Tag Archive | attachment

Moving on up through the tears

There has been a distinct lack of post from me lately and it probably won’t come as a surprise to some of you the reasons for this, but it hasn’t stopped me beating myself up about it. Yes! I know it is not helpful to anyone, me being so hard on myself, but as ‘Blame Honey for everything’ seems to be a common theme at the moment. I guess if I can’t beat them, I might as well join them. This way maybe I won’t feel the painful sting left by the unending feeling of desperation and isolation.

Last weekend was a difficult weekend.

NO WAIT! Last weekend was a complete mess! Decisions were made that I have resisted for so long, and as I sank deeper into the dark pit of failed attempts at trying to therapeutically parent an angry and emotional, vulnerable teenager, relationships and emotional health crashed and burned along with it.

I guess you would say…… We hit rock bottom! (I certainly did anyway).

hittherocks

Calling the police on your child was never going to be an experience that I could or would relish. After Waxy’s early life experiences, he is understandably anxious (and angry) with the ‘boys and girls in blue’, and for a very long time I have used this knowledge as justification for not drawing a line in the sand sooner – Some would say I was being too soft and making excuse for his actions, and in some ways they were right and I wish it was as simple as that, but as many of you will know:

Nothing is ever simple when it comes to living on ‘Planet Adoption’.

So if in the past I have been a repeat offender and tried to manage the consequences and restitutions ‘in house’, which has almost certainly backfired, what was different about the weekend this time that prompted me to change my mind and report Waxy to the police for criminal damage?

Was it, just simply I reached the end of a very long and crumpled straw and felt I was left with no other option?

Was it because this time it wasn’t just myself or an inanimate object of some kind that was at risk of harm? He had lost control and Buzz, Beedog and Waxy himself were all at risk of serious harm.

Or, was it the fact that this time Waxy had lost so much control that he was displaying everything for the world (okay neighbourhood, which he would never usually do) to see, and I no longer felt safe in my own home?

I could hypothesise and dissect the ins and outs of the events of last weekend but it wouldn’t help anyone.

Nor would be having a VERY long rant about Post Adoption Support, or should I say the lack of it (5 minute phone call, 5 days after the incident happened and complete disinterest from PASW about the impact the weekend had on Buzzbee or myself – she just wanted to tell me how she had had a lovely long and pleasant chat with Waxy and he only did what he did because he felt I was being too strict – Hmmmm so wanting to treat my sons to a day out with Nando’s for supper is being too strict is it?).

Anyway, this weeks’ WASO theme is ‘Moving on up’ and I suppose through all my waffling, I am trying to come to some kind of rational conclusion as to the fact that I cannot change what has happened in the past, and while it WILL this time take me some time to bounce back, we have hit the bottom so there is only one way we can now go and I need to move on and move up (and not move out as I was ready to do Sunday).

How I am going to do this?

I really don’t know at the moment.

I guess for now, all I can do is wait out the storm and not beat myself up so much for events and choices that are not in my control, and pray that one day our family’s equilibrium will be once again be restored.

lifeisabike

Unprofessional

I am going to apologise in advance for any potential offence I may cause or personal ranting that I may do in the course of writing this weeks’ #WASO, but after stewing on things for the last few days, I really need to get this off my chest.

There are several people who have known me and shall we say, they have seen more of my ‘passionate’ side than I probably would like them to have. It is definitely something I am working on, but it isn’t a personality trait that I have always had. Okay, I am not ashamed to admit, I used to be a bit of a doormat. I would have done anything for a quiet life, or not to encourage conflict. I guess that is why my sister STILL thinks she can be a pain in the backside and I won’t say a word (tough luck girlie, the old Honey is gone).

It would be easy for me now to put the blame at Adoption’s door and say that my need to advocate for Buzz and Waxy to get their needs met, as well as trying to keep my family together and happy, has turned me into someone who I am not always very proud of, when handling situations with professionals or individuals who have come into our lives for whatever reason.

While the ‘adoption’ process was not the spark that originally ignited the passion (that would be a very difficult story to tell), over the last 8 years its repeated fanning has certainly kept the flames flickering along, and every now and then someone or something comes along and gives the flames a few prods, turning flickering flames into a raging inferno of frustration and tears, and more often than not my own fight and flight responses kick into gear and I have to run (okay walk out) from the situation because I know I have or am about to make a complete fool out of myself and at that point I am certainly not helping my sons one iota.

Okay so why am I telling you this again? Oh right yes! I know why it was.

I have lost count of how many times I have heard so called ‘professionals’ comment or directly tell me that I am being ‘unprofessional’ when I have struggled to keep my composure while trying to advocate for my boys in a room full of people who just ‘DON’T GET IT’, and each time I have just wanted to scream “I am not a professional. I am their mum”.

Anyway, I still haven’t got to the reason for writing this and I honestly do apologise for rambling.

On Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to attend my second DDP Network Southwest study day. I had enjoyed the previous study day and was looking forward to another enjoyable and informative session surrounded by professionals and a couple of adopters/foster carers in an inclusive environment where no one person’s job or role was any less important than another’s. In fact unlike several conferences I have attended over the years, at the study days, your role is practically anonymous. No name badges. No job titles. No badges labelling you to a specific classification of involvement with fostering or adoption.

Bliss!

However this time my experience was not so positive and not because of the content of the study day or the presentations or the professionals who had work tirelessly and voluntarily to put the day together.

No! My experience was marred by 4 very rude so-called professionals, who were sat directly in front of me throughout the day and whose behaviour I feel was more than a little unprofessional (and a professional sat beside me agreed also). No that is wrong they weren’t a little bit unprofessional – they were downright and completely unprofessional countless times throughout the day and, if my memory serves me correctly, 2 of these professionals were on my table at the last study day and I ‘may’ have spoken my mind to them then about their negative attitude towards adoptive parents who may be having a tough time.

meeting-clipart-clip-art-meeting-340741The main discussion point and presentation for this study day was based around NVR and the principals applied to it, and while there were several people in the room who were clearly anxious about some of the conflicting and counter-intuitive advice that was being discussed, the questions were largely productive and created insightful discussions (some were definitely being a little closed minded but hey, I can’t judge, I can be a little set in my ways and adopt a ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ stance at times), but the ‘unfantastic four’ weren’t following the flock, they were rarely challenging viewpoints or airing their concerns about conflicts in method ideas in an open forum. No they were leaning on and calling across each other, like naughty school kids, sniggering and making inappropriate comments, at inappropriate times, at levels that were audible to everyone surrounding them, and on the odd occasion that they did raise a comment openly, the theme of their comments was always the same “sort out the parents because they are the problem not the children.”

I have to confess on one occasion, I allowed myself to be affected by one particular professional from this group (I wish I knew what her role was), who spoke about parents with such repulsion and dismissiveness of the impact of child to parent violence, and later making a comment about how adopters are far too emotional and have no place attending events that are designed for professionals. While I may have shed a few tears over the first comment and it had done nothing for my view point that professionals cannot be trusted and will screw you if you dare to ask for help. Their wonderful comment about adopters having no place attending this event on the other hand I could quite smugly say ‘’As someone who has completed her DDP level 1 training, I have as much of a right as you have to be here today”.

While I am not always the biggest fan of certain professional bodies, especially when they love to suggest that my meltdowns are ‘unprofessional’, until this week I don’t think I have ever encountered professionals that I would suggest had conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner and further compounded the negative reputation that professionals involved with looked after and adoption services already receive at times.

But before I start sounding like a ‘Negative Nelly’ or ‘Moaning Minnie’ myself, I have to say a huge congratulation to Jemima (our previous DDP therapist) and the members of DDP UK for arranging another wonderful study day.

 

 

Every family tree contains some nuts

“How big is grandad’s family mummy?”

“Honestly Buzz. I really don’t know anymore”

“Why? Is it because you live too far away and have forgotten them, like my t**t birth parents have forgotten me?”

“Oh Buzz, how can anyone ever forget you? No I can’t tell you how big grandad’s family is because I have simply lost track of how many there are now. Grandad has 12 brothers and sisters, most of them are married and All of them have at least 2 children, but most have 4 or 5 and that is not counting their step children. All of my aunts and uncles are at least grandparents, but in truth by Grandad’s 60th birthday he was already a Great, Great, Great, Great Uncle and has more great, great nieces and nephews than he can even remember.   Grandad’s family is so big at family parties it is the standard joke that we should all be wearing conference name tags or t-shirts stating which of Grandad’s siblings we are closest related too”.

“Why didn’t Grandad’s mummy and daddy use protection so they didn’t have so many babies?”

“Buzz, that is a whole other discussion and one that will have to wait a little longer” (A lot longer – religious beliefs, merchant navy and extended absence for my grandfather. Not to mention booze and well…. Let’s just say there are things that are definitely never for either of my boys’ ears).

Anyway, I am rambling a little (okay a lot) but there is a reason I chose to start this week’s #WASO post with a brief sample of a recent conversation with Buzzbee and I think triggered by my sister once again, opening her mouth and making inappropriate and insensitive comments with the boys in earshot and refusing to acknowledge how these may make the boys feel or impact on their relationship with her (not that Bumble and I have ever seen any real sign of her really accept them as her nephews. Yes, she buys them birthday and Christmas presents, but there is never any thought put into it).

I swear she is jealous of the boys, despite having 3 biological children of her own and giving my parents their only granddaughter. There are so many reasons that my sister hasn’t really ever fully accepted the boys and most of them the boys are aware of and find it quite funny at times, especially when the eldest of my nephew will repeat a comment that he has obviously heard from my sister to Waxy and Waxy then uses it as a way to manipulate and wind his YOUNGER cousin up (Waxy is now my parents’ eldest grandchild not my nephew and NOW Waxy loves pointing this fact out with my sister in earshot, if she is being particularly frosty).

So what had my sister said that had had such an impact on Buzzbee? It wasn’t anything Bumble, my parents, or I hadn’t heard before, but up until now she had been more careful about when she voiced her opinions on the boys’ birth family, but on this day she was careless (or maybe I am the one who failed to protect my boys). Somehow the subject of wills and families had come up and my parents were ‘reassuring’ her that they had listed some item or other in their will that was always promised to my niece. My parents reminded her that they would make sure ALL of their grandchildren were bequeathed something in their wills.

flaming“Well Waxy and Buzz won’t be expecting anything from you because they have their own family, which they will obviously inherit from when the time comes because they are their blood and the boys will have a right to any inheritance from their birth family, the same as my 3 are your blood and will inherit from you both”

How does that old saying go? “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”? Now the boys beg to differ on this phrase owing to our family set up, but when it comes to my sister, no matter how much I hate how she treats people and I am on the verge of being unable to find a reason to keep her in my boys’ lives. The fact remains that she IS my sister and she IS part of the boys extended family whether we want her to be or not.

Please forgive me I completely went off on a tangent from my original motivation for this ‘Extended Families’ post.

When Bumble and I started on our adoption journey we always knew that the children we welcomed into our hearts and into our family, would always have had another family before.   We had a vision of how this would work and how we might support our child (children in this case) to maintain some kind of link with their birth family. Okay, we both imagined this would probably be once a year, on the same date and via a third party service (post adoption letterbox service). I can only speak for myself and say that it was never my imagination that very swiftly after the boys were placed with us, those lines of contact and communication with one particular set of birth family members would go from being a formal bi-annual family newsletter and their response, to a more direct and open relationship, which feels surprisingly natural and not just for Bumble and I. My parents have never met these people and yet they will happily chat with the boys about them and not feel even threatened by the fact the boys are open about their affection for these 2 wonderful people.

My sister is right about one thing. The boys do have another family and while most of them have completely disappeared off the radar, the ones that have stuck around I am confident that, no matter what, they will always be around and always put the boys needs above their and this is rapidly beginning to be reflected in the rapid growth in frequency of informal emails and postcard being shared in both directions. There are not just part of Beeswax and Buzzbee’s birth family. They have become part of our ever growing extended family and long may it stay this way.

Nearly there now. If you are still with me, then congratulations for surviving. While I have accepted there is very little chance my sister will ever change, she is in a minority as far as the rest of my colossal family are concerned. From the very beginning the boys were welcomed into the family as if they had always been there and while yes they have been known to say “all kids do that”, in my dad’s family they are more likely to say “oh uncle sting used to do that when he was angry, he calmed down in the end”. Like my dad, nothing really phases them, and it is probably because the members of my dad’s family consist of almost every colour of the rainbow, personality, socially, culturally, academically, behaviourally – you name it someone in my dad’s family has probably done it or been involved/experienced it at some point in their lives.

familytree

I am an adopted teen. Hear me roar.

I better start by apologising for my bad language in this post. I hope you won’t be too offended or blame mum for letting me write this – Beeswax.

So this week according to my mum, has been National Adoption Week. Why did she tell me this? Well I wanted to know why I keep seeing a load of horse shit “Too old at 4?” adverts which were really pissing me off.

Typical social workers and adults who think they know what they are talking about. They make my skin crawl.

Mum says that it is not supposed to be seen as a negative advert but one that will hopefully encourage adopters to consider adopting “waiting older children”.

Wait what? Why don’t they just go the full hog and shove us in glass dustbins and display us in the street? Don’t we deserve more respect than that?

I know I would have hated to see this when I was living with my foster carer with my little brother. I already thought I was on the scrapheap and the only way I would be getting another family, is if someone fell in love with Buzzbee. We were a package deal.

Oh and I really hate it when professionals advertise us kids as “waiting for a forever family”. I was not waiting for a family. I had a family and whether I was seeing them or not they will still be my family forever. What I wanted was a place to call home – my own bedroom, my own bed and my own Xbox.

Why do professionals always think they know what is best for us?

While I am on a roll and having a rare episode of openly voicing my opinions to people other than my parent and while mum is letting me hijack her blog post this week. There are a few questions that people are always asking me and I try and give a polite answer too, which actually get on my tits. Mum says I can add them to this post and ‘within reason’ put the answers I really want to put.

Why did they take you away from your family?

Oh that’s right! Blame the bloody kids, why don’t you. It is none of your business and even if it was important for you to know. What makes you think, I would trust you enough to share that with you when I barely want to talk about it with mum and dad?

If you could see your birth parents again. Would you?

What do you think you idiot. Wouldn’t you want to hurl abuse at the people who let you down most in the world?

How did it feel to change schools all the time?

You obviously really don’t know me. I have only been to 3 schools and I wasn’t excluded from any of them, they were safe bets for me. It sucked at first to leave my first school but my TA came with me to my new school and only stopped working with me when I moved to my current school which lets me do what I want all week.

Isn’t it wonderful that you parents wanted to adopt you and your brother? What is the best bit about being adopted?

Oh yes they receive their sainthood next week! God you are patronising! Mum and dad hate when people say that to them. What the hell do you mean ‘what is the best bit’? None of it is that great, but I suppose it gives you a proper chance at life.

What do you call your real mum?

Well that does depend I have two REAL mums obviously so which one do you mean? If you mean biological. Well that would be every possible nasty spiteful word under the sun but my adoptive mum on the other hand, she is known as mum of course.

Why do you look like your adoptive parents, isn’t that weird?

To be honest I am not really sure I know. it’s a bit weird isn’t it but then my dad looks like my grandad and he is his son-in-law. Go figure!

Surely you don’t like your parents. They must really annoy you?

Now again it depends which set you are on about. If it is biological, I would really enjoy to see them pushed off of a cliff, but if it is adoptive. DO YOU WANT A PUNCH? Overall you seem to be missing the fact that I am a teenager. I am meant to not like my parents.

Is your brother related to you or is he one that was already there?

He is blood and all very much my bro. Parcel Force delivered us to the designated address in one neat package on the agreed delivery day.

choice for life

That’s it.  I will probably never do this again but if I can’t do it in ‘National Adoption week 2015’, when can I?

“How to train your dragon”

I have a feeling the universe is angry with me this week.

Another hand grenade has been thrown into ‘the hive’ but this time it has been directed straight at me and has knocked me clean off my feet.

kaboom

Can I get back up? I am not sure but that won’t stop me trying.

I don’t want to go into details at the moment. I honestly don’t think I have the strength. Maybe a little while down the line I will be able to do it but not until I can make sense of it myself.

And then add to an already stressful and distressing time, my blasted car breaking down on the afternoon that Buzzbee and I were planning to leave to go down to my parents’ caravan for a couple of days and prepare it for the people who would be renting it this weekend.

car

What do you get? A mummy who is not firing on all cylinders but still needs to therapeutically parent her youngest son.

In an attempt to put some distance between the mess and the chaos which has been caused by individuals who should by now know better but are STILL failing to ‘GET IT’, Buzzbee and I continued with our plan to go down to the caravan but for one night instead of two.

We were determined to continue with our plan to have some fun and chill out, and Buzzbee made sure we made the most of it and filled every micro moment with activities and chatter – I just followed his lead to the point of exhaustion (mine not his).

In an attempt to slow Buzz down in the evening, he suggested ‘camping out’ in the living area of the caravan (a choice of 3 bedrooms not good enough for him), and watch a movie together. Buzzbee chose ‘How to train your dragon’ but 30 minutes in crashed completely while still snuggled into my side *warm, fuzzy mummy gushing feelings*. I continued to watch the film (nothing better on the T.V and I certainly didn’t want to wake Buzz by moving him before he was completely asleep).

dragon training

Maybe it was the lack of sleep over the past few nights or simply because I had been so busy all day, I had not had time to worry about the hand grenade, but I began thinking about all the goings on at home and yes the tears began to flow but only for a short while. Something in the film caught my attention and tickled my funny bone without even knowing it.

I began thinking. Maybe I could make a ‘How to train an adoptive mummy dragon’ instruction manual for Beeswax’s school and all the so called professionals who don’t ‘get it’ and would rather blame the parents instead of looking at the impact of the trauma that their child has experienced.

It is a common joke in our home that Bumble married a dragon (my Chinese zodiac sign) and this is probably what had sparked my amusement. But – I wonder, what if someone was to write a manual?

Would it highlight some key pieces of advice to help the reader have a better understanding of how to get the best out of the ‘dragon’ they need to work with?

Maybe, it would look a little like this! *tongue in cheek*

“How to train your adoptive mummy dragon”

  1. If through lack of understanding, you greet a dragon with anger and spears, you should expect a frosty reception – or is that a fiery reception?
  2. Dragons often feel misjudged and condemned and respond out of fear – they find it hard to show you their true personalities and strengths
  3. You should follow a dragon rider’s example and greet her with kindness, understanding and dead fish (okay maybe chocolate would work better).
  4. You have to earn a dragon’s trust. They do not take kindly to Berk Vikings bad mouthing them to other Berks.
  5. Every dragon has a soft spot – her children. Have faith in her detailed understanding of her children.
  6. All dragons are different – treat them as individuals. If you work with you dragon closely you will soon learn how to get the best out of her.

Okay back in the real world again.  By now you will probably have guessed that Waxy’s school are again at the centre of my distress. At the moment I have 2 choices – continue to let them drag me down and push me over the edge. Or, find a glimmer of hope and amusement, and cling onto it for as long as it takes for me to regain my strength and resilience (or at least write this #WASO post).

Tiger Feet

First of all. No! I am not about to break out into a song.

When Bumble returned from visiting his dad and brothers, bringing with him a dusty old pair of tiger feet slippers, which had belonged to my late mother-in-law. Nobody could have imagined these orange and black, fluffy fellows were going to bring about a complete emotional meltdown for Buzzbee that would reduce Bumble to tears also (Yes the tears were flowing for me too but there is nothing new there – if my boys are in pain, it breaks my heart).

Ok let me take a couple of steps back. When Bumble arrived home from work yesterday afternoon, he brought in with him from his car a pair of Tiger slippers which his dad had found while going through boxes of at home and they believed that had been Bumble’s mum’s at some point. Bumble and his dad thought that Buzzbee would like them for his dressing up box as he already owns a Tiger onesie – absolutely wonderful idea, I thought and Buzzbee was delighted with them.

Throughout the day Buzzbee had been….. Well, let us just say. I suggested to Bumble that it might be a good idea to meet up at lunchtime as my therapeutic mummy juice was rapidly running out. So when Buzzbee volunteered to read in the evening with his dad (NEVER happens) and did so while wearing his new “feet”, I couldn’t help but let my guard down and believe that his dark mood had lifted and bedtime would be relaxed and positive before our babysitter arrived.

Silly mummy!!!!

Once Buzz had finished reading with Bumble, the nervous, fizzy energy came out to play. He had done such a wonderful job but struggled with one word and he began to fall apart. He couldn’t tolerate any suggestion that he had done really well considering on how difficult he finds reading and all he could focus on was, the one word he struggled with.

Beedog picking up on his energy began to join in with his ‘bubbling’ and herself begun to get over-excited. In the process of the chaos and madness, Beedog tried to remove the Tiger feet from Buzzbee’s feet which Buzz was finding oddly funny, considering how close her teeth were to his toes. In an attempt to prevent the slippers getting damage or Buzz’s feet being chomped. I slipped the slipper off Buzz’s foot, with the intention of retrieving it from Beedog before putting it back on Buzzbee’s foot.

Oh dear. Bad mummy. Buzzbee suddenly feel completely apart and raced hysterically out of the room and into his bedroom in floods of tears, completely inconsolable.

What had I done that was so wrong? Why was he throwing a wobbly?

Although it took me a minute to realise it. It wasn’t that I had taken the slipper off his foot that upset him. It was that I had taken ‘Granny’s slipper’ off his foot and in doing so I had taken Granny from him again in his mind.

All the grief and loss that he had experienced over the years was suddenly coming crashing to the surface and he had become overwhelmed by it all but he couldn’t let me near – painful as it was to see him in such distress, I needed at the time to remember that he wasn’t trying to reject me. The pain was just too much for him to accept comfort.

In the meantime, Bumble was conspicuous in his absence (usually he is great at stepping in when Buzz is in this state). Again, I didn’t need to think too hard to know the reason why. Bumble was trying his hardest to hide his pain at the realisation of Buzzbee’s connection to the slippers.

Buzzbee needed Bumble and no matter how much Bumble denies it, at that point he needed Buzzbee too. The boys haven’t really seen Bumble cry when it comes to losing his mum (they saw him cry more when our old cat died). Bumble’s has been quite stoic when the boys have been around (Neither of them cope well with seeing myself or Bumble upset. It really upsets their equilibrium and over the years we have subconsciously reined ourselves in when they are present).

Last night was different. Bumble couldn’t hide from it and he knew that Buzzbee needed him at that point and needed to know that it was OK to miss his granny and that Bumble misses her too.

So what started out as an innocent pair of old slipper being brought home to be put into a dressing up box and have some fun with, actually turned into an important but emotional evening, where Bumble had a rare opportunity to be the one to give Buzzbee the support and emotional connection that he needed at that time and strengthen their attachment just that little bit more.

tigerfeet

Many of you will think I am completely crazy but I have long believed that our loved ones are always watching over us and send us what we need, when we need it.

And, boy did they both need it.

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’).

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

Waiting for our Fairy Godmother

For weeks now I have been writing posts and dancing around topics, saying plenty but never really saying anything at all. Well, not what I really want to say anyway!

Why? Pride! Fear! Sheer cowardice! Or, as someone pointed out to me this week, have I skirted around the topic, because I am so hard on myself that I am expecting the same from others?

Just under 2 weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a 2 day DDP network conference and had the pleasure to hear many amazing speakers including Dan Hughes and Jon Baylin.

It was a wonderful opportunity to gain further insight into the practical side of DDP practise and remind myself of elements that were covered in the Level 1 course that I did earlier on in the year. Although at the time of booking it was not high on my list of importance, possibly more importantly, for the first time in a while, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with some lovely ladies that I have not seen for quite some time and in all honesty (gosh, I have just realised how often I actually use that word), I underestimated how much I have missed chatting with them about the boys, without having to explain anything about all their idiosyncrasies or feeling defensive about admitting how it is taking its toll on Bumble and I (there is very little they don’t already know about the boys, both good and bad). I can’t describe how refreshing that was at the moment, at a time when I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the boys’ needs and the chaos their ‘trauma bond’ is causing in the household, but at the same time there is a pang of sadness and grief for what we have lost (as in their wonderful support) and may never get back.

Maybe I am being selfish? Or maybe I am being realistic, but in the past couple of months two wonderfully different conferences have had me leaving with a very similar message – I need to start taking better care of myself, and that needs to start with asking for the support my family needs at the moment.

This has started me thinking about what would my ideal ‘post adoption support package’ look like, if money wasn’t an issue (LA or self-funding) or we had a fairy godmother who with a ‘BibbidiBobbidiBoo’ she could wave her wand and magic up everything we need.

Magic-Wand

Here goes with my wish list.

  • Relocation to a property with an attached beach, in a secluded area, with plenty of space around us for the boys to play and let off steam, and we can be a family without people scrutinising our parenting, making constant allegations, or making us feel like criminals in our own home.
  • Therapeutic/psychological support for Bumble and I from a qualified DDP therapist / psychologist.
  • Subsidised ad hoc childcare service, so that Bumble doesn’t need to keep using his leave to cover child care when I have to attend meetings (Must be CRB checked babysitters who have the hide of a rhinoceros, but experienced, caring and unflappable by the challenges they may face).
  • Complete Ed Psych, Occupational Therapy, and Therapeutic assessment for Buzzbee to finally assess his complete needs in order to return to school in the future if he should wish to.
  • 1:1 home tutor for Buzzbee to help him begin learning that mummy is not the only person who he can trust to show how ‘clever’ he is and not be fearful of showing the areas he struggles with.
  • Commitment to fund Specialist post adoption therapy, i.e. DDP qualified therapist (private as no longer available on NHS/CAMHS in our area) or other appropriate services until 18 and transitioned to any relevant/suitable adult provision.
  • Guaranteed specialist education placements/provision until 18
  • Ok I actually already receive some adoption allowance for Buzz but I would like to see adoption allowance payments which are in line with our LA’s foster care rates until children complete full time education.
  • ‘No questions asked’, Non-judgemental Post adoption handyman service that we could ring up after a violent outburst and arrange for them to come and repair damaged doors, walls, etc.
  • Access to holiday camps/activities with additional support funded (thinking of Buzzbee mainly on this one).
  • Proper and effective developmental trauma and attachment training for Waxy’s school.
  • Parent/school advocacy service to mediate disputes/misunderstandings – parent partnerships in our area not up to the job.
  • On-going opportunities for training (new skills, etc.), access to out of hours/in hours non-judgemental support/advice when needed (in person/email/phone)
  • Pupil premium for every child whether they are in full-time education or have been forced into home education because of the huge deficit in the way the national curriculum and ‘school rules’ are so rigid and unsustainable for some of our children.
  • On the ball Letterbox service – Oh hang on we actually have this already.
  • Access to a database signposting adopters to ALL support services and training available etc.
  • On-going support for us and NOT JUST when difficulties develop / Crises occur.
  • Crisis intervention support plan – violence, bereavement, allegations, sibling trauma bonds, and so much more…

Maybe I should also ask for:

  • The entire staff of Downton Abbey minus the backstabbing (I get enough of that already) to run my house for me.
  • Spa sessions at Center Parcs’ Aqua Sana at least 3 times a year.
  • Endless supply of chocolate and diet Pepsi for evenings and weekends when the boys are together (trauma bond survival kit), served by ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ male pros, bronzed Adonises, the ghost of Patrick Swayze, really any nice male eye candy, as and when needed.
  • Mummy rescue package provided by local Firemen.
  • Automatic hotline to Il Divo or Michael Buble to personally serenade me when I need an extra big slice of self-regulating/self-care mummy time.
  • Pocket sized Andre Rieu and orchestra, so he can come everywhere with me to keep me regulated all day long.
  • Pocket sized Dan Hughes, Bruce Perry, Jon Baylin, etc. who can be taken out as and when advice is needed.
  • Uninhabited deserted island with mute blonde Adonises waiting on my every need.
  • Soundproof, purpose built study for Bumble to play his online roleplaying games.

In the spirit of fairness, I have also asked the boys what their dream support plan would include.

Here it is:

  •  Weekly private training with a premier league football player for both boys.
  • Private street dance lessons with Ashley Banjo for Buzzbee.
  • Kate Upton as Beeswax’s 1:1 teaching assistant (lock up your daughters!)
  • ‘No Social Workers’ trapdoor/hidden ejector launchpad under front door mat.
  • Purpose built adventure playground and climbing wall for the garden.
  • Hypnotist to brainwash mum and dad into letting us play Xbox all day and night.
  • Girlfriend for Buzzbee (Waxy wrote “not that he has had trouble getting them in the past, LOL”) .

So that is our list! I am sure there are things I have forgotten but if you could do the same what you put on yours?

This post has been linked to The Adoption Socials’ Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO 

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Wild Calm

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In England’s green and pleasant land

We live in a beautiful village where you only have to walk 5 minutes in any direction and you are surrounded by peaceful and picturesque scenes of flowing streams, lush and endless woods and farmland to walk along.

Once a week Buzzbee climbs into the car and we head off on our 35 minute trip to Forest school. Our journey will take us through 3 peaceful villages, past 4 sets of traffic lights, over 8 roundabouts and along two very busy bypasses – In Buzzbee’s words “everyone is always in a hurry and no one is noticing the world around them”.

From the backseat of the car a clean and tidy Buzzbee is busy ‘OOOing and AHHHing’ as he entertains himself by looking out of the car window watching the scenery whizz by. He hardly notices the colourful array of vehicles and their fractious drivers. All he can see is the Buzzard soaring in the sky just ahead of us or the Kestrel sitting on the fence patiently watching its prey to make its move.  Buzzbee notices how the surrounding farm land has turned into a green and lush oasis for the cows and their calves. He will spot a ‘lonely bunny’ sat by the hedgerow contemplating whether it should try and cross the road – already Buzzbee is absorbing the euphoria of the ‘great outdoors’ and beginning to relax – anyone who has ever met Buzz would know that he is highly strung, extremely volatile and stressy, and his anxiety/cortisol levels are almost permanently through the roof.

As we reach our destination Buzzbee’s chatter becomes rapid and mindboggling, but not in a negative way. He can no longer contain his excitement for what his day at forest school will bring – “Will the cockerel chase you today mummy?”, “I am not going to swear today and if Boris annoys me I am going to just walk away”, “I’m going to ask Richard if he can help me build a bigger den”, “Last week they taught us how to put out a fire if our clothes caught alight. This week they are going to teach us how to carry someone who is hurt as a team”, “It is a sunny day! I will have to work really hard at showing you I have had a good day” (translation: “I left home clean mummy, if you pick me up and I am not muddy, you may think I had a bad day”) – now I am not naive, some of this is anxiety driven, but in his own funny way this is him telling me that he is unsure about what today will bring, but that he knows whatever it is, he can do it and make the right choices.

So what is different from any other day? What is about his few hours once a week at forest school that has the ability to transform my child from one that had almost completely disconnected with most social situations for fear that he “would hurt somebody” or couldn’t control himself, into a ‘happy go lucky’ chatterbox who will give most things a try?

OK I suppose the fact that Buzzbee and Waxy love the outdoors and they are physically adventurous with their surroundings helps, but there is something truly amazing about how in a few short months, the staff at this wonderful place have not only nurtured and helped begin re-building his self-confidence, self – esteem and self- belief, but they have achieved something that very few adults have ever managed when it comes to Buzz – they have gained his trust enough for him to feel safe enough to admit his mistakes/weaknesses and know that they will still like him (I don’t need to tell the adopters among you, the monumental achievement this is for him).

As this weeks’ #WASO post theme is ‘The Great Outdoors’  and I am getting slightly off track by gushing about Buzz and his rekindled self-belief (even if it is only for one day a week), so, I thought I would leave this post with Buzzbee’s list of what he loves about going to forest school.

  • “It is not school. They like me”
  • “We are NEVER indoors, no matter  how bad the weather is – Ok they have big tents, but I never go in because they smell funny”
  • “I am allowed to go every week, even when it is raining and really, really muddy. So muddy that we all have to change our clothes before lunch time”.
  • “I get to climb trees! I mean real BIG trees!”
  • “We get to play ‘Bulldog’ and ‘Hide and Seek’ as many times as we like.  I am really fast and the staff get tired before the kids”
  • “Lots of the children like playing games that we need to use our imagination for and the big kids don’t call me names like Waxy does.  They like me”
  • “I kind of like the kids that go. They are like me, they don’t go to school but have their mummies teach them”
  • “I don’t like doing the girlie craft stuff, but I love learning how to make a campfire or build a shelter to protect us from the rain”
  • “We go on REALLY long walks to old caves, which have really steep slopes and we are allowed to slide down them when they are wet.  It is SOOO cool!”
  • Everyone is always smiling and they never shout. Well, unless they are telling us they are coming to find us when we are hiding”
  • “Lots of the trees have tyre swings or treehouse bases and there is a big bit that have ropes all around them like an obstacle course”
  • “I nearly forgot!  There are pigs, bunnies and lots of chickens and ducks. I am allowed to help feed them every week”

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