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).
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!