Tag Archive | school

Between a rock and a hard place.

At the beginning of this week I wrote a post, titled ‘Tiger feet’ about the emotional but ultimately cathartic, rollercoaster that I found myself on with Bumble and Buzzbee.

What I didn’t say in that post (because it wasn’t relevant) was 30 minutes after Buzzbee’s meltdown, I received a phone call from mother that turned my recovering internal ‘calm’ back into a broken hearted ‘storm’ and it has knocked me sideways this week.

Without going into the gory and very personal details of it. Monday night I learnt that one of my cousins had died, leaving my auntie and the rest of my dad’s side of the family devastated and in absolute shock, myself included.

Most of my dad’s family live close by to each other, as does my sister, so they are all able to be there for each other at this time.

**warning: selfish comment to come** On the other hand, I do not live near my family home and much like when my grandparents died. I am left to deal with it on my own and in private – OK I have Bumble but it’s not the same.

For practical reasons (the boys wouldn’t cope) it is not possible for me to be with them at this time and I know when it comes to the time as a family we will unite to lay him to rest, Bumble will as always find a way to ensure that I can get away to attend the funeral. On my own, as always!

Please, please don’t get me wrong, if you are reading this thinkimg I am bitter and twisted about the situation. This is not the case, but it has reared a feeling of resentment for me about the choices and sacrifices I have had to make being the boys’ mum – As Freddie Mercury sang “I am the great pretender”.

This week I have also met with our new PASW and while in the long term (or should I say for as long as she is with the team) I am beginning to think that, maybe she is someone who I can work with (so far she is really demonstrating that she ‘gets it’ and she understood when I said “sometimes I just need to know my experience is being validated and not dismissed”). Yet I still kept her at arm’s length during the meeting. Each time she began to show any sign of empathy or concern for the impact of parenting the boys, I could feel my whole body tensing up with emotional discomfort and alarm bells were ringing saying “Be careful what you say next. Don’t give her the wrong idea”.

Again my “Freddie” switch was flicked. Although I am not completely convinced she was fooled, but decided to not push it.

not ok

OK enough about my woes! This week has been a mixed week, Buzzbee has been up and down more times than an elevator and boy, has he been a stubborn so in so at times this week. On more than one occasion, when it has come to getting him to do his work, I have come up against a giant (ok, a 133cm) brick wall and proved challenging to persuade him to do what was asked – actually it has taken us all week just to do one piece of work, which once he finally started and finished it he was extremely chuffed with himself. One of the many things we have learnt about Buzzbee (and I kind of forgot at the beginning of the week) is the more you make it clear to him you want him to do something, the more he will dig his heels in. The trick is to make him think it has been his choice and that he is in control – forget threatening to not let him go on his tablet or computer, or anything like that because this boy has staying power and when fear of working/failure is driving him, personal enjoyment and privileges just are not on his radar. Well, not until he decides he wants them anyway.

On the flip side, this week the staff at his forest school commented on how amenable and delightfully helpful he had been this week (last few weeks he has been a little prickly and dug his heels in a few times over activities that he felt uncomfortable with). In fact, when I arrived to collect him I could hear him shrieking with delight all the way from the car park. Unbeknown to me, this was because he was having a water fight with the staff and children. A fact I very soon found out when he raced over and threw himself into my arms to give me a hug and a kiss as always – soaking wet boy + hugs = very damp mummy (but I’ll forgive him because he gives such good hugs).

waterfight

Beeswax’s school have been in contact several times over this week, mostly winding me up big time with their petty concerns and stating the bleeding obvious “Beeswax is demonstrating childish and silly behaviour and allowing himself to get drawn into negative foolishness. We feel Waxy is extremely emotionally immature for his age and compared to his peers” – Funny that! They seem to have forgotten to look at his records and see that his previous therapist had noted that his emotional age was significantly lower than his chronological age. If that is their biggest worry with him, then I will swap my weekends with them anytime – from 3.30 when he walked in the door yesterday he has been on TOP FORM and in BATTLE MODE.

The school have always underestimated the impact Waxy’s early history has had on him because he is so blooming good at hiding it from them and presenting himself at school as being extremely precocious and articulate, so they forget about the other side of him and refuse to take it into account.

woman-frustrated-1

Rather than my usual, getting into a pointless exercise/dialogue where I for the hundredth time find myself attempting to get them to take a step back and look at what he may be trying to tell them (In this case. Girlfriend trouble and they are STILL talking to him about GCSE options and repeatedly moving the goal posts for him). No instead I did something probably very foolish and I most certainly need my head read because rather than ague with them again, I have instead put my name forward to stand for the parent governor position that is currently available – in my head the time it sounded like a good idea, now I am wondering what the heck I have done. Not that I will need to worry because there is another adopter I know well also putting herself forward and she will most certainly be elected to the post and do exactly what I planned to do but with so much more style and experience.

Please accept my apologies for my rambling this week. Lots going on and brain not functioning at optimum level.

On a positive note: Today we have achieved the unthinkable and after a VERY slow start leaving the house. We have managed a pleasant and fun few hours as a family with Beedog visiting a beautiful local Rhododendron garden/walk. The boys had a great time racing around all the colourful and aromatic bushes and trees and Beedog was in ‘scent heaven’, although I am pretty sure the bluebells did not appreciate her flaking out on them at one point. Oh and despite Waxy and Bumble having a silverback’ moment before leaving the house, Bumble and I have got to enjoy a precious few hours feeling like a ‘normal’ family and enjoying being in the boys company rather than playing referee or ‘good cop/bad cop’

bluebellThis post was written as part of this weeks’ The Adoption Social #WASO.

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The first 100 hours

This week the incredible Adoption Social are celebrating their 100th #WASO blog post link up with the theme of ‘The first one hundred’, and it happens that this post is also my 100th post for 3beesandahoney.

So a double celebration, although I could never compare my posts to the amazing job Sarah and Vicki do over on The Adoption Social site or the amazing posts that are written by the many amazing people who link up to #WASO.

A heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS to you all.

celebrate

So as this is my 100th post and the #WASO theme is ‘the first one hundred’, I have had to think very hard about what this means for me.

  • The first 100 times I tucked my boys into bed and kissed them goodnight
  • The first 100 photos I took of us as a family
  • The 100 times I have heard someone say “if you didn’t know they were adopted, you would swear they were yours. They look so much like you” Grrrrrr
  • The 100 times I have felt like I am hitting my head against a brick wall trying to get schools to understand that behaviour modification programmes just don’t work with my boys
  • The first 100 hours I spent with boys before we even knew they were to become our sons.

I am sure I could go on forever with my list of ‘first 100’s’ and I definitely have 100 reasons to celebrate firsts, and having Bumble and my boys in my life, but while writing this post, there is one ‘first 100’ that keeps jumping to the front of my mind – ‘The first one hundred’ hours we spent parenting Beeswax from a distance and the boys were free from the influence of their ‘trauma bond’.

When we made the painful decision to agree to the recommendation for Beeswax to attend a residential specialist school, we never imagined the effect it would have on home, or the relationship between the boys, or his relationship with Bumble and I.

At the time we felt like failures and Buzzbee couldn’t understand why his big brother was choosing to leave him and only come home at weekends. Obviously it wasn’t as easy as that and while Beeswax was instrumental in starting the ball rolling with his suggestion that he thought family life would be more manageable if he went to a boarding school and only came home for short periods of time, I am sure that when the powers that be agreed to the suggestion and found him a school, there was part of him that felt that we were washing our hands of him and sending him away because of his volatile behaviour and that he didn’t deserve to be part of our family.

That first week the he attended his new school were certainly the hardest 100 hours I had experienced since the boys had moved in (Ok actually 102 hours but close enough). The guilt that I felt was almost crippling and to be honest that first week was shrouded in a fog of grief and unhelpful thoughts.

“If I had just kept quiet about his violence towards me”

“I should have tried harder to help him to learn to trust me”

“What kind of mum am I sending him to a boarding school? I am just proving to him that mum’s are not to be trusted”

But, in amongst the haze of our own selfish thoughts, we couldn’t help noticing the almost immediate difference in Buzzbee’s demeanour. Our high octane, ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ 5 year old was going to sleep at night without a battle, he was less oppositional or inclined to fly off the handle at the drop of the hat, he was cuddly and chatty, I suppose you would say he was more relaxed. Of course he was not a model child – there is no such thing, but rather than the traumatised unpredictable little boy we had come to know, he instead appeared to have an air of freedom about him.

100 hours later Beeswax came home for the weekend and WELL, to be perfectly frank it was like he had never been away. The stress and anxiety that we had all been living for several month came flooding back through the door at 2pm on that Friday afternoon and hit us like a juggernaut. Bumble and I felt that we had failed again and had put Beeswax through yet another unnecessary transition for nothing (irrational I know considering it was only his first week, but certainly I have convinced myself that when he came home he would have missed us as we had him, and he would suddenly accept me and I could finally feel like his mum rather than a sparring partner or something that he had trod in). The change in Buzzbee was also incredible.

At the time I was keeping a diary for Jemima and while reading back what I had written over the week and documenting the events of the weekend, I began to realise the true power of the ‘trauma bond’.

A few days later, on the suggestion of Jemima, I wrote the following letter for Beeswax (edited slightly to fit with this weeks’ #WASO theme)

Dear Beeswax.

As you leave to start your second week at school, I just want to you to know that last week was one of the hardest weeks for your dad and I, and while we know that it was the right decision for you to be there, it was not what we would have wanted for you. It was not what we dreamt our family life would come to.

I know it was your suggestion to go and I truly hope in time that you will begin to feel that you can spend more time at home and being part of a family.

It is so difficult for me to think that you are struggling being part of your new family because your ‘first family’ let you and Buzzbee down and you are frightened of it happening again.   Please, please, please know that whether you are sleeping in your own bed, in your own bedroom at home, or you are sleeping in your bed at school, you are part of our family and this is your home no matter what. We love you and that won’t change.

This weekend you have told me how different it has been not spending time with Buzzbee and how, although you have missed him deeply, you felt free. Your thoughts were no longer engulfed by worrying about what he was doing every second of the day, or hating having to watch as Buzzbee slowly transferred his dependence from you to me. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for you after the length of time you have taken care of him for. Please know that even when Buzzbee is becoming more dependents on me and looking to me for comfort first before you now, this does not mean he does not love you and it can never break the bond you have between you. It just means that you are now free to be a big brother and do all the things with him that a big brother would, while letting Bumble and I be both of yours mum and dad – I know it is not that easy but I honestly believe as time goes on, you will slowly realise that Buzzbee is not replacing you. He is promoting you to the important role of a Big brother who he loves and can look up to.

This week has been hard for Buzzbee too, but like you there has been this week a change in him also. I suppose you could say in the 102 hours you have been away, he has to felt a sense of freedom (not that he is old enough to recognise it).

I can hear your voice right now saying “see I told you he didn’t love me, he couldn’t care the less that I have been away all week”. That is certainly not the truth, if your name hadn’t crossed his lips 100 times a day it had crossed it more. He really does miss you, but I think both of you have been through so much trauma together, at such an early age, that there is another bond you have between you both and it is one that is not healthy and sometimes you both need a break from the memories of that trauma, but being together all the time means that your subconsciously trigger memories in each other and you both deserve a break.

I think this is why this week at school you have felt free and Buzzbee has been more relaxed. It is nobody’s fault and I know you are blaming yourself, thinking if you hadn’t been such a handful or hurt so many people, you wouldn’t be where you are now, but for me all I see is hope and opportunities:

Opportunities for you both to begin to heal, at your own pace. Opportunities for you to learn to trust Bumble and I, at a pace which is more comfortable to you. Opportunities for you to regain some of the childhood you lost. Well, you get where I am going with this.

Please remember while for 102 hours a week you may not be in sight, you are never, never, never out of mind and never will be.

Love

Mum xxx

Since the first one hundred hours at school, there has obviously been many more weeks/hours the boys have spent apart and Beeswax has had the space he has so desperately needed to be a child without the pressures of being in family unit 24 hours a day.

And, no matter how frustrated I get with his school, and how they repeatedly fail to acknowledge the impact his early history has had on his ability to trust adults and maintain positive relationships with people he is fond of, or how many tears I have shed after dealing with them for one reason or another. The best decision that we ever made for Beeswax was to agree him spending 102 hours a week there, parenting from a small distance.

clockwise

That Monday feeling

It seemed fitting to give an update about the events of last weeks’ post before writing about this weeks’ #WASO theme ‘A typical school morning’.
Last week I found myself writing a #WASO post about Beeswax’s first week back to school, and the anxiety and angst that he brought with him on his return home on the Friday afternoon, due to a confusion with his timetable and placing him into a vocational activity which was for many reasons, so unsuitable. I am pleased to say that one wonderful woman (curriculum co-ordinator) not only took time out from her own personal time to respond to my email at the weekend, but had by Tuesday morning resolved the situation and placed him into a more appropriate programme.
So this is one mum who was hoping that on his return today, she would have a happier teenager son (OK, well as happy as a raging, hormonal teenage boy can get anyway) – Oh well maybe next week!
It is fair to say that, with one son currently being home educated and the other attending a residential specialist school Monday – Friday, there are very few occasions where I can safely say “this is a typical school morning for us”.
Of course I could bore you with the insane madness of a Monday morning in my pursuit to make sure I have 2 boys who are ready to walk out the front door no later than 8.15am – rounding up a gaggle of geese would be easier and far less stressful. Trust me!
“Mum where the hell are my shoes?” (“By the front door where you last dumped them”)
“Muuuuuummmmm! Beeswax won’t get out of my room. He is being a (bleep bleep bleep)” (“Beeswax stop tormenting your brother and concentrate on getting yourself ready for school”)
(“Beeswax can you please stop messing around with the dog and eat your breakfast”) “Why should I?”
If I am honest there is too much talking and not enough ‘doing’ on a Monday morning – I have learnt over the past couple of years that on a Monday, rather than expecting my pseudo-independent eldest son to get himself sorted out, if I want him to ‘get a wriggle on’ I need to walk him through everything step by step and repeat myself 9, 10, 300 times before it is done – his toddler brain, well and truly takes over on these mornings. I am not even going to go into what Bumble and I have come to describe as ‘Waxy’s Monday morning download’ – in short, in order for Waxy to switch into ‘survival mode’ and become the exceptionally compliant pupil that his school have the privilege of experiencing all week, he must first ‘dump’ all this stress and anxiety onto the household before he reaches the front door of the school building. Chaos and stress doesn’t come close to describing it and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was thankful that I no longer have to endure this EVERY morning with him.

mondaymorning

OK, so let’s move from the routine and structure of getting Waxy off to school on a Monday to the flexibility of home education and ‘a typical school morning’ for Buzzbee.
I think flexibility is the key word here. Buzzbee is a creature of habit in most areas of his life, but now that he is no longer in a school setting and having to manage the stresses of the start of another school day and all the anxiety and fear of failure that this brought, mornings are more relaxed and his is able to gently prepare himself for the day ahead.
Although I have found that allowing the morning to be more self-guided by Buzzbee means that I have a better chance of getting him to engage with school work, there still remains some routine to our mornings:

– Breakfast.
– Washed and dressed.
– Take Beedog for a walk to local fields or woods and sneak in a crafty bit of ‘learning’ without him knowing or have a relaxed chat about what the plan for the day is.
Juice and a snack whilst laughing at mummy grappling with Beedog trying to dry her off or clean her up.

The rest of the morning (days’) home education adventures really depends on Buzz’s frame of mind that day.

I suppose this is why I say that a lot of our day is guided by Buzz. Maybe a better way of describing it would be to say my plans are guided by Buzz’s mood and his threshold of tolerance to making mistakes – some days the volume of work I can get him to do is amazing, but then there are the days where I have to be quite creative with how I get him to engage with learning, or more accurately allowing him to believe he has wormed out of doing any more work that day and instead getting to play his PC game ‘Spore’ (reading practice, designing and programming creatures, planning and strategy, emotional literacy/social interaction between creatures – but he definitely isn’t learning anything 😋) or one of my recent favourites – Geography on the beach.

SandMarks
OK, so while I am reading this post back, it occurs to me that in hindsight, maybe there is no such thing as ‘a typical school morning’ in the Hive – Normal is so overrated sometimes anyway.

I want what is best for all

Ok this is not my usual type of post but if I don’t write it down I am going to explode lose all sense of rational reasoning and most probably it will make absolutely no sense.

A couple of weeks ago in ‘Sports day Pride’ I praised the work and commitment that Buzzbee’s school were demonstrating to supporting him and how maybe I had been premature with my fears that his needs were too great and maybe that this school is not right for him.

Well, scratch that because to listen to Buzz’s school this week you would think he was a demonic child, who is completely unmanageable unless he has 2 adults with him all the times.
They have had their request for additional funding turned down by the statement review board and are now completely panicking because they feel without it they fear for his academic future (more like they fear that they will be back to a position where they are routinely receiving the wrath of other parents when he falls apart and it is mishandled).

OK I am going to try and be a little reasonable for the moment. In the past school have made several mistakes which they have reluctantly held their hands up to which has brought them to this point but during our conversations with them they still fail to accept that we have concerns about their ability to cope (actually they always have the wounded puppy look anytime we have tried to raise our concern) They honestly believe that they have been doing all they can.
While I cannot agree they are doing everything they can. I do feel they are doing the best they can.
Our worries are as much for the staff and Buzz’s friends, as it is for Buzz’s wellbeing (OK Buzz will always be our first and foremost priority).

Buzzbee is certainly no angel (I know that he is a handful. I live with him) but he is a very complex, traumatised little ‘buzzy bee’ and since starting school in reception his anxieties and need for control have only escalated, and now we are in a position where they cannot get him into the classroom and he is barely accessing school work.
On the rare occasions he has allowed himself to trust the staff enough to try a little bit of work, they understandable want to give his self-esteem a boost but have gone completely over the top and sent him into a spiral of destruction because in his mind he is the world’s most naughtiest, unlovable child and so he needs to prove it to them.
I have spoken to them about praising the work not the child and have been accused of being a cold and unfeeling mother (mind you I am getting used to being seen as lacking emotional warmth with my boys simply because they don’t understand and only see what they want to see).

Anyway I am getting off point. A professionals meeting was held to discuss whether they were going to appeal the decision and we were not permitted to attend or even given the opportunity to discuss our concerns. However our family placement officer and PASW were invited so before the meeting we explained to them in the hope that they would be able to raise the concern again at the meeting which they did, but this morning our SW has reported back that school were absolutely shocked that we had any concerns (Oh really, so I haven’t raised them in several meetings?)

We are concerned that their communication with us has become somewhat substandard and severely lacking of late, and Bumble and I believe this is because they do not like the fact that we have concerns about how they are coping and about the fact our 7 year old boy is not in the classroom 98% of the academic day, they cannot tell us what level he is in terms of learning because they are unable to get him to access work within school (despite the fact that he will readily read to me at home and attempt homework), I am frequently seeing him playing outdoors with his support staff but no other peers (lesson time). Actually the list could go on for some time.

If you are reading this you may be thinking something along the lines of “why on earth have you left him at this school”.
In truth I have wondered this myself so often and to be honest my only reason has been that Buzz finds transitions so difficult and it has taken him so long to feel safe enough in this school that I am concerned if we managed to find a school who would be prepared to take him. Would we just end up back in the same position?

I really feel that home-schooling him would be the best option at the moment so we can help him get back onto an even keel but his current legal status prevents this from being an option (AO please come quick).

Buzz is a very bright, articulate boy but emotionally he is still trapped at a much younger age and we are finding he is unable to respond in a socially acceptable manner within the school environment at times of high stress and anxiety.
I do not believe that it cannot be remedied and I do not believe that I could never put him back into school but at the moment he is miserable, school are miserable, heck even I am miserable.

My first priority is to my boys and it breaks my heart to see Buzzbee struggling so much. I just feel that at the moment we are all stuck on a perpetual hamster wheel which just keeps going around in circles and until someone breaks that cycle no-one is ever going to be happy or thrive.

Ok rant over. Time to gather up all the used Kleenex tissues and put them in the bin and try and salvage what is left of my day