Moving on up through the tears

There has been a distinct lack of post from me lately and it probably won’t come as a surprise to some of you the reasons for this, but it hasn’t stopped me beating myself up about it. Yes! I know it is not helpful to anyone, me being so hard on myself, but as ‘Blame Honey for everything’ seems to be a common theme at the moment. I guess if I can’t beat them, I might as well join them. This way maybe I won’t feel the painful sting left by the unending feeling of desperation and isolation.

Last weekend was a difficult weekend.

NO WAIT! Last weekend was a complete mess! Decisions were made that I have resisted for so long, and as I sank deeper into the dark pit of failed attempts at trying to therapeutically parent an angry and emotional, vulnerable teenager, relationships and emotional health crashed and burned along with it.

I guess you would say…… We hit rock bottom! (I certainly did anyway).

hittherocks

Calling the police on your child was never going to be an experience that I could or would relish. After Waxy’s early life experiences, he is understandably anxious (and angry) with the ‘boys and girls in blue’, and for a very long time I have used this knowledge as justification for not drawing a line in the sand sooner – Some would say I was being too soft and making excuse for his actions, and in some ways they were right and I wish it was as simple as that, but as many of you will know:

Nothing is ever simple when it comes to living on ‘Planet Adoption’.

So if in the past I have been a repeat offender and tried to manage the consequences and restitutions ‘in house’, which has almost certainly backfired, what was different about the weekend this time that prompted me to change my mind and report Waxy to the police for criminal damage?

Was it, just simply I reached the end of a very long and crumpled straw and felt I was left with no other option?

Was it because this time it wasn’t just myself or an inanimate object of some kind that was at risk of harm? He had lost control and Buzz, Beedog and Waxy himself were all at risk of serious harm.

Or, was it the fact that this time Waxy had lost so much control that he was displaying everything for the world (okay neighbourhood, which he would never usually do) to see, and I no longer felt safe in my own home?

I could hypothesise and dissect the ins and outs of the events of last weekend but it wouldn’t help anyone.

Nor would be having a VERY long rant about Post Adoption Support, or should I say the lack of it (5 minute phone call, 5 days after the incident happened and complete disinterest from PASW about the impact the weekend had on Buzzbee or myself – she just wanted to tell me how she had had a lovely long and pleasant chat with Waxy and he only did what he did because he felt I was being too strict – Hmmmm so wanting to treat my sons to a day out with Nando’s for supper is being too strict is it?).

Anyway, this weeks’ WASO theme is ‘Moving on up’ and I suppose through all my waffling, I am trying to come to some kind of rational conclusion as to the fact that I cannot change what has happened in the past, and while it WILL this time take me some time to bounce back, we have hit the bottom so there is only one way we can now go and I need to move on and move up (and not move out as I was ready to do Sunday).

How I am going to do this?

I really don’t know at the moment.

I guess for now, all I can do is wait out the storm and not beat myself up so much for events and choices that are not in my control, and pray that one day our family’s equilibrium will be once again be restored.

lifeisabike

Guilt free mummy time

*Stop the press*

I have managed to find myself in a position where I can write a complete post and upload it in time for this weeks’ #WASO link up – Okay maybe I should make a confession. The only reason I have a little time to myself is because I have had a toddler style tantrum over the fact the males in the hive seem to struggle lately with the basic concept of picking up after themselves, let alone helping out with minor household chores without spending double the length of time doing it because they are so busy attempting to annoy me so much that I take over the task myself (which I will admit is what usually happens in the end), however much to their dismay, their regular tactic backfired on them and mummy declared that she was going on strike and the 3 of them would have to fend for themselves.

Definitely not very therapeutic but miraculously the jobs were suddenly completed with little or no fuss and an hour later Bumble drew the shortest straw and carefully peeked around our bedroom door to waving the white flag.

I have been longing for just ‘5 minutes to myself’, so having a whole hour to myself was pure luxury (well it would if I hadn’t been so worked up about the males in the house).

The last few weeks in all honesty have been more than a little difficult and relationships with Waxy and school have been pushed to our absolute limit and Bumble and I are finding ourselves raising concerns and exploring painful questions about our family’s future if the current situation doesn’t change and support from Post Adoption and ASF is not forthcoming very soon, and as a result I have struggled to find opportunities to indulge in any form of self-care for myself and in the rare moments when I have found some space and time, something has managed to derail it.

Okay that is not entirely true. Last September as a birthday present, Bumble gave me a gift voucher for a whole day 1:1 photography lesson with a local photography studio in a picturesque National Trust village. Recently I have finally managed to make use of the voucher spent an entire day focusing on something that I enjoy and being able to switch off from being mum for a few hours safe in the knowledge that the boys were safe at school/forest school and Bumble has organised his work day around their timetable.

I had for the first time in I do not know how long, spent a complete day without any ties to ‘planet adoption’ and it felt wonderful. For one day I wasn’t someone’s mum or wife and the only person I needed to focus on was myself (oh and the wonderful lady who was providing my 1:1 lesson).

I surprised myself during the lesson by realising how much I already seemed to know about getting the best out of my DSLR camera and I lost count of how many times I sat listening to the tutor explain this, that and the other and my mind drifted off thinking about random photos I have taken with my camera over the time, while listening to a little voice in my head saying “oh so that is what happened, I didn’t even realise I could do that”.   Apparently each time I did this, the tiniest of a ‘shy’ smile kept catching the tutor’s eye.   At the time I passed it off as being amused at being “jammy so and so” and blindly blundering into lucky shots but in truth, the reason was so much deeper and more personal – I am not sure I can really explain it very well without coming across as wet or self-absorbed but I supposed after the rejection I experience day in and day out with my boys and the negativity that is projected at me from every direction over the years, my self-confidence and self-esteem has been all but destroyed and I now struggle to ‘sit with’ or believe positivity or praise that is directed my way (see I told you it would sound wet) but on the day for some reason my guard was down and my confidence was receiving a much needed boost (even if it was just for a few hours).

While the morning was focused on theory and a little bit of practical practise in the studio with my camera making exciting discoveries about the true extent of what it can really do and how some of the functions in it can do a WHOLE lot more than I could ever have dreamt it could.

buttonI don’t mind admitting I let out a little squealing of excitement to discover that a button which I had believe was only a zoom feature for viewing photos already taken, can in fact be used to take incredibly clever photos (I am still working on perfecting the skill of creating a decent photo using it for now).

The afternoon was spent strolling around the village and visiting the Abbey putting what I had learnt during the morning into practise and discovering that my amazing telephoto lens which only ever comes out when I am taking photos of the boys at the beach or when we are visiting the safari parks, can in fact produces absolutely stunning close up photos that even I would be mistaken for believing were taken with a macro lens.

blooming lovely

During the day I managed to get a few lucky shots, some that I didn’t quite achieve the composition that I had hoped for, and some…. Well let’s not talk about these ones and then we have the photographs that are still haunting me days after they were taken of a sweet elderly couple who I was mesmerised with as they walked through the cloisters together. I couldn’t help wondering about their story. Who were they? How had they met? How long had they been together? What had brought them to the abbey that day? – Okay I know I am a nosey devil but there was something about these two that was pulling at my heart strings and evoking bittersweet memories of my dear depart grandparents and the love and unconditional devotion they had for each other for nearly 60 years. In all fairness when they would come for a visit they did insist on taking an afternoon drive over to this village for a cream tea and a stroll around the abbey, so I supposed the place already holds special memories for me and the sight of this couple reignited them for me. (I really hope they won’t mind me including them in this post)

cloister

Listen to me jabbering on! What I have neglected to say is…… while the course was wonderful and I got so much out of it physically and emotionally. It wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t manage to take one single usable photograph because the biggest realisation of the day was not the fact that I can actually take some nice photographs.

LC

lc2

Residents of the village including the most adorable puppy

 

It was the realisation that all this time, the answer to my self-care prayers has been under my nose all the time.   I have something that I can and already do uses as an excuse if I need 5 minutes to myself.

I can lose myself in my photograph and refill my tank before it reaches empty. We live in a beautifully areas, adorned with rolling hills, woods, rivers and meadows so while If I am lucky my four-legged and 2 legged muses will oblige and not run for the hills at the sight of the camera (okay maybe not Buzzbee, he only needs to spot the camera in my hand and he is posing away), I still have plenty of opportunities to find an excuse to escape the trauma and destruction that often fills my days living on ‘planet adoption’, for a few short guilt free minutes or hours.

Unprofessional

I am going to apologise in advance for any potential offence I may cause or personal ranting that I may do in the course of writing this weeks’ #WASO, but after stewing on things for the last few days, I really need to get this off my chest.

There are several people who have known me and shall we say, they have seen more of my ‘passionate’ side than I probably would like them to have. It is definitely something I am working on, but it isn’t a personality trait that I have always had. Okay, I am not ashamed to admit, I used to be a bit of a doormat. I would have done anything for a quiet life, or not to encourage conflict. I guess that is why my sister STILL thinks she can be a pain in the backside and I won’t say a word (tough luck girlie, the old Honey is gone).

It would be easy for me now to put the blame at Adoption’s door and say that my need to advocate for Buzz and Waxy to get their needs met, as well as trying to keep my family together and happy, has turned me into someone who I am not always very proud of, when handling situations with professionals or individuals who have come into our lives for whatever reason.

While the ‘adoption’ process was not the spark that originally ignited the passion (that would be a very difficult story to tell), over the last 8 years its repeated fanning has certainly kept the flames flickering along, and every now and then someone or something comes along and gives the flames a few prods, turning flickering flames into a raging inferno of frustration and tears, and more often than not my own fight and flight responses kick into gear and I have to run (okay walk out) from the situation because I know I have or am about to make a complete fool out of myself and at that point I am certainly not helping my sons one iota.

Okay so why am I telling you this again? Oh right yes! I know why it was.

I have lost count of how many times I have heard so called ‘professionals’ comment or directly tell me that I am being ‘unprofessional’ when I have struggled to keep my composure while trying to advocate for my boys in a room full of people who just ‘DON’T GET IT’, and each time I have just wanted to scream “I am not a professional. I am their mum”.

Anyway, I still haven’t got to the reason for writing this and I honestly do apologise for rambling.

On Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to attend my second DDP Network Southwest study day. I had enjoyed the previous study day and was looking forward to another enjoyable and informative session surrounded by professionals and a couple of adopters/foster carers in an inclusive environment where no one person’s job or role was any less important than another’s. In fact unlike several conferences I have attended over the years, at the study days, your role is practically anonymous. No name badges. No job titles. No badges labelling you to a specific classification of involvement with fostering or adoption.

Bliss!

However this time my experience was not so positive and not because of the content of the study day or the presentations or the professionals who had work tirelessly and voluntarily to put the day together.

No! My experience was marred by 4 very rude so-called professionals, who were sat directly in front of me throughout the day and whose behaviour I feel was more than a little unprofessional (and a professional sat beside me agreed also). No that is wrong they weren’t a little bit unprofessional – they were downright and completely unprofessional countless times throughout the day and, if my memory serves me correctly, 2 of these professionals were on my table at the last study day and I ‘may’ have spoken my mind to them then about their negative attitude towards adoptive parents who may be having a tough time.

meeting-clipart-clip-art-meeting-340741The main discussion point and presentation for this study day was based around NVR and the principals applied to it, and while there were several people in the room who were clearly anxious about some of the conflicting and counter-intuitive advice that was being discussed, the questions were largely productive and created insightful discussions (some were definitely being a little closed minded but hey, I can’t judge, I can be a little set in my ways and adopt a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ stance at times), but the ‘unfantastic four’ weren’t following the flock, they were rarely challenging viewpoints or airing their concerns about conflicts in method ideas in an open forum. No they were leaning on and calling across each other, like naughty school kids, sniggering and making inappropriate comments, at inappropriate times, at levels that were audible to everyone surrounding them, and on the odd occasion that they did raise a comment openly, the theme of their comments was always the same “sort out the parents because they are the problem not the children.”

I have to confess on one occasion, I allowed myself to be affected by one particular professional from this group (I wish I knew what her role was), who spoke about parents with such repulsion and dismissiveness of the impact of child to parent violence, and later making a comment about how adopters are far too emotional and have no place attending events that are designed for professionals. While I may have shed a few tears over the first comment and it had done nothing for my view point that professionals cannot be trusted and will screw you if you dare to ask for help. Their wonderful comment about adopters having no place attending this event on the other hand I could quite smugly say ‘’As someone who has completed her DDP level 1 training, I have as much of a right as you have to be here today”.

While I am not always the biggest fan of certain professional bodies, especially when they love to suggest that my meltdowns are ‘unprofessional’, until this week I don’t think I have ever encountered professionals that I would suggest had conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner and further compounded the negative reputation that professionals involved with looked after and adoption services already receive at times.

But before I start sounding like a ‘Negative Nelly’ or ‘Moaning Minnie’ myself, I have to say a huge congratulation to Jemima (our previous DDP therapist) and the members of DDP UK for arranging another wonderful study day.

 

 

Return to Paper Mountain

“Transferring Buzz’s statement of education to an EHCP, shouldn’t take much! It should be really straight forward”

“The paperwork work we will need to do, won’t be any more than has been needed for his reviews in the past!”

“Taking over Buzz’s personal SEN budget will give you the flexibility and freedom you need to fund and timetable a weekly plan for him that suits his needs, without having to bankroll it yourself, and all you need to do is keep a record of all spending, mileage, DBS checks and employer insurance details. It will be easy for you!”

I have a feeling the professionals are living on a different planet to myself because: –

Straight forward, they said! – Let me think……… Um. No wait this is an easy one to answer. NO IT IS NOT! 99% of Buzz’s statement is now not relevant and this, along with results of his recent assessments, means that the whole document practically needs rewriting, instead of minor editing.

No extra paperwork, they said! – please see previous comment, and then add an entire week of mind-melting, soul-sapping, time-eating, sleep-depriving hurricane of box files, invoice/receipts, reports, emails, phonecalls, budgets and timetables, squeezed into every spare second of an already full and busy week of Home Education, housework, food shopping, school runs, meetings, letterbox contact letter writing, dog walking – actually Beedog has been a good excuse to take regular breaks………. Oh and of course, not forgetting writing this weeks’ #WASO post.

More flexibility and freedom, they said! – Okay I will give them this…………Hahaha! Who are they kidding? Freedom and flexibility, well yes it will give me the ‘freedom and flexibility to tailor Buzz’s weekly timetable to his needs without financially crippling Bumble and I, but what is it they say? “Be careful what you ask for”, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”.

Some of you will know that we felt forced to deregister Buzz from his primary school, because neither he nor they were coping. We fought to get him an SEN Statement that specifies that he should be placed in a Specialist School. Trouble was – there wasn’t one suitable, and he wasn’t ready in any case. So for the last two years, I have been home educating him.

Now, please don’t think I am being ungrateful for the opportunity to have direct access to funding that can be used to enhance and open doors to future learning opportunities for Buzzbee, with the sensitive support he may need. From the moment the lead SEN worker assigned to Buzz’s case suggested that it may be an option that the SEN panel would consider a viable option for him, as they are currently not in a position to provide him with suitable specialist educational provision, I could see the positives to taking full responsibility for providing him with what he needs to progress not only academically but socially and emotionally.

workinghardHowever, it has come as somewhat a shock, the depth and volume of research and planning that I am currently having to put into creating an acceptable Direct payment budget proposal to present to panel.

  • Complete costing breakdown and proof of payment for any current activity or home ed based learning tools and equipment that we are using to support Buzz with his timetable.
  • Complete financial breakdown of proposals of current and future activities/timetabling and the expenditures that will occur as a result.
  • A breakdown of timescales and frequency for each activity.
  • A detailed description of the activity/subject and how this fits into Buzz’s home ed timetable and how it ties in with his SEN needs – and when I say detailed, I mean detailed!

And, I haven’t even mentioned the long list of amendments/rewrites that are needed in order for Buzz’s statement to transition with moderate ease (fingers, toes and eyes tightly crossed).

While the reality of taking on this challenge is most certainly not straight forward and my mind keeps drifting off into space and questioning what I am doing and whether I am in fact up to the mammoth responsibility this entails, the long and PAINFUL process of dissecting Buzz’s home education experience has also, in a very strange way, been a positive experience and has quelled extended bouts of self-doubt and criticism of myself when it comes to the quality and extent of Buzzbee’s learning experience.

Buzz may still find physically reading and writing stressful, and fight me on a daily basis when presented with activities or exercises that he needs to complete. Yet he is now rarely asking for someone to read dialogues or game instructions when playing on the computer or tablet, and he will often find himself a note book and jot down random words he has seen around or practise spelling words he is familiar with.

I have worried that there is a limited volume of work physically produced to prove his is learning and not sat all day playing games and watching TV (he wishes), but in truth he has been exposed to so much more than I could have possibly expected, both through direct and indirect exposure to educational opportunities.

What Buzzbee lacks in core literacy and numeracy skills, he more than makes up for in physical and verbal demonstrations of the wealth of information and knowledge his has absorbed, and my little caterpillar is slowly breaking out of his chrysalis and morphing into a bright and articulate butterfly before our eyes.

hungrycat

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Easter mayhem

Stop the bus, I need to get off!!!!

I have been struggling to get posts out lately for various reasons, so I thought maybe this week I would write a ‘Easter Holiday update’ instead and maybe it will give you some insight into one of the reasons I have struggled to keep up with anything, let alone #WASO posts.

Okay maybe that is a little dramatic but after having both the boys home together for the Easter Holidays, it would be fair to say Bumble and I are certainly feeling it more than we probably should be admitting too, and I have started counting down the days until Waxy returns to school and I get them both back into their routines.

To be fair to Buzzbee for the first 5 days of the holidays, he was completely wiped out thanks to a pretty horrible cold virus and fever. He is on the mend now, although going on the increased volume of meltdowns and irritability, he is still not feeling 100% and DOES NOT have any self-regulation reserves left to call upon but on the plus side, he is currently falling to sleep easier.

mummytime

During the time Buzzbee was under the weather, he was needing ‘mummy cuddle time’ almost 24/7 and Beeswax has found this difficult to manage and his responses towards Bumble and myself spoke volumes about how he felt about his little brother receiving so much attention. I am guessing that he was also feeling a little rejected by Buzzbee because in the past if Buzz was poorly, he would have wanted his big brother and only his big brother. So for Buzzbee now to have transferred his need for comfort from Waxy to Bumble and I must have been really difficult for Waxy to manage, and on top of this, despite Bumble and I bending over backwards to make sure he receives the attention he needed, Waxy’s jealousy and fear of vulnerability shone through – in all honesty he was a complete nightmare and at times, I was really struggling to remain calm and empathetic with him – “5 hours sleep in 72 hours makes Honey a cranky mummy”.

Easter Sunday we visited Bumble’s family to celebrate his eldest brother’s 50th birthday and secretly I was praying that Buzzbee would not be up to the 4-hour round trip. Not because I didn’t want to catch up with Bumble’s family. No! I was dreading having to take Buzzbee to my brother-in-law’s because he has had an amazing new kitchen conversion done and during our visit at Christmas, it took Buzzbee exactly 1 minute to go completely bonkers and into sensory overdrive.   He had a ball, but Bumble and I were cringing every few minutes as he slipped and slid across their brilliant, shiny white floor tiles in his socks, belly, bottom and oh yes, a ‘awesome fast’ wheeled computer chair. And, don’t even get me started on the window blinds or giant brass lightshades.

Thankfully our nephew had a trick up his sleeve, which, after the organised chaos of lunchtime, was in fact a complete godsend. He has recently started working on a working dairy farm and had arranged with his boss for us all to visit after lunch to see where he works and visit the cows and calves, including one beautiful little one that had only been born the day before. Buzzbee was in his element and wanted to take the calf home with him.

I guess we could say despite Bumble and my concerns, the day was actually a successful day.

holycow

The majority of the duration of the holidays the boys seem to be permanently preparing to spontaneously combust with almost every event or person that they are involved with – Okay, it hasn’t helped that I haven’t felt too great myself and have certainly not been bringing my ‘A game’.

Last weekend Bumble had to go away, and the boys were less than thrilled about the idea of having mummy ‘all to themselves’ all weekend – apparently I am really boring and don’t let them have too much computer time when daddy isn’t home to talk me around. Okay they are right I am stricter on computer time but then in my defence when Bumble isn’t around, the boys ALWAYS seem to unravel quicker when playing too long on electronics.

As always I had a plan and I was crossing my fingers that it worked for us all.   Which thankfully it did, and I am determined to chalk it up as a positive weekend – that is if I just pretend the 12 emotional meltdowns on the Sunday from Buzzbee while bowling and before bedtime didn’t happen.

After spending so much time at home because of Buzzbee, and then myself feeling under the weather, it was great on the Saturday to get the boys out in the fresh air and visit their favourite safari park for a few hours before returning home and having some computer time. Everyone happy and the boys ALMOST managed a whole 3 hours without trying to take chunks out of each other.

Sunday on the other hand! From the moment the boys woke up, they felt like the world had it in for them. First the WIFI went down which meant no Netflix while they had breakfast (which incidentally, mummy managed to burn because she was distracted with picking up the pieces of their latest argument). I then discover that there is no water coming through the taps, which sends Buzz into a complete irrational panic that we are all going to shrivel up and die from dehydration. Eventually we were notified that workmen had managed to damage a water main and the water would be off for an undeterminable amount of time.   Time for plan B, get the boys out of the house for a few hours. After several activity suggestions were rejected by one or the other (but most of the time, both of them), we finally agreed that should go bowling and have lunch out.

Simple. Right?

Oh how I wish it had been. I only have myself to blame, after the morning’s meltdowns, I should have realised that Buzzbee was not in the right headspace to cope with being in an open space with lots of people and noises surrounding him, let alone the challenges that a bowling alley can bring.

He was just about holding on and then the boys’ ultra-competitive streak kicked in and the emotional fireworks began, over and over again. Buzzbee (who in fact was winning) perceived he had thrown badly, so fell apart. Waxy then got extremely irritated with Buzzbee “showing him up” and became verbally aggressive with him, and so it carried on for a game and a half until mummy ordered 2 glasses of cold, blue ‘magical’ drinks (Slush puppies to you and I).

Buzzbee’s game improved as did his mood and just in the nick of time because the events that followed his next throw of the bowling ball, potentially could have been the final nail in the coffin in his mind. Thankfully instead, it was the turning point for all three of us and gave us a much needed laugh – not to mention the family in the alley next to us.

Buzzbee’s ball ricocheted off the lane bumper and got itself stuck between the rail and the gutter. In an attempt to help his little brother, Waxy told him not to worry and just throw another ball and when the rail goes down it will just roll down the gutter.

So, Buzzbee threw another ball! Into the gutter! Where his other ball was already sitting!   Buzzbee had taken Waxy’s words literally and in his mind, he had done just as his big brother had told him. Waxy’s face was a picture. His jaw almost dropped to his kneecaps in disbelief. Obviously he meant carry on with the game and throw the balls at the pins but his choice of words meant that Buzzbee had misinterpreted his advice.   Waxy finally now understands why we tell him to be careful how he says things to Buzzbee because he will more often than not take those words very literally.

bowlingtime

Thankfully at the beginning of this week, Buzzbee’s dance classes restarted and for one evening at least, having a little part of his routine being put back in place meant that Buzzbee seemed to have relaxed a little. Or maybe, I was just feeling a little more relaxed because I knew I would be travelling down to my parents the next morning and would have reinforcements until Friday evening.

OMG they were at each other’s’ throats the entire time we were staying at my parents. I really do not know what had got into them but as always my parents were great and operation ‘divide and conquer’ was put in place and between the three of us, we kept the boys apart and distracted.

As I sit here writing this #WASO post, sitting in the lounge of my parent’s caravan, I am pleased to report that both the boys are currently laughing and joking with each other while playing Monopoly, as if the events of the previous days has never happened – I would love to know how they can do that because I am a wrung out dishrag after the last several days of dramas.

“It’s a fine life”

***Advanced warning: Extremely proud mummy WASO post***

‘Moments to be cherished’ is this weeks’ Adoption Social #WASO theme and has been chosen by their guest editor @Craftikitty and the theme couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

As some of you, who have been following my recent posts or through Twitter, you will have found it hard not to notice that Buzzbee has been slowly building up to taking on a named role in ‘Oliver’ (I can hear some of you now “Are you insane? How do you expect him to cope with the story line?”

I will confess when he first said that he wanted to audition as an orphan/urchin for the show. I had nearly had kittens and every thought ran through my head as to the impact it may have on him, with this said, he was determined to audition and join his dad this year on stage.

Despite our “anxious” parental instincts screaming at us “this could go very badly wrong”, Bumble and I knew that it would probably cause even more damage to Buzz’s self-esteem if we talked him out of it, and besides, the Buzzbee that was stood in front of us asking to join in, is not the Buzzbee we are used to seeing, and that alone is a moment I will cherish.

Until part of the way into last year, Buzzbee’s self-esteem, self-confidence and self-belief was through the floor. This fire in him was dying out and he was retreating into himself socially and emotionally. He then joined a local youth musical theatre group and I suppose you could the rest is history.

 

I don’t fully understand what it is that is different, when it comes to the group. Although I know that the wonderful ladies who run the group are absolutely amazing with him and his social interaction experience with the children (mostly girls which Buzz always sees as a bonus) is the polar opposite of his experiences while at school. I guess there is a close and almost nurturing atmosphere and everyone attending has their own personal strengths and weaknesses, and each child (and adult) accepts them for who they are. They are not expecting Buzz to conform to their stereotype of how he should be.hat1

Quite honestly, when he first started and for many months (including during the time he was involved with the concerts), Buzz didn’t actively attempt to interact with his peers unless it was what he was supposed to be doing while rehearsing – break times he was kind of hang back from the others.

Okay back to this week. Wednesday evening: “Mummy I did it! I got on the stage and I sang and I danced and I didn’t forget my lines and the audience loved it. I can’t wait to do the other 2 shows this week” – As you may have guessed. Buzzbee was pleased with himself. Oops sorry I should have mentioned. Buzz started of rehearsals for the show content in the knowledge that he was to play a workhouse orphan and one of Fagin’s street urchins, but as rehearsals progressed he was offered the role of ‘Charley Bates’ (the artful dodger’s best friend) which meant he would have to step that little further out of his comfort zone but he did it.

I don’t want to say too much because this week Buzz has written a ‘Moments to cherish’ #WASO post himself (linked here) but it goes without saying that Bumble and I couldn’t have been prouder of him and not just because of the wonderful job he did over the past 3 performances but probably more importantly, for his bravery – getting up on stage in front of nearly 200 people each show and performing his heart out even though backstage he was visibly anxious. He wore unfamiliar clothing and a microphone and managed (just about) to tolerate them. Even when a prop mistake occurred during one of his scenes, instead of letting it throw him, he didn’t bat an eyelid and just took it in his stride, carrying on as if there was nothing wrong.

I better stop before I get carried away any more than I already have done.

But this post is not just about Buzzbee. Waxy has also this week given his little brother (and ourselves) a truly special moment to cherish, and it is something that many of our non-adoptive/fostering friends and family probably take for granted and certainly there have been some who do not understand why we are making such a big fuss about it.

This week has been a very busy week with Birthday celebrations also happening, however on Wednesday, Waxy did something I have NEVER known him to do. He went out of his way to make sure that Buzzbee received a “Break a leg” message from him before he left for the show and the members of staff at his school assure me that they had played no part in facilitating his apparent spontaneity. It was in their words “It was his own idea. All we did was make sure he could get hold of Buzz in time”.

I can’t describe the joy on Buzz’s face while he was speaking to his brother and okay yes, tears were glistening in my eyes (and here I go again). To others this was ‘nothing’. It was small and insignificant and well, in their minds they would have expected him to have done anything different but Bumble and I know how ‘momentous’ this was for Waxy. He WANTED to reach out to his brother and wish him luck, he wasn’t make to do it because it was the right thing to do.

So this week I can safely say there have been so many ‘moments to cherish’ I have lost count but that doesn’t matter because they are all locked up safely in my mind and will be warming my heart for a long time to come.

Every family tree contains some nuts

“How big is grandad’s family mummy?”

“Honestly Buzz. I really don’t know anymore”

“Why? Is it because you live too far away and have forgotten them, like my t**t birth parents have forgotten me?”

“Oh Buzz, how can anyone ever forget you? No I can’t tell you how big grandad’s family is because I have simply lost track of how many there are now. Grandad has 12 brothers and sisters, most of them are married and All of them have at least 2 children, but most have 4 or 5 and that is not counting their step children. All of my aunts and uncles are at least grandparents, but in truth by Grandad’s 60th birthday he was already a Great, Great, Great, Great Uncle and has more great, great nieces and nephews than he can even remember.   Grandad’s family is so big at family parties it is the standard joke that we should all be wearing conference name tags or t-shirts stating which of Grandad’s siblings we are closest related too”.

“Why didn’t Grandad’s mummy and daddy use protection so they didn’t have so many babies?”

“Buzz, that is a whole other discussion and one that will have to wait a little longer” (A lot longer – religious beliefs, merchant navy and extended absence for my grandfather. Not to mention booze and well…. Let’s just say there are things that are definitely never for either of my boys’ ears).

Anyway, I am rambling a little (okay a lot) but there is a reason I chose to start this week’s #WASO post with a brief sample of a recent conversation with Buzzbee and I think triggered by my sister once again, opening her mouth and making inappropriate and insensitive comments with the boys in earshot and refusing to acknowledge how these may make the boys feel or impact on their relationship with her (not that Bumble and I have ever seen any real sign of her really accept them as her nephews. Yes, she buys them birthday and Christmas presents, but there is never any thought put into it).

I swear she is jealous of the boys, despite having 3 biological children of her own and giving my parents their only granddaughter. There are so many reasons that my sister hasn’t really ever fully accepted the boys and most of them the boys are aware of and find it quite funny at times, especially when the eldest of my nephew will repeat a comment that he has obviously heard from my sister to Waxy and Waxy then uses it as a way to manipulate and wind his YOUNGER cousin up (Waxy is now my parents’ eldest grandchild not my nephew and NOW Waxy loves pointing this fact out with my sister in earshot, if she is being particularly frosty).

So what had my sister said that had had such an impact on Buzzbee? It wasn’t anything Bumble, my parents, or I hadn’t heard before, but up until now she had been more careful about when she voiced her opinions on the boys’ birth family, but on this day she was careless (or maybe I am the one who failed to protect my boys). Somehow the subject of wills and families had come up and my parents were ‘reassuring’ her that they had listed some item or other in their will that was always promised to my niece. My parents reminded her that they would make sure ALL of their grandchildren were bequeathed something in their wills.

flaming“Well Waxy and Buzz won’t be expecting anything from you because they have their own family, which they will obviously inherit from when the time comes because they are their blood and the boys will have a right to any inheritance from their birth family, the same as my 3 are your blood and will inherit from you both”

How does that old saying go? “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”? Now the boys beg to differ on this phrase owing to our family set up, but when it comes to my sister, no matter how much I hate how she treats people and I am on the verge of being unable to find a reason to keep her in my boys’ lives. The fact remains that she IS my sister and she IS part of the boys extended family whether we want her to be or not.

Please forgive me I completely went off on a tangent from my original motivation for this ‘Extended Families’ post.

When Bumble and I started on our adoption journey we always knew that the children we welcomed into our hearts and into our family, would always have had another family before.   We had a vision of how this would work and how we might support our child (children in this case) to maintain some kind of link with their birth family. Okay, we both imagined this would probably be once a year, on the same date and via a third party service (post adoption letterbox service). I can only speak for myself and say that it was never my imagination that very swiftly after the boys were placed with us, those lines of contact and communication with one particular set of birth family members would go from being a formal bi-annual family newsletter and their response, to a more direct and open relationship, which feels surprisingly natural and not just for Bumble and I. My parents have never met these people and yet they will happily chat with the boys about them and not feel even threatened by the fact the boys are open about their affection for these 2 wonderful people.

My sister is right about one thing. The boys do have another family and while most of them have completely disappeared off the radar, the ones that have stuck around I am confident that, no matter what, they will always be around and always put the boys needs above their and this is rapidly beginning to be reflected in the rapid growth in frequency of informal emails and postcard being shared in both directions. There are not just part of Beeswax and Buzzbee’s birth family. They have become part of our ever growing extended family and long may it stay this way.

Nearly there now. If you are still with me, then congratulations for surviving. While I have accepted there is very little chance my sister will ever change, she is in a minority as far as the rest of my colossal family are concerned. From the very beginning the boys were welcomed into the family as if they had always been there and while yes they have been known to say “all kids do that”, in my dad’s family they are more likely to say “oh uncle sting used to do that when he was angry, he calmed down in the end”. Like my dad, nothing really phases them, and it is probably because the members of my dad’s family consist of almost every colour of the rainbow, personality, socially, culturally, academically, behaviourally – you name it someone in my dad’s family has probably done it or been involved/experienced it at some point in their lives.

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