This weeks’ #WASO optional theme is ‘secrets’ and while at first I thought I might struggle to write something that could incorporate the theme effectively – actually I am still not 100% sure that this post will be seen as doing so, but after yet another sleepless night (and no I am not going there with the ins and outs of why I am not sleeping properly at the moment), I thought I would just put down my mind’s rambling and attach a rather large humble apology to go with it, just in case, as a I suspect part of it might do, it turns into a post filled with negativity and self-pity.
So here goes!
I can’t speak for other families and maybe ours family’s attitude/rules surrounding ‘secrets’ is driven from our need to create a respite foster carer ‘safer caring plan’ before we had even met the boys, but in ‘the hive’ we have always said that “keeping secrets is not allowed but surprises are always welcome”. I am conscious that while some will read that statement and think “Oh my god, what kind of people are they, demanding that nobody keeps secrets in the family. How can you surprise someone if you are not allowed to keep a secret?” It is a tricky one and I would completely understand someone seeing it this way. Obviously sometimes it is necessary to keep things from the boys, but always for a good reason. When either Bumble and I are colluding with the boys over gifts/surprises for us, this is where the ‘surprises’ part of the statement comes in, because while surprises are seen as fun and exciting, I have always felt that secrets can be used as a negative tool and rather than being about keeping something from someone as a nice surprise, it suggests more that someone or something mustn’t be spoken about (please understand this is just my personal opinion and I am not forcing my view on anybody else – not even the boys).
I know I have not done a very good job of explaining myself there, but in all honesty the reasons are not really relevant to this post. What is relevant is that at the moment I feel that I am a hypocrite, because while I am telling my boys that they shouldn’t keep secrets from their dad or I, I am doing just that with my own parents and family – to protect them, but still I am deceiving them and certainly the weekend that has just gone, I did not feel good about having to do just that, although I knew it was absolutely necessary, because I do not want the boys’ trauma and the way they communicate this at times to interfere with their relationship with our families (Ok my parents are not stupid, they know stuff goes on, but just not to the extent it really gets to – I hate to think how my dad would react if he really knew! It would destroy the relationship Waxy and he has, that is for certain).
Ok, so if I manage to stop rambling for a minute, maybe I will manage to get to my point or at least manage to share with you what happened last weekend and then maybe you will understand why I had to keep it a secret from my parents.
On the Friday afternoon I did not collect Beeswax from school, I collected a hormonal, stomping, snarling, aggressive teenager who looked a lot like my son, but had the distinct body language of an alley cat about to get into a scrap with another. For whatever reason, he had come out in a foul, foul mood (distress disguised as anger), but rather than being willing to share with me what was going on in his head, he instead came out hissing and spitting and determined that if I even dared to breathe, I was getting at him. Cue violent verbal aggression, complete inability to follow the simplest of requests without needing to punch or kick something (thankfully only inanimate objects at that time) and of course his favourite pastime: doing all this in front of school staff who he knows will not challenge him on it, despite being still on school property and Buzzbee being visibly upset by his big brother’s rage (but I think in the past I have said enough about his school, so I am not going to rant about them again – not worth my tears).
Waxy’s dissatisfied demeanour continued not only during the journey home but long into the afternoon once we were home and I continued to pack for our final weekend at mum and dad’s caravan and all the owner exclusive events that were taking place which Bumble and I knew the boys would enjoy.
Waxy’s aggression during the afternoon seemed to be going off the chart (more than usual maybe a better way of saying it) and shortly before Bumble returned from work, I found myself in a position that I have not needed to be in for quite some time, and, quite honestly, it scared me (Ok he scared me for the first time in a long time). I know I judged the situation wrong when I asked him if he could please pick up his coat off the floor and put it into the car, so it is there when his dad gets home, so that we can leave immediately and give ourselves time to stop off part way to the caravan to buy KFC for our evening meal before heading down ready for the fireworks display (both boys adore the fireworks). The next thing I knew Waxy had jumped to his feet and was standing square in front of me with his chest all puffed out and with hatred/pain in his eyes. I won’t go into all the gory details, but I found myself in a position where I needed to use the training I had received and safely restrain Beeswax for his own and my safety – it was only for a short few moments, but in that time I realised that he is not only now taller than me, but far stronger than I am and while this time I was lucky and he gave in quickly, next time (oh god I hope not) I don’t think I would feel able to do so and then that brings up a whole other dilemma about how to keep him safe as well as the rest of the household without further traumatising everyone one (anyway I am waffling).
Ok a positive bit before I get to the main dilemma I had last weekend. Once again my boys did both Bumble and I proud, as well as my parents and during the fireworks display they were not only wonderfully behaved and polite but they had people commenting on how good they were (unlike my sister’s kids) and as you can see from my rather dodgy photographs, the display was equally amazing!
Now for the tricky part and please excuse me if this becomes a little incoherent, because for such a silly, unnecessary act and several bad choices being made, I have felt extremely wobbly all this week (triggered off an old trauma memory for me personally) and I am still quite tearful when I think about it and part of that is because of the shame of knowing I have had to ask my boys to keep a secret from my parents for everyone’s sake.
On the Saturday morning the weather was less than desirable and so Bumble and I decided to take the boys to see ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ at the cinema in the nearby city centre – absolutely nothing to do with it being one of my favourite places for Christmas shopping at all. Honestly! By the time the film had finished, the sun had begun to sneak through the clouds and taking advantage of the boys’ relaxed, happy state I managed to sneak in a little shopping too, without too much complaint from my three gorgeous men. On top of this I decided to push my luck a little further and suggest we visit the ruins of an old castle that was cleverly hidden behind the shopping precinct and take some photos for Buzzbee then to be able to research a little more for a home education exercise – knowing the Buzz loves castles, and more importantly he loves ones that are ruined and he can image has a gruesome tale to tell, I knew it wouldn’t be too hard to convince him, and I was right, both he and Waxy loved exploring around it.
The trouble started when we were leaving the public gardens and both boys began to get tetchy with each other and Bumble and I, and we needed to manage them in public and there were a handful of teenagers (drunk teenagers as I was to discover) sat on a bench nearby. They started to laugh and call Bumble and I horrible parents (Ok I will take that, I never feel good about having to pull the boys up in public even when I know it is unavoidable and necessary for their safety). Beeswax went berserk and started hurling verbal abuse and threats at them (only he is allowed to be mean to mum and dad), which they returned the favour of. My darling husband then rather than soothing the situation, in the heat of the moment defending his son, he was triggered and reacted badly verbally also (which he has since then admitted wasn’t his finest moment), which then resulted in the youths getting more ‘mouthy’ and both Bumble and Beeswax seemed unable to respond to my instructions to ‘walk away and be quiet’ (ok to be fair to Bumble, he did stop talking but as for getting the boys out of there, he wasn’t so good). Beeswax before leaving left them with one final piece of information about what he thought of them and this got the reaction that I honestly don’t think Beeswax ever intended to have. One of the youths rushed down towards us and, in a moment of sheer madness (or maybe it was just the ‘lioness’ in me came out), I turned and stood my ground with the drunk teenager (he wasn’t getting to my family even if 2 of them had been complete berks), unsurprisingly the teen for a split second came to a quick halt and you could almost see the cogs in his head going around, unsure about how to react to this 5ft mother not batting an eyelid at his advances (good job he didn’t have x-ray spec, otherwise he would have seen how my amygdala was screaming ‘danger, danger, danger’ and making my heart race at treble its usual rate). Anyway cutting a very long story short, as a result of being so drunk, the teen was obviously not in any position to think through his actions properly and whether it was fear based or just because his brain was so muddled by the booze, when I refused to be bullied by him and explained that while I did not like how my family dealt with the situation, it was unnecessary for he and his peers to humiliate my son as they had done in the first place -they should have minded their own businesses. At which point another drunk teen – girl this time came down spouting about how “I don’t know anything about them” and how “she is in care because of her parents” (a lot more details, but even though I don’t know this girl , I do not plan to divulge it here). I then quickly responded in my best PACE tone by telling her that both my boys have had very similar experiences to her, but I would be just as unlikely to accept that as an excuse from her or her friend as I would have from my own children. I then told them I had no problem with them and asked them to leave us alone as I walked away, but then I heard footsteps behind me and as I turned the drunk youth threw his can of beer all over me. We left at that point, and yes I was sobbing my heart out the moment we were out of earshot of the youths, and I didn’t manage to regulate myself for several minutes, meaning that I walked through the high street wet, smelling of alcohol and sobbing uncontrollably while saying things that maybe I shouldn’t have been saying to Bumble and Beeswax due to the distressed state I was in. Poor Buzzbee was so quiet when all this happened and on returning to the caravan and cleaning myself up, I managed to sit down and talk to him about it and reassure him that while mummy was very upset and ‘daddy and Beeswax’ did not make good choices, I was ok and very proud of him for not trying to get involved as he would usually do. Bless his little heart, but after giving me a wonderful hug, he said “I think seeing those kids made Waxy think about our birth parents and it made him mad, and don’t be too cross with daddy, he was just doing what they never did for Waxy, he stood up for him and so did you”.
So how do my parents fit into this, you may be asking! As I said earlier we were staying at the caravan so that we could attend the end of season ‘owner exclusive’ activities, what I didn’t say is mum and dad, along with my sister and her children were travelling up each of the evenings to the parties too (they were returning back home each night). Saturday evening mum and dad were returning for the end of season party and the last thing I wanted was to spoil anyone’s evening, and if they knew about the afternoons events, I am more than confident that it would have done that, but more importantly, it would have caused yet more unnecessary tension and because Waxy was still not in a headspace (and still is not) to accept his part in the events, my dad would have struggled with his lack of remorse.
Having said this by the end of the evening all the stresses of the weekend were forgotten as my sister’s overly-superior attitude to parenting was completely wiped off her face when she discovered that my nephew had set off the fire alarm because there was a sign saying ‘press here’ – I should add he has been recently diagnosed as being having Asperger’s and his impulse control is on par with the boys, and he made no ‘secret’ of the fact he had done this – honestly on the outside I was a supportive big sister but inside I was feeling just a little bit smug that for once it wasn’t one of my children.
Oh before I forget! If anyone is reading this and feel like I have been a complete wet blanket, please accept my humblest apologies. Secondary trauma can do that to you sometimes and it is not the real me – honestly!