Charm Offensive (mostly just offensive)

So today we had our Assessment of Needs. This was triggered off the back of my biggey running away two weeks ago. Mind you, I did ask for it too. I wanted to highlight just how things have changed and attempt to get someone to be involved and help us with the school issues and her self esteem and rages.

She arrived – late. Introduced herself and then said “what a big house you’ve got!” (It’s a regular semi!) I felt like I was in a scene from Little Red Riding Hood although did wonder if it was her or me who represented the wolf!

Tea and coffee sorted and I introduced her to my biggey who is currently refusing to go to school. Then we shut ourselves away. I gave her a brief summary of my girls history between what we were told and what we now know. There is a vast difference (which matches the Radio 4 discussion which took place at the weekend).

She looked surprised, shocked even, and wanted me to clarify or confirm her suspicions about who or what were involved with my girls’ early life. I refused to be drawn into speculation and simply told her I work with what the children tell me and I have no space or energy to speculate, guess or assume anything outside of the information which the girls or professionals have told me. It felt like she wanted a scandal or some gasping horror story. I wasn’t about to give it to her.

I moved her on to where we are now. She started secondary school in September and from the start it was difficult to get meetings even though they said they would and said they understood the importance. The meetings just did not happen. I outlined the issues:

Within first month she broke her ankle on a trip. Granted, they suspected a sprain but on arrival back at school her dad had to help her off the bus. Biggey says they did not help her when she was hurt.

Incidents of bullying in early weeks (schools words to biggey) and they did not inform me, they took very little, if any, preventative or protective action. We later found out the child was excluded so he must have been doing something significant but my girl felt she got no help and was not kept safe.

When her behaviour deteriorated she was given sanctions, detentions and inclusion rather than have conversations with us or look beyond the behaviour or even put in the support she was supposed to have in accordance with her statement of needs.

I reported several times that she was struggling and saying she does not feel safe. I asked for meetings. They said “a meeting is not necessary”. After 5 requests and involvement of parent partnership we finally got a meeting – a few days before Christmas.

During Christmas break they put a photo of her on the website. A clerical error apparently. They apologise for any upset in a matter of fact way and simply do not seem to grasp that this is a matter of this child’s safety!

On returning to school in New Year she lasted 4 days before coming home distressed and then running away. Police were called. She was found and so we get to this assessment. We have told school and the LA that we are going to look for another school for her.

We talked through what happens when she strops and is violent. What works, what doesn’t. I explained how much therapeutic parenting I have done and continue to do. How much trauma therapy we have had (and paid for ourselves). How difficult it is to encourage her to do anything much. Apparently I have a kind heart! I can’t remember exactly what I had said to gain that accolade but it was around dealing with the difficulties and violence.

She had a look round the house and exclaimed how tidy it was. I chose not to read into that, or to respond either way. She commented on girls posters of pop groups in bedrooms. Then told me it was all Take That and Boyzone when she was their age. I just mmmm’d, again choosing not to respond. Then she slammed me with the comment ” I bet it was The Beatles for you!” Cheeky little ……… (Bleep). I know I’m run down and a bit tired looking but she didn’t need to add 10 years or so to my age for goodness sake! I bit my lip and carried on.

She wanted a chat with biggey. I let them get on with it. She came back to tell me what they’d talked about. Biggey had mentioned all school stuff except for fact that she thinks birth parents will come looking for her. Miss SW took great delight in telling me in much detail how she had biggey draw a bag of worries and write these worries in it; then she took the piece of paper and the bag away and so now my girl has nothing to worry about! Ta Dah! Super! She’ll be just fine then. I tried to smile gently (I’m not certain I achieved that) and suggested that perhaps if it was as simple as that then we would have already done that over the last six years and perhaps so would the therapists who have worked with her. She waved the paper with the drawing on it and said that since they were all school worries, then when we find another school then everything will be fine.

I managed not to completely lose the plot at this point and tried to explain that there is more needed and more that could be done to help her and us as a family. Reminding her that whilst I put in all the effort to find, brief, train and work with school, manage her transition, calm, sooth, explain, rebuild the attachment, continue with the other family stuff, ensure littley has some time and work a bit too; bearing in mind how long I’ve been doing this for without asking for help or support, then there is a limit to my energies. So would they like to look at wider support now or wait until she has run away again?

I asked for access to mentoring, clubs, activities and whatever will get here out and about to partake in social and or sport activities. Anything that will help here to feel good about herself and have the potential to raise her self esteem. She will have a look. Perhaps we might want to think about Relate!?? She will have to go and talk to people. She will come back to me when they have looked at needs, clubs, availability, costs, funding and other stuff. It may take around three weeks. Lovely.

That was only part of my morning, just a small part of my day.

I have a kind heart.
I have a nice, big, tidy house.
I am doing a great job.
When I find a new school things will be fine.

Great. I’ll try and hold those thoughts in my mind.

Keep on running!

I’m usually a strong willed, determined person. Two weeks ago however, I was a gibbering, tearful wreck who was questioning all that I do and all that have done. How could everything have come to this?

How incredibly grateful I was for someone kind at the end of the phone, trying hard to say something supportive and just being there. A few minutes later another kind hand placed on my shoulder.

You see, my eldest, at that point, was missing. She had run away.

She has done this before although we have (with only one exception) always managed to find her because she always went to the same place! She has always, in the past, run after shouting / hitting / fighting.

This time it was different. She had come home from school, tearful and upset but not in the usual rage. We talked it through – for an hour – and she seemed calm and relatively ok. So at 5pm I went for littley from school club and that’s when biggey ran.

I searched and searched all the usual routes and places and after nearly an hour I knew I had not choice but to phone the Police. It was awful.

I’ve had to report her missing once before – 18 months ago, but as I said it was after a rage and in the middle of the day. This time I was devastated. It was dark, she as scared, I was scared, littley was scared and my darling hubby was travelling back from a work meeting over 2 hours away.

The police lady on the phone who took the details was truly wonderful, empathic, kind and supportive. The police lady who arrived at my home within 20 minutes was also kind and supportive when I just kept crying. I flitted between being composed to give clear details and going weak at the knees and almost crumpling.

She turned up safe, albeit incredibly grumpy and stubborn. She told police it was because of school and climaxed by yet another bout of bullying. This time, she says, she managed to tell someone at school. They simply said “don’t worry”. Well, she’s only 11 (often emotionally younger) so of course she did worry, even the most level headed person would struggle to just “not worry” and for my traumatised girl this was the result. She also told police she’s “never going back there”.

When they brought her home she wouldn’t come near me and I got “just leave me alone”. The fear, worry and shame manifested just as text books tell you, in that she feels she has no choice but to attempt to look after herself. I am the very person who sends her to school. So I am the person who sends her to this unsafe, scary place, where she gets hurt (from a broken ankle), gets bullied and laughed at (just like early life), is dismissed and not listened to (just like birth mum did) and so on.

I can’t blame her really, but even so it is incredibly difficult to live with. Not to mention the effect it has on the family unit and the way is also scares the littley. The police were marvellous, caring, understanding. None of the judgement or pitying looks either!

I have blogged previously about the difficulty we have had just to get a meeting with school. I shared my concerns with the police and they alerted social services.

Most of Christmas was spent licking wounds, trying to keep things calm and attempting to repair the wounds that school have created so we can rebuild the attachment we did have. That lasted 4 days once she got back to school!

We haven’t been able to get her back to school.

Social services are coming tomorrow to see how we are. I will be back to my strong determined self when she knocks on my door.