Archive | January 2014

Shall We Dance?

Or maybe a better title would have been – “We like to Boogie”!

In the process of trying to think how to write this post, I have lost count of how many ‘dance’ related quotes I thought of using to kick start the dialogue, but nothing seemed to really fit (or I came to my senses and it sounded too corny).

The inhabitants of the hive can often be found engaged in one form of dancing or another.  Whether that comes in the form of Buzzbee throwing himself around the floor (or to be honest any open space) – practising the latest street dance trick/move he has learnt, myself jigging around (practising ballroom dancing steps) because there happens to be a tune that has taken my fancy and I just have to ‘DANCE’ which will then result in me grabbing the first victim partner I spot (Beedog, Bumble, Beeswax or Buzzbee – actually Buzz is always willing to dance with his mummy) or alternatively Bumble and I find ourselves trying to routinely dancing along in tentative synchronicity with the boys’ emotional/developmental beat .

For reasons that will most probably only be obvious to me, a comment at a recent meeting has stuck in my mind: “Every day we are all in one form or another engaged in the dance of attunement with our children”, and I now find myself thinking about my daily interaction with my boys and comparing that interaction with different dance styles.  Throughout the day not only do I find myself physically dancing with them, but I am constantly trying to adapt my rhythm to synchronise with the boys (I know I have finally cracked).

  • Will I spend my day dancing in triple time Waltzing with either one of my boys? – engaged in conversations and interactions – turning rhythmically around and around the floor (or world) as we progress through the day
  • Will I find myself doing a Cha-Cha? – swaying our hips (from room to room) to a lively Latin rhythm, but only taking small steps
  • Will it be a Rumba? – A day of passionate temperaments and unconditional love between a man and a woman – or even a mother and her sons.
  • Will it be a Tango or maybe a Paso Doble? –  Again strong and passionate but with strong postures, abrupt pauses and lots and lots of marching (stomping)
  • And not to be forgotten – When it comes to Buzzbee – Every day is a Street Dance day

I could probably name so many more but I must be careful because some days that dance could well turn into – Ice Dancing and someone will be skating on very thin ice!

I love this quote and it looks lovely with my dance shoes

I love this quote and it looks lovely with my dance shoes

This rather slightly NUTTY post is written as part of The Adoption Social’s #The Things We Do

The Things We Do

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2014. 2 Comments

Dear Diary

This weeks’ #WASO theme is “A Day in The Life” so I thought it might be a good time to dip into my diary archive and randomly selected an entry to post this week which was written after a blow up with Beeswax one afternoon, whilst still recovering from an incident the night before.

(Buzzbee aged 4 and Beeswax aged 9)

Dear Diary

************************************

I am writing this part to try and put it to paper in the hope I can stop shaking and crying.  Please forgive the typos and incoherent ramblings that may occur during this part.

After my parent/teacher meeting with Beeswax’s teacher this afternoon, I needed to nip into town to collect my new glasses. Buzzbee told Beeswax that we had hired a DVD to watch when we got back home and that I had said they could have their tea in the lounge while they were watching the film (so far, so good!). 

Shortly after we drove away from the school Beeswax struck out at Buzzbee, claiming he did it because Buzz was deliberately annoying him.

What Buzzbee was doing was asking Beeswax to guess what the film was and when he failed to get a response from Waxy, he kept repeating the question over and over in the hope of a response from his big brother. Now, granted it was getting annoying but he didn’t deserve that. Not under any circumstances!

I stopped the car promptly and took him out of the car to calm him down. I then got the spare car seat from the boot of the car and put it and Buzzbee in the front seat.

Waxy once again went completely crazy and started to kick the wing of the car (on the side he had already dented previously, thankfully).  Once he had calmed down I got him back into the car and went into my usual spiel about it not being acceptable to hurt his brother etc, etc. (Ok not really the best time but I felt I need to address this quickly).

As I drove off again, we had barely driven any distance, when he took a plastic bottle from the back seat where he was sitting and leaned over the back of Buzzbee’s seat and whacked him across the head with the bottle. Obviously Buzzbee started to scream and cry so I pulled up again in a less than suitable place on the main road (so I was popular with other car drivers) but I felt that I couldn’t move on until I had calmed Buzzbee down again and made sure that Beeswax was moved to the opposite side of the car for safety reasons (Ok and because I didn’t want him taking another pop at his little brother. 

Beeswax went into a torrent of verbal abuse and completely disconnected from his actions. I told him that he would now not be able to watch the DVD this evening as he had continued to hurt his brother. Obviously he was not impressed but when reminded that if he did not ‘wind his neck in’ he would be jeopardising his chances of playing in the football matches this weekend he soon simmered back down for a short while. Well, just long enough for me to get into town and pick up my glasses and get back to the car.  On the journey home he continued to play up and kept trying to kick his feet at me through the middle of the seats (I have never been so pleased to have the arm rests in the middle even if them falling down on occasions made it more difficult to change gears).

When we got home I told him that he needed to go upstairs and play/read while I got their tea ready (I didn’t really think it was a good idea for both boys to be downstairs together while I am not able to completely supervise them). It was not a surprise to me that Waxy was less than impressed with this idea and he proceeded to tell me that he wouldn’t unless he was allowed to watch the DVD. I told him that I understand that it probably felt that I didn’t care about him or his feelings but what he did to his brother was not OK and he would not be watching the DVD, but I was happy to help him choose something else that he and I or he and Bumble could do with him. I also told him that if he wanted to discuss it with me, that was fine, but I would not be changing my mind and of course while we are debating it, I won’t be able to get their food made.  He continued to repeat himself and his voice slowly got louder and louder until he was screaming at me. I kept repeating that I would not be able to start tea until he goes upstairs.

Initially after 10 minutes he gave up and went upstairs or so I thought!. The next thing I know the washing basket has come flying down the stairs narrowly missing Buzzbee.

Heaven knows how, because my heart was beating so fast that I could barely hear myself think, but I said that I needed him to come downstairs and pick up the basket and all its contents and take it back upstairs with him before I was prepared to continue with tea.

He then started to repeat that he would but only when I say he could watch the DVD. When I told him that I would not be doing anything of the sort, he told me that he wouldn’t be doing anything to help me out if I wasn’t going to let him have what he wanted. I told him that I was not asking him to help me. He had thrown it down so I simply expected him to return it to where it belonged.  Well, he got verbally aggressive again and I stuck with it, but then he decided to up the ante and really I should have had the common sense to remove myself, but it wasn’t safe for me to do so. I was concerned what he would do if I left him.  I kept myself as calm as possible and tried not to react to the negative emotions, but I paid the price for that. The main being slapped across the face twice. While I was talking to him I maintained eye contact with him and he told me to stop looking at him. I told him that I would always give him eye contact when we were talking, so he slapped the left side of my face. Instead of removing myself I simply turned to him and said ‘I wonder where you learnt to hit someone like that. Did you see your dad hitting your mum or your uncle slapping your gran?’ I obviously hit a nerve because he then slapped me across the face again but this time the right hand side. Why the hell didn’t I keep my mouth shout? (His other behaviours included trying to kick me in the face and stomach but I deflected him, he spat at me 4 times and then kicked me in the leg) (All within a couple of minutes).

I needed to stay between him and Buzzbee because Buzz was refusing to stay in the lounge as requested and, as I was alone with the boys, I was stuck.  I should have tried to get Beeswax up to his room before, but I know that usually ends in a tussle which is not healthy for either of us, so like a pathetic wimp I stood there until he finally melted down into a tearful heap. After giving him a hug (very rare for him to allow me to do that) I told him I needed him to go up to his room for a while and I would let him know when his tea was ready.

By now it was almost 6pm and Bumble arrived home just as I was giving both boys bowls of soup (all I could rustle up to give them with such a short time before Buzz’s bedtime rapidly approaching).

Buzzbee tried to tell Bumble what had happened and Bumble told him that ‘mummy’ would tell him later.  I just sat on the stairs with my head in my hands trying not to burst into tears. I couldn’t talk. I could feel myself trembling and my heart was trying to rip its way out of my chest. To boot my face is really burning, thankfully I took my glasses off earlier.  Bumble took me into the larder (my war bunker) and asked me what was happening but all I could do was shed a few tears. I wanted to cry for England but the control freak in me wouldn’t allow me to completely let myself go. I told him very briefly what had happened, but I will let him read this after I have written it because I can’t repeat it again.

To add to my list of failures this evening Buzzbee has quite understandably been a pain in the proverbial to get to bed and I ended up after the umpteenth time of him coming out of his room playing silly buggers, shouting at him to get into his bed. He didn’t deserve that, it is not his fault that I am feeling so uptight. I will have to make it up to him tomorrow.

When will I learn to keep my big mouth shut? Why didn’t I just let him have what he wanted? Why didn’t I just get out of his way when he started? Why do I always stay with him when he is in this state? Anyone would think I enjoy getting hurt or verbally abused, the amount of times I have allowed it to happen!

Back to this morning, well the morning was very calm and relaxing really. Buzzbee seemed to want to just ‘be’, this morning and watch his Land Before Time DVD’s while playing quietly with his dinosaurs.  He had had a bit of a restless night so my guess was that he was a little tired and that this was all he had the energy for. Saying that though he was still very keen to let me know every now and then what he was doing, but didn’t actually want me to join in. Because he was doing this, it gave me a chance to get a couple small jobs done myself that I had been putting off before taking him to collect Petal (Daffodill is sick so a friend of ours kindly offered to take him to a nearby soft play zone while I go to see Jemima).

Buzzbee likes Petal because she is very hands on when you go to play zones with her (she says it is her only chance to behave like a kid and I know what she means sometimes) but he was a little hesitant at first and needed reassurance that I would be back for him. Then he dashed off to find the biggest slide he could (charming!).

I cannot deny that I was feeling a little teary before reaching CAMHS and I am not completely sure why, maybe it was the release from last night’s behaviour or a little bit of guilt at messing Buzzbee around.  Anyway I had just enough time to compose myself again before Jemima arrived (I have had plenty of practise now).

During the session we talked about what has been happening since the last meeting and I told her about the trials and tribulations of the boys and my trip with friends to an arboretum.  I can’t deny that it was mildly amusing seeing the look on Jemima’s face when I mentioned who we were with [two adopted boys that she also works with, who have similar issues to Waxy and Buzz]. Priceless, absolutely priceless!

We then talked about where we go with Beeswax and how long we would give it (as I have written so many times before, something has to change in terms of his aggression and difficulty to accept our attempts at parenting him).  She also told me that she had shown the videos in supervision. Throughout the session she kept telling me that I was doing really well, all considering and that her supervision officer was impressed by how I handle myself.

I honestly tried to accept the compliments but I find it really hard to hear that when I know I am still constantly stuffing up. Take today for example.

Reading back over this diary entry, there is a pang of sadness for me.  In that first year of placement I made so many mistakes and I like to think I have learnt from them, but at the same time there is so much written in there about difficult situations that arise between the boys, which is as intense and real now as it was then.  In many ways our family has travelled so far, but there is also a feeling that nothing has changed and that each time issues arise we are simple putting a sticking plaster over the wound in a hope that everything will heal swiftly and leave barely a visible scar.

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Oops I did it again

No, I am not about to start singing or break into a ‘interesting’ dance routine (unless you include the ‘dance of attunement’ that I find myself trying to do every day while parenting my boys) but I thought this was an apt title for this post.

For as long as I can remember, since Beeswax and Buzzbee were placed with us, things have had a habit of ‘disappearing’ and more often than not these items were mine.

For quite some time, although some of the hiding places were genius, I found it very difficult to accept someone stealing from me, even if it was as innocent as my favourite bar of chocolate. We knew who the culprit was and we made several attempts to deal/manage with the situation using traditional approaches with ‘consequences, which were a total failure and often made things worse. So we tried approaches that were less likely to send him spiralling into a toxic state of shame.

We tried every suggestion anyone was willing to offer us to try and alleviate the problem –

  • We provided a snack box which lived in his bedroom with all his favourite ‘goodies’ – he never touched it
  • We kept the fruit bowl full on the dining room table which he could take from whenever he wanted – again he didn’t go for it
  • We put locks on the cupboard doors and a chime sensor so he couldn’t sneak down in the middle of the night – He managed to get hold of a duplicate key (still don’t know how) and used a magnet to fool the sensor.
  • We put a piece of paper on the wall with a squirrel stamp and made it a challenge. If he left a squirrel stamp it was not for him to tell us what he took, but for us to ‘work it out’ – Worked for a couple of days, but then ‘squirrelling’ escalated to more precious items but no stamps

We tried so many more tricks, but nothing seemed to help until one day, after a very emotion filled session with Jemima talking about how bad I felt that he still found it so hard to trust that if he were to ask for something instead of taking it, that we wouldn’t say No, we explored whether the reason he took my things was because he was angry with birth mum and he was adamant that this wasn’t the case, but that he stole from me because he ‘needed to know he could still do it and obviously if he took sweets he was going to eat them’. He insisted that he never felt bad about taking anything but he was able to accept Jemima and my hypothesis that the way he was reacting to being found out was ‘possibly’ a sign that he did actually feel  a little bit bad about it or that he thought I would hate him.  We asked him if he had any suggestions on how Bumble and I could help him and I remember vividly his response “You can’t catch me so you can’t stop me. It is always too late the deed has been done”.

He was right but we couldn’t let it carry on. He had now started stealing from my parents, school and his brother (although we rarely could prove it until it was ‘too late’).  How could we stop this without him escalating into a shame filled rage? There was big part of me that just wanted my belongings back or at least to know that the goodies that were ‘disappearing’ were not me forgetfully consuming them myself and forgetting to replenish.

So Bumble and I decided we would have an amnesty. We placed a box in the bedrooms and explained to the boys that daddy and I were missing some things and we needed them back. We told both boys (even though we knew only one of them had the items) that the boxes will be left in their rooms until the morning and they could put anything that they had that they knew they shouldn’t have in it. I would take the boxes out of the rooms in the morning and nothing would be said about the contents of the box, however if I then go into their rooms and find anything; we may need to talk about it. We called them the ‘Oops’ boxes and to my delight they seemed to work. Ok there was one time when he thought he had got one over on me by hiding all the sweet wrappers in his hollow curtain pole – sadly for him, his mum is a complete klutz and pulled it down trying to put its end stopper back on.

For quite some time the boxes were used on a weekly basis and rarely was there a need to revisit any misdemeanours.  Gradually the boxes in the bedrooms turned into an ‘Oops’ basket that occasionally (usually at times of heightened anxiety and stress) appears on the top of the landing for an evening and any member of the family can place items that are not where they should be, in it.

In this case, “thinking inside of the box” figuratively speaking has been a success for the hive.

This post was written as part of The Adoption Social’s fantastic new linky ‘The Things That We Do’.

oops box

The Things We Do

Resolutions – No Turning Back

The week sees the first ‘The Adoption Social’ #WASO for 2014 and so they have aptly chosen the theme of ‘Resolutions’.

Like clockwork every year, I end up having the same conversation several times with several people and the dialogue never really changes.

Friend: Happy New Year! Soooo! Have you made any New Years’ resolutions?

Me: Yes!

Friend: Well, don’t keep me in suspense. What are they?

Me: Like last year and the year before, and the year before that. I resolve to not make any ridiculous New Year’s resolutions which I know very well I will not keep.

The conversation usually very quickly moves to their long list of resolutions about going to the gym more or finally sticking to a diet. The best one I have heard this year has to actually come from my dad – he is talking about taking up Yoga (if you knew my dad you would know that he is more likely to start avidly supporting Manchester United before he would manage to seriously take up Yoga).

Anyway, this year I am breaking with my own tradition and have made a private, personal New Year’s resolution (although now it is going to be written here it is not so private. So, step 1 is already complete).

This year I will try to stop letting my fear of the past stop me from opening up and accepting people’s support, without all the negative, self-destructive thoughts about the implications of this support sending me running for the hills and so falling into an even deeper hole of despair (although I am not sure I can fall any further. I have already reached the bottom of the well).

OK so that is the easy bit. I have said it! Now can I truly stick to it?

Honestly! I don’t know.  But, what I do know is I am the only one standing in the way of me feeling like my old self again.

I know that what I am asking of myself is not going to be easy but:-

  • I have to stop letting the past hold me back from being the mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister & friend, I should be. This scares me more than anything because I know to do this I am going to have to first find the courage to ask for the support I need to finally revisit and put the past to bed once and for all.
  • I have to accept that everyone has an opinion and I shouldn’t allow other people’s ill-informed, negative views of me as a mum/individual to damage my confidence and self-esteem.
  • I need to be kinder to myself. If I am having a tough day with the boys and I succumb to their ‘button pushing’ attempts and I respond in a less than therapeutic manner, I have to stop beating myself up over it and remember I am a human being and parenting 2 extremely frightened, traumatised (and currently testosterone fuelled) boys takes a lot out of you.

This list could go on forever and there is a big part of my avoidant personality that is saying “finish it in full and then throw it away before anyone sees it and holds you to your promises”, but I can’t!

I can’t keep being a ‘hypocrite’.

I am expecting my sons to do what I cannot do myself.  I spend my days trying to help my boys learn to trust me when they have been so hurt/let down by adults in their past. I am constantly trying to encourage them to open up and not keep all their fears, worries or problems all bottled up. But that is exactly what I do.

What kind of message am I sending to them?

I can hear Beeswax right now. – “Mummy would love us to learn to trust her to help us with our problems, but she gets to just bottle everything up and not let anyone help her just because people have hurt her and betrayed her trust recently and in the past. How is that fair?”

It would be easy for me to sit here at my laptop tapping away on the keyboard, writing lots but not really ever saying anything and over-analysing everything I have written worrying that it sounds too ‘wet’ or ‘pathetically self-indulgent’, and allow those negative thoughts to take over again and delete this entire post without anyone ever seeing it and so freeing myself from the commitment/promise of my own New Year’s resolution.

But, this year I need it to be different. Up until now the boys have not really noticed anything. They still have had their ‘bossy boots’ mummy who has:-

  • Fed them when they were hungry
  • Tucked them in at night when they ask for it
  • Hugged them when they are sad (or mad)
  • Been there waiting for them to come out of school with a non-judgemental smile (I am getting quite good at that one).
  • Played silly games and tells the ‘worst’ jokes on the planet.
  • Etc……..

But, there are chinks showing in my amour and the boys are starting to notice and so are others (including some I wish hadn’t) and I need to fix that before it becomes a problem. I want to say that I am doing this purely for myself and not because I hate that I am not the mum and wife that Bumble and the boys deserve at the moment.

I don’t have a magic wand and neither will the person(s)/agency who I seek support from. It will take time (if I can muster the courage) and in the meantime I need to start being nicer to myself and practise what I preach all the time to the boys.  I need to stop looking at all my mistakes and celebrate my achievement and start enjoying life again – although I still need to make sure that my family is my first priority and that I am still being the best mum, wife, daughter -that I possibly can be for them.

I suppose what I am trying to say as I come to the end of this #WASO post is…. This year my resolution is to start taking better care of myself so that I can be the person I want to be and start to  feel a little more like ‘Tigger’ rather than ‘Eeyore’.

eeyore

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Post-Christmas Wishes

Happy New year to you all

After a very rocky start to the school Christmas holidays with Beeswax and a distinctive lack of therapeutic mummy juice for a few days, I don’t mind admitting that this year we have yet again managed to get through the Christmas chaos almost strop & meltdown free – hey if it had been absolutely perfect I would have thought we had entered an alternative universe or my boys had been replaced by perfectly engineered clones.

At this time of year I always feel guilty because Bumble and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy being with our boys and sharing in the Christmas magic, unlike several adoptive and fostering families I know who find this time of the year  painful and stressful. 

But if it wasn’t for the boy’s biological grandparents, while they were still living within the birth family, always making sure that Christmas was a very special time for the boys with lots of wonderful traditions and keeping the continuity of this on both the paternal and maternal side, this post would probably be written in an entirely different tone. As the result the boys have very special memories of the Christmas time and because several of the traditions that were used within the birth family are traditions that both Bumble and I grew up with, we have kept those traditions going.

I have to say my favourite has to be Christmas Eve: The boys eagerly opening their present from “Santa’s elves” of new PJs, slippers and dressing gown. Watching Beeswax allow himself to join the excitement and helping his little brother spread the ‘reindeer food’ outdoors and  put out the goodies for the impending visit of Santa (“for Buzzbee’s sake of course”). I then love watching all 3 of my boys all snuggled up in their new bedclothes and their mugs of hot chocolate, listening to Bumble reading ‘Twas the night before christmas” while I hide nearby with a cluster of bells ready to ring them at just the right time, and then having to fight back the tears when watching Buzz getting so excited as he races to bed because he doesn’t want Santa to find him awake (the only night during the year he goes to bed without a delay tactics in sight).  

This year we took the brave decision to take the boy’s to my parents’ for Christmas and so have the boys wake up at my parents’ on Christmas morning.  I had absolutely no idea whether it was going to be a success or a disaster, but Bumble and I were both confident that my parents would work with us and not against us to make the stay as endurable enjoyable for all involved as possible and if it turned out that it was just not working for the boys, we could return home without anyone feeling like it had been ruined. As it was my parents excelled themselves and managed to strike the right balance for all (including my 86 year old Nan) and Christmas day was not only calm and pleasant, but also full of fun and frivolity – the boys found great hilarity in watching mum and I battle with a 14 year old spaniel and Beedog to stop them unwrapping all the presents before they had even been handed out. How many homes do you know that put their presents behind a fireguard to stop the dog unwrapping the presents before the children?

Boxing day I thought the boys would have found more difficult, with my sister and her family coming over, but, to our delight, Buzzbee and Beeswax were absolutely fantastic and it was my sister’s three children who were causing all the chaos throughout the day, even poor Beedog found it too much by lunchtime and found a sheltered, quiet corner to hide in (and for a dog who lives with the chaos of my two day in day out, you can imagine she usually has a high threshold for madness).  My parents were so impressed with how great the boys had been and told both boys this, and in an attempt to “have a go at this reflective stuff” as my dad put it, he went one step further and said “I know that you two don’t like lots of people being around or lots of noise – unless you are making it but it was so crazy today and I was wondering if the reason you both were being so good today was because you were trying to hold it together because you knew Nanny wanted today to be a really nice day and you didn’t want her to be upset?”. To which Beeswax responded very quickly “Usually I would say you were right Granddad but personally I didn’t need to play up, try to control everything or generally be a pain. Buttercup, Thistle and Nettle (cousins) were causing enough madness that Buzzbee and I could sit back and relax for the day”. (Cue, Mum spitting out her mouthful of tea laughing).  

Just when you think you know how the boys will respond. They continue to surprise us, and this one was priceless (and in all honesty completely on the nose).

Looking back over the Christmas session and all that the boys have managed to achieve during this time of year, and knowing how blessed we are to have the opportunity to really enjoy spending time with the boys without all the drama, you would think that I would be over the moon but as I am writing this instead of joy, I am feeling quite overwhelmed with sadness and for once I would give anything not to understand why I am suddenly feeling so morose.  I am ashamed to say that it is a very selfish feeling.

For a short few days each year, I feel like I have the family I always dreamt of and it feels wonderful. Beeswax relaxes and doesn’t respond to me as if I were public enemy No.1. He and Buzzbee can be in the same room as each other without setting each other off or Bumble and I feeling the need to ‘divide and conquer’. Bumble and I don’t end up bickering about the most menial and pathetic things because we have let the stress of parenting our adopted, traumatised boys overwhelm us (and so many more lovely moments that we rarely see during the year).

Okay some of this is just normal family life (if there was ever such a thing as a ‘normal’ family) and please never misunderstand me.  I am grateful for my family and I love Bumble and my boys dearly but I just wish sometimes that the rest of the year didn’t have to always feel like we are trapped on a hamster wheel of trauma and fighting, and seemingly getting nowhere at all.

See I told you it was selfish. I would like to say it is just Post Christmas blues but I know that it is so much more than that and it is time that I take the ‘bull by the horns’ and address it once and for all.

Enough of that! I don’t want to end this post on a ‘downer’ and with this in mind. I want to end this post with a picture of Bumble and the boys enjoying so ‘boys time’ on the ice.

Ice, Ice baby

Ice, Ice baby

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out