Tag Archive | christmas

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

The gift of Christmas

This weeks’ #WASO theme is ‘Gifts’ and I can’t think of a lovelier theme to end the #WASO year on.

I could go in many directions with this theme. I could be writing about how the boys OCD (obsessive Christmas disorder) has kicked into overdrive this year and their wish lists were not just longer and more thoughtful (they add items to their list that they think various family members may also like to receive from them), but this year they have colour coded it and grouped their suggestions into price brackets so that I would know the order of preference and be able to quickly go to the list and look for a suitable ideas for a gift from someone else to fit their budget – not much control going on there, is there?

Alternatively I could have written about visiting the boys on Christmas day at their foster carers’ and the light bulb moment when I realised that although the boys really did love Christmas, their reaction to the pile of gifts that were spread all over the FC’s conservatory floor showed that our vision of how Christmas morning would play out was miles away from the reality that was laid out in front of me at that time – I am not saying that the boys were anxious or distressed by the volume of presents or overwhelmed by the giddiness of the adults around them. No, if anything they were over compliant and almost indifferent to the all the parcels and gifts, and were more interested in the wonderful Christmas breakfast their foster carer had laid out for them.  Being the amazing and experienced foster carer that she was, she quickly picked up on their hesitation and ‘got the ball rolling’ encouraging them to ‘pick a parcel’ from each other’s pile and hand it to them – Beeswax some months later admitted that he didn’t think any of the gifts were for him or Buzzbee because they were not in Christmas sacks like the ones members of their extended birth family, used to do for them. We had a similar experience, but with their stockings, our first Christmas as a family – they had been put on their beds ready to be opened in the morning (Bumble put them in after ‘Santa’ had dropped them off in the lounge because he didn’t enter  their room because he would have had to knock first and that would have woken them up, of course), but when we went to wake them in the morning they were already awake and sat at the bottom of their beds staring at their unopened stockings. Again they didn’t believe the gifts had been left for them.

familysnowpicmonkey

Despite these couple of misinterpretations, the boys’ experience of Christmas time from before they were taken into care, from what we understand and have learnt over the years through talking with different people and going through the boys’ family photo albums with Buzzbee, was not too dissimilar from how we imagined the build up to Christmas should be.  Many of the family traditions that we had hoped to use within our family were already there, it just needed fine tuning. The boys were used to their presents being in sacks and not just spread under the Christmas tree so now we have a compromise – big under tree, little in sacks.  Sharing gifts with family members and spreading out the volume of gifts they open in a day, well actually that is exactly the same – the boys wait to open their presents until we visit the friend or family member or they come to visit us.  Not only does it “make Christmas, even longer”, as Buzzbee says, but the boys don’t become overwhelmed by the volume of gifts (I am still working on our loved ones when it comes to going over the top with gifts for the boys).

While Bumble and I are, on a daily basis, picking up the pieces from the effects of the chronic neglect the boys experienced from their birth parents, it has always been very apparent to us that, while they may have been only papering over the cracks, both maternal and paternal grandparents tried very hard to make up for it and while the boys were visiting, give them as normal a childhood experience as they possibly could.  They may not have been in a position to be able to physically take on the care of both boys full-time, but they had worked hard to normalise and make Christmas day and the build up to it as much of a positive experience as they possibly could for them both, and the positive feedback that the boys received from this has meant that now, while the boys really struggle with birthdays, Mothers’ Days, etc. Christmas time the boys really cherish and ALMOST allow themselves to relax and just go with the flow.

Although each year they are not able to physically give the boys gifts anymore, they have given the boys a gift which is priceless – they have given the boys the ‘Gift of Christmas’!

gift of christmas

Post-Christmas Wishes

Happy New year to you all

After a very rocky start to the school Christmas holidays with Beeswax and a distinctive lack of therapeutic mummy juice for a few days, I don’t mind admitting that this year we have yet again managed to get through the Christmas chaos almost strop & meltdown free – hey if it had been absolutely perfect I would have thought we had entered an alternative universe or my boys had been replaced by perfectly engineered clones.

At this time of year I always feel guilty because Bumble and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to enjoy being with our boys and sharing in the Christmas magic, unlike several adoptive and fostering families I know who find this time of the year  painful and stressful. 

But if it wasn’t for the boy’s biological grandparents, while they were still living within the birth family, always making sure that Christmas was a very special time for the boys with lots of wonderful traditions and keeping the continuity of this on both the paternal and maternal side, this post would probably be written in an entirely different tone. As the result the boys have very special memories of the Christmas time and because several of the traditions that were used within the birth family are traditions that both Bumble and I grew up with, we have kept those traditions going.

I have to say my favourite has to be Christmas Eve: The boys eagerly opening their present from “Santa’s elves” of new PJs, slippers and dressing gown. Watching Beeswax allow himself to join the excitement and helping his little brother spread the ‘reindeer food’ outdoors and  put out the goodies for the impending visit of Santa (“for Buzzbee’s sake of course”). I then love watching all 3 of my boys all snuggled up in their new bedclothes and their mugs of hot chocolate, listening to Bumble reading ‘Twas the night before christmas” while I hide nearby with a cluster of bells ready to ring them at just the right time, and then having to fight back the tears when watching Buzz getting so excited as he races to bed because he doesn’t want Santa to find him awake (the only night during the year he goes to bed without a delay tactics in sight).  

This year we took the brave decision to take the boy’s to my parents’ for Christmas and so have the boys wake up at my parents’ on Christmas morning.  I had absolutely no idea whether it was going to be a success or a disaster, but Bumble and I were both confident that my parents would work with us and not against us to make the stay as endurable enjoyable for all involved as possible and if it turned out that it was just not working for the boys, we could return home without anyone feeling like it had been ruined. As it was my parents excelled themselves and managed to strike the right balance for all (including my 86 year old Nan) and Christmas day was not only calm and pleasant, but also full of fun and frivolity – the boys found great hilarity in watching mum and I battle with a 14 year old spaniel and Beedog to stop them unwrapping all the presents before they had even been handed out. How many homes do you know that put their presents behind a fireguard to stop the dog unwrapping the presents before the children?

Boxing day I thought the boys would have found more difficult, with my sister and her family coming over, but, to our delight, Buzzbee and Beeswax were absolutely fantastic and it was my sister’s three children who were causing all the chaos throughout the day, even poor Beedog found it too much by lunchtime and found a sheltered, quiet corner to hide in (and for a dog who lives with the chaos of my two day in day out, you can imagine she usually has a high threshold for madness).  My parents were so impressed with how great the boys had been and told both boys this, and in an attempt to “have a go at this reflective stuff” as my dad put it, he went one step further and said “I know that you two don’t like lots of people being around or lots of noise – unless you are making it but it was so crazy today and I was wondering if the reason you both were being so good today was because you were trying to hold it together because you knew Nanny wanted today to be a really nice day and you didn’t want her to be upset?”. To which Beeswax responded very quickly “Usually I would say you were right Granddad but personally I didn’t need to play up, try to control everything or generally be a pain. Buttercup, Thistle and Nettle (cousins) were causing enough madness that Buzzbee and I could sit back and relax for the day”. (Cue, Mum spitting out her mouthful of tea laughing).  

Just when you think you know how the boys will respond. They continue to surprise us, and this one was priceless (and in all honesty completely on the nose).

Looking back over the Christmas session and all that the boys have managed to achieve during this time of year, and knowing how blessed we are to have the opportunity to really enjoy spending time with the boys without all the drama, you would think that I would be over the moon but as I am writing this instead of joy, I am feeling quite overwhelmed with sadness and for once I would give anything not to understand why I am suddenly feeling so morose.  I am ashamed to say that it is a very selfish feeling.

For a short few days each year, I feel like I have the family I always dreamt of and it feels wonderful. Beeswax relaxes and doesn’t respond to me as if I were public enemy No.1. He and Buzzbee can be in the same room as each other without setting each other off or Bumble and I feeling the need to ‘divide and conquer’. Bumble and I don’t end up bickering about the most menial and pathetic things because we have let the stress of parenting our adopted, traumatised boys overwhelm us (and so many more lovely moments that we rarely see during the year).

Okay some of this is just normal family life (if there was ever such a thing as a ‘normal’ family) and please never misunderstand me.  I am grateful for my family and I love Bumble and my boys dearly but I just wish sometimes that the rest of the year didn’t have to always feel like we are trapped on a hamster wheel of trauma and fighting, and seemingly getting nowhere at all.

See I told you it was selfish. I would like to say it is just Post Christmas blues but I know that it is so much more than that and it is time that I take the ‘bull by the horns’ and address it once and for all.

Enough of that! I don’t want to end this post on a ‘downer’ and with this in mind. I want to end this post with a picture of Bumble and the boys enjoying so ‘boys time’ on the ice.

Ice, Ice baby

Ice, Ice baby

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

“Oh, Christmas Tree…………..”

“…… how much learning can there be”?

Okay, I know I am being cheesy, but as Buzzbee and I are now 4 weeks into our Home Education adventure and still alive, I wanted to celebrate how hard he has been trying and add a little festive cheer at the same time.

For 18 months his school kept saying that he refused to learn and gave up even trying to teach him. When Bumble and I took the decision to remove Buzz from school they could not tell me what levels he was at.  They had allowed his fear of failure to cripple him emotionally and he left school believing that he was ‘stupid and unteachable’. I could go on about how my bright, determined and curious little boy had turned into a child who would fall apart the moment he made a mistake and how the thought of reading a book aloud sent him into a state of blind panic.

I am not going to sit here and write that it has been a breeze having to now not only play ‘mummy’ but also ‘teacher’ but I cannot fail to notice that he already appears calmer and more relaxed, and I am certainly reaping the rewards of having extra time to build on our attachment relationship (although this weekend both he and Beeswax are pushing every button they can)

But, this is about celebrating what he has achieved in a short time with a few of his proudest pieces of work – Christmas style.

learningtree tag2 tag1

Buzzbee wanted to create a ‘Learning Christmas Tree’ to list his triumphs (one tag for each day)

santaletter2 bauble xmas words

Handwriting is a huge anxiety for Buzz and usually he will only attempt writing if someone has written it out for him before but both of these were achieved with only assistance with spelling and WITHOUT meltdowns (resistance but no meltdown).

snowmanchart1

Buzz loved the idea of learning about bar charts by creating a graph of all of our names (okay so this was his second attempt using all our pseudo names) – Thank you Pinterest for the inspiration. He is now running away with the idea and creating a bar chart to find out which street in our village has the most Christmas lights.

But, of all the different ways of trying to help Buzz feel better about himself and realise that he is as clever as his peers, Buzz has discovered that he loves writing stories and acrostics.

SANTA CLAUS

SANTA CLAUS

How my snowman melted

How my snowman melted

I don’t know how long Buzz will continue with his renewed enthusiasm for some aspects of learning, or if I will find myself in a position where I don’t feel it is the best thing for our relationship, but for now I believe this is the best option for him and for as long as he needs it, I am going to continue supporting him.

This post has been written as part of this weeks ‘Adoption Weekly Shout Out’ #WASO

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out