Tag Archive | grandparents

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

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