Archive | June 2013

Our hero ‘Bumble’

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

** Advanced warning this #WASO post will probably drift off in all directions and seem scatty**

I had thought of writing about the stresses of the last 2 weeks but decided that this post was sweeter and certainly gave me a much needed chuckle.

It is fair to say that Buzzbee has never found school very easy.  He is bright, inquisitive and articulate but his early years’ experience constantly gets in the way from achieving his potential.  His social skills are limited but with considerable support he remains popular with his peers (although sometimes I fear they are more laughing at him rather with him).  Sadly academically, his chronic low self-esteem and fear of failure has meant that he has become terrified of the slightest attempt at getting him to access any form of learning (although in the safety of the ‘Hive’ he is a little dynamo with his homework).

Over the past couple of weeks relationships with school has become pretty tough for Buzzbee, Bumble and I. I have found myself really struggling with the attitudes of the professionals who are involved with Buzzbee and their resistance to any attempt at understanding what is driving his behaviour, and where I have made myself ill, letting far too much get on top of me, Bumble has somehow managed to rise above it and turned into Superdad.

Buzzbee has also shown what a resilient little man he is and somehow managed to find a way to let through a modicum of the ‘cheeky monkey’ Bumble and I know and love.

Buzzbee loves “Guess How Much I Love You” and has for as long as we have known him. Over the years the story has taken on its own personality within the family and is certainly used as wonderful way of validating our feelings for him.

I cannot remember the last time that I felt so wiped out that I had no choice but to rest and this has meant that Bumble has had to step up  a little more than he is used too and which has meant that he and Buzzbee have had some much needed bonding time (Buzzbee has always been Mummy first, Daddy only if Mummy isn’t around) but with Buzzbee feeling very vulnerable he has relished the extra attention from his dad and has gone into full on “Guess How Much I Love You” mode or should I say “Guess Why I Love Daddy So Much” .

In an attempt to give Bumble a chance to breathe for a few minutes this morning, I suggested that Buzzbee and I get my laptop out and we could type up some of the things he wants to ‘tell’ daddy and hadn’t yet (I invited Beeswax to join us but took his grunt as a sign he didn’t want to).

My brain is not exactly working at full speed at the moment and so trying to keep track of all he wanted to say was “interesting” to say the least but he was enjoying himself and oh, boy he really did had a lot more to say and I have to admit several of them are so on the money and demonstrate that he doesn’t miss a trick.

“This is why I love my daddy so much”

  • He is the bestest daddy in the world
  • He is going to be the best daddy forever
  • He lets me play on his computer
  • He lets me watch Star Wars and Dr Who
  • He can fix computers
  • He is rubbish at DIY job but always has a go even though he knows mummy or granddad will have to always fix it
  • He makes quite good Hot chocolates (with practise they will be almost as good as mummy’s)
  • He likes LEGO and Dinosaurs
  • He tells silly jokes
  • He uses voices when reading me stories
  • He gives the 2nd best hugs in the house
  • He lets me stay up later when mummy isn’t home and we have ‘boys’ snacks
  • He is good at making doing nothing look like he has worked really hard (it drives mummy crazy)
  • He can make mummy laugh when she is sad
  • He is easily distracted (Beeswax and I can get out of jobs very easily)
  • He is always kissing up to mummy to get what he wants (he learnt from the masters)
  • He always makes sure if he is away that he phones me before bedtime or sends me messages
  • He knows everything and is really, really brainy
  • He sings really bad
  • He is cool and rides a motorbike
  • He has a cool job, playing with computers all day long
  • He loves popcorn, just like me
  • He stands up for me when Beeswax is being mean to me

I can’t think of a better way to show Bumble that no matter how much Buzzbee pushes him away at times. Buzzbee loves him and notices what is important to him.

daddy

This entry was posted on June 30, 2013. 6 Comments

From Enemies to Friends

This week’s #WASO theme of ‘friends’ couldn’t have come at a more opportune week to share a letter written to an unexpected friend.

For several weeks now my stress levels have been growing, and remaining therapeutic with my boys and the professionals around them has turned from a role that I can easily slip into as and when needed, to now being a daily struggle with myself to remain calm and composed when presented with the simplest task, request or issue.

This week has been one of the most stressful weeks we have experienced in a long time and I cannot see it settling down anytime soon. I have been so overwhelmed and didn’t know who to turn to.  Little did I know this support and compassion would come from such an unexpected source – my old school bully!

Dear Lolly

I know you are leaving tomorrow to move ‘Down Under’ but I didn’t want you to leave without saying “Thank you for being there for me this week”. It has been a very long time since you and I were in each other’s company (let alone seen eye to eye) and if anyone had tried to tell me a couple of weeks ago that the person who had bullied me all through school, would now be the person to come to my aide and do so without judgement or criticism, I would have laughed in their faces. But, you did and I am grateful.

Everything is a complete mess at the moment and I have felt like I am drowning for a long time now.

Last weekend was supposed to be an evening of celebration and reunion and I cannot believe I made such a fool of myself. I allowed my guard to slip just a little more than I care to think about.

Why did it have to happen on that night? I can’t explain. Some would say it was fate stepping in and taking over, but I will not insult you by telling you that I don’t understand why I crumbled and fled. I know exactly why it happened; I just don’t know why it had to happen that night. Having said this, that doesn’t stop me feeling that I need to say that I am ‘sorry’ it had to happen in that way and I never meant for you or anyone else to worry. I certainly did not want to be the reason you missed part of the evening.

We have both changed a lot since our days at school, but some things will never change. At school I was always a very shy and introverted girl and, as much as possible, avoided drawing attention to myself (and I know this made me an easy target for not only you but others too and I forgave you all a long time ago for that), but as a mother of two very traumatised young boys, I have no choice but to put myself out there more now, and, yes, I have to make myself stand out often, but in reality my dislike for drawing attention to myself is still the one thing I have never been able to change about myself.

What professionals and people who surround my family get to see, is not all that in reality they should see.

Over the years I have learnt to protect myself from the pain of abuse, ridicule, accusations, rejection, scrutiny and so much more, to a point that I have found it impossible to be open with others and ask for help.

I have told you things this week that I haven’t been able to say to the people who need to hear it the most and last night I cannot explain the emotion that overpowered me. I am so embarrassed. There you were trying to make me laugh by reminding me of how our old tutor would have responded to this with probably the dodgiest impression you could have done of him but, the words they were spot on and I think it hit a nerve that I have been trying to ignore.

He would have said “Stop being a doormat, grow a spine, give them what for. Tell them how much damage they have caused”.

Maybe it was my own feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame about the situation and how helpless I am feeling about doing anything about some elements of it. Or, maybe a certain well known tissue company has taken control of my emotions in order to keep themselves in business for the next century.

While I love my boys and wouldn’t change them for the world. I am ashamed to say, this isn’t what I signed up for and there are days when I can’t help thinking that everyone is right –  I am not cut out to be their mother. They need a mum who can fight for what they need and always maintain her composure. They need a mum that is always going to know how to fix their problems and take away their pain. They need a mum who is not afraid to question the decisions of so called ‘professionals’ when they believe they are acting in my children’s best interests over education, etc.

No matter what I do or how everything turns out for my family and I. I want you to know that this week you have given me something more precious than any of the professionals that I work with, our friends, or some members of our own family have been able to give me: Support, understanding, acceptance and validation! You have never told me that I am wrong to feel this way but you have ‘bullied’ me into acknowledging that I need to let up on myself and stop trying to be everything to everyone.

We may not have been friends before but that is in the past and I wish you all the best for your exciting new future.

While I am writing this I am still kind of in shock that of all the people from school that I have known or still know, it is you that has been a source of comfort and support this week and who knew you were only living a couple of towns away from me? (It is amusing how so many of the pupils who were predicted to stay in their home town for the rest of their lives are the pupils that actually moved away).

Honey x

 

” A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you just the way you are”

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Carefree camping (well almost)

I really enjoy camping but there is one thing that always drives me crazy and quite honestly – it is me being scatty!  No matter how organised I am or how well I pack up everything to come home, I always manage to misplace something.  This time it was my note book with the handwritten copy of the #WASO post you are about to read. When I finally found it,  I decided that, as the camping trip had now been and gone, I would just write it up and put it on at a random time, but seeing the launch of the new website ‘Adoption Social’ I couldn’t think of a better week to put it on here:

For several years Bumble and I have joined several adoptive and foster families camping and over the years the volume of attendees has increased.  When Bumble and I first started attending we were newly approved prospective adopters and so childless but this did not stop everyone welcoming us with open arms and since the boys moved in, Buzzbee has not missed any (Beeswax has attended one and a half camps but finds them difficult to manage due to his need for control).

This year Buzzbee and I (along with Beedog) were flying solo as Bumble and Beeswax had other commitments. So although I have a really good idea what Beeswax and Bumble feel is important about the camping weekend, I am going to stick with mine and Buzzbee’s viewpoints.

The campsite is held at a wonderful outdoor adventure centre, which on a clear day has a breath-taking view of the Black Mountains. And for me the site has all I could need (ok it doesn’t have 1:1 bronzed Adonises for the mums, to wait on us hand and foot) but it does have indoor accommodation for a handful of families, onsite tents for the hardier among us (although personally we bring our own, which this year fell foul of a freak gust of wind), 2 well equipped kitchens (one for self-catering and one for the communal eaters), shower facilities, a large campfire to sit in front of drinking “hot chocolate” (disguised as glasses of wine) once the children are asleep and so much more.

Buzzbee has a different point of view as to why the site is perfect:

  • There is a tree swing
  • Fields, woods and lots of open space to play in
  • LOTS of trees to climb
  • Toasting marshmallows over the campfire
  • Fun activities to join in with if he wants
  • Later bedtimes (although usually by day 2 he is asking to go to bed rather than needing to be coerced into the decision)
  • His partner in crime, who he only sees every now and then also attends.
  • Getting to be a big boy and helping collect the wood for the camp fire
  • But, most of all! He feels normal.  He knows that all the children struggle in one way or another and that the ‘mummy and daddies’ are not going to “be mean to him”.

Wildboy make bow & arrow     campfire marshmallows      treeswing

So what do I get from this weekend and why do we go back year after year?  Well, it is not for a physical rest that is for sure. I still have to be mummy, head chef, peace envoy, tree rescuer, story teller, first aider and whatever other hat I need to wear, but for me it is not the same. Yes I still have to be all these things, but the difference is I don’t have the stress or anxiety that comes with parenting my boys’ day in and day out.

Why? Well, if we ignore the fact that you have an extra 30 or more pairs of eyes keeping an eye on my little (ahem) “angel”, everyone at the campsite is in the same position in one way or another so there isn’t the intense level of feeling judged I feel in the outside world. I know I am among people who understand what my children are dealing with and the impact that has on all of us. I know I am among people who will let me cry on their shoulder if I should need to or will join me in sharing my boys’ triumphs no matter how tiny they are.

There is so much more I get from this weekend but I believe when we first began on the long road of the adoption assessment process I underestimated how valuable I would find spending a weekend once a year with people who not only understand, but have walked more than a mile in my shoes.

I could have written here a blow by blow description of every moment of the weekend but hey, there is only so much time in the day. So instead I will leave this post with the one and only paragraph that was written in full (all the rest were notes) to give you an idea of how this usually highly strung, stressed out  mother was feeling:

“I am sat here on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon staring at my notebook and watching a couple of girls playing with Beedog (trust me she is getting as much out of it as they are), wondering what I could write about this weekend and wishing that I could bottle all the memories and save it for a day when things are getting tough and I need reminding that we do have wonderful moments as a family and just because we have had yet another day when Beeswax has smashed another hole in the wall or his fist has come in contact with some part of my body, doesn’t mean that every day it is going to be like that (OK at the moment most days when he is home, feels like that, but these are the times that I most need reminding that it isn’t all bad).”

As the sun sets

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out
This entry was posted on June 16, 2013. 4 Comments

I want what is best for all

Ok this is not my usual type of post but if I don’t write it down I am going to explode lose all sense of rational reasoning and most probably it will make absolutely no sense.

A couple of weeks ago in ‘Sports day Pride’ I praised the work and commitment that Buzzbee’s school were demonstrating to supporting him and how maybe I had been premature with my fears that his needs were too great and maybe that this school is not right for him.

Well, scratch that because to listen to Buzz’s school this week you would think he was a demonic child, who is completely unmanageable unless he has 2 adults with him all the times.
They have had their request for additional funding turned down by the statement review board and are now completely panicking because they feel without it they fear for his academic future (more like they fear that they will be back to a position where they are routinely receiving the wrath of other parents when he falls apart and it is mishandled).

OK I am going to try and be a little reasonable for the moment. In the past school have made several mistakes which they have reluctantly held their hands up to which has brought them to this point but during our conversations with them they still fail to accept that we have concerns about their ability to cope (actually they always have the wounded puppy look anytime we have tried to raise our concern) They honestly believe that they have been doing all they can.
While I cannot agree they are doing everything they can. I do feel they are doing the best they can.
Our worries are as much for the staff and Buzz’s friends, as it is for Buzz’s wellbeing (OK Buzz will always be our first and foremost priority).

Buzzbee is certainly no angel (I know that he is a handful. I live with him) but he is a very complex, traumatised little ‘buzzy bee’ and since starting school in reception his anxieties and need for control have only escalated, and now we are in a position where they cannot get him into the classroom and he is barely accessing school work.
On the rare occasions he has allowed himself to trust the staff enough to try a little bit of work, they understandable want to give his self-esteem a boost but have gone completely over the top and sent him into a spiral of destruction because in his mind he is the world’s most naughtiest, unlovable child and so he needs to prove it to them.
I have spoken to them about praising the work not the child and have been accused of being a cold and unfeeling mother (mind you I am getting used to being seen as lacking emotional warmth with my boys simply because they don’t understand and only see what they want to see).

Anyway I am getting off point. A professionals meeting was held to discuss whether they were going to appeal the decision and we were not permitted to attend or even given the opportunity to discuss our concerns. However our family placement officer and PASW were invited so before the meeting we explained to them in the hope that they would be able to raise the concern again at the meeting which they did, but this morning our SW has reported back that school were absolutely shocked that we had any concerns (Oh really, so I haven’t raised them in several meetings?)

We are concerned that their communication with us has become somewhat substandard and severely lacking of late, and Bumble and I believe this is because they do not like the fact that we have concerns about how they are coping and about the fact our 7 year old boy is not in the classroom 98% of the academic day, they cannot tell us what level he is in terms of learning because they are unable to get him to access work within school (despite the fact that he will readily read to me at home and attempt homework), I am frequently seeing him playing outdoors with his support staff but no other peers (lesson time). Actually the list could go on for some time.

If you are reading this you may be thinking something along the lines of “why on earth have you left him at this school”.
In truth I have wondered this myself so often and to be honest my only reason has been that Buzz finds transitions so difficult and it has taken him so long to feel safe enough in this school that I am concerned if we managed to find a school who would be prepared to take him. Would we just end up back in the same position?

I really feel that home-schooling him would be the best option at the moment so we can help him get back onto an even keel but his current legal status prevents this from being an option (AO please come quick).

Buzz is a very bright, articulate boy but emotionally he is still trapped at a much younger age and we are finding he is unable to respond in a socially acceptable manner within the school environment at times of high stress and anxiety.
I do not believe that it cannot be remedied and I do not believe that I could never put him back into school but at the moment he is miserable, school are miserable, heck even I am miserable.

My first priority is to my boys and it breaks my heart to see Buzzbee struggling so much. I just feel that at the moment we are all stuck on a perpetual hamster wheel which just keeps going around in circles and until someone breaks that cycle no-one is ever going to be happy or thrive.

Ok rant over. Time to gather up all the used Kleenex tissues and put them in the bin and try and salvage what is left of my day

“Mummy, I’m hungry!”

This week’s  WASO (weekly adoption shout out) theme is Food and I have spent the last couple of days thinking about what angle I could take. Did I want something warm and fuzzy with a hint of laughter?  Or, did I want something very factual and serious? I decided just to start typing about how Beeswax and Buzzbee’s relationship with food is diametrically opposed and see where my words took me and hope that I don’t waffle on too much.

Buzzbee is the easiest to start with.  He is an extreme fusspot with his food and goes through phases where he will obsess over a specific meal and insist on it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (sometimes snack time too), but we have never really viewed this as much more than age appropriate. Buzz’s issues with food will primarily rear its head after he has been poorly.  He becomes convinced that it was the food that has made him ill, so he will refuse to eat (and sometimes drink). Early in our placement Bumble and I would spend hours/days worrying about what we were doing wrong, getting into a position where it had become a battle of wills and at the same time trying to stop Beeswax from taking off into orbit (due to his anxieties around food being triggered).  Nowadays we are far more relaxed about this and tend to weather the storm as best as we can. When he has been ill, I pick up his favourite food from the supermarket and drop all expectations of a structured meal time for him and usually within a day or two he is munching away and back into his usual eating habits. Oh and 70% of the time he refers to food as “num nums”

Beeswax and food is a whole different kettle of fish. It is hard to know how to pinpoint the key issues for him.  Waxy’s anxiety around food (or rather the lack of it) has been a central part of him for as long as we have known him.  Beeswax feels the need to control every element of food – quite honestly I could fill several posts just talking about Waxy and food. Before they were taken into care, Beeswax had to find food for himself and his brother. Unsurprisingly the fear of going hungry is ever present. Waxy came into care with no apparent awareness of when he was full and to this day if we do not monitor him he would eat for eating sake and on the very rare occasion that he doesn’t eat everything barring the plate the food is on, it is usually because he has bolted his food down faster than a Formula 1 race car and has made himself feel sick. We have always made sure that food is always available but he still feels the need to steal food (or squirrelling as we call it to decriminalise it for him). He has to know that he is getting exactly the same as Buzzbee and when he comes home from school at the weekends he will spend hours obsessing about what ‘treats’ Buzz may have had.  When we went on picnics, he used to get himself into a state worrying that others would get more than him and he won’t have enough to eat.

I could go on further and to be honest I haven’t even skimmed the top off how Waxy and food can take over the whole day if we allowed it to.

Actually a perfect example of how much importance Beeswax put on food was last night’s “Britain’s Got Talent Final” and the drama with a violinist throwing eggs at Simon Cowell.  This morning both boys were sat watching it while eating their breakfast and where most people were simply shocked by what they were seeing, Waxy very nearly spontaneously combusted and to put it mildly, the air in our lounge was ‘bluer than a summer’s sky’ because Waxy was outraged that the eggs had been wasted! It was certainly a very extreme reaction but it was not the first time during the series that one or the other had an opinion about the use of food in the acts. They have both been very vocal about the wastage of fruit (watching a pineapple being sliced in half with a sword or an apple shot with an arrow) whilst seemingly oblivious to any danger to Ant and Dec underneath the fruit! They have also very loudly questioned what would happen with the food afterward and said things like ‘if that was me I would eat every last scrap before I would listen to the judges or leave the stage’.

Over the years since the boys were placed with us we have tried and tested several different ideas to help the boys and one or two have not really gone how we would have liked them to and some have become a godsend to us.

So what have we tried? Did it help? Do we still use? Here are a few examples:

  • Waxy squirrelled food so we put locks on the larder door and provided unlimited supply of fruit with only one rule ‘No fruit 30 minutes before meals’ and I put a snack box in his room.

Sadly this was not one of our more successful ideas. Waxy never touched the fruit or his snack box (he said it is too easy) and at some point he found a way to get his hands on a key for the larder and had been for some time still getting into the larder. Despite the genuine fear of hunger, part of the issue with Waxy is proving to himself that he could fend for himself if he needed to.

  • As picnics were a source of anxiety for Beeswax and to a degree Buzzbee we started giving them both separate picnic boxes with their food and drinks in anytime we had a picnic.

This was definitely one of our better decisions and one we still use to this day and currently on a good day the boys are managing to pace themselves and not shovelling it all down faster than our cats can run when Beedog is in hot pursuit.

  • Neither Bumble or my family live close by so the boys have had to get used to travelling quite a bit and so I have had to think carefully about how we manage this for the boys. Very similar to the picnic snack boxes, I make each boy a travel box with enough of their favourite snacks to last them the journey.

Like the picnic boxes this has been invaluable to us all (boys are not afraid of not being fed and  Bumble and I keep our sanity). Although giving them food in the car has backfired on us a couple of times and turned into an opportunity for them to have a food fight in the backseat. As the boys have relaxed more and they have got used to the journey lengths, we have put one rule in about the snack boxes. If they eat it all at once, then they will have to wait until we reach our destination or stop for a break before they can have anything else.

  • I never go anywhere without having some kind of snack with me either in my handbag or in the car and I never let them go into a supermarket hungry.

This has been by far my biggest saving grace and got me out of many difficult situations (irrespective of the dirty looks I am being given by people for giving treats to children who are behaving really badly).

On a personal learning curve (and really it isn’t rocket science just a dizzy Honey) I have learnt the hard way that chocolate and handbags do not mix – particularly in hot weather!