By Connor Boyle | Posted: Monday December 17, 2018
This is the other half of Ella Kalmakoff's story, as told by her mother.
Last year was hell.
It all came to a head when my daughter, Ella, said she was at a friend’s place, the friend said she was here at my house. They went to a party in Brighton. I’m out in Brighton at 11pm with no cell phone coverage and no information except that she’d been dropped off somewhere by another friend and met by two boys. I had trusted her up until that point, from that day on I insisted on taking her phone as a consequence and that was when it all came out. I saw what was on her phone and I rang her Dad and I said “I need to come and see you. We need to talk about this.” When I was at her Dad’s place I get a call from her brother who tells me that he thinks he needs to call an ambulance. I rush home, walk in and he’s absolutely beside himself, she’s on her bed but won’t talk to me. We got Emergency Psych Services involved and I called the cops.
I was so disturbed by what had happened. It’s still hard for me to talk about it. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life. I had a 13 year old who was talking about committing suicide. I questioned every parenting decision and discussion I’d ever made in my life. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I wanted to get her and just wrap her up.
I went through all of her messages and found that her and her friend had organised to buy some alcohol with money I’d given her for something else. 13 year old girls managed to organise that through the Sober Drivers Dunedin Facebook page. I was livid. Because I had Ella’s phone I had this young man’s name, phone number, and a copy of the messages. They had bought this alcohol from this boy. I spoke to him and then I went to the police. A detective came over and talked to Ella and this boy. It was pretty blunt, pretty hard hitting. I would not wanted to have been on the receiving end of his talk.
I got a call one morning from the dean of the school telling me that Ella had blown her last chance, she was going to need to be sent to London House for a week. That was when Fiona from the Malcam Trust stepped up her work with Ella, started spending time with her one on one. Up until then Fiona had been working with Ella in a small group of similar girls at school. Fiona went to the school and individually met with all of Ella’s teachers and got her the clean slate before she came back. I think it was about the only way that Ella could have gone back to school. Going to London House started a small change in Ella.
I had a chat with Fiona and it made me realise why Ella could connect with her so well, She’s an amazing woman. It’s so incredible to have someone who can walk alongside a young person who is going through difficult things, someone who is not a parent, someone who has their back through it all and yet still can challenge or say confronting things if they need to be said. Knowing that Ella had Fiona beside her I took a big breath. I knew I could take a step back. Actually, I had to take a step back. There was someone working with her that she could turn to, that she could talk to. I didn’t need to know what they talked about. I know to this day that Fiona knows more about what went on than I do. One thing I learnt last year is that as a parent in that situation you may have to take a step back knowing that there’s somebody else who is better suited to being that kind of support for your child, someone who your child is connecting with that they trust. Talking with Fiona that first time I walked away and I sat in my car and cried. Tears of relief. The weight that was lifted off me was immense. I knew that Fiona was on my side and on Ella’s side. I truly believe that the influence of Fiona on Ella’s life will stay with her forever. I don’t say that lightly.
Now I have a daughter who can communicate with me; who is a pleasure to be around; who has got insight and maturity; and she’s engaged at school. If you’re in a similar situation and your child has a chance to work with someone like Fiona, a youth worker, then do it. Trust the process. Find the strength inside you to stay strong for your child. Also learn how all of the social media platforms work!
Read Ella's side of the story by navigating back to our News page.