Archive | August 2013

Chill Room – No Adults allowed

90% of the time when Beeswax and Buzzbee are in each other’s company, they are physically and mentally goading or attacking each other.
• Their arguments could put an East Enders’ slanging match to shame.
• Their bickering would make the Houses of Parliament seem harmonious.
• And if it actually manages to get to physical blows, their fights would warrant a UN peace keeping force.

Despite all their fighting there is no question in my mind that there is a deep, strong, loving bond between them and although they have a fiercely passionate relationship, they have an incredible level of attunement between them, which means usually they pick up on each other’s vibes before I have and know exactly what buttons to push.
Bumble and I have spent more time than I care to think about using our expert ‘divide and conquer’ skills but during the school holidays most of the days it is the boys and me and trying to keep the boys both entertained and not trying to kill each other is difficult.

For a long time we have felt that the boys needed a neutral zone to spend time with each other without the other feeling that their personal space (bedrooms) had been violated by the other and where neither can trump the other by saying “it is my bedroom so I get the final say”.
We needed a playroom but with no spare rooms in the house what could we do?
One afternoon early in the year, my dad came up with the solution, convert part of our garage into a ‘Chill Zone’. Actually he was joking and trying to tease the boys (the garage is quite sound proof and they were making an awful lot of noise that day). After a little bit of ‘toing and froing’ and a lot of “It wouldn’t work”, “What would people think?” “Would it be safe?” we decided it would be possible and dad volunteered to come up the next time he had a few days off and help us make it happen.

3 days of hard work and several “Where has Bumble disappeared to now?”, our sizable garage was now half its size and the boys had a space where they could be together and not feel either had the upper hand.

Stage 2                   stage 4

We had no idea whether it would work, but it has! More than we could possibly have imagined! The boys now have a space where they can exist and have fun together. Obviously the boys still have their niggles with each other and at times I have threatened that if they do not obey the rules of the room, mummy will have to turn it into her sewing/chill room. It has become such a popular space that even Beeswax would prefer to spend time in there rather than hiding away in his bedroom reading his books and Buzzbee will take himself off into it when he is feeling a little vulnerable and wants some space to play quietly with his toys.

move in day

Oh and how do I know they are not taking chunks out of each other? We have a webcam with sound so I can monitor them.

bigmother

This weeks #WASO theme is “Safe Places”.

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out
This entry was posted on August 31, 2013. 12 Comments

Fizzy Fun

I am probably tempting fate by writing this post but it is worth it.

Today is probably to first time since the start of the school holidays that the boys have actually been getting on and cooperating with each other and it is wonderful.

They have been spent time the morning play on their scooters together without any arguments. Beeswax has been trying to teach Buzzbee new tricks without a cross word between them (absolutely unheard of). This afternoon Buzzbee has worn Beeswax down and he agreed to trying a science experiment from a book  he was given a couple of years ago.

So after raiding my cupboards the boys set about making their own Lava Lamps (Fizzy Fountains the book calls it)

You need Veg oil, food colouring (2 or more), water, effervescent tablets (1 per litre) and a bottle

You need Veg oil, food colouring (2 or more), water, effervescent tablets (1 per litre) and a bottle

Fill 3/4 of the bottle with oil

Fill 3/4 of the bottle with oil

Then add water

Then add water

add tablet and put lid back on

add tablet and put lid back on

Let the fizz begin

Let the fizz begin

The boys took photos so Buzzbee could add it to his holiday diary but I wish I had videoed them. The shriek of delight and excitement that came from both of them when it began to fizz was music to my ears and it doubles as entertainment for Beedog who was frantically trying to catch the bubbles and barking excitably at the bottle (she wasn’t at the front of the queue when they were giving out brain cells).

Memory Box
This entry was posted on August 28, 2013. 2 Comments

Sense and Sensitivity

Q: How long does it take to get an NHS Occupational Therapy appointment for Sensory difficulties assessment?

A: I’ll tell you when we finally get one. After more than 18 months of chasing, both school and we are still waiting for one for Buzzbee.

Ok before I carry on. For the benefit of this post I am focusing on our concerns about possible sensory processing difficulties for Buzzbee, but we are asking for an assessment because we know there is a lot of cross over with attachment difficulties and we simply want to know if there is anything significant and if so how to help my ‘out of sync child’ (although I have now ordered ‘The Out of Sync child’ by Carol Stock Kranowitz)

On the whole, school and I do not agree on very much when it comes to Buzzbee, but there is no question in either their minds or mine that he has at the least, significant difficulties with sound, up to the point where he frequently combusts in noisy environments or becomes over stimulated by background noise. School once come to the conclusion that because he (and a couple of his classmates) would come in ‘highly strung’ at the beginning of the day, they would start the school day off with a spot of calming yoga. Great idea in theory, but I carefully warned them that it had the potential to have the opposite effect. Guess what? “Mother knows best”. Yoga/wake ‘n’ shake lasted the grand total of 3 days before they threw in the towel as it would take till lunchtime to calm him down afterwards!

Describing what it is about sound and how Buzzbee struggles with it, is difficult. Although there is always a degree of fear and anxiety attached to why he struggles with sound/noise, it is his reaction to the auditory stimulation surrounding him that makes it difficult for him and all around him.  Yes he finds noisy classrooms very distressing and has spent no more than an hour a week in class or assembly in the entirety of year 2 (there are of course other factors at play there also).

If we forget about school for a minute and focus on his everyday life.  Imagine the following scenario (Beeswax free. Whole different ball game with him too):

Buzzbee and I pop into a supermarket for a couple of essentials.  Buzzbee is happy and chatty, he is cool as a cucumber (well as cool as a hyper-aroused boy can be). Fast forward 2 minutes: Ears have switched off, focus has gone. Buzz has taken hold of the trolley and is swinging off it while propelling himself across the aisle, he has then abandoned the trolley and is running and skidding through the aisle (shoe surfing he calls it), he then goes on to start break-dancing in the middle of the nearest aisle completely oblivious of anyone around him, he is talking/singing at a rapid rate. He has lost control and is in orbit on ‘planet fun but noisy’. To onlookers he simply looks like a badly behaved child. And, this is on a good day. On a bad day he will completely fall apart and ask to leave the moment he arrives.

It is incredible how rapidly he can become over-stimulated and manic. Some days even my bag of tricks are no match for his sensory seeking/sound avoidance need.

"Baby, you're a firework"

“Baby, you’re a firework”

Another area that Buzz really seems to struggle with is change in light. There have been incidents when we have been driving home from my parents’ and it has gone from daytime to twilight and Buzz has suddenly gone beyond manic and the situation in the car becomes, well quite frankly really dangerous!  We couldn’t understand what was happening – one minute he was calm, happily watching a DVD or listening to his music and then WOOSH.  One psychotherapist who was supporting our local attachment group suggested it may have something to do with the change in light and suggested we try giving him a torch. Which worked wonderfully for a short while but as he has got older he has resisted this more and more. I know part of it is because he is afraid of the dark and we have often wondered whether it is more about him going into a ‘fight, flight, freeze’ state but, being overly self-reliant as he is, he cannot bring himself to let us help him (he is getting better at letting us help him at home)

Beeswax doesn’t really demonstrate any sensory processing issues and as the years have gone by I have become quite skilled at finding ways to support/manage Buzz’s sensitivity to sound and most of the sensory seeking behaviours that follow with it. Bar one! This is the only one that is noticeable for both boys and it drives me CRAZY! TODDLER TOUCH!

Why do they have to touch everything?

I understand why!

But, WHY!!!!!!!

A simple 5 minute walk to school or the park can mean two dozen leaves will have been plucked from their nice cosy branches. Flower stems will be stripped naked of their petals (if they are lucky). Bugs, bottles, stones, twigs will be picked up and fiddled with. BOTH hands will be ran across every car, window, wall, fence, bush irrespective of the damage it does to their hands or property. And don’t even get me started on supermarkets, shops or peoples’ homes. That is on a whole other level. Nothing in our home is safe either. I have joked with them that one night when they are asleep I am going to superglue dusters to their hands and feet. (Hey the amount of time they spend fiddling or sweeping their hands over everything. I would never need to polish or clean anything).

We have had to try and explain to family and friends why the boys feel the need to do this and the only way we have been able to explain it is to tell them that we believe that they cannot believe it is real unless they have physically inspected it. If we ask them to look at their behaviour as they would with a toddler, they look at us as if we have 2 heads.

As for ‘taste and smell’. Well other than Buzz being really funny about textures of some food, taste and smell tend to work to our favour and are generally a wonderful tool for recentering them.

Both boys love their food and like most children are very fond of comfort food and sometimes just the smell of their favourite meal or hot drink is enough to settle them back down. Imagine the old Bisto advert – well, that is my boys

For all my concerns it isn’t all that bad.  Although Buzz will try his hardest to avoid loud noisy environments (except discos) and despite the sensory overload that can sometime occur; the boys’ curiosity for the world and their need to use as many of their senses as they can mean we have been able to create some wonderful memories.

  • Buzzbee loves nothing more than playing with sand, be it on a beach or in a sandpit and although Beeswax would vehemently deny it, he is as fond of it as much as his baby brother.
  • Buzz’s love of music and dancing means that when we go to family parties or school discos he is probably the best behaved child there and will entertain everyone with his ‘cool’ moves. No anxiety about people in his personal space. No multiple voices/noises to try and filter out (music all the way).
  • Both Boys absolutely adore barefoot walks. Listening to their squeals is absolutely hysterical. They love doing them and know what to expect, but you can guarantee at least one of them will let out a very high-pitched squeal or walk the entire course in a fit of giggles.

 

              barefoot   mud

When it comes to sensory seeking behaviour Buzzbee is our main concern, and as he gets older his ‘quirks’ are becoming more noticeable and rather than ‘label hunting’ as some think, we want to be able to know how to best support our son.

This post is part of the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Life on the birthday rollercoaster

As with every post I write, the final post is a product of several drafts and rewrites. Bumble routinely reminds me that all I need to do is write from the heart and let the words flow but I am a Virgo and an incurable perfectionist at times (well, most of the time) and this weeks’ #WASO post has been no different.  I started out with one angle and soon it had taken a whole new direction and was in need of a new title.

Birthdays in the hive need managing very carefully. Buzzbee generally copes really well with his own and other people’s birthdays and quite often will be one of the better behaved children at a party (as long as there is a disco) but for Beeswax it is much more difficult. So many factors come into play for him when it comes to his own and other people’s birthdays (mainly Buzzbee’s and Mine). The boys have always revelled in conspiring with me to create surprises for Bumble or other family members and especially enjoy it if they know we are going to play a practical joke on one of them (usually my dad or Bumble playing one on my mum).

So, what about the boys? How do they handle their own birthdays? If I am honest I have always kind of considered them be pretty age appropriate in their responses to their birthdays.

Beeswax prefers his birthdays to be low-key or for the celebrations to be in-direct (we cannot sing ‘happy birthday’, school however don’t give him the choice) Like any child/young man he always supplies us with a birthday wish list that is a mile long and is always very meticulous in making sure that there are items on the list for everyone’s budget and if anything he one quirk is that he colour codes it for order of preference (I never said he stopped needing to be in control). Waxy has never wanted a party and actually this year was the first time he suggested doing anything. As for the actual day of his birthday. Well, in some ways his reactions can be a little bizarre and he is far more relaxed if he knows he has to go to school on his birthday(although I have recently been told by a Non-AP that their son began to act like this after his 9th Birthday and is now about to turn 17 ). Yes he loves receiving presents and he is like a Tasmanian \devil when it comes to unwrapping presents but once he has opened them, he puts them in his room as quickly as possible and then demands to know what time we are leaving. Originally we thought that the taking his gifts to his room were because of a fear that they would be taken from him but over the years we have learnt that this is not the case and it is now playfully called “cringe unwrapping”. Basically he wants the attention but in reality it is too much for him to cope with and the intimacy of sharing with a family his special day is almost unbearable for him (not enough to cancel it though. Apparently it is his constitutional right to have birthday presents and large chocolate cakes every year!!).  Beeswax does find Buzzbee’s birthday tough and over the years we have learnt how to best support him so that Buzz enjoys his day and Waxy doesn’t end up in a state of shame because he has lost control.  To his credit he has always been an absolute star at Buzz’s birthday parties and really throws himself into the big brother role entertaining Buzz’s friends (the girls REALLY love him!)

Now Buzzbee and birthdays is almost the polar opposite of Beeswax. Here is a little boy who started off not understanding about birthdays and having no idea about unwrapping presents or blowing out candles on a birthday cake (Just thinking about that day at his FC’s when we first got to share his birthday with him makes me was to cry). He has since them made up for lost time and is now the party king. Very much like Beeswax, Buzzbee has to feel he is in control of his birthday list but he also makes a pretty dynamic party planner (although his need to have every little detail just right probably comes a little from me. Hey I said earlier I am a Virgo!). Buzzbee loves celebrating his birthday and loves to have themes to his parties and because his birthday always falls in school holidays we have always thrown his party a couple of weeks earlier in our local village hall. Over the past few years we have had several invasions – dinosaurs (of course), aliens and time lord enemies and his birthday cakes have always fitted in with his theme. Despite Buzzbee struggling with his peer relationships he has remained popular with them and they have always attended (I am pretty sure most of the mum’s given half the chance would decline but know they would only be hurting their own kids). His last birthday was the first time he had not wanted to celebrate his birthday with a party but instead wanted to take his one of his very special friends and his parents bowling.  I didn’t get away with the birthday cake though, in fact this year I had to make two because the first was devoured by 32 small mouth in a matter of a few minutes at school and so there was nothing actually left to share with his friend on his actual birthday.

??????????               homemade          ??????????????????????

There is only one birthday in the house that every year ends up in tears and often I am not talking about the boys.

My birthday!!!!  Beeswax does not cope well with my birthday at all and although I know he isn’t consciously setting out to disrupt and ruin the day. That is exactly what happens and for a couple of years I quite honestly resented the fact that everyone else got to celebrate their birthdays the way they would like and were allowed to enjoy their day.  At one point it got to the stage where Bumble would bring me my card and presents to open in the bedroom just so that I could open the presents without some kind of drama happening.

Now some of our friends don’t understand why I find it so hard not being able to celebrate my birthday they way I would like and last year on my birthday Buzzbee in his attempt to cheer me up announced that he couldn’t understand why I would want to celebrate a day when I came into the world ‘Butt Naked’ when I don’t even like showing my legs in shorts. Once I had stopped nearly choking laughing at his comment (very true by the way) I explained to him that because I grew up in a big family and birthdays were always made a big fuss of. It was ‘your special day’ and it was hard for me to get used to not having that one day when I am a little pampered. He just shrugged his shoulders and said ‘fair enough’ and walked off.

Over the years we have gradually integrated my birthday with an activity that both boys really enjoy and will distract them and my birthday has been downgraded to a family daytrip with no mention of birthday until the boys are in bed. This year however will be different for me. The boys return to school on my birthday and I am actually feel really quite sad about that. I know that my birthday is stressful but while they are home with me I still have the best birthday present I will ever get. THEM! and spending the day without them will feel, well, strange.

Anyone reading this last part can be forgiven for thinking that I sound so spoilt, self-absorbed and selfish. I am a mother and should be concentrating on their happiness rather than needing just a sliver of one day a year to be about ME.  We discussed birthdays during our home-study and I really thought I was prepared for children not accepting my birthday and that it wouldn’t matter one bit because I would have the boys and I longed for nothing more than seeing the excitement on my children’s faces on their birthday and I thought that would be enough. But, reality has turned out to be so much harder.

So for now we will continue riding the ‘birthday rollercoaster’ and each getting from it a different level of excitement and enjoyment (and tears)

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out