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*.
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)!
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”