Archive | February 2015

“Are we nearly there yet?”

This weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘Look how far we’ve come’ and if I were to write this post at the moment with my ‘negative Nelly’ head on I would be saying that ‘we haven’t gone anywhere’.

In fact we have come full circle and everyday feels like Groundhog Day at the moment. But I am not going to do that! Well, not completely anyway.

I often like to look back at the diary I started keeping 6 months after the boys moved in with us officially, and I thought it might be fun to look at what I had written in one of the half-term entries for February that year and compare it to half-term this week.

*Warning.  This post is not for the faint hearted but the length is perfect for anyone who suffers from insomnia*.

February 2010

What has my life become? Is this really it? Is my life going to always be one long battle?

Despite of the events that went down on Thursday we decided to continue with our plans and go down to Plymouth to see my parents this weekend. Big mistake!

For the first time since the boys moved in, we actually left my parents less than 24 hours after we had arrived. Waxy’s mood was not too great before we left and if I am honest it hasn’t really improved since Thursday.

Saturday morning both the boys woke up in a funny mood, which is not really that unusual as they tend to be the morning after a long drive but usually they are easily distracted out of it and barring a few minor battles of will with Buzzbee, who calmed down quite quickly because he loves spending time with my parents but our efforts to manage Beeswax seemed to fail at every hurdle and it was becoming obvious to everyone that his mood and ability to listen was not improving. Instead he was slowly building up more and more. Earlier on in the day my dad had given both the boys a model car each that had belonged to my godfather’s sons when they were younger and that they had asked my dad to pass onto the boys. We all knew that there would be a risk giving the boys them in case they got damaged at some point but we were thinking about how rough they are with things but within the hour Beeswax has smashed the wheels of his car because he had been sent upstairs to cool off after mouthing off at my dad.  Bumble and I decided then and there that we could not allow him to be destructive in anyone else’s home (even if my parents completely understood) and so we needed to cut our trip short and return home. It is bad enough the damage he causes to the house (I can’t call it a home anymore) we cannot allow it to go on anywhere else.

Everyone loses when this happens. My mum was so upset that we had to go home but was even more upset at the realisation that Waxy did not get why people were upset, all he could see was the fact that he will not being going swimming or to the soft play zone (it was not safe to take him anywhere).  My grandparents missed out on seeing the boys because I couldn’t risk taking them over in the mood they were in. Buzz missed out on spending quality time with my parents and oh boy! was he hopping mad. Dad and Bumble missed out on being able to go out for drink together. Ok and very selfish of me. Bumble and I did not get to have our evening out together either.

I can’t even go into how soul destroying it was for me. I couldn’t speak to him. I hate myself for saying this but I blamed him for destroying my weekend with my parents. I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that he really couldn’t handle being involved in the family thing that he had to do what he could to wreck our relationship with my family (we are stronger than that). How can I think that of him?

We didn’t want to make the weekend and entire washout so we stopped off part of the way up to buy Waxy’s birthday present. A new bike! At the cycle centre that all my family always uses to buy their bikes.  Beeswax chose his bike and was really excited about the fact that it had 18 gears.  Once we left the bike centre we decided to stop off at the next service station for something to eat rather than trying to push on through for a while before stopping. Now Bumble and I are wishing we had tried to push on and then maybe we wouldn’t have had the atrocious and dangerous behaviour we had in the car on the journey home from BOTH OF THEM but definitely instigated first by Waxy. They kept undoing their seat belts to get at each other and this turned into a level of fighting which meant I stupidly put myself at risk by turning around in my seat to keep their limbs away from each other until Bumble could find somewhere safe to stop, as a result I had to endure Waxy repeatedly punching my arm. This happened later in the journey, at the beginning they were just being very rude and disruptive in the car and making it very hard for Bumble to concentrate on driving.

Once we finally got home, I sent them both straight to their bedroom (it was 7pm by now). While I was getting Buzz ready for bed, Beeswax continued hurling verbal abuse at me and generally disrupting my aims to get Buzz ready for bed.  As Bumble came upstairs to see what all the commotion was, he saw Waxy holding above his head in both hands the loft hatch hook and he had a menacing look in his eye.  Bumble had to physically remove the pole from Waxy’s hands. Beeswax did not like being tackled and started to go crazy. Bumble needed to hold him until he calmed down in order to protect himself and Waxy from harm. I stepped in to take over with Waxy to calm the situation down. I am not going to lie, I was really upset with him but I needed to get him back under control before he went any further and traumatises himself more. He was screaming at Bumble, saying that Bumble was breaking his arm and saying that he will pay for this. To start with, yes Bumble was holding onto Beeswax’s wrists but he was not holding him hard, Waxy was struggling to break free and although we can understand how upsetting it was for him. Bumble was holding him to protect himself and not to hurt him. I told him that his dad was now going to let him go and I expected him to sit calmly while I ask Bumble to take Buzzbee downstairs, then he and I could have a talk. At first he did do as I had asked but as Bumble moved away from him and indicated to Buzzbee to head downstairs, Waxy again tried to fly at his dad but I managed to intercept him just in time and held him for a while, trying my bloody hardest to keep a calm and soothing tone to my voice and gently talking to him until he calmed down. All the time he was going on about how Bumble had pinned him down and refused to acknowledge why his dad needed to hold him.

(Hanging head in shame/ Bad mummy time) To get him to snap out of it I had to tell him that he needed to think about whether he wanted to be part of this family because his behaviour is not acceptable and if he ever threatened anyone in our family again like he did this evening, I would have to seriously consider whether it was safe for him to remain in our family.  I hated resorting to saying this but emotions were running high and to be honest at that very moment in time I meant every word of what I said.  I can’t believe a) that it worked, and b) that I had to sink to using such words to shock him back into using his rational side of brain rather than the emotional side.

I can’t explain how I manage to deal with him when he is doing such horrible things like that. When I first saw what Bumble was trying to get off him, my heart nearly stopped and I just wanted to scream but that wouldn’t have helped. What terrifies me is…. Who was that intended for? Was he just using it to try and scare us or was he planning to use it on someone? I really could not say. Even thinking about it makes me want to cry but I can’t. I am miserable but I seem to be dead to emotion at the moment and where it is handy for handling tricky situations like this, it is also horrible because to the outside world and myself I appear cold and unfeeling.

This isn’t what I signed up for! So why do I still feel so much sadness for the pain my boys are in?

So now fast forward 5 years to this week and let’s see ‘How far we have come’ (or not)!

February 2015 

It is half-term this week so from purely a self-preservation point of view, a trip down to my parents was always going to be on the cards, but as Bumble has to work this week, I decided to still take the boys down for a couple of nights on my own, with Beedog for moral support – It is amazing the magical and calming properties our beautiful and very soppy hound has on the boys when it comes to travelling (it probably because she hates travelling in the car so much that the boys feel duty bound to support her and help her feel safe and calm when she is in the car).

The drive down went without a hitch, which was unsurprising considering this was their first big ride in my new car and the novelty of having a car that doesn’t have broken vents, or tears/scratches, or stains from past manic food fights, hadn’t yet worn off.

Ok I will give the boys credit where credit is due. For WHOLE 2 hours once we had arrived, they were polite and jovial towards each other. I would probably go as far as they were ‘thick as thieves’, but then the cracks began to appear, or should I say the volcano started to bubble at a rapid rate and before I knew it, the volcano had erupted and I needed to call in reinforcements, aka Granddad Bee, in order to separate them and quench their fire. Thankfully this time the situation was quickly calmed and there was no need to call in the UN peacekeepers (I have made a joke in the past about needing them on speed dial).

The next 24 hours I think my parents and I probably saw every colour of their behaviour rainbow. We had the good, the bad and well….actually they never really at any time went far enough for me to say “it got ugly”. Having said that if I didn’t have parents who were fantastic at picking up on the boys’ signal as Bumble and I have had to become, we could have very easily seem a ‘whole lot of ugly’ from both boys.

As for the drive home. I am tempted to say “the less I have to say about it, the better” but let me put this in the shortest and most PG rated way I can…… “I have just had the journey from hell with two manic, angry lunatics whom have the displeasure of calling my sons and poor Beedog is now even more traumatised by her journey than she usually is, and I never thought that could be possible” – I would have to say my description to Bumble of the journey would probably have had to been rated 18 and trust me it was DEFINITLY in Technicolor.

By the time we had arrived home, I think the only things I hadn’t punitively taken away from them was the clothes they were wearing at that moment in time. I had definitely dug myself into a very big stress-fuelled hole and barring me rolling over and playing dead and giving them back everything I had told them they had lost because of their dangerous behaviour in the car, I only had one choice stick to my guns and give them a mountain of opportunities to earn back their privileges as fast as possible (if they have a mind to).

Buzzbee who this time had been the one to light the blue touch paper, was very quick to switch into ‘charm the pants of mummy’ mode (or as Beeswax calls it ‘being a kiss ass’) in attempt to get himself out of trouble. OK, I am not fond of his survival methods but he does seem to on some level actually want to genuinely make amends for his behaviour and although he will scream, swear and cry for half an hour or so when he realises ‘Plan A’ did not work. He will then settle down and accept the sanctions he has received.

Now, Beeswax does not share his brother ethos and as far as he was concerned, he did not start it and he was “f*****g not going to lose his stuff because of his immature little brother”. His levels of shame were so high that he could not accept that he went too far and that he was responsible for his own actions and he alone made the choices he did and sadly now he would now need to accept the consequences for these choices.

Cue: Storming out of lounge. Thundering up the stairs, followed by a lot of BANGING! CRASHING! SMASHING! Which lasted probably only a few minute but seemed like an eternity (I couldn’t risk going up to him until I knew he was calm). Waxy then came back downstairs, still unable to accept his part in the debacle that was the car journey home but he did manage to apologise for the way he spoke to me and how he reacted to the news the for the time being, my sanctions still stand and if he wanted to earn back his privileges he would need to follow his dad and my rules.

I am aware I have been vague with the details of the journey (I wouldn’t want to bore you) and as you will have worked out by now, there are still definite areas that have NOT moved on and I sometimes wonder if they ever will, but comparing the 5 year difference between the boys’ reactions (Beeswax particularly) and it shows just how far we have come as a family. Waxy still explodes at the drop of a hat but 80% of the time now we can leave him to cool down without feeling the need to intervene for his or other people’s personal safety (I hate property being damaged but I learnt to not overreact so much about it, as long as he is not hurting himself or someone else). He is also VERY slowly relying less on his dissociation and engrained survival skills at time of toxic shame and is beginning to begrudgingly ‘accept’ consequences (even though deep down he still believes he is the one who has been wronged and cannot understand why he is the one being punished).

Buzzbee, well he has always been headstrong and when that boulder decides he is not moving, he is a bugger but in the past 5 years Buzzbee’s biggest change has to be, post- meltdown/incident, given time and space he can reflect on his actions and attempts to make amends without too much prompting from adults who he trusts and has demonstrated to him that no matter what he has done they still like him.  Now whether this is completely because Buzzbee has learnt to regulate himself better or because the adult around him who truly care, have taken to the time to get to know him and identify the best way of managing him when the need arises. I personally think that later plays the biggest part in his ability to feel safe enough to explore what may have gone wrong and reflect on what he could do better next time.

As for Bumble and myself. Some would say we have gone to soft when it comes to the boys and their nonsense but from our perspective. We haven’t softened at all but we have learnt to choose our battle much more wisely and our ‘flame retardant’ parenting is just getting stronger every day.

Oops! I nearly forgot. I promised Buzzbee I would add an observation from him to this post which in his view point fits the WASO theme perfectly.

“When I came to live with you, I had just Snowy, Fluffy and the bear you and daddy gave me. Now I have ‘come so far’ and have so many soft toys that you have run out of spaces to put them and there are too many for you to be able to take a picture of them all at one go”

bear with me

Unexpected letter

I can’t decide if Bumble is trying to be really sweet and cheer me up, or if living on ‘planet adoption’ has finally made him loose his marbles.

No matter the reason. This afternoon I walked into our downstairs bathroom and found a letter pinned to a belt which was attached to the light pull cord, and address to me (or should I say ‘Honeymummy’, I guess he thought I may do exactly what I am doing right now and create a post out of this letter).

beltmummy

Dear Honeymummy

I’m sorry but today I must leave you forever!

For many years now I have helped Buzzbee light his way to the bathroom while my friends have held up his trousers, but now I have become surplus to requirements.

Your son no longer needs me!

He is growing up and has moved on to another. Someone who will be with him for years to come.

I know at the moment you are feeling a little sad that Buzzbee isn’t you ‘baby boy’ anymore and doesn’t need you so much to do things for him because he is getting taller but please remember….

….Buzzbee will always need you because you are his mummy and I have seen how much he loves you.

Please do not mourn my passing. I may be leaving but I am sure I am going to a better place. A place where again I can be useful to another mum and her amazing little boy or girl.

Look after your special men and thank you for letting me be part of your life.

Buzzbee’s belt

P.S Shower has promised me she will look after Buzz for as long as he needs her.

shower

OK I will admit in the last couple of days I have been a silly goose and getting teary about Buzzbee growing up, and yes, I did cry when I read his letter but in Bumble’s own daft way, he is letting me know that while he doesn’t always say or do the right things, he does notice when I am struggling and wants to help (he just isn’t always sure how to do that).

 

This entry was posted on February 12, 2015. 8 Comments

Keep holding on

 

This weeks’ Adoption social #WASO theme is ‘reasons to be cheerful’ and from the perspective of the outside world, I have plenty of things to be ‘cheerful’ about.

  • I have two beautiful sons who make sure my days are NEVER dull, and just seeing them letting go and just ‘being’ is enough to live anyone who really knows them spirits.
  • I have a wonderful husband who is also a wonderful dad (even when he is butting heads with them both).
  • I have two wonderful and supportive parents who ‘get it’ most of the time and even when they don’t, they don’t try to tell me ‘they know best’.
  • Home educating Buzzbee, I get to see his true personality shining through every day and watch him grow physically and emotionally.
  • I have Beedog, who is always happy to see me with a big wet kiss, a manic wag of her stumpy little tail and her sidewinder wiggle.
  • Where I live, we are blessed by lush green fields, hillsides, woodlands, rivers and canals to be able to visit and walk in.

And, they are right! There are so many other reasons that I could list here, but for several reasons, at the moment I am struggling to identify them.

At a time when I should be gleefully making plans for our holiday to Disneyland Paris and getting excited over the little details like Character breakfasts and visiting Paris itself. I have let Beeswax’s stupid school get inside my head. Leaving me consumed with misplaced guilt over taking Buzz on holiday while Waxy is on his school skiing holiday – ridiculous I know!

At a time when I am seeing Buzzbee making tiny steps in the right direction and I should be celebrating it. I am worrying that I am not doing enough for him and I am failing him because I have not managed to get the ‘powers to be’ to acknowledge that he is being short changed, support wise.

I could go on but who would that help? Not me, that is for sure!

Last week after a particularly stressful meeting at Waxy’s school, Shamrock (PASW) and I went for a quick drink and a brief catch up and while trying to explain to her that all is not okay in the Hive at the moment. I don’t know if it was the way I delivered my explanation or because I was running on nervous adrenaline for fear of her getting the wrong end of the stick, but somehow I stuffed it up completely because on leaving the café, Shamrock announced “it is lovely to see you looking so well” – that’s what I get for managing for once to put on some make up.

So if this is what Shamrock was truly seeing then I am determined to end this VERY disorganised post with a smile metaphorically painted on my face.

It is not that I am not thankful for everything I have or that I have fallen into such a deep well of despair that I have become numb to the joys around me. It is just at the moment I am having to work that little bit harder to recognise it all.

And, on those days, for now, anytime I need a reminder that I do have ‘reasons to be cheerful’. I can look back over my #TakingCare100 photos, smile and remember why I chose that picture on that day.

takingcare2label

taking carelabel

 

Choices

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Beeswax was worried about his GCSE options and felt he had managed to set himself such a high standard academically that now he was feeling pressured to make the right choices for his future.

Well……… this week I managed to arrange a meeting with his tutor to discuss his anxiety around selecting his options and getting a clearer idea of what school were hoping from him. Much to my surprise the tutor very quickly admitted that I was correct, when a few months before I advised them that he would find ‘making choices’ difficult and to avoid the discomfort of worrying if he has/hasn’t made the right choices, he would either write down the first ones on the sheet or select vocational options because he knew he could manage them with relative ease.

He had done just this when he and his peers had completed an early options selection sheet and most his choices were clearly not what school expected him to choose or wanted for him. He is academically advanced for his age and, if I go by what school staff predict, he could easily achieve A-C’s in all subjects. So, you can imagine their expression when he chose an extremely random collection of preferred topics and only one of these was actually a GCSE subject, the rest were vocational topics with no direct link to each other or significance to a future further education/ career path. I found his selections amusing because he had missed his favourite subject off his selection, so I knew he had rushed it and it may not be very ‘good mummy’ to think it, but in my head I was singing “I told you so, I told you so”.

Suddenly their usual ‘stop fussing Mrs Honeymummy’ tone had vanished, and they were asking for support with helping Waxy make his GCSE options and were open to hearing my suggestions. Although it won’t surprise most of you to know that they REALLY had not cottoned onto the fact they had been witnessing more “emotional immaturity” recently and connected the dots between all the talk about options and his ‘new found silliness’.

So this weekend, Bumble and I have been gently dropping in conversations about his options and exploring his reasons behind his earlier selections. On most occasions we hit a wall of resistance (fear) and he successfully managed to distract our attentions onto other matters.

As we couldn’t keep avoiding the subject with him, this evening Bumble and I waited until Buzzbee was soaking in the bath (given half the change he would stay in there all night), I scanned a copy of the sheet which contained all the subjects he could study (past homework experience has taught me not to give him the original copy until he is ready and calm).

We then sat Beewax down and tried to find a way to help him make the right choices for him without taking the easy way out.

OMG, for a young man who needs to control every microscopic element of his and everyone around him’s lives, choosing 5 options to join up with the mandatory Math, English and Double Science was pushing him so far outside of his comfort zone. By controlling everything it make him feel safe because everything is predictable for him but, making these choices involves a large element of uncertainty and a gaping chasm of risk that he will make a mistake that will affect his future.

Just going through his options didn’t work. Brainstorming what he would like to do in the future, hit a brick wall too, when I needed to say that while wanting to be a pro-footballer was OK, he really needed a back-up plan too – ‘worst mum ever’ because I don’t believe he can be a pro-player and want him to pick a ‘normal’ job). In a last ditch attempt to pull him back from the spiral of avoidance and fear, I suggested Bumble, Waxy, and myself wrote down 5 jobs we wanted to do (in Bumble and my case what we wanted to be when we were at school) Buzzbee decided to join in too.

This crazy idea actually had the desired effect and suddenly we were getting somewhere and within a few minutes Waxy was coming up with ideas that were still all his own choices, but ones that better suited his abilities and interests, and Waxy was able to relax and breathe.

A weight had been lifted off his shoulder for the time being at least.

For any teenager, having to make educational decisions that will potentially be paving the way to their future is a scary prospect in itself, but for many teens who have already had so much uncertainty and change in their lives, the pressure for some of them feels unbearable.

signposttheway

 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out