Archive | April 2013

Return to ‘Hushabye Mountain’

 “Sing to me mummy like I’m your baby” Buzzbee demanded this week at bedtime.

“You will always be my baby even when you are married with your own children! Why do you want me to sing to you tonight? I thought you said you were too big for lullabies anymore!”

Ok not my most sensitive response but the request came so out of the blue and I was a little confused about why he was asking now. He hasn’t wanted or been able to tolerate me singing to him since he became a ‘big boy’ and started school.

(Baby voice) “I really need to hear you sing me ‘Hushabye mountain’ like you did when I was your ‘Cuddly Koala Bear’” “Can you sit on the floor beside my bed and stroke my hair at the same time too?”

At this point I feel I need to state that I do not consider myself to be an exceptional singer and in my opinion I have a voice that only Buzzbee could love but I didn’t need asking twice to fulfil his request. I spent the next 30 minutes singing to him and stroking his hair and listening to him make gentle humming (self-soothing) sounds and for the first time in months Buzzbee settled quite quickly to sleep, but still at the time I was feeling somewhat confused about where this was coming from.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Buzz asking me to sing to him and wanting to be my ‘cuddly Koala’ again is fantastic.  He has always been very avoidant and extremely self-reliant, so anytime he allows us to get close to him, we take full advantage of the opportunity to strengthen his attachment to us (Oops, I better keep going because I am starting to get very soppy and welling up thinking about how much of both my boy’s life I have missed out on and how much I wish I could turn back the clocks and fill in all the lost and precious moments).

Buzzbee has always acted at home much younger than he really is and we have learnt to live with it (go with the flow), and school are slowly learning to respond to his emotional age and not his chronological age when dealing with issues during the day. But, this week his need to regain the years he lost seems so much more important to him.

So, why is it so different at the moment?  What is making him feel so vulnerable at the moment?

I have probably tied myself in knots this week trying to understand what is troubling him. Last week was the 4th anniversary of the boys moving in, so at first I thought maybe this could be playing on his mind, but when I thought back over this: Beeswax usually regresses at this time of year, but Buzzbee usually “claims us” by being helpful and a “big boy”. We knew that there had been changes at school which he was coping with pretty well and being very open about how he was feeling about them. No doubt in some way these were adding to his anxiety, but still I wasn’t convinced that I had got to the route of his need to take a step back in time.

I began to over-analyse every aspect of his usual regressed behaviour to see if anything had changed, but it wasn’t until I collected him from school yesterday and he started talking about Beedog and how she will never have puppies that it dawned on me.

We have had Beedog spayed and she has needed extra care this week.

Bad, Bad Honey. How could I have missed it?

Buzzbee adores Beedog and she is a very soothing influence on him at times when he is feeling at his most vulnerable and I guess this week he is feeling helpless and lost, seeing his ‘true best friend’ not feeling quite herself, add this on top of everything else that is going on for him at the moment and it is not surprising he is feeling so fragile. I cannot believe I missed it! In his mind Beedog is his source of unconditional comfort and affection but at a time when he really needs to snuggle up with her, he can’t because of the risk of accidently hurting her.

I cannot say whether his sudden need for babying is because he is feeling fragile because Beedog is fragile, or if taking away the opportunity for Beesdog to have puppies is stirring up something primal in him about his birth mum. I could spend all evening hypothesising about what is driving this behaviour/need and yes, it is important to understand what is going on for him, but far more important for me is to help him work through this in the most comfortable way for him and if in the process of I get to have extra snuggles, hugs and kisses with my ‘cuddly koala’ then I am not going to complain and for those time when I cannot be with him I will give school the link to the YouTube clip he likes (he is not keen on the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ version because of the child snatcher).

Earlier in the week I started writing a completely different post for this week’s #WASO about what the future holds for our family and how both boys were showing signs of regressing into old behaviours to help them cope with future changes but somewhere along the way, the regression that was happening for Buzzbee here and now took over. So I guess all I can say is watch this space.

Adoption Badge photo BADGE7_zps59df311c.jpg

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“What do you call a collection of Professionals?”

Who knows! But it can be pretty overwhelming to look back over how many have come in and out you lives during this process.

At present we are in the process of taking that final step toward becoming a ‘forever family’. Barring needing a couple of details from social services and my hands not completely curling up with cramp from filling in each application for the boys in triplicate – we should be in a position to submit the forms very soon.

Despite the fact that we will be submitting the AO paperwork very soon, the boys have recently met yet another new social worker, bringing the total to 5 (although really number 3 shouldn’t be counted as they met her one day and she left the next).
Bumble and I have been lucky enough to have kept the same social worker throughout our adoption journey and both she and our PASW have been godsends, although I know there have been times when it won’t have felt like it to them. I have been grateful for their support. We are one of the lucky ones – we have SWs we can work with.

Recently during one of the many meetings I needed to attend for one or other of my boys, the topic of support ‘post adoption’ came up.

Currently we are lucky enough to have a myriad of support from several different sources and we have always been aware that there will come a time when this support is lost, simply because the boys’ legal status will change (hooray!!!!).

But, this has got me thinking! Exactly how many professionals to date, have the four of us come into contact with since Bumble and I decided to make our first enquiry to adopt and the boys were taken into care?

3 IROs (Independent reviewing officers)
5 health visitors
2 paediatricians
5 CAMHS therapists
2 counsellors
1 PACT advisor
4 Adoption support workers
12 foster carers (at least) including the boys carers and ones we’ve met through respite
4 Educational Psychologists
2 Behavioural support workers
1 Virtual schools officer (thankfully same person for both boys)
6 LEA statement reviewing officers
16 Social Workers (well probably more but my best estimate) (again includes when we have offered respite)
6 crisis support workers from local care agency

Wow, scary! I am sure that I have missed off some many people and this list does not even include schools, nursery, GPs, Dentists, opticians etc.

I cannot tell a lie: it will be a relief not to feel like we are permanently living under an oversized microscope, but I understand people’s concerns. At this moment in time it is hard to imagine what it will feel like, when so many of these people have been part of our lives for several years now. They are like our annoying, nosey, frustrating, interfering, caring, supportive and thoughtful, distant family members. You know the ones! You can’t live with them, but it will feel weird without them.
That is not to say the moment the Judge signs the papers everyone will spontaneously disappear in a puff of smoke. We know there will still be support out there for us when we need it. Where will we get that support from? Well, I guess that will depend on our needs. Maybe it will simply come from our family and friends, or maybe we will need to seek more experienced support from Post Adoption Support or the ‘wise old owls’ at the monthly Attachment Support Group.

No matter where it comes from, the most important for me to remember is, no matter what has happened in the past, I must never be afraid to ask for help if we need it (and pray that we don’t have to fight too much to get the support we need).

This entry was posted on April 9, 2013. 3 Comments

How? What? When? Why?

I think I am going to give ‘Half-term’ a new name in the Hive. I am going to call it “How? When? What? Why? Week”! Ok I know it is the Easter Holidays but these 4 little words are overtaking my days at the moment and I am as guilty as both boys for using it.

  • “How many times do I need to repeat myself before you do as I ask”?
  • “When will you two stop fighting and just get along”?
  • “What have I told you about teasing the dog”?
  • “Why did you tell your brother, you hate him and don’t want him around anymore? When we both know he is the most important person to you”!
  • “How come he can say ‘sorry’ to you and you accept it but I simply say ‘sorry, NOW CAN I GO BACK ON THE COMPUTER?’ and you are still cross with me”?
  • “When are you going to get us our snack”?
  • “What is in it for me if I tidy my bedroom and put my clothes away”?
  • “Why can’t we play on the computer at 8am in the morning”?

Ok these are some of the more tense comments (there are lots of lovely therapeutic ones too) but you can get a picture of my days at the moment.
I am always being told off by Bumble or Buzzbee’s previous therapist, Jemima for being too hard on myself and using ‘I should have been able to…’ to further beat myself up. However last night I got myself into an emotional pickle and couldn’t get “How? What? When? Why?” out of my head. So, I found myself writing the following at 2am in the morning simply so I could settle down for the night!

  • How can you anyone be expected to heal from scars you cannot see if they still feel they are being blamed for it happening? When will they understand there is no magic wand to fix what happened? Why won’t they accept that you are doing the best you can and slowly you are getting there?
  • How can you begin to learn to trust again when so much damage has been caused and you are afraid of what would happen if any more pebbles were thrown into the pond? Why is this so difficult for you to understand?
  • Why does everyone feel the need to jump to conclusions about someone’s abilities as a mum anytime they have a ‘wobbly’ day? When will they stop blaming your past history of depression for the reason that you are feeling teary today? (It has been a stressful, emotional filled day THAT IS ALL!) How can we help them accept that some days we have the right to feel upset? It doesn’t mean we are about to fall apart again! What would you do in our shoes?
  • What makes people think that because your child did not come from your womb, they have the right to criticise or interfere with your parenting? How dare they? Why do I let other people’s opinions get to me? When they have walked a month in my shoes, then they can come to me and say they have the right to judge!
  • When will I stop trying to be Supermum and let people support me? How can I expect people to understand where I am coming from, when I still don’t feel safe enough to be open with them?
  • Why do people refuse to look beyond my boy’s behaviour? When will they start seeing the amazing boys I see? How can I help this happen? What will it take?
  • When will school understand, I am not the enemy? How can I make them see all we want is to work as a team? Why do they refuse to take on board our advice but then accept wholeheartedly EXACTLY the same advice from professionals?
  • When will I stop feeling that I have to justify my every decision to people?
  • Why do I keep smiling while my heart is breaking?
  • What can I do to make people understand? I am the boys’s mother and no matter what they throw at me, I will never give up on them. I LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY!
  • How do I keep going?

This list I think would have gone on forever if I hadn’t finally fallen back to sleep. Sometimes I really do wind myself up by worrying about things I have absolute no control over?

Time to treat myself kindly and eat mountains of chocolate Easter Eggs, I think!

(Sshhh! Don’t tell the boys!)

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Play, Play, Play

Since the beginning of January 2013 I have had the opportunity to read several fantastic blog posts which have been linked up to ‘The Weekly Adoption Shout Out’ or #WASO, which is co-hosted by www.thepuffindiaries.com and www.theboysbehaviour.co.uk Last week’s optional theme was ‘play’.
Reading some of these fantastic posts, started me thinking about how this theme fits into the day to day living in the ‘Hive’

What is Play and what does it mean to each individual member of my household?
In the Hive, the word ‘play’ is most definitely interpreted in so many ways and very much means something different for each of us (including the pets).
Take our pets for example: – Beedog is only one year old, so anytime she is not eating or sleeping is playtime for her. She and the boys are often getting up to mischief together, but if she was given a choice or the half the opportunity, her favourite playmates would be our Cats (Cbee1 & Cbee2). Now our cats on the other hand – their idea of fun is to torment Beedog by sitting just out of her reach or playing the occasional game of ‘pat a cake/swot the puppy’ with her through the stairgate. Another favourite pastime of the cats is ‘whack a mole my feet’ (the rules of the game are simple – who can use their teeth and claws to make me squeal the loudest while I am in bed).
Now, the 2 legged residents of the hive are far more complicated! When I asked the boys what they thought ‘Play’ meant, they listed several of their favourite activities. Beeswax’s suggestions suggested that he is finally beginning to show some self-awareness about himself, and demonstrating how far he has come in terms of play since being placed with us.
Beeswax’s idea of play involves sitting for hours playing computer games, if he were allowed to get away with it. But, when we do have ‘mum is so tight’ moments when we have managed to prise the games controller from his sticky, rather big paws, he will usually very reluctantly agree to going outside (if the weather permits) and riding his bike/scooter or more recently, he and Buzzbee enjoy having ‘Nerf gun’ battles with each other (they particularly enjoy my dad visiting as he is probably the biggest kid on the planet and gets a warped sense of satisfaction of being allowed to pelt them both with foam bullets. Usually hell breaks loose and the street is filled with squeals of laughter). Although Beeswax insists on being on the computer as much as possible, his first love is Football and even when not playing football, he is never happier than when he has some kind of ball either in his hand or attached to his foot. Beeswax really struggles with interacting with people if there is a chance they will try to get close to or connect with him. He has always for as long as I have known him, struggled with ‘play’ in terms of creativity and will very easily go into a tailspin if Buzzbee asks him to play with him. To his credit at the beginning he would do absolutely anything to avoid ‘Playing’ but his is trying and that takes considerable bravery on his part (he will kill me if his peers find out though).
Buzzbee on the other hand – his list was endless as you would expect from a 7 year old and, in his mind, every activity and game was his ‘absolute favouritist’. Anyone who has read my previous posts will know that Buzzbee’s biggest obsession is Dinosaurs and they are regularly incorporated into his activities in one way or another.
Buzzbee’s creative play can be entertaining and at the same time alarming to anyone who is watching or listening to him. He has a wonderful imagination, which I hope he never loses. I love listening to his ‘chatter and giggles’ when he is in the throw of a role play activity, whether it is him on his own with his action figures saving the world and fighting the bad guys, or helping his dinosaurs who are locked into a raging battle for power, to activities which involve the participation of his peers or adults. But, there have been times when his play has left me cringing or squealing with shock. Times like when we have had social workers visiting, who then probably on leaving wonder what was really going on behind closed doors (actually although I joke about this, it is half true). The two examples that will be forever etched on my brain are:-
• Buzzbee sword fighting with his new SW and became so entrenched in the role of Peter Pan that when his SW turned around pretending to be defeated, he slapped her square across her backside with his foam sword. Even while I am typing this I can still hear the sound of that slap! To be fair, although she was shocked, she took it in all in good humour (I did warn her he was getting over stimulated).
• Again during another SW visit, he came down stairs with one of his soft toys bound to a pole, like a pig on a spit roast. When asked why he had done that, he told her that the bear had been really naughty and had hit another teddy, so needed to be punished (Noooooooooo!)
His play is very free-spirited and spontaneous a lot of the time and generally once he has started playing he becomes obsessed and intently focused on the game in hand but in saying this, play for Buzzbee holds so many dimensions and I have learnt to read his emotional state by observing his activities. His play is rough, chaotic and controlling, and it has been like this ever since the first time I met him. I think undoubtedly, this kind of play is the one of the biggest issues school have struggled with in terms of his social interactions with his peers and it has got him into more trouble than I care to think about, but for Bumble and I, we have learnt to accept that this is part of him and he cannot change overnight. His lack of emotional regulation and self-awareness means that several times a day we need to step in, to help bring his play back down to a safe and manageable level for all involved, but we don’t have a magic wand and there is no quick fix. It has took Bumble and I a long time to get to the point of being able to read our boys and slowly school will find a way of doing the same but for now all I can do is support them the best I can and hope that in the end that will be enough.
Now even reading this myself, my boys sound like any other 7 & 12 year old boys, and they are in most ways. What is different is the intensity of control that is felt during their activities, or the titanic eruptions and fallout when it has gone wrong and they feel they have lost their control. The only way I have ever been able to describe the intensity of their distress to people who are not living with them or do not understand why ‘we allow them to act in this way’, I usually ask them to visualise a 2 year old in the body of 7 or 12 year olds and then say ‘how would you respond to that 2 year old?’. I honestly believe if I didn’t hold that in mind when either boy is in a ‘state’, I wouldn’t have a clue how to help them and I would really be asking myself if I was cut out to be their mother.
Another type of play that has almost taken over my family is ‘Role-Play’. Buzzbee spends so much time pretending to be someone or something else that it is hard to keep up with him sometimes, and although Beeswax says he can’t do it, he has been known, on occasion, to get so drawn into a computer game that afterwards he will act out scenes with Buzzbee.

But on the role-play obsession, I am afraid Bumble takes the trophy, and before I carry on I feel I have to make a declaration:

I am a widow! A ‘World of Warcraft’ and ‘Role Play’ widow to be exact.

Like many Golf or Football widows, my significant half spends a considerable amount of his personal time dedicated to playing with his mistress, ‘World of Warcraft’ on his computer and once a month he disappears off to an old university buddy’s house to spend even more time with ‘her’; and, along with several other grown men, who then play board games and ‘Campaigns’, which involve them pretending to be someone they are not, ALL WEEKEND.
I won’t lie to you. It ‘Bugs’ me the endless evenings I am trying to have a conversation with Bumble and realise that he is so engrossed in his game that when I think he is responding to me, I take offence, only to then realise he was not speaking to me at all. He was talking to a random character in his blooming computer game.

So, my question to myself is “how did I fit into this world of Play within the Hive”? I guess, without sounding arrogant, the answer is: I am everywhere; I am what each of them needs me to be. I am the playmate, the facilitator and the referee. There is only one area I cannot do and slowly the boys have learnt to accept it. Both boys are climbers and love climbing trees or going to a local tree top adventure playground but I CANNOT DO HEIGHTS, so if they get stuck (which so far they never have), they need to trust me enough to trust that I will send someone to help them and that I will be waiting at the bottom to give them a hug (if they want it).

Despite all the trials and tribulations that comes with parenting children with complex emotional and social needs. Play has never been more important for my family. It has given us (and, family and friends) the valuable opportunity to bond and get to know Beeswax and Buzzbee on a level they are more comfortable with, and at the same time ‘play’ has given both boys the chance to ‘let go’ even for a short while and enjoy their childhood without fear of what is coming around the corner.

I will leave this post with a quote from my dad.

“You are never too old to play games with your grandchildren. You are only as old as the children’s game you are playing” Grandad-Bee (59 years 11 months)

 

This entry was posted on April 4, 2013. 2 Comments