It’s a difficult time of year in the Safe Family and not one I relish at all.
There are many issues which arise for us at home and within this half term at school. Even the October half term holiday tends to be (and has proven again to be) difficult and stressful because the girls are still incredibly scared.
Halloween and bonfire night and huge worry for both girls. That’s before we even get Christmas!
We don’t do anything for Halloween. Apparently when children have been hurt and abused by their parents (the people who are supposed to protect and care) in order to make sense of it, they begin to believe that parents must be monsters. So, halloween brings forth the monsters again! Not a good plan. In addition people dress up and dressed up people are scary whatever time of year. Even a dressed up Paddington Bear was scary!
I don’t like the mixed messages associated with Halloween events and I believe it confuses children – particularly mine. The trick or treat encourages children to knock on doors of strangers – I mean!!! Really? All year we are teaching them don’t go to strangers, don’t accept sweets, blah blah oh but it’s ok now …..
I know there were many mean tricks done to them. So if we do trick or treat now, is the trick going to be giving them some food and taking it off them again? Because that’s what used to happen in birth family. It’s so confusing for them, it was then, it is now. It’s such a I go area. People give out sweets – people gave her sweets then abused her, people gave them sweets so they kept things secret, people gave them sweets when they were hurt and hungry and crying and sweets was not what they wanted or needed. Then all the kids at school talk about it so there’s really no getting away from it.
The sound of Fireworks going off every night cause a huge issues for Littley. She will scream and cry so loudly the whole house is affected. She is absolutely terrified and at best I have to sit with her as she goes to sleep, or more often she has to sleep with one of us or will not sleep at all. Biggey is triggered by this because it reminds her of when she had to look after Littley!
Children who have been left alone, scared with strange noises, bangs, shouting will be frightened by this. In addition, they are unable to regulate feelings and emotions so even attempts to watch or join in still trigger early feelings which they do not have labels and names for.
We have tried having fireworks at home, little ones, quiet ones and changing the experience of them, yet this year we are giving up and not doing any! Additionally even if children talking about what they are doing will upset or trigger her – either because of memories or because of her inability “to be normal” or do what others do. Obviously her lack of sleep can affect her ability to cope in school and with everyday life.
Someone dressed up as Father Christmas and abused them. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they were told they were being given away as presents. They didn’t get presents. They didn’t get fed. Have they been good? Of course not! As we know, many Looked After, Adopted, hurt, abused, traumatised children they inherently believe they are bad, no good, rubbish and don’t deserve…
In addition, as adoptive parents we spend hours and hours telling these children they are safe; no-one (birth parents) know a where you are; strangers do not come in our house. Then we go and let “that bloke” (as he is referred to) into our house and he just happens to know where you are! It’s bonkers. He never did come into our house and we spoiled the story early on which reduced the effects a bit. It didn’t eradicate it completely though. Christmas and the extended run up to Christmas is still generally awful in our house – and we’re heading for our 8th one!
Then there’s letterbox to consider and missing siblings and more.
All this is going on and my girls hold it all in. Keep it secret. Too frightened to say. Too ashamed to admit. Still holding in mind those early threats to ensure they keep things secret and don’t tell.
Then I effectively keep it secret too, I don’t have the energy to explain to wider family or to friends or school. When you look at my girls they “seem fine”. They hold their secrets well. It’s their survival strategy.
I give school headlines and ask them to please bear all this in mind when they are in school and share the information in case of lessons planned to incorporate these events at this time of year as they will have an impact. I advised that they often becomes physically ill from worry and anxiety at this time of year too.
School’s response is that Littley has English lessons on the topics of Vampires so if they send me the book can I read it and share and prepare her?! Speechless.
They say we must not exclude her from lessons just because she’s scared. If she stays in lessons she will learn resilience! I couldn’t do the difficult conversations at that point. What about their duty of care to keep her safe – for to feel safe?
Also Biggey has 6 weeks of drama lessons on a theme of Dracula so they’ve send me the script so I can explain who Dracula is?!? No words left. She has a statement of support so who is supporting her?? Me! Of course I’ve got nothing better to do!
So I’m preserve my energy. I do lots of self care (as well as lots of swearing and sarcasm). I’ve stopped answering the phone to school even though I want to work with them, they need to want to listen! I am planning my next move – with both children and school and family. It’s all very strategic – like a game of chess – and I don’t bloody like chess!