Parent Power

When Biggey was having all this trouble with the old school and had been out of school for several weeks we applied for a place in the new school.  Now, because she has a Statement of needs we had to ask for local authority approval to move her. The new school said they were happy to begin getting her meeting people whilst we were still waiting for formal approval. The school had also said they applied for more hours on her Statement to support her. So I then went home and sent an email asking for more hours and increase to the maximum support of 27.5 hours and gave a variety of reasons, taking information for the previous school’s report and other areas. I hit the button and thought ‘what the hell – if you don’t ask …’

Her introduction to the new school is documented in my post So Far, So Good

Weeks later, I hadn’t received formal confirmation so chased the LA for an update and was delighted to get an email that said they had awarded the extra hours.  I was even more delighted when I got an email from the school to say Thank You for my contribution to the request.  Apparently school had originally been told that the hours would stay the same, then the LA got my request and said they would give it some further consideration!

So Parent Power is effective.  Challenge does get results.  Certainly in my area.  Always worth asking.

ParentPower

Advertisements

Mother’s Day

All I ever wanted was to be a mum.  I can remember as far back as my early teens knowing I wanted to be a mum.  I probably didn’t really understand all (or even a little part) of what was and is involved in being a mum, but it was a desire that never wavered.  

Skip forward about ahem years and here I am; mum to my two gorgeous girls who came to me through adoption and we have Mothers Day approaching us at the weekend.  Should this be a time of celebration? A time for being kind and thankful to mum?  A time for showing mum just how much you love her?  Well that’s all gone a little skewed in our house, as it probably does in many an adoptive household.  Each child and family will have their own mix of experiences, relationships and situations.  In our house, the girls have a very difficult time with Mothers Day and that difficult time does not just affect one day.

I noticed last weekend that things were tense and even the smallest of instruction or request was being met with difficulties, strops and unbalanced emotions.  I initial thought it was about the current changes of new school, new routines and tiredness.  After a couple of days I had mentioned again to dear hubby that situations seemed to be more difficult and that it was much harder to calm them down and get back to them being able to function safely.  That stayed with me, mulling around in my head until I needed to focus on something else.

Later that day, out of nowhere, I had one of those lightbulb moments.  You know, the ones where you it seemed so obvious, yet you didn’t realise that you end up speaking to yourself and even insulting yourself for not realising sooner!  Mothers Day!  It’s Mothers Day at the weekend!  Oh silly me!  Oh brilliant me!  Now I’m quite sure that’s what this is all about.  Great.  I can make a plan now (I like to have a plan!)

When I collected my biggey from school that day I took some time to have a gentle chat with her about whether there was anything deeper going on that was making her wobble.  It took time – the gentle coaxing, wondering, noticing – to get underneath how she is really feelings and what she is thinking. 

My birth mum said she will come and get me…

Now, on the face of it, that sounds like something a birth mum will say who didn’t want to lose her daughter and this is often the case.  However for my girls, sadly, there has often been a very different connotation in the messages they were given from their birth parents.  So I explored a little more.

She will come and get me to make sure I don’t talk, don’t tell and remember the hurting.  

Ahh, so actually this memory and very clear reminder has been used as a threat and quite probably an intended promise too, but not a promise in the kind and reassuring way that we use promises.  Their birth mum left them with extremely difficult and often terrifying memories of her.  

I’m scared.  Does she know where I am?

So we talked through (again) about how she doesn’t know where she is; we walked through all the things we have that help to remind and reassure her she is safe; we remembered how long it is that she has been with us and so how long it is since she was hurt and that they are unable to hurt her anymore.  We did some symbolic work with noticing the scared feeling, where it is in her body, what it might look like if she draws it and then an imaginative way of letting go of the scared feeling.  

Sounds simple.  Takes ages.  It is very tough (for us both) and really helps.  She has been so much better for the rest of the week.

This is really not what I thought I would be doing as a mum.  Not in my teenage dreams of being mum.  Not even in my adoption mum prep courses.  Definitely not when I was told “the children just need firm boundaries”.  Yet this is the reality of my mummy job description.  Do I want to do it?  No, of course I don’t!  Will I continue to do it?  Yes of course I will!

So back to Mother’s Day itself.  I really don’t want to do anything, mainly because I can’t be bothered dealing with more upset, strops, shouting or rages if or when they happen. Yet, we will do something.  It will be flexible, it will be small, calm and definitely involve eating (because food regulates them).  Most of all, we will do something because I am not about to leave them with those old impressions of what Mother’s Day is all about.  We will continue to chip away and change their view of themselves, events and the world to something much more positive and kind.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those mummies out there who went the extra mile to be a mummy and go the extra marathon every day.

Illness and Insecurity

Littley has a vomiting bug. Whilst these are not nice for anyone – child or adult, it is interesting to notice the wider areas that are affected in our children. She sits near one or both of us and has a needs to chat (as ever); yet as we listen it is clear that she has a need to process what is happening to her. So we get questions that are sweet and funny and cute and also show how she worries and has regressed to a much younger age. Things like: Continue reading

Noticing … And More Waiting …

So whilst Biggey has been at home since 10th January it has enabled me to spend much more 1:1 time with her. Whilst this is quite positive it has also been very enlightening. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed.

She never starts a conversation. Ever! She only joins in with others or responds (sometimes) when I speak to her. Now, the reason I haven’t noticed this is because Littley talks non stop. It’s only been during this time of just the two of us that it has become apparent. I can walk into the room and she doesn’t look up or speak or acknowledge anyone is there. We can walk down the street and she only chats if I start chatting.

She always plays the same things.. If I say go and play she will go and colour pictures, never anything else. If I say play on the Wii she plays the same game. Again, if Littley is around then she chooses different games and activities so Biggey must have been following her with that. I knew Biggey struggled in this area and thought her lack of imaginative play was down to early neglect but now I’m not so sure.

She never brings me things to show me what she’s done. Never, ever! She will tell me she coloured a picture (after I’ve asked her) and still doesn’t show it to me unless I ask to see it. When I think about, she never has brought me work from school or those plastic bottle models or anything else.

She strops when asked to get changed or struggles with getting dressed. Now I know some kids do this this. She will also put on the same clothes all the time. Yes, all the time! I have to remove them from her bedroom. If I say put a clean top on, she strops. It’s a little odd. Littley is like a fashion show model on contrast – she would wear all her clothes (and some of mine given the chance) in just one day!!

She has lots of obsessive tendencies . Again, these have become more apparent now I see more of her. I keep finding her wiping down the kitchen surface (and it’s not that messy!). She tidies my cutlery draw! These are just a few examples.

She has an inability to change it adjust her language for different situations.. So if she hears a boy in the street shout and swear, she will come in and tell me about it, but she repeats in exactly the same way she has heard it, with same volume, same venom and no abbreviation to “f” word or whatever. She also uses ‘playground’ talk with grandparents (which is a bit embarrassing).

There are more things I’ve been noticing too so when I was my Camhs meeting the other day I asked for referral for her to be assessed for Aspergers or Autistic Spectrum. The more I’ve looked into this, the more I believe she is Aspergic. If so, it would go a long way to explain some of the reason for her having had so much difficulty making progress in certain areas. It would also be really useful to know if she is and what would help her to be able to settle better when we get a new school sorted. Apparently Aspergic girls are also very good at copying other children so that the condition can remain undetected. I believe the Biggey has been copying others at school, certainly in Junior school. Yet this will be much more difficult to do in the busy classes of a Secondary school.

There are often a lot of things which help Autistic kids and also help traumatised and attachment issue kids so the cross-over is understandable.

A letter came yesterday from Camhs. They are not making appointments for Autistic assessment because the waiting is to long. They may come back to us in around three to four months!! More waiting then ….

Love Conversation

Valentines Day. A tricky day in our house. You see, although the girls have been with us for over six years, we are reminded that Love Is Not Enough for my girls; it is often reported and written about that it is not enough for those children who have suffered trauma, loss, neglect and the rest.

In these six years we have come a long way and put in an incredible amount of therapeutic hard work to repair the damage done in the early years. However, my biggey was five and half when she came to us; she had already spent more than three years in the birth family and (just exactly what she had experienced and witnessed in those three years would fill a book) needless to say it had a profound effect on her.

So, this year as with every year on Valentines day I bought my girls a card and a little present as yet another small sign that I love them. However my biggey find its really hard to hear good things about herself so my messages and actions of thoughfulness, kindness and love were met with disbelief and rejection.

There were signs there that she was struggling generally with the basics of the day. She didn’t seem to be able to function properly when getting dressed; messy eating at breakfast along with moody face and sulky language. In the typical theapeutic parenting way with a dash of Dr Dan Hughes curiousity I tried to wonder aloud what was going on. “Nothing!

My littley was delighted with her card and token gift and went off to school quite happily. My biggey is of course still not in school so I had more time to be curious and explore. However, every attempt I made to interact was met with sulky rejection and pushing away. In the back of my mind I did wonder if it was about Valentines Day, yet if I ask then I am at risk of putting words in her mouth; she will then latch on to them and say and ‘yes that’s it’ and we never really sort the issue out. So, I didn’t say what I was thinking.

The next hour was tense and difficult because everything I asked her to do was a silent battle. Hers to maintain defiance and sulkiness and for me to maintain smiles, outward calm and nonchalance at her responses. Within the hour she was shouting at me.

“Just leeeaavvvve meee alone”!

I can’t remember what about now but I quickly made sure the front door was locked since I didn’t want it risk another running off session! I was ironing, and as best I could, I continued so that it reduced the confrontation that was occurring. She is often better when I reduce eye contact, it is less intimidating for her. None of this helped today. I was really close to just shouting in an old fashioned parenting way so I told her I was going upstairs to get some hangers for the ironing. I thought this would put space between us for even a moment and, in any case, I needed a moment to just take a breath!

When I got downstairs she wasn’t there! She was escaping thought the garage! Bugger! I didn’t remove the key for there. I ran into the street to see her running off in her socks. More bugger, swearing and dismay. I quickly ran in and got the car keys and went after her. I really wasn’t in the mood (and didn’t have time) to be letting her get out of my sight otherwise I may well end up with another police incident. Fortunately I managed to catch up with her in the next street and blocked her way. I had to man-handle her into the car. I was in a mode of just do what I have to do, yet in the back of my mind I do wonder what this looks like, I brushed that aside and carried on with the necessity of keeping her safe.

When I get her back home we sit outside the house, she in the back, me in the front. No eye contact, no confrontation. “Please let me help you darling” I say. “I can see that you really do have big feelings and that running must have been a big need too. I know it seems mean when I ask you about your feelings but I do it because I love you”.

What I got was a verbal attack which ended with “you don’t love me”. More exploring and I also got “I don’t belong” and then, as we really get to the bottom of the matter she said “I wasn’t loved. They didn’t love me and they were horrible and mean to me and they hurt me and this just reminds me that I wasn’t loved and that I was hurt”.

What can I say? She is right. Is she right? It’s a fair point. She is entitled to her opinion and her feelings. She had to live through that and I wasn’t there, so I cannot possibly contradict. How awful for her and its so sad. So, I say “I’m so sorry darling”. I’m always saying sorry to her. I say sorry when I don’t need to, when I don’t feel sorry, when I have nothing to apologise for. I say it because it helps her. It helps her to feel better, to feel somebody cares; I do care, more than she will know.

When I get her in the house, we have soothing words, drinks, biscuits, hugs and I get her calmed down – for now. By tea time, all this comes back up and we end the day in a similar way to which it started. Shouts, strops, moods, ranting, hating, soothing, hugs and a very very early bedtime. I am thankful that these big strops leave her exhausted. At least I get the evening quietly to myself, to recover.

I wonder if her birth parents gave her a thought?

A Look Back

A Look Back

I’ve spent a lot of time in the family and in my blog writing about my Biggey at the moment. However, as I write this in February 2014 and share with the online community that is The Adoption Social‘s theme of One Year On, it has made me stop and reflect a little as I take a look back over 2013.

My Little girl can step forward and take centre stage for this one! This has been a good year for her. This time last year she was struggling with many changes taking place in her little 9 year old life. There was a change in teachers in her class at school (for the better as far as I was concerned). However change is difficult and she struggled more with a fear of the unknown so that added to the increased anxiety she was experiencing. She was also having great difficulty with school work as they were looking at Victorians and studied The Street Child where there is focus on an orphan named Jim, with no shoes, no food, a mother who died and so on.

Later they also worked on Greek Myths so they’ve got Medusa and her head of snakes and the rest of those lovely stories. Because she is emotionally much younger it is hard for her to differentiate myth, legend, story from real. It also connects to her own scary traumatic early life too (of course!).

She was mentally and physically quite a mess

I spent much of last year in and out of school and she spent much of the time in and out of class. Working somewhere else, on her own, on a project. I’m grateful that they were so accommodating and understanding of her issues and trauma but she was mentally and physically quite a mess. This was easily seen by

  • her eczema being quite bad
  • she wasn’t sleeping as much (which is always the clue with her)
  • her eating pattern suffers
  • the fingers and toes are chewed and picked until sore
  • there were lots of falling out with friends
  • many days the tears and drama and meltdowns needed to be mopped up when she got home.

Mop it up we did and kept going, as you do.

Move forward to Summer 2013

More tears because she didn’t want to go into Year 6! She didn’t want to grow up! Bless! (Who does, was all I could think, but it’s not helpful for her.) She did manage a whole 3 days of residential trip at the sea-side which was amazing and gave us lots to be able to reflect on and boost her confidence.

Again we worked on transition, new teachers and all that and we got through it. I was thankful that the TA is the same and one she trusts a lot and one of her teachers (she has two) is the same as last year. Our summer holiday to the same place as last two previous years was the best holiday yet. Fewer big issues, fewer bossy, stroppy child.

Come September she struggled a bit with Year 6 and had quite a lot of friendship issues but we managed to contain them without massive explosions (most of the time). Halloween was still pretty rough and Christmas was Christmas (we tend to skim past it as best we can) and the New Year arrived.

We can see her flourishing

She was away on another 3 day residential in January and came back delighted with herself that she had managed every activity and in her words

even the scary ones!

Since then, we can noticeably see her flourishing. There’s been a definite upward improvement in her abilities, confidence, behaviour, sleeping and friendships. I do believe these residentials  have boosted her enormously and have Miss L and Mrs A to thank (and many other wonderful people in school) for their contribution toward my Littley’s progress.

Now, I’m not saying it’s all hunky dory and easy. However we have to come to a level of acceptance (mostly) about just how she functions and what she is and is not capable of. We still have the rages, the defiance, the trauma, the sleeplessness, nightmares etc etc. However, we had a fab parents evening last week, where she is doing very well and meeting all targets and is much less angry. I am not in school as often either. So, well done my darling! Fingers cross we can keep this going.

Take a Look Back

I often say to adopters in this world where everything is fast paced and always rushing onwards to ‘what next’ and what is bigger / better / faster we need to stop for a moment and just take a look back. See how far we have come and take a moment to reflect on the positive little things.  Give ourselves and our little ones an enormous pat on the back!

 

I’ve linked this with The Adoption Social Weekly shout out #WASO

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out