Archive | March 2015

Holiday preparations

It is no secret that neither of my boys cope brilliantly with change and so preparing them both for their recent holidays has been ‘interesting’ to say the least.

Preparing Beeswax for his exciting week away skiing with school had proved somewhat difficult, primarily because he is a blooming teenage boy and no way, no how is he going to confess to being worried about his trip and all that this involves. Maybe this is the wrong way of saying this, but thankfully Waxy has communicated his anxiety through the leakage in his behaviour and Bumble and I have tried our best to support him (well, I say try, more like we have almost been on our knees trying to keep him from completely self-destructing and taking us all with him).

There was a limit to how much we could help Waxy because, quite honestly, we had been given even less information than Waxy and his peers about the details of the trip (we were given more details the week before his trip).

For both boys it was going to be their first experience of travelling on an aeroplane and going on the volume of questions Bumble and I were receiving, we knew this was something that both boys needed more preparation. Thank heavens for the internet and all its wonderful access to information. Bumble and I were able to direct Waxy to web pages that would give him the answers he needed and hopefully it helped allay some of his fears about flying and the expectations of conduct while travelling – he has since informed us that school staff had told the boys that if they swore or ‘kicked off’ then the flight staff would throw them off the plane and call airport police. HELPFUL!!!!!! Anyone would think they weren’t a specialist school with vulnerable pupils who experience complex social and emotional needs and, certainly in Waxy’s case, will take a threat like this quite literally.

All this being said, and after all the heartbreak in the build up to him going away, Waxy has had a ball and by the end of his trip he had been moved with another peer into a more advanced group and was skiing down red slopes and he has admitted he didn’t know why he had been so worried.

ski

Preparing Buzzbee for his holiday has needed careful planning – military style battle plan as Bumble calls it.

In the last year Buzzbee has rapidly become more and more anxious/distressed about change, more so when it comes to visiting places he has never been before or he doesn’t recognise, so by deciding to take him on holiday to Disneyland Paris, Bumble and I were taking a huge gamble that the trip could be a complete disaster if he could not cope with it.

Anyone who have seen my messages on Twitter will know that the trip was a success and that Bumble and I were so proud of how well he did.

Unlike Waxy, who if you give him too much information, or give it to him to early, will wind himself up and fall apart before he has even experienced it, Buzzbee preparation has to be carefully handled and drip fed over several weeks. Usually, as long as he has been involved in decisions about what information he needs, this is enough to then give him the opportunity to familiarise himself just enough beforehand to cope with the transitions involved with going on holiday.

As Buzzbee is not fond of visual timetables, but is fixated on ‘how many sleeps’ there is to anything, he asked if we could make a countdown chart so he could cross the days each day building up to the holiday – for Buzz this was a fantastic tool and something he had complete control over.

As the weeks/days to our holiday drew closer, the volume of questions from Buzzbee came in thick and fast, and required more in-depth explanations and reassurance, and it got to the point where Bumble and I realised that this time, advanced preparation on its own was not going to be enough for him, Buzzbee needed something that could support him throughout his trip as well as during the build up to it. He needed something he could look at before and would take him step by step through the transitions on the day – he needed a transition book or some form of social story tailored for him and including as many of the answers to his questions as we could, and this is just what I did, although at the time I was cursing myself for taking on such a big project while trying to get ready for our holiday and home educating Buzzbee!

This book was an absolute lifeline and in the end, worth every hour I had to spend on it.

disney

But, when it comes down to it. While Bumble and I can lay the foundations and prepare the boys as much as possible for the changes, it is the boys who had to make it work for them, and I am so proud of them for that.

Oh, before I forget…..having an extra few days apart from each other seems to at least for Buzzbee have had the desired effect. He has had the space to recover and has been able to cope so much better with his big brother coming home from his trip, extremely tired and irritable and not letting his brother’s mood trigger him.

This weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘introducing change’.

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This entry was posted on March 22, 2015. 2 Comments

Mending broken bonds

I have been a little bit lax in writing posts in the past few weeks and those I have written have been…. Well, let’s just say….they have been written out of a rushed sense of duty to keep up with my posts and as a result they have been all over the place and quite frankly, from my perspective, they have been just a jumble of nonsense thrown into a blog post and have absolutely no substance or direction to them.

But, do you know what? In some ways, my recent posts have while saying very little, they have said a lot and reading back over them, it is hard for me not to admit that it is oozing with signs of secondary trauma taking a firm grip of the inhabitants of ‘the Hive’ as both boys completely unravel and the chaos that their trauma bond brings, moves to a whole other stratosphere.

Over the last few weeks Bumble and I have really begun to feel like we are drowning and second guess our parenting – “were we too strict”?, “did we choose the right battle”?, “what am I doing wrong”?. The list could go on forever and we both know that these thoughts were unhelpful, but when you are in the trenches, hindsight is not a luxury you always have.

One thing has been clear. Despite Beeswax boarding during the week and Buzzbee desperately missing him when he is away. Both boys need a break from each other. A break that is more than just the 5 days Waxy is at school. If anything, school is one of the biggest stressors at the moment and Bumble and I are trying to get his school to understand that (that is a whole other post and if you have read my past posts you will know how much “fun” I have with them).

Next week Waxy is going on a skiing trip with his school (huge anxiety that he is unable to acknowledge) and while he is away it will also be his birthday (cue; stressor number 2, he has never been away from Buzz on his birthday, and no matter what he tells his little brother, he will miss not having him them – although after he receives Buzz’s present he may be cringing with embarrassment (I will tell you in the next post what it was).

From where Bumble and I are sitting, it is very clear (albeit extremely complicated) exactly what is going on with the boys. Waxy cannot bear to acknowledge vulnerability and yes, we know he will miss not seeing Buzz for nearly 2 weeks, but his way of handling this is to push Buzz away emotionally (and physically). Quite honestly, he has been so horrible to his little brother that it has broken my heart to see it because I know that Buzzbee is the centre of Waxy’s universe and always will be, but it is too painful for him to admit that (and let’s face it, he is a raging, hormonal teenager too). The problem is this time he has really done some very really damage to their relationship and his rejection has had a profound and upsetting effect on Buzzbee who is not equipped to deal with it at this moment in time.

Buzzbee is now riding a colossal rollercoaster of emotional trauma and crushed self-esteem and self-worth. He has morphed into a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and while during the week he is manageable and able to let us (sometimes) support him and seek comfort from us. It takes him a day or two to settle back down and relax but the moment Friday afternoon comes around, his anxiety levels rocket through the roof again – fidgety, self-soothing humming, constant/unending rambling, hair-trigger temper, snappy and the air is once again every shade of blue. The anticipation of Beeswax’s return for school and the uncertainty of Waxy’s demeanour/mood is sending our already hyper –aroused 9 year old into emotional orbit. His amygdala is primed to flip into ‘fight, flight and freeze’ before Waxy has even walked through the front door, and if not handled very carefully the results are volcanic for both of them.

The weekend before last, was probably the hardest for them both in quite some time and while thankfully no-one was physically hurt (the only physical victims were a TV, 2 doors and a stairgate), the words that crossed both boys’ lips towards each other (and directed at Bumble and I), could not be taken back and for Buzzbee (who is very literal with his language), he took to heart every cruel comment that his big brother directed at him and firmly believed that this is what his big brother truly thinks about him. No amount of persuasion from us was going to convince him any other way.

In the past Jemima (DDP therapist we used to work with) would tell me off to trying to ‘fix’ things but this time I couldn’t leave it like this. I know the boys love each other and while their separate holidays may help them both, in the here and now, I knew it was in both boys best interest for me to ‘broker a truce’ and help them enjoy each other’s company once me.

With a 5 year age gap this can be quite tricky especially when you know the one activity they both really love doing, is one that at this moment in time is completely out of the question because it is also one of their biggest flashpoints with each other – I am of course talking about playing the Xbox together.

Thankfully this weekend gave my mum and I the perfect opportunity to trying do some damage limitation and provide the boys with an environment that is neutral to them both – The holiday campsite where mum and dad have their caravan. 20150308_073232

And, if we ignore the low level snapping, sniping and snarling each time our back was turned. I would have to say that the weekend had the beginnings of seeing positive steps to repairing the boys’ bond with each other. They can never resist messing about in the swimming pool or playing football together on the beach (or teasing me about my lack of skills) and a much needed trip to a small country life adventure centre to walk and feed the goats, help each other over the obstacle course before racing each other down the wavy slides (trying not to take nanny’s feet out from under at the same time), and quite honestly just letting loose together was what they needed and the weekend actually went off without any major hitches.20150307_112158

Having my mum there also gave me a tiny bit of a break from all the stresses of past, present and future battles – that and getting to see the cutest baby donkey I think I have ever seen, and yes his name was Eeyore.20150307_111741