Tag Archive | Parenting

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

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Windmills and whirligigs

mind windmill

Many adopters, Foster carers or quite frankly any parent who are parenting children with additional needs will have probably at one time or another felt overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of supporting our children and dealing with school staff, some of whom try their best to understand and work with you, or in the other hand completely fight you on everything and treat you like you are being a completely over-protective and controlling parent.

Where am I going with this? Why have I suddenly decided to turn on my laptop and start ranting (my apologies) about schools?

In truth this post isn’t really about schools.

It is about the frustrating and emotional rollercoaster, I find myself riding every Sunday night, Monday morning and of course Friday afternoons.

It is the electronic tears of a worn out, emotionally/physically broken mother, who is rapidly running out of steam and ideas on how to support her sons therapeutically while keeping a firm grip on her own sanity and identity.

But most importantly. It is about the trauma of transitions for my boys and how they manage their anxiety levels around it – or not as the case mostly seems.

Anyone who has been following my posts for a while will know that I regularly talk about the boys’ trauma bond and the devastating effect it has on the household and their relationship with each other, but something I haven’t talked about very much is the weekly ‘transition tornado’ that comes tearing though the family and uproots everyone from their stable grounding each weekend and each start of a school holiday.

There is a very good reason I haven’t talked openly about it and it is not for the reasons many would possible believe.   Some may read this and think that I haven’t written about it because I am worried about how people may interpret what I describe as evidence that, as the boys’ mum, I have lost control and am lacking any empathy for my sons. While these thoughts have crossed my mind, they are not the reasons I haven’t openly spoke about it.

The truth is. I don’t know how to describe it. How do you explain to people who are not witnessing first hand, the devastating transformation that overwhelms ‘the hive’ each week and the damage it is causing to our relationships and sanity?

At the moment it is all Bumble and I can do just to keep pushing through, support each other as well as the boys and pray that “next weekend will be calmer” – rarely are our prayers answered.

Beeswax is struggling at school at the moment but I don’t mean he is struggling academically, although he is finding the beginning of his GCSE’s more taxing than he had anticipated. He is struggling with the absolute chaos of the ongoing disruption and unsettling environment that has been created by a serious of catastrophic mistakes and decisions by senior members of school staff, and it is Waxy and his peers who are paying the price. while measures are put in place to rebalance the school environment. Sadly Waxy being Waxy, he has held on and pushed all his stress and anxiety deep down inside during his school week, only to then walk in the front door on a Friday afternoon and within minutes begin “dumping” all his baggage on the members of the household or to be more accurate, he takes all his anger and frustration out on Buzzbee, verbally and physically.   And, heaven forbid if I dare to parent him before he is ready.

If we are lucky, Waxy will unload his stress and then, other than being a testosterone fuelled, foulmouthed 14-year-old, he will settle down for a while, but by this time often the damage has already been done and the stress and angst has simply been transferred to Buzzbee, who in his current vulnerable emotional state, makes the ideal vessel to ensure the trauma hamster wheel continues turning for as long as is needed.

Buzzbee himself is as I have already said extremely vulnerable at the moment. He is vulnerable to the slightest disruption in his routine. He is vulnerable to the most insignificant whiff of unexpected sensory input, and more importantly, he is vulnerable to Waxy’s emotional dysregulation and the traumatic effects it is having on them both.

But Buzz’s vulnerability is certainly not Waxy’s fault, neither is it Buzzbee’s or even Bumble or mine. In the past year we have become increasingly worried about the lack of Buzzbee’s emotional regulation skills and the increasing developmental gap that has been growing between Buzz and his peers both academically and socially.

After a long road of trying to persuade professionals that there was a genuine cause for concern and not just two, tired and stressed out parents searching for answers and labels, and reading far too much into ‘naughty behaviour’, in the last 2 weeks we have received the confirmation that we had hoped to not hear, but completely expected to hear.   Buzzbee has been struggling for a reason (more than one to be exact) and while therapeutic parenting all this time has helped keep him afloat within the family to an extent, there are gaps that even I hadn’t noticed and these gaps are at the root of many of the reasons he is finding it so difficult to cope at the moment throughout the day and into the night.

I am not going to even start on the pantomime that is bedtimes in our home at the moment.

At the moment I don’t really see a way out of this mess other than going down a path Bumble and I don’t want to take.

In May we requested an assessment of our adoption support needs and indicated that we wanted to put separate ASF applications in for each of the boys to receive support from a DDP therapist. Early into term 1 of the new school year, Bumble and I filled in the forms to the best of our ability for our PASW.

Guess what?   We are STILL waiting to put in the applications despite the fact we have made it very clear that we are completely on our knees and desperately need support NOW!

 

Trauma Bond Olympics 2015

trrauma bond

Welcome to the ‘Trauma Bond’ Olympics, WASO fans.

For a little over 2 weeks, our youngest competitor, Buzzbee has been competing in the highly misunderstood ‘Trauma Bond’ Olympics with our eldest competitor, Beeswax.

The last 4 days have seen our eldest competitor return to his training ground to regroup, and our youngest competitor taking advantage of the rest period to attempt to re-focus himself in preparation for the return from training of his greatly adored idol, Beeswax, but as the days drew closer the nervous anticipation could be felt throughout the Home and Away training grounds.

This weekend’s event have already been in full swing for several hours and the adjudicator’s therapeutic mojo has already boarded a plane destined for Bora Bora , after having to issue numerous warning to the competitors about un-sportsman like behaviour and a breakdown in team communications – only 2 days left to go!

borabora

Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are already stacking up in the ‘stroppy relay’ and ‘extreme hurling/throwing’ events. As well as the ‘extreme control championship triathlon’ and ‘0-100 dysregulation race.

As always we have a colourful array of skills in explicit and dramatic insults, swearing and threats and it is going to go down to the wire who will be awarded the gold medal in this extremely stressful event – I can tell you one person who will not be winning any medals, and that is the adjudicator!

Over at the trampoline arena we can see that the competitors are gearing themselves up for their second attempt today at proving they are the ‘Ultimate’ champion at outdoing the other with backflips, summersaults and not forgetting our youngest competitor’s signature street dancing dance off challenge to his older, yet more inexperienced competitor – here is hoping that this event runs without the need for the adjudicator to issue more warnings – Oops spoke too soon! The adjudicator has just had to step in and call a 10 minute ‘half-time’ after unauthorised equipment has been taken into the arena to gain advantage over each other and tensions are rising.

During the afternoon we have witnessed Beeswax warming up for the ‘hurdling and 100 metre dash’ after being unsuccessful in the ‘Wind your little brother up until he explodes’ event but as of yet he is undecided whether he should enter this event, knowing that it may result in an electronic disqualification – No! He has thrown caution to the wind and not only entered this event but took his time and arrived at the finish 1 hour later than expected, and completely unable to understand why the adjudicator is upset with him.

As the day draws to a close and the competitors begrudgingly retire to their separate changing rooms to watch separate movies, while the adjudicator takes a deep breath and FINALLY manages to prepare herself something to eat before sitting down to watch ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, while not being able to help herself, overanalysing the events of today – Where did she go wrong? What could she have done better? Is she out of her depth? Is this it, is should she start getting used to seeing many more LONG and TENSE events every weekend?

Tomorrow is another but one in which we will undoubtedly see more ‘Trauma Bond Olympic’ activities with the return of the track and motor events -‘supermarket dash’, ‘car wrestling’ and not to be missed ‘fastest to make mum pull the car over for safety’ race – Both competitors are highly decorated medal holders and record-breakers in these event and they will be hoping to add yet more medals to their collection.

But who will win Gold and will they succeed in re-traumatising themselves and each other in the process for the umpteenth time today?

How many more weekends will this event continue for?

When will the external officials sit up and take notice of the repeated electronic communications and requests to look into the needs of the competitors, as well as their referee and adjudicator who are beginning to question their own skills in mediating between both competitors?

Only time will tell! Watch this space!

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Doing what has to be done

I am frantically trying to put a post together for The Adoption Social’s #WASO in a week that can only be described as an ‘emotional’ and ‘hectic’ week shrouded in secrecy in order to allow Beeswax to enjoy celebrating a milestone birthday without it being overshadowed by grief and resulting in yet another birthday for him being sabotaged by circumstances which were beyond anyone’s control.

I started to write a post last week but never managed to finish it but I think before I write about what it is we have been hiding from the boys, I thought that I would add the original opening sentence of the unfinished post

In the coming few weeks and months, I have a feeling I know emotions and tensions are going to reach an all-time high in ‘the hive’ (but for now I can’t go into why) but I know I am going to have to dig deep into my tool bag to support everyone.

I like to think that my tool bag has an inexhaustible amount of skills and tricks and is extremely flexible, but I suspect that to keep everyone on track I may have to use some of my ‘safe bet’ activities more than I would usually prefer to in order for one or all of us to have the breathing space they need without the boys misinterpreting responses from others – thank heavens for annual memberships.

When I say a ‘safe bet activity’! What I mean is a trip or visit somewhere that I can take the boys on my own without worrying about needing a second adult to help me manage them.  To be fair I have a couple of places where this is achievable because there is so much for the boys to do and interact with appropriately, or there is the opportunity for the boys to have their own space and do their own things while still being monitored by myself.

Ok! So at the time of writing this sentence, Bumble’s mum had just told him that her treatment was no longer working and she had made the decision to stop any more treatment. Obviously Bumble needed time to process this information himself, but we also agreed that we would wait until after Beeswax’s birthday to tell the boys and begin preparing them for her eventual passing – she was terminal but everyone believed we had time to plan for telling them.

Fast forward to the beginning of this week (only days before Waxy’s birthday) and Bumble received the phone call he never wanted to receive and my father-in-law definitely did not want to make.

My mother-in-law passed away suddenly that afternoon.

Wheels had been set in motion that we hadn’t prepared for, but very quickly (or in some people’s eyes, quite alarmingly considering how emotional people know I can be) I have switched into pilot mode, making arrangements for Bumble to be able to drive up and join his dad and brothers, contacting people who needed to be informed of the reason for Bumble’s absence (work and the director of the show Bumble has a role in) while at the same time making sure that, at home everything still ran as usual so that Buzzbee could not pick up on anything.  I will not lie – having Beeswax at school during the week made this a lot easier. I am not sure I would have been able to keep my composure for very long – he is in ultra-button pushing mode at the moment and he would almost definitely push either Bumble’s or mine and then….. Well that would be a whole different post.

Although I have hated lying to the boys this week, it has been the right thing to do I believe.  Beeswax has for as long as I have known him justifiably felt that his birthday is jinxed and that something always happens to ruin his birthday – I was determined that I was going to give him a birthday he could enjoy and remember with happiness before he found out and would once again confirm in his mind, his negative view that his birthday is ‘Jinxed’.

Tomorrow I will have to tell them. I won’t be able to put it off any longer (I should have been telling them today).  He has already made comments, wondering why Granny and Grandpa didn’t ring him on his special birthday.

We got around it by yet again lying and telling him that they probably thought he would be having too much fun on his day out for his birthday.

Will I be for the high jump tomorrow? I really don’t know but I have to hope that they will understand why we made the decisions we did.

I honestly do not know how they are going to take the news – hey, I don’t even know how Bumble is really doing. He has been morphed into Winston Churchill and putting up a ‘Dunkirk spirit’ persona – he hasn’t shut me out, but he is certainly not giving anything away either.  But as I said at the beginning! I will have to dig down deep into my bag of tricks and tools to help them all through the coming weeks. At the same time I have to also decide whether it is best to begin preparing the boys for my nan’s failing health (I don’t know about this yet).  As for my own grief – I am sure it is there somewhere. I was very fond of my MIL but for now I need to be in Mummy/Wife mode and I have become quite skilled at pushing my emotions to the background.

Oh I almost forgot!

The special birthday present for Beeswax’s birthday!

A private Skiing lesson at an Indoor Snowdome, and it was a HUGE success. But, more about that in the week (I have photos to edit first).

Rest In Peace GrannyBee

Rest In Peace GrannyBee

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

Oops I did it again

No, I am not about to start singing or break into a ‘interesting’ dance routine (unless you include the ‘dance of attunement’ that I find myself trying to do every day while parenting my boys) but I thought this was an apt title for this post.

For as long as I can remember, since Beeswax and Buzzbee were placed with us, things have had a habit of ‘disappearing’ and more often than not these items were mine.

For quite some time, although some of the hiding places were genius, I found it very difficult to accept someone stealing from me, even if it was as innocent as my favourite bar of chocolate. We knew who the culprit was and we made several attempts to deal/manage with the situation using traditional approaches with ‘consequences, which were a total failure and often made things worse. So we tried approaches that were less likely to send him spiralling into a toxic state of shame.

We tried every suggestion anyone was willing to offer us to try and alleviate the problem –

  • We provided a snack box which lived in his bedroom with all his favourite ‘goodies’ – he never touched it
  • We kept the fruit bowl full on the dining room table which he could take from whenever he wanted – again he didn’t go for it
  • We put locks on the cupboard doors and a chime sensor so he couldn’t sneak down in the middle of the night – He managed to get hold of a duplicate key (still don’t know how) and used a magnet to fool the sensor.
  • We put a piece of paper on the wall with a squirrel stamp and made it a challenge. If he left a squirrel stamp it was not for him to tell us what he took, but for us to ‘work it out’ – Worked for a couple of days, but then ‘squirrelling’ escalated to more precious items but no stamps

We tried so many more tricks, but nothing seemed to help until one day, after a very emotion filled session with Jemima talking about how bad I felt that he still found it so hard to trust that if he were to ask for something instead of taking it, that we wouldn’t say No, we explored whether the reason he took my things was because he was angry with birth mum and he was adamant that this wasn’t the case, but that he stole from me because he ‘needed to know he could still do it and obviously if he took sweets he was going to eat them’. He insisted that he never felt bad about taking anything but he was able to accept Jemima and my hypothesis that the way he was reacting to being found out was ‘possibly’ a sign that he did actually feel  a little bit bad about it or that he thought I would hate him.  We asked him if he had any suggestions on how Bumble and I could help him and I remember vividly his response “You can’t catch me so you can’t stop me. It is always too late the deed has been done”.

He was right but we couldn’t let it carry on. He had now started stealing from my parents, school and his brother (although we rarely could prove it until it was ‘too late’).  How could we stop this without him escalating into a shame filled rage? There was big part of me that just wanted my belongings back or at least to know that the goodies that were ‘disappearing’ were not me forgetfully consuming them myself and forgetting to replenish.

So Bumble and I decided we would have an amnesty. We placed a box in the bedrooms and explained to the boys that daddy and I were missing some things and we needed them back. We told both boys (even though we knew only one of them had the items) that the boxes will be left in their rooms until the morning and they could put anything that they had that they knew they shouldn’t have in it. I would take the boxes out of the rooms in the morning and nothing would be said about the contents of the box, however if I then go into their rooms and find anything; we may need to talk about it. We called them the ‘Oops’ boxes and to my delight they seemed to work. Ok there was one time when he thought he had got one over on me by hiding all the sweet wrappers in his hollow curtain pole – sadly for him, his mum is a complete klutz and pulled it down trying to put its end stopper back on.

For quite some time the boxes were used on a weekly basis and rarely was there a need to revisit any misdemeanours.  Gradually the boxes in the bedrooms turned into an ‘Oops’ basket that occasionally (usually at times of heightened anxiety and stress) appears on the top of the landing for an evening and any member of the family can place items that are not where they should be, in it.

In this case, “thinking inside of the box” figuratively speaking has been a success for the hive.

This post was written as part of The Adoption Social’s fantastic new linky ‘The Things That We Do’.

oops box

The Things We Do