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Showing posts from 2017

Giving up the battle

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This morning we gave up the battle. And it felt great. 
Mornings have been a massive battle for control, and last night we decided we just weren't going to do that any more. When we thought about it, *really* thought about it, we realised that all the 'rules' we had been trying to enforce were actually totally arbitrary. You can't go downstairs until six o'clock - why not? What difference would it actually make? 
So Tickle woke at 5am, and Husband got him a drink and snack, and said he could play. We snoozed. Then Tickle wanted the iPad to watch CBeebies, so we gave it to him. We snoozed. Then he wanted to go downstairs and play, so we let him. We snoozed. He sounded like he was getting a bit silly, so we called down and reminded him he'd have to come up if he was going to be silly. He calmed down. We snoozed. Husband had a shower. 
Tickle started asking for breakfast around ten past six, by which time Husband was nearly finished, so he was happy to wait for five …

Monday Morning

Today didn't start off very well. I should say I'm feeling much better now; I dyed my hair pink and green and that always helps. But yes. Most days don't start off very well at the moment.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm writing this. I think on some level I just want to put it out there. I want people to know what it's like. Maybe someone who will read this who has a child like mine in their class. Maybe Fairy's teacher will read it. But I need to get it out.

We didn't manage to get Fairy to school until ten past nine this morning, and as we rounded the corner there was a group of people chatting; a couple of parents from school, the lady that lives opposite me and the guy she goes dog walking with. We're a friendly village, so naturally they started teasing me as Fairy and I walked past. "What time do you call this?!" "Didn't fancy getting out of bed this morning?!" It was totally reasonable, friendly banter from people I see…

An amazing thing

An amazing thing just happened. 
Tickle and Fairy have had a nice afternoon playing together (mostly - only one incidence of hitting..!) and then she decided to read him a story before bedtime. 
Next thing I know she runs out of his room crying; it turns out she had asked to borrow one of his books and he'd not only said no, but pretty much shouted it in her face, repeatedly. Bit of a blow when she's been sharing her toys and playing with him all afternoon, poor thing.
I go in to talk to Tickle, who is pretty agitated, saying "My house, my room, my books, I said no!" over and over. He's obviously not ready to share anything, and I tell him that's ok. 
I also tell him that Fairy is upset, not really because of the sharing, but because of the way he refused, shouted at her etc. We have to go over it quite a lot, with various examples of times when Fairy has shared her toys and how it made Tickle feel, times when someone had shouted and how it made Tickle feel, etc …

Blending families: Fairy's story

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Fairy was only five or six when we started the adoption process. We did what we could to prepare her, as you do, and being the beautiful, empathetic child that she is, she really got it. She instinctively understood about her future brother being worried, about having to teach him that we are kind, that we would look after him. That it would take a while for him to settle in. Throughout the process, both Husband and I, and various Social Workers periodically used to ask her if she had any questions, but she only ever had the one:
"How long will it take for us to get to know each other?"
She knew it was a question that couldn't be answered, obviously, but regardless, that was the thing she most wanted to know, and she held it clutched to her chest like a talisman. 
Fast-forward nearly four years, and she and I were chatting about this in the car, part way through our half term break. To me it feels like something has slightly shifted this week, like she is starting to find h…

All children do that, part 2

Here's a good example of the adopted children vs biological children thing. Today Tickle came home with a note in his book saying he'd hit another child. 
Not out of the ordinary, you might think. Boys will be boys? Biological children do that too!
Tickle hit the child in the face with a whiteboard.
The reason Tickle hit the child, so he tells me, is because Tickle wanted him to talk, and he wasn't talking. 
The child is non-verbal, epileptic, and in a wheelchair. 
It's *really* hard to continually be kind and loving towards a child who's behaviour disgusts you. Sometimes, I can see past the behaviour to the child underneath, but in situations like this when it's done in anger, where he doesn't feel particularly threatened, he just wants his own way... I know underneath it all the issues are still there, the root of it all is the same, but... it's hard. 

His anger exhausts me.



--- Click here for my original post on biological vs adopted children.

Fairy, Tickle, and the Monster

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Fairy and I went for a walk to the park this evening. This is my feet, on the swing. We've decided it's going to be our evening ritual; Tickle goes to bed and we go out for a walk, a bit of fresh air, and to get the step count up on our Fitbits (Fairy has managed to snaffle Gran's old one and is now obsessively tracking everything).

As we were walking I asked how she was feeling about things at home at the moment..

"I decided something yesterday." she says. "I've had enough of the Monster."

"OK."

 [For those who don't know, the Monster is the name we have given to Tickle's Trauma.]

"But the quickest way to get rid of the Monster would also get rid of Tickle, and I don't want to do that."

We walked some more. We played at the park. I went on the zip wire, which she thought was hilarious. We walked home the long way; it was about quarter to nine and she brought the subject up again.

"I have had enough of the Monst…

Support: Why I want you to watch Three Girls

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Over the last three nights there's been a drama on BBC1 called 'Three Girls'.



Three Girls tells the story of three of the children involved in the Rochdale paedophile grooming investigation. I wasn't sure whether to watch it, initially. Considering what we're going through at the moment it was quite possible it would set me off crying for a week, or in to deep depression. In the end though I did; I'm not entirely sure why, but mostly I think because it's important to face things head on. The girls were brave enough to tell their stories, and they deserve to be listened to.

I'm glad I watched it. I want you to watch it too. I want all my friends to watch it.

It's taken me a good hour mulling it over to work out why that is. At first I thought perhaps I wanted people to see what it was like to have a different life. If I'm really honest, I'm pretty jealous of most of my friends at the moment. I see my Facebook newsfeed full of everyday problem…

LAC review updates and Good News

I've just come out of our LAC review slightly gobsmacked. Not least because it was our first one that clocked in under three hours (by five minutes, but still!) but because it seems that people have actually listened. 
I feel a bit as though my chronic preparation for the meeting may have been a bit unnecessary - nobody mentioned the email I wrote yesterday outlining the main points I wanted to cover, for example - but, sure enough they were discussed, and what's more, people had actually come to the meeting prepared with solutions. 
By far the most surprising was that Social Services said they would like to offer us four hours per week of respite, to take the form of someone coming in to our home after school to give us a hand. We have been asking for respite for the best part of a year and had been told categorically no on many occasions, so this is *huge*. Next step is taking this to their senior managers and resource panel to get it approved; I may have subtly interjected at…

All aboard the self-care shuttle!

My lovely Twitter friend Hannah Meadows wrote a great post about mental health for adoptive parents recently. (And I am *not* just saying that because she linked to a post of mine in it..!)

Mental Health has been right at the top of my list of priorities for the last couple of weeks. It's been odd, and it feels slightly weird to be consciously doing things for myself. Unfamiliar.

However, we have a LAC review on Thursday, and apart from anything else I want to show that we are active participants in the 'supporting Mum and Husband' club. I want Social Services to see that we are not giving up. (We are not. We decided the other night.)

[I know this is utterly the wrong reason to be doing things, and I don't really think it will make a blind bit of difference to Social Services, but I'll take motivation from wherever I can get it at the moment.]

I feel very strongly that self-care is absolutely vital for us to survive this. If we don't keep on top of this, our fa…

Saturday

Saturday started at 5am, as usual.

Husband took the early shift, also as usual. He seems to need less sleep than I do, and is also blessed with one of those brains that will switch off on demand, meaning he drops off within minutes of getting in to bed.

This particular morning we’d agreed the night before that Husband would definitely get up if it was any early one, as I’d been up early quite a lot of the week and was feeling tired to the point of not quite feeling safe to drive. Needless to say, I had then proceeded to wake up at half past four, half past six, and finally at quarter to eight – this time by the absolute racket that was coming from downstairs. Quite apart from the noise Tickle was making, Husband is normally very calm and softly-spoken, so the fact I could even hear his voice from upstairs was an indicator that something wasn’t right. The fact that his voice was saying “Tickle you are not allowed to head butt me” was an even bigger clue.

Thanks to Facebook messenger, I…

Fairy's morning

Here is a post I wrote this morning, but couldn't upload because the internet was down:

It gets worse before it gets better. I know this. But the worse is happening right now, and the better is only a hope for the future.

I want to make a better log of what is happening, and what I’m doing, so I can try to work out what works and what doesn’t. If any of my adoptive, therapeutic friends would like to make any suggestions then I would be delighted to hear them.

This morning Tickle was worried about school, as usual. It doesn’t help that his teacher left with one days notice, and they don’t seem to be actually doing any of the things we discussed that might help him cope a bit better.

At breakfast he was banging the table, and saying he wanted to hurt the cats. Each time I asked him to come in to the sitting room with me, to have a sit in the comfy chair and calm down. The first time I said I had to keep Etta safe, as he’s not allowed to hurt her; he has to come and sit with me unti…

Reflections on this week

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It's been a funny old week. (By which I mean I have journeyed through the depths of howling despair and back again.)

Less than a week ago I genuinely thought we might have to disrupt. Weirdly, today I'm feeling more positive about things than I have done in quite some time. This has been achieved, I think, by a few significant shifts in the way I'm thinking.

The first was to do with self care, though actually it's more than that. We all know that we should look after ourselves, do nice things, make sure we get a break now and then. However, this week I realised that what self care actually means is placing my own needs on equal footing with those of my children. Or maybe even above them, sometimes.

For the last 18 months our entire household has been a slave to Tickle's emotions. He has blossomed under this approach, but the rest of us have suffered.  This week we gave ourselves permission to step away from him and focus on ourselves and each other, even at the ti…

The Key

I've had a really crap few days.

My friends reading this will know that I had a big event last weekend; an event I've spent all year working on, which hundreds of people came to, and something of which I am very proud. I honestly don't know how I got through it - the build up, the preparation, the event itself. I've got a team of amazing people working with me, but I'm the big boss, so the buck stops with me.

It's my favourite weekend of the year, usually, but this year I didn't enjoy it. I mean, I did - I smiled, I laughed, I saw my friends, I felt proud of it all... but it was like I was viewing it through a lens. I didn't feel connected. I could see everyone having a great time, but I couldn't get a hold of that deep down in your stomach happiness. I just felt a bit hollow.

I've been feeling this way for a while. Not all the time, certainly, but I have noticed a definite reluctance to connect with my deep down feelings. Sometimes it's bec…

Therapeutic parenting and CPV

I've been doing some thinking this evening.

I've not had a brilliant day today; nothing out of the ordinary - not our ordinary anyway - apart from the fact that I had a big work thing this weekend (the sort that is a year in the planning) and that I think all the holding-myself-together that I've been doing for the last few months came suddenly and spectacularly apart at the seams. I finally let myself think the unthinkable in a way I'd never really done before, and not only that I went and admitted it to both Tickle's Social Worker and our Adoption Social Worker.

So this evening I'm worn out, and I've got a hell of a headache from crying for six hours, but I do feel a tiny bit relieved to at least have got it out in the open. Our Social Worker was practical and solid. She asked questions and she took a lot of notes. We formulated a bit of a plan of what we were going to do over the next few days, and she's going to come and visit again next week. Tickl…

I'm not having a great day

I've been sat here with this browser window open for at least an hour without writing anything. I don't really know where to start.

I am living in a world of domestic violence. There is not a day that goes past at the moment where someone in our family doesn't get hit, head butted, bitten, or kicked. Fairy is getting hit on the head about once a week, and only last week had her hair pulled so hard she was pulled right over. Missiles are thrown, sometimes just in a fit of anger, sometime aimed with precision. It's only a matter of time before one of us ends up visiting A&E.

If it was Husband acting like this, the authorities would be all over us. But at the moment war is being raged on our house by a small boy of seven.

It might sound silly, written like that. How can a child do that much damage? And yet Fairy had a lump on her head for a fortnight from something that he threw at her, and the only reason I avoided a broken nose was because I saw it coming just in ti…

Widening our vocabulary (or, The Great Attachment Swindle, part 2)

In part 1, I wrote about why attachment may not be the big deal it can sometimes be presented as, certainly in adoption circles. I definitely don't think we should be ignoring it completely, but I do think we should use vocabulary that is more specific to the problems our children may be facing, and that help us to move forward.

I ended the last post talking about trauma; below are some more suggestions for different ways of thinking about the common issues our children face.

Shame

Shame is something that is talked about a lot, particularly in relation to education, reward charts, etc. Nicola Marshall from BraveHeart Education has written a lovely blog about it, and why children can find it hard to move on from that intense feeling of shame.

If you want to go a bit further in to the science, we can have a look at Kohlberg's stages of Moral Development. (Disclaimer - theory, theory, theory. Even with the supporting research, it is never going to be a perfect answer, only a theor…