Christmas Conversations

Christmas is coming. We can all feel it in our bones. One of us is very excited. One of us is full of worry, full of anxiety. Two of us are exhausted and know it is going to be a very difficult 5 weeks.

We did have a breakthrough this afternoon. Jelly was talking about Christmas and wanting to put our Christmas tree up NOW, and he meant it. I gentled explained that whilst he was excited and he was allowed to be, that Boyo worries, cue an immediate ‘no I don’t.’

Feeling reckless – the after school was already feeling challenging, I continued to explain to Jelly, why I think that Boyo finds it difficult.

I explained that Boyo worries, that maybe he won’t get any presents because he isn’t good enough; I then said that Mummy and Daddy know that he finds it difficult and he does try really hard to be good. We all know that he struggles and loses the plot; but he does genuinely true to be good when he can.

I continued with the thought that we also think that Boyo finds it really hard to get presents, because deep down he starts to get scared that he might be moving. We talked about the fact his foster carers had a big party for him the day before he moved to us. We talked about the idea, that deep, deep inside Boyo he worries when he gets presents that he might be about to move.

Jelly had plainly given up listening but Boyo heard it all. He responded. I don’t like Christmas. You are right I think I might not get presents. He didn’t comment on the other; but the seed was planted.

As a slight aside. Father Christmas will stop this year. I have started the process. He knows that the Father Christmas he sees at Church is only a pretend one. That Father Christmas is too busy to do all the activities. I am devising a story to help him understand Father Christmas; the idea that Mummies and Daddies buy and give presents, not Father Christmas. But I have to be careful, as Jelly is so small still, and needs to believe in magic a little bit longer.

I suspect that there will be many more conversations about Christmas over the next 5 weeks.

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trauma part 1

Trauma is real. Trauma exists. Trauma has long lasting effects. These are facts.

The removal of a child from a life filled with abuse, doesn’t negate the effects of that abuse.

The removal of child, to a safe place, doesn’t take away what has happened.

The removal of a child to a nice loving family, does not solve what has been done.

The idea that a child should be grateful for the rescue is beyond my comprehension.

Somehow these facts need to impinge on everyone’s thought processes. Not just adopters, foster carers and kinship carers. These are facts we know, but we need other people to understand.

 

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No surprise…

This weekend the rage erupted. It spewed it’s hurt all over the family. It has been coming since the start of September and I have already made moves to start coping with it.

The worst possible thing for me, is Jelly getting hurt. It’s not pleasant being hurt myself or seeing Hubby get hurt; but we are adults. Jelly is a very small 5 year old, with his own issues; so to not be able to protect him really upsets me. I said to hubby that if he was beating me there would be all sorts of support for Jelly, but because it’s our other son, there is nothing there.

Tomorrow I see Boyo’s teacher. Tomorrow, I try to explain again what school can do to help. Tomorrow I have to make her see the effect that her decisions have on our family life. It’s been brewing, its been coming since she decided that she knew best and ignored his previous teacher. There will be no surprise from SENCO, she also knew this was coming, she suggested this meeting, not me.

There will be no surprise at work when I arrive late tomorrow, as we are going to struggle to get both boys into Hubby’s car for breakfast club. I spoke to deputy head last week to say, ‘it’s coming, he is struggling’ and she said, I’ll cover form for you every morning until you know you can be on time.

Boyo is compliant at school. But right now he doesn’t feel safe and is on high alert, each and every day. At the end of each day he is exhausted. We have been managing, however this weekend he hasn’t caught up on the sleep he needed. Which means we start this week on a low ebb.

There is no surprise to any of this. Those of us that know Boyo knew this moment was coming. However, I suspect that it might be a big surprise to his teacher. She knows he is struggling, but I don’t think she understands what struggling looks like. I am supposed to be explaining some things that have worked to support him in the past, but somehow I can’t get my head round to thinking of these ideas.

So tomorrow I will trip into school and be positive about helping teacher understand him. And I will maintain some hope that she understands what a difference him having a good experience of school makes to us.

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It’s a new chapter – adoption thoughts

At some point yesterday, after a variety of conversations over the course of the week (both IRL and on twitter) it struck me how many people still see adoption as a cure all. It’s not.

And that (I think) is a huge issue.

That the nurse couldn’t understand why Boyo was terrified of having his head looked at. It wasn’t his head that was the issue, it was the unknown person asking him questions that he couldn’t answer. It was the fact that he had, had a fall at school, alongside issue with friends and trauma had not just raised it’s head, but was in that moment over-riding everything. We were in pure fight/flight mode.

He’s adopted. He shouldn’t be effected by it still.

Some teachers don’t understand. I had a conversation about a child in care and his attachment disorder at work this week. Their attitude was, but he is a good place now; why can’t he just move on. I explained. We talked trauma. We talked neurological effects. We talked better ways. We talked about giving choice and avoiding conflict. They went away to think. I have to hope for different for that pupil.

He is looked after. He is in a better place now, why is it still a problem? 

Jelly is having a rough time at school at the minute. Earlier this week he resorted to an old tactic – he bite another pupil. The boy’s mum knows he is adopted. But she can’t understand what I mean when I say ‘he gets overwhelmed’, ‘it is too much for him’. The fact he is developmentally delayed means nothing to her, I have to stop him biting.

He is adopted. But there is no excuse for biting at aged 5. 

I was talking yesterday evening to a good friend; who happens to be a KS1 teacher. Last year her school implemented one of the those behaviour systems that we all dread. She had an adopted child in her class; who survived in her class because she didn’t use the behaviour system as it should have been used. She let the child have an sensory outlet. She saw when he was getting overwhelmed and helped him. This year, his new teacher can’t cope. She doesn’t understand why when he misbehaves and get’s a red, he kicks off when it comes to the following day when he has to miss the whole playtime. My friend has and is trying; but it’s not going in.

He is adopted. He is the same as everyone else and must be treated so. 

There are serious thoughts rattling round my head at the minute. There has to be a way to change understanding. There has to be more support for us; as adoptive parents and our children.

We have to make people understand that adoption isn’t a new story, only a new chapter. A child’s life prior to adoption cannot be wiped out and their experiences ignored. Those experiences (even prenatal experiences) exist within the child and will continue to do so.

 

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A little bit of magic…

This week we had a little bit of magic. A chance to relax. A chance to speak to other families living in similar circumstances. A chance to be.

We were lucky enough to spend this week at La Rosa Campsite, hosted by The Open Nest. The boys had 3 lovely days playing in an environment that they know with people they enjoy being around. And we got to spend 3 days being ‘us’ and not having to constantly worry about what the boys were doing/or going to do next.

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The boys enjoyed having more people to play with. They enjoyed the chance to be outside for the day. Even on the wet day (by which I mean it rained, all day unceasingly); they obviously still had lots of fun outside (there was lots of sliding on the mud in the evening, not all accidently). Jelly loves the trains that it is possible to see and whenever we go will speed across the yard to see them whenever he hears them. Boyo got to do things that he enjoyed as well.

For us; hubby and me; it is a special time as well. It is rare we are together for an extended time without the boys, unless it is a for a specific reason. We had 3 days in which to relax and chat and spend time with each other and other people.

Most of us arrived on the first evening and started conversations. For us, there were people we had met before so it was a chance to renew friendships as well as meet new people. We caught up with what had gone on for other people over the year and also heard new stories. We had the chance to sit and relax with sandwiches and cakes in the magic of the big top. Hubby and I spent a long time catching up with someone after most other people had gone that first afternoon.

The second day we relaxed some more. We decided to spend some time away from camp and meandered into Whitby – by ourselves. We could go into whatever shop took our fancy and spend time looking at things, not asking the boys not to touch or leaving before something was broken. We had a lovely lunch, relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company. There was plenty of time on camp to chat to other parents. On the last day, we chatted some more; some of us went to the pub. We relaxed, we shared more stories.

The magic comes because it is possible to relax. We understand each other and the behaviour that our children show. In an evening, it was safe to let Boyo wander all over site. He took one of our walkie talkies so that I could check in with him and he could check in with me. But he enjoyed the freedom that he doesn’t normally get. Even on the last evening we were there, he managed to spend time playing with other children, long past the time he would normally be social.

And for us. The chance to relax is an immeasurable treat. There is nothing to do. No phone signal. No wifi. No contact with the outside world. Only relax, chat, read and sleep. And that is what we did. And after the children went to bed, we were able to enjoy more social time, sitting round a fire, talking and enjoying company.
IMG_20170810_220007809We always breathe deeply as we approach the drive down. We start to relax as we make that turning. But it is special to share that time with other people who get it and have different experiences and different ideas to take and try.

I’ve already said thank you many times. But it truly is an amazing experience and we come away sad, but revived and able to think forward again. So I’m going to say it again. Thank you to the wonderful people who give us chance to breathe and the chance to have a holiday as a family that we all love and enjoy.

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Playdate for Jelly

As always when things get tougher than usual, I forget to blog. The tougher than normal in this case was due partially to work and partially with the boys. But we made it to the school holidays and we have coped so far and have much glorious-ness to look forward to next week.

But I wanted today to talk about my littlest. Boyo gets so much, as a family we meet his needs because if his needs aren’t met we are all made very aware. Jelly gets lots of lovely things and does many lovely things, but they are still all based around Boyo.

Last Monday (first day of the school holidays) we went out for the day, because I knew we had to go out; but we went somewhere that meant Jelly could see pigs and goats and donkeys and lots and lots of birds alongside the guinea pigs and rabbits. He had a lovely time and really enjoyed himself but actually he needed a day at home just to play.

This week Boyo has a sporting activity every day. So we have planned our week around it. But on Monday, Jelly suddenly said ‘I want girl’ to come and play. Girl is the daughter of a good friend of mine, and is in his class at school. The request came unprompted and out of the blue. I promised him I would arrange it & when we saw Girl’s mum on Tues he reminded me I’d said this. So we arranged and today Girl came round to play once Boyo was at sporting activity.

Jelly and Girl had a lovely time. They played together, they listened to each other and played. They did something that Jelly wanted to do, then something that Girl wanted to do. I had baked some buns last night, so we decorated those. We did make and do. We played with play dough. And we built marble run after marble run, sighing and laughing when it feel over.

He was over joyed to have her come round and play. I had no concerns; I told her mum that I’d return her at some point before collecting Boyo. It was a free and easy arrangement, because I didn’t know how well Jelly would cope. He coped really well; and was happy to do what she wanted as well as want he wanted.

It was the first time Jelly has had a friend round without their parent’s as well. And it was a success!

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Now you are 5…

Happy 5th birthday little man… well happy birthday for tomorrow anyway!

You are definitely a morning person – far more than anyone else in this house. You wake up (we now consider 6 am as a good start to the day) full of joy and ready to greet the day. You smile, you enjoy life, although are prone to have toddler like tantrums (especially when tired). You tire yourself out and struggle to stay awake beyond 7 p.m.

You are happiest when we are together as a family. You miss your big brother when he isn’t here; even though when he is elsewhere you manage to play and do what you want. You love your farm; and will play for hours with it. You still like to play with the trains. Even better if you can mix the two things together. You use your imagination in your play.

You enjoy being outside, but not in such a frantic manner as your big brother. You enjoy sitting and playing with water, or digging in the mud kitchen. You are happy to run around, but don’t care to play football, cricket, tennis or rounders and are more than likely to run off with a ball than join in. You love being allowed to paint (with water) the side of the garage and we regularly have chalk roads on the drive.

You can walk several miles now, especially when you are wearing supportive boots. You have started to understand how to play with the dog and when we recently got gerbils you were able to understand how to care for them.

You enjoy music, in the same way I do. You dance your way through life with singing thrown in. This morning we were greeted with a rendition of ‘Don’t stop me now’ sung word perfectly for about 30 seconds. You enjoy all music in it’s many and varied forms and I imagine a future filled with many concerts. Your favourite song this year is ‘We are Young’ which if you understood the words you would realise is utterly inappropriate for 5 years old to listen to, but as you love the chorus and the beat, we don’t worry too much.

You ask to watch Bob the builder and Fireman Sam more than anything else. Although you like most children’s TV. We limit how much screen time you have, as you would spend far more time than you should watching if you could.

I’m going to gloss over your first 2 1/2 terms at school and I can’t imagine that the lack of routine that is going to be the last half term is going to improve the situation. It has been a steep learning curve for everyone; me, your teachers (and other members of staff), and you. Much has gone wrong, although I am informed that the staff actually like you, no matter how much they simply don’t get you. You do love the school guinea pigs and frequently say you want some of your own (tough, Daddy is allergic and we have  terrier dog). You love seeing your big brother at school and always tell me when you see your cousin as well.

This year we have seen some real leaps in your development. From starting school with limited language we recently had an assessment showing that you had developed to 3 or 4 word phrases, when at ease. Academically you are far behind your peers, but it is okay because you are making progress.

Yesterday you had a party with 6 of your friends from school and one of our adoptive friends. You had an amazing time playing with them and it was lovely to see you with your friends. I enjoyed seeing you play with the girl you call your best friend and how she interacts with you, and the gentle guidance she gave to someone else when talking to you. It was good to see you engage with the different activities that were there and see how much you liked them.

You bring us joy and laughter, alongside the tantrums and tears. Life isn’t easy; but you see the best in it and run full on into the next adventure.

Happy birthday ‘pie. We love you more than you can imagine.

 

‘Tonight, we are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun’

We are Young – Fun. 

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