that you kid might do a runner, combined with holding your own feeling of what would happen if we just don’t go, maybe we can just drive until we run out of petrol. No one would know, they might not find you, we can stay, safe, in the car bubble
You are aware that this is not the best idea and that you might end up on the news. Also the basic practicalities of living off grid in the woods is not actually built around your skill set, this would take more preparation than there is time for.
When you get there you now morph into irritated parent, when your kid needs to be searched, completely forgetting that your kid has turned into a devious hoarder of all things sharp and despite checking the bags several times there was always a moment when it was left alone and you watch with a sense of embarrassment as various pencil sharpeners are removed, a small stash of paracetamol. And you thought your kid wasn’t going to take their weapons of choice with them? A school girl error!
The room is nicer than you expect, all smooth surfaces, no edges to hang yourself on or attach a noose, it is reassuring. You have now morphed into Ethel Merman singing ‘there’s no business like show business’ you are now crackling with positivity, you almost have a top hat and tails on, with a cane. There are sequins.
This is all going be fantastic, this is the best thing ever, it is an opportunity….a quick look at your kid’s face reassures you that she is not totally mad and can see through your deception and frankly if you say the work opportunity again she is going to deck you.
The deal you made is you wouldn’t cry and you two would be brave, you do it, you may be a total fuck up parent in the grand scale but at least you can do this task adequately.
Leaving is desperate; the urge to say, ‘actually thank you so much for the offer but we can manage’ is almost over whelming. It is the kid’s need to get to a better place and their constant drive to find answers and a way forward pushes you through, you remember that they have never refused an appointment, that unless the side effects were too grim they have always taken their medication, they need this, they really need it.
Back in the car bubble, too stunned to speak, you two end up making small talk about the curtains, they were nice. You won’t even remember the drive home, you needed to rely on the road signs as your navigator is not there. The route was better. You are told it will be at least few weeks for the admission; it will be almost nine months before you complete the return journey for the last time.