Archive | July 2014

Mother nature has eyes everywhere

The boys’ ‘trauma bond’ is starting to kick back in after almost a whole week of “getting along” and tensions in the house have slowly begun to rise – yesterday it nearly reached fever pitch.

In a shameless, desperate attempt to claw the situation back before they went ‘past the point of no return’, I ramped Beedog up into an excited frenzy and then waited for the boys to “suggest” we take her for a walk to the woods before she steals anymore of their socks.

“Good Girl, Beedog”🐕🐕

Visiting the woods or local fields always has the desired calming effect on the boys and if running around or climbing trees don’t have the desired effect, then usually there is something that will catch their attention – Dragonflies on the bank of the stream or a new badger/fox set.
The boys love the beauty of nature and I love how they are keen to share this with Bumble and I – there is something truly amazing about seeing things through the eye of your children.

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However yesterday rather than seeing the world through their eyes, the boys wanted to show me the many ‘faces of nature’ through the camera lens (OK my smartphone camera but still a camera) and what began as another opportunity for the boys to try and compete with each other, turned into a great display of teamwork and laughter between them both – and mummy also managing to slipping in some sneaky emotional language/face reading practise too.

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Although it was not a planned activity. The boys loved hunting for faces so much, they have laid down the challenge to find more ‘natural faces’ to the whole family (including my parent and extended family).

This post is written as part of The Adoption Social’s new linkup ‘‘Summer sandpit’

‘Wish you were here’ – Waxy & Buzz style

Beeswax is only 1 week into his school holidays and already both boys are driving me around ‘the magic roundabout’ with their complaining “we are bored” and “we don’t have anything to do”, and don’t even get me started on their constant fighting and arguing.  As I can feel ‘therapeutic mummy’ rapidly trying to leave the building and because I have no intention of spending another 7 weeks refereeing between them both 24/7, I decided to cross my fingers and try something a little crazy to reinstate a modicum of ‘peace and harmony’ into the household.

In Beeswax’s mind I was imposing a babyish consequence on him and refused at first to see it as a fun activity to do with his little brother (Ok, he has also obviously been looking at my diary again because he accused me of using the ‘consequence’ as a way for me to cheat with this week’s #WASO post – Not the original plan but ‘thank you waxy’ I like the way you think).

I had decided to set up my camera on a tripod and then gave Waxy a rough script to read (Buzzbee is trying hard with his reading but still finds it too scary to read aloud in front of anyone).  I then suggested that they might like to have some fun filming their own ‘Wish you were here’ style holiday show – I didn’t need to ask Buzzbee twice. I used the magic words – Camera and filming.

Beeswax decided to be the presenter and Buzzbee was the interviewee (a boy talking about his favourite holiday to go on with his family). Even though Beeswax moaned that it was going to be “lame”, both boys spent a glorious hour having fun doing the video and wanted me to post it on here and, when I had to say we couldn’t, their response was ‘but it is SOOOOOOO funny. Everyone would love it. Sometimes being adopted sucks!’  

Instead I promised them I would do my best to transcribe the content of the interview for this post and then we could upload the video to our ‘private family only’ Flickr page later for Nanny, Granddad, Grandpa and other family members to see and have a good laugh at.

So here goes!

W: “Welcome to ‘wish you could be here’ our brand new holiday show.  Please welcome my first guest a mischievous 8 year old called Buzzbee.  So, Buzzbee, how often do you go out as a family?”

B: “Do I look like a calculator or a calendar? How am I supposed to answer that question? Give me a break!”

B: “Ok maybe a different question would help. How about…. Out of all your day trips/holidays places mum and dad take us, which is your favourite?” 

W: “Does it have to be mum and dad, why can’t it be about when we see nanny and granddad or grandpa?”

W: “If you must and if it will stop you avoiding my questions, sure OK visiting nanny, granddad or grandpa counts.  Now what is your favourite?”

B: “Duh that is so easy. Why don’t you ask me something hard? Go on I dare you too!”

W: “Just answer the question you annoying bug!”

B: “Oy, mum says you are not allowed to call me that – call me Sir!”

W: “Get on with it! SIR!”

B: “What was the question? Only joking! Mummy and Daddy will think they know my answer. They will think I will say ‘Center Parcs’ which is cool but ssssoooooo obvious for me.   My favourite place is that place on Dartmoor where mummy and her sister used to go when they were little girls and great nanny and great granddad were still alive.  You know the place – the one where we get to throw stones in the water.”

W: “Do you mean ‘skimming stones’ on the river near that bridge (I can’t remember what mum calls it)?”

B: “Yeah, the one we can also go in the water with our water shoes on and move the big rocks around to change the flow of the water and make mini waterfalls.  Even Beedog likes it.”

W: “It is a pretty cool place, but that can’t be the only reason you like it there.  I know I have at least 2 more reasons for liking it there and we both know that mummy has a secret about her wedding day and her favourite thing about this place (Ssshhh – don’t tell nanny!  On the day she was getting married to daddy, she escaped her bridesmaids after having her hair done and went to her favourite place and had her all time most favourite ice-cream which is only sold on Dartmoor).”

B: “Oh yeah I forgot about the ice-cream.  It is so lush and creamy, and the chocolate flakes (mummy calls them bunny ears) is oh my god! What is your favourite bits, Waxy?”

W: “Hey I am the one doing the interviewing not you. But seeing as you are so nosey. My favourite bits are the big slopes and banks that we can use as hiding places or bases for games like hide and seek tag or Nerf gun battles.  I also love the fact that we have that secret little spot mummy showed us where there is lots of skimming stones and has a nice green bank we can sit on to have a picnic – mummy calls it ‘peace glade’. It is cool because sometimes the ponies and sheep come up close or even cooler is if we walk along the bank sometimes we can see tadpoles or other wildlife.  It is a really cool place to go because it is not on the main track so we don’t see many people and you and I get to be ourselves without annoying other people and everyone can relax.”

B: “Don’t forget Waxy the most important thing Waxy!”

W: “What is that Buzz?”

B: “WE ARE ALLOWED TO THROW STONES! And we don’t get in trouble for it.  I can’t wait to be as good as granddad at skimming the stones.  He is ‘sick’ at it.”

As you can see, they original format idea for the video rapidly got forgotten (off script) and Buzzbee was certainly trying to get his own back on his big brother by winding him up (as Waxy had been doing to his all morning), but I couldn’t have been more happy with the results. 

By that I mean ….. I have another wonderful memento and reminder that even when the boys are at their worst. There are wonderful moments like this when I get to witness the love and strength of the boys’ attunement/bond to each other.

wish you were here

This entry was posted on July 26, 2014. 4 Comments

Memorybox moments – Waterboys

I am not planning to write very much this time because the pictures speak for themselves really and although this is one of the times when I have a pang of sadness and wish I could post the pictures of the huge great smiles on both the boys faces or the video of them laughing and playing together in the pool in the garden this morning.

But while I sit under my parasol in the garden, watching 2 brothers truly enjoying each others company and listening to the melodious sound of my boys joyfully laughing and joking with each other (a somewhat rare thing with Beeswax lately) – I will have to leave you with the pictures and your imagination.

This post is written as part of ‘The Adoption Social’ Memory box

poollife

Dark clouds and shiny metal

I am going to start by apologising, just in case this post turns out sounding self-pitying, bitter or irrational in any way – the events of the last 2 weeks. Ok, it has been going on longer but now it has come to a head and once again people who should know better are laying the blame at my feet and refusing to acknowledge the cacophony of stuff-ups and failings of late.

At the beginning of last week, I finally hit the wall, or should I say the entire wall hit me with full force.  Tears have flowed faster than the water at Niagara with no sign of stopping, and in the vacant chasm of my skull, my brain had been replaced with jumbo style cotton balls – simple day to day tasks felt impossible and in all honesty I was all over the place.  Despite going through the last few days in a tear stained fog, this sorry mess reignited the ‘mummy bear’ in me and by the end of this week certain so called ‘professionals’ have learnt that if you try backing me into a corner, not only am I going to come out fighting but my ‘bite’ can be worse than my ‘bark’ (and they have had more than their fair share of experiencing my ‘passionate bark’ even when I had intended on responding in my uber ‘therapeutic mummy’ mode, but generally once I feel I have had my say I will leave it there and move on. Until NOW!)  

Please forgive me if this goes off on a tangent but before I can go forward I need to take a few steps back into the past in order to shed light on the present. 

The end of this week rang in the end of term for Waxy’s school and following the tradition of previous years, they end it with their sports and presentation day, and, not for the first time, rather than being a time of great excitement and feelings of huge pride, the events of the day were blighted for me by a huge black cloud of sadness, anger and resentment, which has left me with mixed emotions for the events of the day (but mostly guilt and sadness).

little black cloud

Ok a brief look into the past is called for.  3 years ago Bumble and I were asked to attend a meeting with the boys’ and our social workers. At the time I explained that it was Waxy’s sports and prize day but they were very insistent that it had to happen, so we agreed on the basis that I would be able to return to the school in time for the presentation/prize giving part of the day (I had never missed a school event before and I had no intention of doing it then either).  The moment Shamrock and the boys’ SW arrived we both knew that something had happened (they weren’t their usual chatty selves) but were we prepared for their bombshell? Absolutely not!  I don’t want to go into what they said, but the long and short of it was that his school had voiced concerns about Beeswax and my relationship – in their opinion I was very cold to him and lacked any emotional warmth towards him. In their opinion Waxy’s extreme behaviour was nothing to do with his early experience but purely down to my parenting of him.  We were told that it was felt that, because at that time he and Buzz had yet to be adopted, they had decided to disrupt Beeswax’s placement and move him out of the family.  We told them at the time we would fight this and of course we did – educating professionals who were completely clueless about the traumatic impact the boys’ early years’ experience had had on Waxy, and yes, our relationship at that point was strained, and on school drop offs there were certainly days when his responses and aggression toward me had meant that, by the time I dropped him off, I had switched into my own survival mode in order to remain regulated enough to drop him off before I crumbled into a heap of tears in the car afterwards, but as for being accused of being emotionally unavailable to him this had never been the case.  I admitted that by trying to protect him, I could understand that misinterpretations had occurred, but both Bumble and I were extremely unhappy with the manner it had been presented to us, or how the situation had been handled by so called ‘professionals’ who are working with severely traumatised children – not once had anyone ever thought to speak to me and air their concerns to me or give me the opportunity to defend myself until it was ALMOST too late to do so.

In the wake of this news I had to return to Waxy’s school to sit through the prize giving and pretend everything was ‘hunky-dory’ and clap and cheer at the appropriate times and, when Beeswax won 3 sports awards, I knew I should have been bursting with pride and joy, but instead I had to force myself to look happy and clap and cheer (don’t get me wrong I was really proud of Waxy and I made sure he knew this, but in a way which was manageable for him – no hugs and kisses just lots of gushing over his awards – the trophies themselves, it would have been too much for him if I directed this gushing directly at him). 

OK fast forward back to the present day.  I am blessed to have 2 very sporty children and Waxy’s school are all too aware that they have the pleasure of having a talented young man, who is gifted in many areas of sport, in their school, and this week was a testament to that when he once again excelled at, not only his sports day, but also a local inter-schools sports day, returning with several ‘gold, silver and bronze’ medals along with a rather large cup (which I am finding it difficult to find a ‘safe’ home for), but again that black cloud from 3 years ago was hanging over my head.  Waxy’s school were once again questioning my emotional availability towards Waxy and accused me of always putting Buzzbee before Waxy, and their basis for their complaint (well I can’t go into certain specifics)was that  I don’t hug or kiss him when I drop him off or collect him (ruffling his hair is about all he can tolerate from me), and because I asked school to hold onto the giant cup I mentioned a moment ago, until I could establish if it was his for keeps or just on loan (I had at the time explained that after recent incidents of him destroying school property at home, I was nervous about bringing it home if the intention was for it to be eventually returned).  Thankfully we still have Shamrock (our SW) and so in her new role as Post Adoption Social worker, she was able to discuss with school the reality behind the misconceptions and they have given her the impression that they understand, but for Bumble and I this was the final straw.  Now I will be the first to admit that when I am anxious or stressed I can come across as ‘prickly’, but, as I am mindful of this, I am constantly trying to ‘adjust’ my responses but I am not and never will be ‘emotionally unavailable’ to either of my boys.

For several weeks we have been asking for a meeting with school as we were concerned about Waxy’s recent change in behaviour and our concern that we could see a ‘splitting’ situation developing which needed addressing (this included several incidents of dismissive and disrespectful responses from members of staff towards myself) and so, when Shamrock came to us with this information and offered to facilitate a mediation meeting next term, I think I went through every stages of grief in one short hour – I was crushed and at first I really questioned whether they were correct and that I was the ‘bad mother’ that they thought I was (in all honesty I am still questioning myself, but I can’t let them see that). So Bumble and I decided that ‘enough was enough’ and with the volume of evidence we had, we took the decision to put in a formal complaint to school about their refusal to communicate with us and their failure to take our concerns about Waxy’s well-being seriously.

Sorry, this post is jumping all over the place at the moment.  OK so back to Waxy’s sports and prize day. I couldn’t have been prouder of both my boys on the day.  Buzzbee because, having no choice but to come with me as I had no childcare for him,  he was so far outside of his comfort zone and coped better than he expected of himself. The day was everything that Buzzbee finds difficult: loud voices, loud/continuous clapping, lots of strangers and crowded areas.

But the day belonged to Waxy.  During the sports day part of the day, he gained a medal in every event he entered (2 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) and (warning: gushy part) for the first time ever, each time he won he ran straight over to show Buzzbee and I the medals and placed them around my neck for ‘safe keeping’ (for me this was worth more than a thousand kisses from him), and then, during the presentation afternoon part of the day, he went on to be awarded another 3 awards for his academic achievements.  I was and am so proud of him, but at the same time I am so angry with the staff at the school – on that day, they robbed me of being able to feel 100% ‘over the moon’ for my son and the progress he has made this year – I know that probably sounds wrong to say and is extremely selfish but Waxy is such a complex young man who spends most of his energy endeavouring to keep me at arm’s length for fear of being let down by another mother, that when we have wonderful moments like his awards. I want to nothing to get in the way of experiencing that joy and pride.

OK, no! I am not going to finish this #WASO post on a ‘downer’.

I may not be able to show you a picture of Waxy and Buzz celebrating one of Waxy’s wins or the slightly awkward smile on his face when his head teacher handed him one of his awards but I can share with you ….. THIS!

trophy

 

 

 

This entry was posted on July 19, 2014. 7 Comments

Time waits for no man, not even Bumble

Before I start writing this weeks #WASO post, I want to add a ‘warning’ to it or should that be a ‘nag alert’ because by the time you have read the first few conversations, that is exactly what you are going to think is happening – trust me over the years I have learnt to accept that I am a self-confessed nag.

  • Bumble, we need to be on the road no later than 9.15am so if you are going to have a shower you need to get up and get yourself ready because it is already 8.20 and you know you can’t just have a ‘quick shower’.
  • Bumble, we need to be leaving in 2 minutes and you have now decided to make yourself some breakfast. Why didn’t you have some while you were making yourself a coffee?
  • Buzzbee, can you please go and put your shoes on because we will be leaving in 5 minutes to take your brother to school.
  • Beeswax, we are about to leave for school and now you are telling me that we needed to leave earlier because you are going on a trip today (OK this is a whole other post about his school’s communication skills).
  • Buzzbee, I told you 5 minutes ago to put your shoes on because we needed to leave and take Waxy to school.
  • Bumble, the table is booked for 7pm tonight so I need you to make sure you get home from work in enough time to change and for us to leave. I think we need to leave no later than 6.30.

OK, you may have guessed that I am a bit of a stress monster/control freak when it comes to timekeeping. I have always, for as long as I can remember, hated being late and always try to be punctual or leave extra time just to make sure we get there on time – Hey, I was even 20 minutes early for my own wedding (Ok not deliberately but if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have known that Bumble was running late as usual and was being ushered along by his flustered mum).

Very quickly I discovered that ‘being on time‘ was not Bumble’s strong point – the biggest clue was being 4 hours late for our first date (OK he did have to travel 150 miles so I didn’t expect him to be perfectly on time but STILL!**Bumble would like to point out that would have been on time if he hadn’t been following my directions, which took him straight through the middle of the city. Eventually he had to buy a map from a garage to get there!**).  Once I had moved in with him and got to know his friends I soon discovered that over the years his friends had developed a ‘Bumble timekeeping plan’ to make sure he was never late for any of their parties or events.

How? Well, simply, whatever time they needed him to arrive somewhere. They told him the time as 1 hour earlier and apparently for years this was fool proof – until the day I moved in and we were invited to a BBQ at their house. Bumble was on time! Or should I say we arrived an hour before they were expecting anyone to arrive. At this point the jig was up. Quite to Bumble’s amusement he found out about their plan and over the next few months more friends and family confessed to doing similar things themselves.

So years before the boys came on the scene I already had my hands full with Bumble when it came to going anywhere and so I guess you could say, when the boys arrived I had already lowered my expectations on arriving at places on time quite a bit (who am kidding? No I hadn’t. I had just learnt adapt the plans to make sure we arrived on time and with as little stress as possible).

It is not just going places and getting there on time where I have found myself, over the years, needing to put in a manageable structure to the day that provides the boys with the information they need to feel safe because, god knows, they can’t trust an adult to tell them the truth – the most important being having set times for meals/snacks and always trying to stick to them as best as possible even if we are visiting others or eating out for some reason.  We also make sure that while on holiday, not only do we stick to the meal/snack times as best as we can, but we plan our timetable carefully so everyone can enjoy themselves without the boys’ anxiety levels going through the roof.

But, then there is a whole other ‘timekeeping’ factor that plays out day to day in ‘the hive’ and while I have honed my ‘Family wrangling’ timekeeping skills, there are factors and people that are out of my control and I can’t micro-manage.

We have always been lucky with Shamrock (our SW) because again she is a stickler for time and if, for whatever reason, she was going to arrive late, she would text or ring to let us and the boys know.  Sadly the boys experience of their (numerous) SWs was one of unpredictability and lateness without any explanations or apologies – with both my boys, first impressions count for an awful lot when it comes to their interactions/trust of professionals (one SW who hadn’t even officially taken over their case yet, firmly put the nails in her coffin before she had even finished her first cup of tea – she was 2 hours late and did not apologise to them or offer any explanation for this rudeness and the boys were not best pleased at all. In fact they refused to interact with her at all).

Over the years, the boys have become a little more relaxed about time and in the case of one of our old friends who, before he got married, was a moderately punctual guy and is now never on time for anything (he, his wife and son arrived at our adoption party 20 minutes before the end of the party – more than 3 hours late).  The boys have playfully adapted his surname to reflect their time keeping skills and it has kind of stuck with many of our other old friends who know the couple.

I can’t sit here and write “I am going to be completely ‘chillaxed’ about being on time” or “Bumble is going to miraculously become good at managing his own timekeeping”, but as a family we are always evolving and learning from each other. So that has to be good sign of progress – doesn’t it?

TimeTimeTime

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out
This entry was posted on July 11, 2014. 4 Comments