Archive | March 2013

Who do I think I’m protecting?

This week Bumble and I had a rare chance to get dressed up and help with ‘Front of House’ for a local Musical Theatre Group’s production of “Annie”. Bumble has been involved with this group for some years now (only small parts but he will always be my Patrick Swayze), in fact on one occasion Beeswax joined his dad ‘on stage’ (but, that is a whole other blog post which I may write sometime). Each year since the boys moved in with us, at least one of them has come to see their dad in the shows he has been in – except for last year! I really don’t think Social services would have been too impressed if I took two impressionable boys to see ‘The Full Monty”, (saying that Buzzbee could have helped the cast get over their inhibitions about swearing in public).
Disclaimer: Unlike seven members of the cast, Bumble stayed fully clothed throughout the show, much to the disappointment of my Nan.

Obviously ‘Annie’ has a strong ‘Care’ and ‘Adoption’ story line, but as Bumble is not in the show, we have avoided the boys asking to go, but we have been asked several times in the run up to the show whether they were coming to see it. Most who asked understood why we felt it best not to bring them to the show, but for some I found myself explaining that we felt the show would stir up too many difficult emotions for them and that they would be unable to cope or regulate themselves in such an enclosed social environment.

Having to explain myself is nothing new to me. I am regularly accused of being too over-protective of my boys when it comes to exposing them to the content of films, TV, books or even stage shows, that I feel will send them into an emotional spiral.

Maybe sometimes they are right at times, but generally if I put the ‘brakes on’ them seeing/reading something I am doing it because it is in their best interests.

Or, am I? Is there part of me that wants to ‘protect them’ in order to ‘protect myself’?

Now, maybe it is just the constant questioning from people about this decision and many others, but it’s started my ‘dizzy’ little brain thinking about my motives for saying ‘No’.

Have I been shielding them both for the wrong reasons? Am I actually trying to protect myself from the fallout of their reactions to the emotional triggers?

Just to be clear! I am not saying that I shelter them from difficult topics because I am ashamed of how they might react in public or how people might judge my parenting. That ship sailed a long time ago and I am the ‘Queen Bee’ of public meltdowns. If there was a university degree course for it, I would have graduated with a First and be working on my PhD.

To the ‘normal’ world I have the ‘patience of a saint’ (inside? Well I am sure most of you can guess what that is like). But, if I was to look beyond the thick public rhinoceros hide, and be honest with myself, I cannot deny that there may be some truth on a subconscious level, about what drives my thinking. I am a human being after all, and in the past, Beeswax especially, has responded to stressful situations in such a way that I have been hurt, objects have been damaged or he has put himself and others in harm’s way because he is in an amplified state of ‘Fight, Flight or Freeze’. Can I honestly say that this doesn’t affect my decisions? No!

Is it right? Maybe not! But I don’t really think there is a correct answer. All I can do is think about what I am trying to achieve and how best to achieve it. I am not a mind-reader (although Bumble and the boys think I am). I sometimes underestimate what they can cope with and I sometimes do get it wrong. But, for better or worse, I have to rely on my judgement and instincts because, in the end, it is Bumble, the boys and I who have to live with the consequences of my decisions.

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This entry was posted on March 25, 2013. 4 Comments

Blame it on the Boggarts

Oh dear it appears the Hive has a serious infestation of ‘mischievous/naughty Boggarts’. Or at least they appear to be getting the blame for several misdemeanours lately.

Have you seen this guy?

Have you seen this guy?

Buzzbee: “I didn’t cut holes in the drapes on your bed or try to fix it by cutting a patches the same size out of daddy’s Pyjamas” “I think the Boggart was experimenting with the scissors he found in daddy’s drawers and then realised he had made a mistake and tried to fix it before you found out”

Boys: “We did as you asked; we put all my dirty washing in the washing basket. But, the Boggarts are trying to cause trouble. They must be taking all of it back out of the basket and shoving it under our beds and in the corners of our rooms”

Beeswax: “The last time I looked all my clothes were put away neatly in the wardrobe and drawers!” “Maybe the Boggarts took them all back out, screwed them up and then shoved them back in just to make you cross because they were mad at you for not letting them have fun”

Beeswax: “I did not wee on the landing carpet! And it wasn’t the Boggarts either!” “The cats were angry with you after our argument about homework and did it”

Beeswax: “I did not break Buzzbee’s toys” “Buzzbee was annoying me and the Boggarts probably decided it would teach him a lesson”

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how Bee-dog got past the stairgate and got upstairs to chase the cats!” “Maybe the Boggarts forgot and ‘accidently’ left the stairgate open. They have a lot on their mind at the moment and keep forgetting to do things”

Beeswax: “I didn’t mean to kick holes in the doors or walls! I was trying to kick the Boggarts. I am fed up with them always trying to get us in trouble”

Ok, so just with these few statements it is obvious that what I am really talking about, is my boys ‘crazy lying’ and their inability to take responsibility for their actions/mistakes.
I would be lying if I said that their ‘crazy lying’ doesn’t drive me around the bend and there are days when I simply cannot tolerate it or have no idea how to deal with it and I am pretty sure I am not alone in feeling like this. Then there are those days where I truly amaze myself and manage to turn it back onto those naughty little imps (the Boggarts not my boys) and use it as an opportunity to reflect about what might really be going on.

Boys: “We didn’t make all this mess! We put all the DVDs and computer games back in their boxes and put them away like you told us too.”
Honey: “I guess the Boggarts have been up to their mischief again, maybe they thought I would believe that you didn’t really do what I had asked first time and so could get away with taking them all back out. Oh well, if you work together you can get it all put away again properly”

Boys: “We did make our beds and tidy our bedrooms today! It was tidy when we left them”
Honey: “Oh I get it. Those naughty Boggarts have come in your rooms when you were not looking and undid all your hard work. I am really sorry they did that but I now need you to re-make your beds and re-tidy your rooms”

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how the toilet roll got so wet; I didn’t drop it in the toilet”
Honey: “I guess it was an accident. If it wasn’t you maybe one of the boggarts dropped it after using the toilet and left it because he thought he might get in trouble if he was found out”

Buzzbee: “Yes I did go to the toilet but I never smeared anything on the walls and mirror”
Honey: “Oh dear that poor Boggart is having a really tough time in the bathroom lately. I guess when he tried to wipe his bottom he didn’t quite get it right and managed to get poop on his fingers and then didn’t know what to do so wiped it on the wall. Do you know what? I think it would be really nice if you helped him out by getting a cloth and giving the walls a clean for him”

Boys: “We didn’t leave all our toys all over the place! We picked them all up off the floor, like you told us too”
Honey: “Are you telling me that the Boggarts made this mess? Oh well can you both please pick them all up and put them away again before Bee-dog chews them up or worse still chokes on one of them. If you see the Boggarts before I do can you remind them how important it is to keep toys out of the reach of the puppy. I know how upset you get when she does damage your toys.”

Beeswax: “I didn’t steal sweets from the larder and then hide the empty wrappers inside my curtain pole, why would I do that?”
Honey: “Wow, those Boggarts are getting sneakier and how clever of them to think of hiding the evidence in your curtain pole. I wonder why they felt the need to take the sweets without asking first and then leave you to take the blame for it. I guess they were afraid if they asked for them I would say ‘no’”

Buzzbee: “I didn’t throw water all over bathroom floor when I had my bath”
Honey: “Well if it wasn’t you I will have to remind the Boggarts that while it is ok to have fun in the bath and splash around. They need to be careful not to let the water get on the floor as it will make the floor slippery and you could hurt yourself when you get out of the bath”

Boys: “We don’t know who keeps using mummy’s toiletries or make-up or who keeps emptying all the shampoo bottles in the bathroom”
Honey: “Do you think maybe the Boggarts were trying to make weird science experiments. I wonder if they realise how sad this makes mummy sometimes when her personal items are used without asking first. Maybe we can find some samples that they can use instead”

Beeswax: “I do not start making humming, tapping or bumping noises in the night just after you both go to bed!”
Honey: “Ok well if that is the case maybe it is the Boggarts and if so I need to have a chat with them and reassure them that they do not need to make so much noise just to get my attention. I know they are there and I will never forget them”

Beeswax: “I don’t keep making noises outside Buzzbee’s bedroom at night, trying convincing him that ‘bad guys’ are trying to get in his room and hurt him”
Honey: “I think I need to sit down with the Boggarts because it is not Ok to do this to Buzz. I need to try and understand why they want Buzzbee to feel so frightened. Maybe they are feeling pretty scared themselves but don’t know how to talk about it and in an odd way, making Buzz feel bad helps the Boggarts feel a little better. “

Buzzbee: “I don’t know how the Wii nunchuck cable got chewed while I was playing a game?”
Honey: “Maybe while you were playing, the Boggarts was concentrating hard or getting a little anxious and started sucking or chewing it without noticing he was doing it. Remind me next time you are playing to make sure I let you take a lollypop or something with you and then maybe if the Boggart feels the need to chew something he will enjoy that more”

Now, some of you may say that I am enabling them to continue with this level of dissociation from their actions and, I will admit there have definitely been days where I have wished that I had been more direct with them both but if I have learnt one thing about my boys – it is confrontation will inevitably result in a complete meltdown and the opportunity to explore what the behaviour was about will have been lost completely.
I guess you could say that during some of their more ludicrous ‘crazy lying’ sessions I adjust my affect to them and join them in their fantasy as a tool to help them make sense of what is happening without sending them to ‘planet shame’ Although sometimes I do need to watch my sarcasm (that is what I get living with a pre-teen), the tone of the dialogue, always remains open and is usually playful.

Watch out. There are Boggarts about.

Watch out. There are Boggarts about.

Buzzbee and his Dinosaurs – Obsession or Opportunity to connect

What is it with Boys and Dinosaurs? Why do they become so obsessed with them?

Ok, to be honest I am sure it is not all boys. Beeswax has never shown any interest in them (although it is hard to know what interests him, he is so fearful of loss/rejection that he doesn’t get attached/excited about anything. Well maybe football). Buzzbee on the other hand is the complete opposite. Once he is interested in something, it becomes his obsession and takes over his life and at times his thoughts. There is not a room in our house that does not have some form of dinosaur related object in it. He has a full size mural on his bedroom wall, several LARGE boxes of assorted sized beasts, remote controlled, cuddly & soft, giant inflatable ones, the list goes on and that doesn’t include his DVDs, computer games and his enormous collection of books.

Buzzbee is a bright and curious child and loves to know how the world around him works. We have always seen this hunger for knowledge as his way of feeling in control in a world that is unpredictable and scary for him. But his obsession with dinosaurs is something much more. His keenness to absorb every morsel of dinosaur and prehistoric animal information, and his amazing ability to reel off their names, sizes and diets is incredible. But for Buzz this information is not enough. He will regularly take it to a whole new level. They have almost become an extension of his daily life.

Have we indulged this obsession? Maybe! Have we been able to use his obsession to bond with him, help him learn and boost his self-esteem? Definitely! Well, at home we have anyway.

Warning: This is where I will probably go off on a tangent and probably lose you. So I apologise in advance.

Buzzbee has always struggled emotionally and socially. During his time at Nursery his love of dinosaurs not only gave him comfort and security, but also gave his key worker and other members of staff a tool to support, encourage and manage him. His very clever key worker soon realized that she could gauge his emotional state and levels of tolerance by observing in what form he was interacting with the dinosaurs, and then respond appropriately. For example – if he sought out his plush, he might be feeling insecure; or if he had his large heavy dinosaurs and was bashing them about or had taken himself off to the reading corner and was flicking rapidly thorough his favourite books then he was beginning to dysregulate and needed someone to step in and help him calm down again. She attuned herself to him and although it wasn’t always successful, over time she and the staff managed to not only create an environment where he felt safe enough to accept their support, but by using his interest they were also able to help him develop his social skills and self-esteem.

Sadly since starting school this level of understanding and support has been lost for him, along with the security of having his Dinosaurs nearby and he now feels unable to cope emotionally, socially or academically. His self-esteem has completely gone out of the window, children tolerate him but he doesn’t have any ‘real’ friends and for several months now, not only has he not been learning, but he has felt unable to remain in the classroom. We are now at the stage where he has 2 members of staff (not including class teacher) supporting him at all times but he still cannot access the work. I know that both school and he are stuck in a vicious cycle and nobody knows how to get out of it. I try to work with school closely and offer them suggestions, including making use of his dinosaur obsession but school say he simply refuses to learn and chooses to play and not try to do any school work. Until the recent arrival of a new member of support staff, school have been reluctant to entertain the idea of being more creative with methods for enabling him to access his learning. They had simply suggested that we encourage him more at home.

Some of you may now be reading this and thinking “why don’t you move him or home-school him?” and you would be right to wonder, I have considered it. I know that I could never home-school him and I am not sure another mainstream school would do any better. I do not believe that his inability to succeed at school is because he doesn’t want to work, but due to his emotional state and his mistrust of the school staff. At home he loves to look at his books and is keen to learn more, but in order to do this he needs to feel that he is safe to make mistakes and won’t be rejected or humiliated if he gets it wrong.

Please understand me I am not writing this as a criticism of his school. Yes, I am frustrated by the lack of understanding and knowledge the staff  have about working with children with a complex early history and their resistance to accept that it is not personal. He is not trying to show them up as inept teachers/support staff.

See, I knew I would go off on a tangent. Forgive me, my mind tends to jump around at times and more so when I am thinking about my boys and their needs.

So, earlier I said that Nursery, Bumble and I have managed to take advantage of Buzz’s Dinosaur obsession to bond with him, and boost his self-esteem. Could this be the answer for school? Should I push the issue more?   Realistically all I can really do is lower my expectations with school, as I have with both my boys. I need to take baby sized rather than ‘Argentinosaurus’ sized steps with school and be prepared to accept that for every step forward school and Buzzbee make, they have a long way to go and mistakes will be made, and they will fall back a few steps, but I have faith that one day they will get there.

  “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”  Saint Augustine

 

Books, teddies, models, bedding! When will it end?

Books, teddies, models, bedding! When will it end?012

 

This entry was posted on March 7, 2013. 3 Comments