This week in the Hive we have seen some monumentally big steps forward for Buzzbee and, even if they are only one offs or extremely rare occurrences, they are still achievements we can celebrate; and while we are talking about celebrating successes……This time last weekend ‘The Open Nest’ #takingcare conference had drawn to a close, and after a brief few hours several delegates had returned back to the very same hotel for a little dancing, chatting and, oh yes, a sneaky glass of wine (or equivalent alcoholic beverages) or two. Although I was sober as a judge, I will confess to being possibly one of the last to retire to my bed at a very respectable 3.30am….. I must add York is as magnificent in the early hours of the morning as it is in the daytime.
Ok a little about the conference……. I won’t go into it too much because there has been so many wonderful posts written for this and last weeks’ #WASO, which have already done a wonderful job of describing the day far better than I probably ever could have, but before I get onto the real reason for this post, I will do my best to describe briefly the highlights of the day – OK maybe the wrong words to use as every speaker and delegate who attended made the day a truly memorable and profound day.
After a brief welcome and short introduction about ‘The Open Nest’ charity from Amanda Boorman, we were then showed a short documentary about her life with her beautiful adopted daughter, Jazz. Before the conference had begun I had joked that it was the first conference that I had attended that, not only provided water and mints on the tables, but packs of tissues. By the end of the film there was hardly a dry eye in the room and well….the reasons for the tissues on the table had become very clear. I felt humbled to being given the opportunity to share such a personal journey with everyone, and the standing ovation at the end of the film was most definitely deserved.
I didn’t envy the speaker who had to follow this and Blogger/Adoptive parent/Social Worker Al Coates (Misadventures of an adoptive dad) admitted this himself, but he needn’t have worried. His wit and candour was a winning combination and I could have listened to him all day.
He was then followed by Fran Proctor (adoptee and mother) and with the help of Sally Donovan and a beautifully constructed Q&A format, she spoke about a teenager making a heart-breaking discovery of harrowing details about her birth family, how this impacted on her, and how she has now rebuilt her life – that id not to say that she hasn’t been left with emotional scars or has ‘locked her past away in a filing cabinet, never to be looked at again’ but I was in awe of her and her bravery in sharing her story.
It was then time for Sally Donovan herself to speak and, as with other times I have had the pleasure of hearing her speak, I was refreshed by the humour and candour of her first class presentation of practical self-care tips that she uses herself, followed by advice on how to speak with schools and navigate the minefield that is the education system – although I have a feeling I will still struggle with one of her tips…saying No has never been my strong point!
We were then treated to 2 more wonderful back to back presentations from first of all ‘We are family’ – a parent led support group, that has been set up in the London area by adoptive parents, who saw a need and filled the void (I think that was right but I am a little dozy when it comes to locations, so if I have this wrong I apologise now). This was then followed by a brain storming (Open Space) session facilitated by an actress/adoptive mum on topics that were of importance or interest to delegates – a long list was compiled which I believe Sally has taken away and intends to circulate at a later point.
That brings me to the lovely ladies, Vicki and Sarah, who are responsible for The Adoption Social and their vast knowledge of social media and how they met and came up with the idea for The Weekly Adoption Shout Out and later The Adoption Social site. There is a lot I could learn from these amazing ladies (as I could from many other adopters and Tweeties), and I don’t just mean when it comes to social media.
I tried to keep it brief – honestly I did!
Now back to the motivation behind this post – Buzzbee and his bravery this week.
I am sure that I have mentioned before that Buzzbee (and Beeswax for that fact) will go out of his way to make sure that he doesn’t allow people to know how he is really feeling – there is always leakage which, unless you have the empathy skills of a rock, you can pick up on the emotional cues that something is awry with him. So with this in mind, it makes this weeks’ events just that little bit more exciting – OK maybe that is just Bumble and I, but as I am sure other adoptive parents know, things that many parents would take for granted and let go by unnoticed are events that we will treasure as micro samples of our children beginning to love and trust us without fear.
I won’t leave you in suspense anymore with my constant waffling. I have probably confused you all by now by starting with talking about the conference when I have openly said this post is really about Buzz and his successes, but quite honestly, the conference and my absence for the weekend is the catalyst to a sequence of events that have unfolded throughout this week.
For the last year Buzzbee has been practically with me 24/7 because of us needing to home educate him, so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t very anxious about how he would cope with a whole weekend without me, and during the week leading up to me going away, Buzzbee showed signs of regression and needed ‘mummy’ to be even closer than usual (and trust me he keeps me close most of the time anyway). So his first achievement is not only did he manage to be away from me for so long but he allowed himself to enjoy himself as well and this is huge for him. At this point I will mention that I think Bumble felt that he had climbed his own personal mountain by not only looking after the boys all weekend on his own, but also taking them away to my parents’ caravan for the weekend and surviving a Halloween Party in the company of my sister without me being there to act as referee – their relationship is a whole other story and one I might share sometime.
More than 48 hours after I left my three favourite men (Sorry Dad and the entire male cast of Strictly Come Dancing, that weekend my heart belonged to Bumble and my boys), I was greeted by Buzzbee leaping out of his dad’s car and leaping into my arms for the biggest hug he has ever given me, saying “I have really missed you and your hugs mummy” (lump in throat moment), Beeswax in his unique teenage way greeted me with a ‘Welcome Home’ grunt but hey at least he acknowledged me, that is progress in itself.
If this had been the only progress I had seen this week I would have been happy but there is more…….
The day after the conference I needed to attend a meeting at Beeswax’s school with the Community Police Officer, members of staff and, although at first he had no idea it was happening, Beeswax was to join us too. For now I won’t say any more about this meeting, but because of this meeting I needed childcare for Buzzbee. Thankfully a wonderful adopter agreed to look after him for a few hours and, because her son attends Waxy’s school and he has spent time with me visiting her over the past few months, he feels relatively comfortable with her and agreed to go with her and her youngest son to a nearby indoor skate park. This is progress just on its own, as he has been very reluctant to go anywhere near a skate park after an accident more than a year ago, but to add on top of that spending the morning after I had returned once again away from me and in the words of our friend “being wonderful, despite being in an unfamiliar noisy environment”, so really I should count this as 2 reasons to celebrate.
But most definitely Buzzbee’s biggest step forward this week comes back to his reluctance in the past to trust people with his feelings and know what is going on in his head and heart. Beeswax’s school week has been a short one this week and half-term started on Wednesday and in true sibling trauma bond fashion, Buzzbee’s excitement and anxiety about his big brothers’ return was being played out in many different ways and scenarios as the day drew closer – not helped by the fact that he was also trying to fight off a nasty cold and, on the day of Waxy’s return, a fever too. But no-one ever expected what played out over the next 24 hours would ever happen.
After the events that had played out at school at the beginning of the week, Beeswax had not had his best week at school, and this meant he did not come home in the best of moods and although I am sure it was not his intention to blank his little brother, Buzzbee interpreted his grunting and distance as rejection, which would usually result in a full blown meltdown ensuing either from Buzz or Waxy.
Later in the evening – bedtime to be exact, Buzz presented Bumble and I with 3 emotions cards which had Sad, Sleepy and Scared written on them, and which he has steadfastly refused to use for the entire 3 years we have had them, he then asked if he could have some paper and colouring pencils (volunteering to do some writing unaided – can you hear my squeals of delight from here).
Anyway, without an explanation about why he needed the paper and pencils, he retired to his bedroom, only to return 30 minutes later with 2 pictures for Beeswax and telling Bumble that he wanted to tell Waxy how he felt that the love between them was broken and while Waxy’s heart was still whole, he enjoyed being mean to Buzz so Buzz’s heart was broken and he was sad that his big brother didn’t love him anymore. I don’t know about anyone else, but my eyes are welling up just as much now as when Buzzbee was explaining the picture. He then presented Beeswax with one more picture of them hugging and simply told him that he wants his big brother to be like this with him again “like the old days”. Sadly although Waxy did a wonderful job of making the right noises to appease Buzz, I don’t think he really understood what Buzz was trying to say – in the empathy and emotional acceptance department, Buzzbee has definitely overtaken his big brother.
So while there may be some who read this and say “what is she talking about, Buzzbee is just growing up”, to Bumble and I these tiny (OK mammoth) steps are something that deserves to be celebrated!