Before I start, I want to put this into perspective. No-one has died, or divorced, or left etc. It wasn’t to do with grades or uni or even a relationship. But this week my eldest son had what they see would as a huge disappointment. He was due to go on holiday with his girlfriend and her family on an early flight on Saturday morning to Tenerife for a week. He had been invited over the Christmas holidays and we agreed that it would be his gift for his 19th birthday which is on Easter Sunday this year. A lot of money was spent on flights, insurance, passport and proper summer clothes that he was going to need.
Last week there was things to sort for him everyday leading up to picking him up from uni late on Thursday evening so we had Friday to sort all the packing and money exchanging. It was a busy week for me as it’s not every day I can be up and around and active due to my illness, however, by Friday morning we were fairly relaxed thinking we were ahead of ourselves.
Then came the message that was to change it all. His girlfriend messaged to say her younger brother had been rushed into hospital that morning as he had become unwell without any warning signs or symptoms. When he told us my hubby and I knew right there and then that they would not be flying out to their holiday,but wanted to allow him to process what was happening and come to his own conclusions without us being instantly negative. However, as the morning went on I received a call from the mum to tell me what was happening and that they would have to cancel the holiday! Having never spoken to her before other than a phone message I felt so sorry for her when she was getting upset telling us they have to cancel. As an adult we can look at the whole situation and know that the most important thing was that their son was going to be OK. But we then had to break the news to my son, yes he’s 19 years old and should be able to process the initial disappointment and be able to know that it was more important that their son was well. However, throw in the fact he hasn’t been on proper holiday abroad for around 10 years so he was definitely excited about going, also the fact he was going to spend a week with his girlfriend ( who he doesn’t see every week because she lives in Norfolk and he’s at uni in Brighton) and then add on that the fact he has Aspergers.
Surprisingly, he took it well, but he was playing his guitar at the time ( a stress reliever for him) and we could see that his eyes were welling up but he was trying not to show it. He obviously was concerned for the brother as he has got to know him quite well now and they both get on. He knew it was more important that the son was in hospital and no-one knew what was happening to him (initially we heard it was possible appendicitis, then possible pancreatitis and he was due to have scans and more blood tests) but it was still a huge disappointment for him to process. So, we agreed that if he still wanted to have time with his girlfriend that because my husband was off work for a day or two we would be able to drive him up to stay with her as I know she would want to be at home to see her brother. So, that’s what we did and in all fairness he was quite happy in the end with the outcome of a few days with his girlfriend rather than not see her at all.
I think teenagers ( even the older ones who are more independent) still live in that moment or that day rather than look ahead or plan ahead as most adults would do, in that respect they are still like young children and therefore we have to remember they might not take the same approach to disappointment that a fully grown adult, who has experienced a bit of life, would. Things that happen along the way in life like this situation help us deal better with any future disappointments in life. They put things into perspective, they make them see that things do not always work out as you planned it and it’s still our job as parents to help them through these things and make them feel normal for having these feelings.
The main thing overall is that their son is OK, although he is still in hospital having scans and pain relief until they source the real cause of the problem, but I still think it’s natural to feel a little disappointment when it comes to these situations too. It’s not selfish providing you do not lose sight of the bigger picture. This certainly would have been much, much worse if this had happened on the plane or even when they were out at their holiday destination, there will be other holidays and other times to do things.
So for now we hope he has a great time this week in Norfolk and we just look forward to celebrating his birthday on Easter Sunday.
How have you had to help your teen deal with life’s little disappointments? I am generally interested to know how others cope.