Archive | January 2015

Sky-high holiday anxieties

As you read this weeks’ #WASO post you may be thinking, depending on your own personal opinion or experience, “Is she absolutely mad?” or “How exciting”, or you may have mixed feeling as I do.

Let me explain before you all begin to think I have completely lost the plot – not that there was much plot left for me too loose. Last year Beeswax’s school announced that they would be taking a handful of students skiing for a week in March and Waxy was one of the boys selected to go. We thought ‘fabulous’, ‘what a great experience for Waxy’, who incidentally was standing right beside me when the assistant principal told me about it.

And, then he told us the date… The week of Waxy’s birthday! Waxy would be spending his 14th birthday on the slopes in the French Alps with his teachers and peers instead of his family.

The dilemma then became whether we agree to Waxy going away that week or become selfish, mean parents who say “No, you always spend your birthday with us”. Okay we were never going to say that and to be honest, there was a part of us which felt quite melancholy about the idea of not getting to see him on his birthday, as I have already mentioned Beeswax was with me when his teacher told me about the trip and him being one of only a handful of boys chosen to go. We really couldn’t say know without it causing all sorts of meltdowns and putting added strain on an already fragile relationship with him. In reality we wouldn’t have said no anyway, because it is a wonderful opportunity for Waxy. Being chosen is an incredible boost for his self-esteem, and, from a parents’ point of view there is the added bonus that School were paying for the trip and equipment hire. We only have to provide spending money and his clothes.

ski

However, Buzzbee was less than happy with Waxy’s news when he discovered that Waxy would be away on his birthday. Buzzbee couldn’t at first get his head around Waxy wanting to go on holiday with his friends and teachers and spend his birthday with them and not with Buzzbee as he has always done since Buzzbee was born. But, with a little reassurance that Waxy wouldn’t miss out on celebrating his birthday with us and that on Waxy’s birthday we will arrange with school staff, a time for Buzz and Waxy to Skype each other. Oh and the fact that the assistant head who is going on the trip has agreed to take a surprise present with him from Buzzbee for Waxy to open on the morning of his birthday. Result one little brother almost as pleased for his brother as everyone else.

Now for the mad woman part!!!!!!

With Buzzbee still anxious about missing his big brother’s birthday, Bumble and I started to think about maybe taking Buzzbee away for a few days ourselves while Waxy was on his school trip. So, we suggested this to the boys as an idea and asked Buzz if he had any ideas what he would like to do, thinking he would suggest what he always does and say “go to Centre Parcs”, but Waxy piped up first and said “why don’t you take him to Disneyland Paris”?

Do I really need to tell you Buzzbee’s reaction?

Waxy has openly stated before that if he is going to ‘do Disney’, he is going to go big and that means he only wants to go to Disney World in Florida, so in his mind us taking Buzzbee to Paris would be the best plan for everyone, because Buzzbee would get a big exciting holiday, while he is off with school having an amazing time skiing – Waxy has never actually said anything but we have known for a while that he is worried about Buzz missing him.

So after an awful lot of ‘umming and erring’, this week Bumble and I have bitten the bullet and booked flights and 4 nights stay in Disneyland Paris for Buzzbee, Bumble and myself.

So at the beginning I said you will either think I am a mad woman, or that it is exciting news or, you have similar mixed feelings to myself. What must I be thinking? Buzzbee lives on the ‘dysregulated Express’ almost minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, and here we are, not only thinking of taking him to the French capital of sensory overload, but we are also adding extra lunacy to the mix by booking a flight to travel over to there, so that Buzzbee can finally get to experience something he has been talking about wanting to do for a couple of years.   I have to also confess that I am more than a little excited by our holiday because “I absolutely love anything Disney” myself and I get to go into Paris for one of the days – all of course dependant on how Buzzbee is fairing.

OK I am not really worried about taking Buzzbee into the Disney resort because we have taken him to theme parks before and over the time we have managed to identify most of his trigger points and adjust our plans to best accommodate his needs as they arise, if we haven’t in fact already identified a potential ‘hot spot’ and made sure we have the right tools to hand so he can experience as much as he feels comfortable with each day. It also helps that the ratio of adults to child (2:1) means if (or should I say when) he begins to get a little more intense, we can tag-team, which means when one of us can feel ourselves beginning to unravel, the other can take over for a short time.

And… Peace and Harmony will follow us all day long. Well, I can dream but at least we will have a better chance of supporting Buzzbee without our own self-regulation skills flying out of the resort and back over the English Channel.

Now the flight. I am not going to lie, I have written about it before. The idea of Buzzbee in an airport, let alone sat on an aeroplane scares me to death. Everything that Buzzbee struggles with all in one place and, unlike the Disney resort, I have absolutely no idea how he is going to react to it all.

But, we are not going to let that stop us. We know our son best and with a little (OK a lot of) planning and preparation, and probably a sizable amount of helpful advice from people who have been there and lived to tell the tale, we will help him cope with this new experience.

I have already started gathering information and ideas of how best to prepare him for his holiday, one of which we have tested out this week in a local café with great success and a noticeable change in his emotional regulation, leaving me to wonder why I had not thought about trying noise cancelling headphones before. I knew he wouldn’t wear ear defenders because he thought people would laugh at him, but wearing headphones, well that is completely different! Nobody would ever laugh at a boy wearing cool headphones, would they?

headphone

So this week we have told Buzzbee that the holiday is booked and answered his questions about when, where and how we would get there and left it at that, with the intention of a little closer to the time beginning to prepare him little by little about what to expect and talk with him about situations where he may need extra support from his dad and I.

Buzzbee (and Beeswax too in all honesty) obviously have different ideas of when to start beginning to discuss the ‘nitty, gritty’ of what to expect from their holidays, and while there is a limit to the information I can give Waxy at this time because, well… school haven’t told us yet and I can’t talk to him about plans that I don’t know about, whereas with Buzzbee I can answer most of his questions and the ones I cannot answer straight away I can find out for him (any tips gratefully received).

But, it is clear that while I thought I may have a couple of more weeks to go to prepare, I actually need to come up with a plan now and begin preparing them both for what to expect.

So, ‘Next week’

  • We will start our countdown to our holiday (Ok this afternoon I have found a nice bit of cardboard and called on my trusty ruler to make a countdown time board ready to stick up on the wall ‘Next week’).
  • I will need to start gathering information from school.
  • Researching information about the workings of Heathrow airport as well as finding information out about expectations for the flight.
  • Gather maps of the Disney resort, information about the hotel, facts about Paris itself etc. etc. etc.
  • Put all the facts together neatly into an age appropriate scrapbook/social story for each of them to look at, when they feel the need for it.

Oh and I not forgetting ‘Next week’ I need to get Buzzbee to flutter his eyelids at his nanny and granddad and ask them to look after Beedog while we are away.

countdown

 

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The first 100 hours

This week the incredible Adoption Social are celebrating their 100th #WASO blog post link up with the theme of ‘The first one hundred’, and it happens that this post is also my 100th post for 3beesandahoney.

So a double celebration, although I could never compare my posts to the amazing job Sarah and Vicki do over on The Adoption Social site or the amazing posts that are written by the many amazing people who link up to #WASO.

A heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to you all.

celebrate

So as this is my 100th post and the #WASO theme is ‘the first one hundred’, I have had to think very hard about what this means for me.

  • The first 100 times I tucked my boys into bed and kissed them goodnight
  • The first 100 photos I took of us as a family
  • The 100 times I have heard someone say “if you didn’t know they were adopted, you would swear they were yours. They look so much like you” Grrrrrr
  • The 100 times I have felt like I am hitting my head against a brick wall trying to get schools to understand that behaviour modification programmes just don’t work with my boys
  • The first 100 hours I spent with boys before we even knew they were to become our sons.

I am sure I could go on forever with my list of ‘first 100’s’ and I definitely have 100 reasons to celebrate firsts, and having Bumble and my boys in my life, but while writing this post, there is one ‘first 100’ that keeps jumping to the front of my mind – ‘The first one hundred’ hours we spent parenting Beeswax from a distance and the boys were free from the influence of their ‘trauma bond’.

When we made the painful decision to agree to the recommendation for Beeswax to attend a residential specialist school, we never imagined the effect it would have on home, or the relationship between the boys, or his relationship with Bumble and I.

At the time we felt like failures and Buzzbee couldn’t understand why his big brother was choosing to leave him and only come home at weekends. Obviously it wasn’t as easy as that and while Beeswax was instrumental in starting the ball rolling with his suggestion that he thought family life would be more manageable if he went to a boarding school and only came home for short periods of time, I am sure that when the powers that be agreed to the suggestion and found him a school, there was part of him that felt that we were washing our hands of him and sending him away because of his volatile behaviour and that he didn’t deserve to be part of our family.

That first week the he attended his new school were certainly the hardest 100 hours I had experienced since the boys had moved in (Ok actually 102 hours but close enough). The guilt that I felt was almost crippling and to be honest that first week was shrouded in a fog of grief and unhelpful thoughts.

“If I had just kept quiet about his violence towards me”

“I should have tried harder to help him to learn to trust me”

“What kind of mum am I sending him to a boarding school? I am just proving to him that mum’s are not to be trusted”

But, in amongst the haze of our own selfish thoughts, we couldn’t help noticing the almost immediate difference in Buzzbee’s demeanour. Our high octane, ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ 5 year old was going to sleep at night without a battle, he was less oppositional or inclined to fly off the handle at the drop of the hat, he was cuddly and chatty, I suppose you would say he was more relaxed. Of course he was not a model child – there is no such thing, but rather than the traumatised unpredictable little boy we had come to know, he instead appeared to have an air of freedom about him.

100 hours later Beeswax came home for the weekend and WELL, to be perfectly frank it was like he had never been away. The stress and anxiety that we had all been living for several month came flooding back through the door at 2pm on that Friday afternoon and hit us like a juggernaut. Bumble and I felt that we had failed again and had put Beeswax through yet another unnecessary transition for nothing (irrational I know considering it was only his first week, but certainly I have convinced myself that when he came home he would have missed us as we had him, and he would suddenly accept me and I could finally feel like his mum rather than a sparring partner or something that he had trod in). The change in Buzzbee was also incredible.

At the time I was keeping a diary for Jemima and while reading back what I had written over the week and documenting the events of the weekend, I began to realise the true power of the ‘trauma bond’.

A few days later, on the suggestion of Jemima, I wrote the following letter for Beeswax (edited slightly to fit with this weeks’ #WASO theme)

Dear Beeswax.

As you leave to start your second week at school, I just want to you to know that last week was one of the hardest weeks for your dad and I, and while we know that it was the right decision for you to be there, it was not what we would have wanted for you. It was not what we dreamt our family life would come to.

I know it was your suggestion to go and I truly hope in time that you will begin to feel that you can spend more time at home and being part of a family.

It is so difficult for me to think that you are struggling being part of your new family because your ‘first family’ let you and Buzzbee down and you are frightened of it happening again.   Please, please, please know that whether you are sleeping in your own bed, in your own bedroom at home, or you are sleeping in your bed at school, you are part of our family and this is your home no matter what. We love you and that won’t change.

This weekend you have told me how different it has been not spending time with Buzzbee and how, although you have missed him deeply, you felt free. Your thoughts were no longer engulfed by worrying about what he was doing every second of the day, or hating having to watch as Buzzbee slowly transferred his dependence from you to me. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for you after the length of time you have taken care of him for. Please know that even when Buzzbee is becoming more dependents on me and looking to me for comfort first before you now, this does not mean he does not love you and it can never break the bond you have between you. It just means that you are now free to be a big brother and do all the things with him that a big brother would, while letting Bumble and I be both of yours mum and dad – I know it is not that easy but I honestly believe as time goes on, you will slowly realise that Buzzbee is not replacing you. He is promoting you to the important role of a Big brother who he loves and can look up to.

This week has been hard for Buzzbee too, but like you there has been this week a change in him also. I suppose you could say in the 102 hours you have been away, he has to felt a sense of freedom (not that he is old enough to recognise it).

I can hear your voice right now saying “see I told you he didn’t love me, he couldn’t care the less that I have been away all week”. That is certainly not the truth, if your name hadn’t crossed his lips 100 times a day it had crossed it more. He really does miss you, but I think both of you have been through so much trauma together, at such an early age, that there is another bond you have between you both and it is one that is not healthy and sometimes you both need a break from the memories of that trauma, but being together all the time means that your subconsciously trigger memories in each other and you both deserve a break.

I think this is why this week at school you have felt free and Buzzbee has been more relaxed. It is nobody’s fault and I know you are blaming yourself, thinking if you hadn’t been such a handful or hurt so many people, you wouldn’t be where you are now, but for me all I see is hope and opportunities:

Opportunities for you both to begin to heal, at your own pace. Opportunities for you to learn to trust Bumble and I, at a pace which is more comfortable to you. Opportunities for you to regain some of the childhood you lost. Well, you get where I am going with this.

Please remember while for 102 hours a week you may not be in sight, you are never, never, never out of mind and never will be.

Love

Mum xxx

Since the first one hundred hours at school, there has obviously been many more weeks/hours the boys have spent apart and Beeswax has had the space he has so desperately needed to be a child without the pressures of being in family unit 24 hours a day.

And, no matter how frustrated I get with his school, and how they repeatedly fail to acknowledge the impact his early history has had on his ability to trust adults and maintain positive relationships with people he is fond of, or how many tears I have shed after dealing with them for one reason or another. The best decision that we ever made for Beeswax was to agree him spending 102 hours a week there, parenting from a small distance.

clockwise

Home Ed courage

I should be putting the finishing touches to my #WASO100 post but I have had to stop and write this quick post because this morning I was bursting with pride and excitement.

I have had a sore throat and generally been feeling quite washed out for a couple of days, so Bumble left me sleeping this morning when he left for work instead of waking me up.

Bumble thought that Buzzbee was also still asleep so he thought I deserved a lie in but it seems Buzz was not actually asleep and shortly after Bumble left for work, I could hear Buzz moving around and chirping to himself in his room. I assumed he had taken the advantage of my lie in to put on one of his favourite DVDs (Planet Dinosaur) because he had gone quiet or at least I had dozed back off to sleep.

Imagine my joy when I dragged myself out of bed and went over to his room to find Buzzbee sat in bed with his tablet, trying to do one of his science worksheets on the EdPlace website independently.

This is unheard of for him for many reasons but the biggest of these reasons is his fear of reading and getting it wrong. But, here he was sat with his tablet and his new glasses on, trying to sound out words that he wasn’t sure about and although he was cursing and becoming frustrated with himself for not being able to quite understand what the question he was trying to answer was saying, he had managed to read just enough to make a reasonable guess at what the answer should be.

And, much to his surprise he got most of the answers right and I could hear him mumble to himself “beginners luck” – I should add, I remained outside his door, listening to him so not to startle him (OK I thought if I walked into his room, he would stop and try to dismiss the ‘awesomeness’ of what he was really achieving).

Beedog did eventually give my location away and Buzz did rapidly turn the screen off and say “I have only just turned the tablet on. I promise I wasn’t playing Minecraft, daddy said I could watch some YouTube Space clips”, so I said that it was OK I knew what he had been doing and I was so pleased he felt brave enough to practise his reading and do a worksheet without mummy’s help, and nothing more was said about while we had breakfast.

It may have only been one worksheet and but he managed to answer the questions without help reading what was required, and he got most of them right but more importantly he took a massive step, doing it on his own, and I want to celebrate this.

edplace2

The Baby Box – creating narratives

In the last week I have yet again found myself in the precarious situation of being the bearer of news from Birth Family to give the boys and having to potentially face the backlash that the news may cause and I am left having to resist the urge to turn around to the boys and say “Please don’t shoot the messenger”. A few weeks ago one of the boys’ birth parents and their partner has had a baby and they will be keeping it.

Thankfully on this occasion the news although difficult for them both to hear was received with surprising maturity (or maybe a better description would be, their reaction was one of resolute acknowledgement). I think Waxy had been waiting for the day that he received news of this kind and while I know it is destroying him inside and from conversations he and I have had in the past, I know that he feels betrayed and rejected by his birth parent and at the same time I know that he will be worrying for the welfare of the baby.

****We have reliable information that the partner will be an adequate parent and has been instrumental in helping the birth parent get themselves back on track ****

As with anytime I have had to share difficult news with the boys, I have always made sure that they know that they can talk to us when they are ready and not push them to tell us how they are feeling there and then. On this occasion after reminding them of this, Waxy responded with “Well, it makes a change from you sitting us down with a hot chocolate and telling us someone else we know has died”.

Buzzbee’s response was similar to Waxy’s in most ways but he needed more reassurance that the baby would be safe and was more open about his concern for the baby’s welfare. From his point of view, while he was a baby he had Beeswax to look out for him and protect him. Buzz’s concern was that as he was effectively now a big brother himself but unlike Waxy he can’t be there to protect the baby himself. Buzz was also concerned about how Waxy would react and this was visible for a few hours in Buzz’s ‘fizziness’ which rather than placating his big brother was well and truly winding him up to the point where Bumble and I felt that there was a need to use PLACE and talk out loud about how we thought Buzz maybe worried that Waxy was upset or angry with the new and maybe Buzz thought Waxy was going to start blaming him again for being taken into care. To my surprise Waxy joined in and began openly reflecting too about how Buzzbee was be feeling so confused and how much he wished he would convince Buzz that it wasn’t his fault and that while Waxy maybe cross with ######, he isn’t mad with Buzz or the new baby (After so much time with DDP therapist resisting her help, it is nice think he had absorbed some of it).

As for Buzzbee, the news has stirred up thoughts and feelings about his life before coming to us and he has been firing off questions left, right and centre about what had happened to him and Beeswax and why did his birth parents not take care of him like Bumble and I do and so many more questions have arisen, thankfully I many of his questions we could answer because of the hard work one of the LA’s post adoption support worker did on gathering information and putting together wonderful lifestory books. But, Buzz’s questions about what his birth parents were thinking and why they made the ‘bad choices’ that they did, I cannot answer. I can guess but that is dangerous territory to get into. Instead I decided that my best way to support him would be to help him create a cohesive narrative of what had happened when he was and somehow this rapidly turned into “If I had grown in your tummy and I had been your baby what would it have been like? What would you have dressed me in? What colour would my pram have been? Would you have rocked me to sleep or put me in my cot and let me cry to sleep? SO many questions came flooding out and I did my best to answer his questions without filling his head with ‘what ifs’.

The questions and need for extra nurturing has become a nightly event at the moment and I know that it is what he needs right now but last night after the 100th time of him asking me about what it would have been like if I had given birth to him, I decided to show him something that only 2 people other than myself know about (Bumble and Jemima).

During our final cycle of IVF, I had a moment of madness and put together a box containing new-born baby items that I imagined I would bring our baby home in from the hospital. After we made the decision to stop the IVF I put the box in the loft and forgot about it for several years until I let it slip about the existence during a therapy sessions with Jemima. I told her at the time as I had closed the door on that part of my life, I thought it would be best to pass it onto someone who could use it but she encouraged me to hold onto it as it may come in handy in the future and I would know when it was the right time to introduce it – I was hesitant because I thought it might be seen as if I am still holding onto the hope of having a baby but she reassured me that she did not feel it would be seen this way.

Last night while settling Buzzbee down I started thinking about my ‘baby box’ and wondering whether showing him the box would help him.

I decided to talk to him about the box and unsurprisingly he asked to see the box and then was very keen to talk about every item in the box and my reasons for choosing them. He felt the textures of the blanket and teddy. We laughed about the size of the booties and mittens and how he fiddled with them trying to work out how many fingers/toes he could fit into them. He was very keen to understand why everything in the box was white and why I made that decision. And, then he came to the snuggy toy and squealed with excitement “Mummy I have one of these! You gave me it when I first met you”. He was right, I had given him an identical one but I had never thought about it and for a moment I don’t know if I was overcome by his excitement or if it was a delayed pang of sadness for what had never been but tears had begun to roll down my cheeks and Buzzbee noticed and asked if I was crying because he had made me sad. I told him that they were happy/sad tears. I was happy that I he had let me share my box with him and he could ask to see anytime he felt he needed it but I also had a thought for a moment how sad I was for him that I hadn’t been his mummy from the start.

We had a lovely hug and then he looked at his clock and said “Well, you’re a naughty mummy at the moment! Have you seen the time?” – I am not going to say the time but put it this way, Oops!

I don’t know if he will ever ask to see the box again or if it will result in another barrage of questions but Jemima was right. The box did still have a role to play and it played it’s part wonderfully.

babybox

The best birthday present

At the weekend my mum celebrated her 60th birthday and, rather than arranging a great big party for her, which she would have hated, instead my dad chose to surprise her and booked them both into a luxury hotel in a picturesque village near Bumble and I for a few days and arranged for us to look after their 2 elderly fur-babies (Yes, my dad really does call his spaniels his fur-babies) during their stay. In order to surprise mum, my dad has had to endure her wrath over the last few weeks because he had led her to believe he had forgotten it was a milestone birthday as well as her first birthday since my nan passed away – he is a glutton for punishment! Earlier in the year he did something similar for their 40th wedding anniversary and arranged several surprises for her at great expense to his ears, but I think he loves seeing her gobsmacked expression every time and “reaping the rewards” (LaLaLaLaLa I don’t want to know what he means by that!)

It goes without saying that dad hit the jackpot with his choice of hotel and all the little flourishes he had arranged, and she was spoilt rotten, but the best birthday present that she received this year, in mum’s opinion came as a surprise to everyone and mum was not the only one to be left with tears in her eyes once the unexpected gift was given.

My sister lives within minute of my parents and is an exceptional cake maker and has always in the past made the family cakes, but this year the boys took advantage of my parents being nearby to make their own birthday cake for mum and have it delivered to her hotel as their own surprise, which she loved, even if it had so much chocolate in it my dad could only eat a slither of it before he started to feel a little woozy (he is diabetic), but it was lovely for her to receive a handmade cake from the boys. She is used to my niece and nephews doing this for her every year.

cake1

No! Her present was a gift from Buzzbee and something she has been waiting for since the first day she met both the boys. It is also a gift that Buzzbee does not even realise he has given her.

Yesterday, when my parents came over to collect their dogs, Buzzbee was playing in his bedroom after working hard all morning on ‘space’ worksheets he is using for part of his home education project. As with anytime they visit, mum called up the stairs to say ‘Hello’ but instead of the usual ‘Hi!’ response being called back, she was greeted with “Nanny!!!!!!!!” and what can only be describe as the sound of a herd of full sized elephants coming thundering down the stairs before LEAPING into her arms and giving her the biggest hug and kiss he has ever given her – I guess you can work out the reason now for the happy tears.

To some that may sound like a perfectly normal response from a grandchild excited to see his nanny but for Buzzbee this is HUGE. It has only been in the last year that Buzz has begun to agree to give her a hug if she asks for one when saying ‘goodbye’ – before then she has had to shake hands like Buzz does with my dad.

As for my mum! Well in her words “no amount of beautiful flowers or fancy presents could ever beat the present Buzzbee has just given me. He has allowed himself to show me how much he loves me!” (she has never been under any illusion that either of my boys are fond of her and dad, but being a ‘cuddly’ kind of nanny, it has killed her at times to have to respect the boys limits and resist the urge to just scoop up either of them and give them a ‘nanny squeeze’).

“Well, what do you expect?”

Expectations! As a mum of two very complex young men – apparently I am not allowed to call them boys anymore, they are growing up and they are becoming men and they ‘expect’ me to remember this.

Sorry, I became side tracked there by my amusement of the fact, my nosey parker of a 13 year old has obviously taken a sneaky glance at the screen on my laptop, seen the theme for this week, as he has walked past to go into the kitchen and is now educating me on how ‘uncool’ it is to think of him and Buzz as boys anymore (I have resisted the urge to reverse roles and become a smart arse and say something sarcastic, like he does on an hourly rate at the moment). Instead I have challenged him to come up with his own idea for a #WASO post this week – my ‘expectations’ are that it will be VERY egocentric and I know I shouldn’t, but I expect I will find myself chuckling at his logic as only a mother would – be that a crazy adoptive mother who knows her child’s perception of the world is somewhat different from other teens his age.

Okay, back to this post. By now it may be obvious to some of you what the theme is, but just in case. This week, The Adoption Socials’ WASO theme is ‘Expectations’.

Imagine for a moment that I am stood in front of you and I ask you, as an adopter, Foster carer or for that fact any parent or carer, “When you first become a parent/carer, did you put too much expectation on yourself to be almost ‘perfect’?” – I imagine if you are reading this, there is a strong chance that you are nodding your head in agreement or smiling silently to yourself.

Well, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I had this perfect image in my head of what kind of mum I would be and all the things I would do with my children and how I expected all of Bumble’s and my dreams would come true and we would have the happy little family unit we had always wanted. Oh yes, during the adoption preparation, I said all the right things and don’t get me wrong, I meant it all. I may have had my dreams but I was still able to be realistic to a degree about what I could expect from being an adoptive parent and so could Bumble, of course. We were also secure enough to admit the areas that we felt would need a little time to get used too.

Once we were approved we never expected the wait to be as long as it was and never expected that we would actually meet our children through the fostering route and even when this did happen we never expected to be allowed to take on the boys – let’s face it they were placed with us because the proximity was too close and they didn’t fit within our matching criteria so there was going to be no chance that we would fall in love with them, unlike the expectations with one of the children we looked after during respite placement, whose foster carer was making it very clear to us that she felt we should consider adopting him (he was a lovely baby but I just never felt the same about him as I almost immediately did with Waxy and Buzz).

Anyway back to my question. Do we put too much pressure on ourselves and expect to be ‘perfect’? The simple answer is yes. Of course I am only talking about myself, I can’t talk for anyone else, although I know several people who if they were to ask me if I think they are too hard on themselves, I would be screaming at the top of my lungs “YES, give yourself a break!!!!!!” (good advice but one that I am pretty bad at giving myself).

Another question that I could ask is “do you feel that you have felt under pressure to get everything right because of an unspoken sense of expectation from professionals” in other words “do you feel like you are constantly living in a fish bowl and everything you say and do is immediately scrutinised and put under the microscope to study at great lengths your motives?” (Crikey that sounds paranoid doesn’t it?)

Certainly in Bumble and my case, I would have to say that is exactly how we felt.

If I were to then ask if people who knew thought I had too high of expectations from my boys (sorry young men), I would guess I would have a more mixed bag of responses and that would be OK. Some people (including family) think that I am too soft on the boys (Buzz would like me to state at this point that his answer to this would be “I wish!”), and then there are the friends and family that think we are too strict and controlling and that we should let ‘boys be boys’.

From a purely personal view I think that, most of the time, I set my targets just about right and my expectation levels are neither too high, or too low for the boys. Yes, I have different expectations for each of them, but I feel they are fair and appropriate to them individually.

Do I get it wrong sometimes? God, yes! I am only human after all. I have my faults, I am not a high-tech android version of Mary Poppins and I am definitely not ‘practically perfect in every way’.

Robot Mary Poppins2

Oh and before I forget. Here is Beeswax’s #WASO contribution.

I am a teenaged adoptee that’s expected to do a lot of things like writing this, tidying my room, playing with my brother and doing some jobs.

But I have different expectations. I expect to get lots of computer, lots of football, NO jobs, NO room tidying, lots of branded clothes and…. You get the point.

Unfortunately I am not allowed to do the things I expect because I’m only 13 and my parents are REALLY OLD so they make decisions.

Now I am expected to do my room.

P.S. This is an example of why my English teacher is always getting annoyed with me. She expects me to write loads but it is so boring and I like getting to the point quick.

waxy'sExpectations2

 

This entry was posted on January 11, 2015. 2 Comments

New Year. Renewed determination

First of all.  ‘Happy New Year’ to you all.

Over the last couple of weeks I have struggled to put a blog post together. I would like to say that it was because I have been so busy and enjoying myself, that I have not had the time to sit down and write anything but the truth is a little like the reasons I have neglected commenting on other’s blog posts or responding to posts on twitter – I have nothing useful to say!

Okay, maybe that is the wrong chose of wording. What is probably more accurate is I have lost confidence in my own voice and have got myself into a ridiculous headspace where I feel anything I say will come across as completely wrong or unhelpful. It is a completely irrational thought process and completely unhelpful, but yet I seem to be allowing it to overwhelm my private thoughts while continuing to demonstrate an external image of being a strong and in-control mother who is confident in her parenting of her sons.

Don’t worry! This post is not going to be an ‘Eeyore’ style post. I have let the trials and tribulations of parenting Buzz and Waxy overwhelm me for long enough and while I know I still do not have the courage to ask for what I need from the people I need it from for myself, having Bumble home over the Christmas holidays has given me a little more space to regroup and reflect on what I need to do for my boys in order to support them more effectively and help them become the beautiful young men that they are blossoming into in already. And, in the process of doing this, hopefully Bumble and I will feel less like we are permanently living in hostile warzone with the boys and professionals and we can find the time to look after ourselves a little better .

For the past couple of months Buzzbee’s separation anxiety has been overwhelming for all involved and if I am honest because it 90% of it has been directed at me.

To give you an idea of how extreme it has got. I have got the boys back in the car after a supermarket shop and go to put the trolley away (2 cars away and I am still within sight), I return to the car to a hysterical Buzzbee who is inconsolable. Another example is when panic ensues if while out Bumble and I suggest that to save time we split up to get the jobs done quicker – he wants everyone to stay together at all times.

I know there is a huge control dynamic developing here and Bumble and I are working very hard to not allow Buzzbee to control us but we are needing to be very careful because every therapeutic bone in our bodies is saying that something has triggered off this overwhelming fear response in him and until we can identify what that is or we can find a way to help him work through the ‘BIG’ feelings so that they are no longer controlling him anymore, we need to tread carefully.

It breaks my heart to see him in so much pain. He takes 2 steps forwards and progresses in one area and is so proud of himself and then ‘BAMM’ something else comes along and he is thrown into yet another crisis and we have to fight hard to not let all the progress he has already made, become lost.

At the moment I could go on forever about what I believe Buzz needs and should have by now received but rather than go into another rant or tirade about it, I have spent the last few days coming up with a ‘Battle Plan’ and I am determined this year…… I WILL NOT ALLOW PROFESSIONALS TO BRUSH HIS NEEDS UNDER THE CARPET. This year I am going to get him the assessments and support he needs and if that means I have to be a thorn in the side of people until they listen. Then so be it.

As for Beeswax! On paper to most it appears that he has every bit of support he needs and yet last year the majority of my time and energy which I should have been using to find Buzz the support he needs, I spent it dealing with Waxy and the infuriating staff at his school and their inability to understand the effects trauma and complex attachment history can have on a hormonal and emotionally immature, teenage boy and how the complex relational dynamics between how he is at school and how he is at home, is causing an unnecessary rift between us all.

In the coming weeks we will have Waxy’s GCSE options open evening and I know that school, as well as Bumble and I would like to see him cover as many subjects as possible and we are confident he could achieve high standards but at the same time, Bumble and I are concerned!

Waxy is incredibly bright but simply from the conversations I have had with school and Waxy himself, we are aware that there is already a lot of pressure being put onto him when it comes to maturity and independence, especially with him organising himself personally and academically. While we are constantly working alongside Waxy to boost his confidence in this area, he still needs a lot of support. Sadly this is an area we are failing to help school understand and rather than them seeing us as trying to support him and work closely with them, they see it as we are over anxious parents who don’t want to ‘let go of the apron strings’ – which is amusing, considering he boards most of the week and refuses to come home during the week.

School see what Waxy wants them to see and sadly even now, after more than 3 years at the school, he still does not trust the staff enough to let them know what is going on for him, so holds it together all week and lets ‘Mount Vesuvius’ erupt every weekend.

Waxy is torn. He wants to be more independent but when he is put into a situation where he has the opportunity to ‘spread his wings’, fear takes over and he sabotages himself which then results in people becoming ‘reactive’ rather than ‘reassuring’ towards him and we end up back at square one.

My goal this year is to find a way to help school understand that Bumble and I are not the ‘enemy’ and rather than them repeatedly working against us, I need to find a way of helping them to see that we want to work with them and help our son feel supported and confident that he can achieve his full potential, rather than things staying as they are now and risking him slipping through the net and his needs not being identified until it is too late for him.

I have rambled on here and I am sure that none of this will make the slightest bit of sense to anyone reading it, but what I am trying to say is for too long now I have ‘let things slide’, or taken a “softly, softly, catchee monkey” approach and that has got me nowhere. I need to pull myself together, channel a large dose of therapeutic Zen and become a ‘Velvet Bullldozer’ from now on.

Watch this space!

bulldozer