Tag Archive | schools

National Adoption Week – School’s out

Oops where did the week go?

I planned to add a couple more posts this week but as always life on ‘Planet Adoption and Home Education’ have taken over the days this week.

In the Hive we have always been very open about discussions about Adoption and the boys’ birth parents and life story narratives, and recently Buzzbee has began working with a wonderful DDP therapist to try and help him begin to unpick all his muddled up thoughts and feelings – he has amazed (and saddened) us all with how much he has taken in and how insightful he is into some of the reasons he felt had responded in the ways he did while at school.

This week Buzzbee has been curious about the repeated Purple #SupportAdoption selfie pictures that have been showing up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. When I explained to him about what they were all representing. His response was “will my old school see it?”. This then opened up a long discussion about what it was like for him at school and how he wished he hadn’t “screwed it all up”.

I wanted to give him the opportunity to express his feels as an adoptee, so I asked Buzzbee if he would like to write something about it for National Adoption Week and we could put it on his page or I could, with his permission, create a #WASO post for him. He liked the idea, however during the week it has taken legs – more accurately it has gone from a slow gentle 1 mile jog and with Waxy’s help it has morphed into a full scale marathon of a Powerpoint project for me to add to this post (my boys have more faith in my technical abilities than I do in myself that is for certain)

Over the week it has been given 8 or 9 different title as he put the slideshow together.  He wanted to originally call it “Look into my eyes” but finally settled on “School’s Out”.

I will leave you with Buzz having the final words.

“I hope people will like it and I don’t make them cry. I just want people to understand that sometimes being adopted is hard. Even when you are loved”  Buzz xxxx

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!

 

Doing what has to be do.

I really should begin with apologising for the rant that is about to unfold with this weeks’ #WASO post.

Earlier last week our PASW and I prepared ourselves for yet another school meeting where the expected end result was that, at the best, we would leave with lots of empty promises and the feeling that we spent the majority of the time ‘hitting our heads against a brick wall’. Or, I would end up having to excuse myself from the meeting with a river of tears pouring down my cheeks, in order for me to avoid coming across any more neurotic and ‘over-sensitive’ than they already believe I am and avoid me telling members of staff what I really feel about them and their professionalism.

This meeting has been a long time coming and dates back to before school broke up for the summer – OK really it dates back a couple more years than that, but now it has come to a head and I need to see an end to it before it, not only makes me ill, but ends up resulting in more serious implications for relationships with home, school and Social Services. Prejudices and personalities need to be checked at the door before Beeswax slips through the net.

So with Beeswax and his welfare, front and centre of my mind:

I sold my soul to pay the devil.

I fell on my own sword in the name of my son

I sacrificed my self-respect just to keep the peace.

Or would it be a more accurate description to say. Today I took the higher ground. I can’t continue the sentence with “and it felt good” because it most definitely did not feel that way.

OK I know I am not making any sense, am I?

Over recent months I have been having more than a couple of issues with Waxy’s school and their understanding of his needs (or lack of it more often than not). As a result I have been on the receiving end of some pretty horrible treatment by several members of staff – sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this carp. When he joined the school I could have easily put him on transport with the intention of (with exception of parent’s and sports days) only having indirect contact with staff. Maybe if I had, we wouldn’t have had to get to this position. Who am I kidding! Waxy’s default mode is ‘Splitting’. He cannot bare home and school working together, and in his mind mums are the easiest target – heck I am definitely not perfect and have definitely made mistakes over the years, but you would think I was some kind of Dickensian matriarch who wants her children to be ‘seen and not heard’ and do as they are told always and every time.

OK I’m getting off topic and veering towards getting on my ‘soapbox’ about the complexities of the traumatic effects of both boys’ early years’ experience on their attachment history and how vicarious secondary trauma (at the darkest time – blocked care) can illicit reactions and responses in you that can give people the wrong idea about you – it is amazing how quickly school especially can put me into a defensive mode and I can then come across as ‘negative, cold and neurotic’ (I hate it and beat myself up afterwards every time), however NEVER at any point has school come to me and expressed their concern and instead they have drawn their own conclusions from the fact that while Beeswax is in school during the week he is a ‘model pupil’ (completely compliant) and all the problems are at home, so my relationship with him and my parenting is believed to be the problem. Of course it is! Nothing to do with the fact that he is terrified of the implications of acting out at school, feels unsafe and the fact that, throughout his life, Waxy believes that mums can’t be trusted (OK it is far more complicated than that, but it is his story and not for me to share, but I hope you understand what I am trying to say).

So why did I leave the meeting feeling like I had sacrificed my self-respect?

Quite simply, everyone and I mean EVERYONE, including myself and Shamrock (PASW) was expecting me to go into the meeting and open a ‘can of whoop arse’ on school. I could feel their tension and Shamrock and I had already come up with an ‘exit strategy’ if it got too much for me. So no one was more surprised than myself, when I found that I was in control of the meeting and the staff attending were very quickly thrown off guard by my responses and questions, rather than the dialogues being a barrage of pointless ‘he said, she said’ and lots of misunderstandings, miscommunication and Shamrock having to step in when a comment or two finally gets my heckles up. I believed I was going to have go into the meeting and ‘justify’ myself and I was worried I would make matters worse, but instead school became Beeswax and ‘therapeutic, supportive PACE mummy’ came out to play, and school were thrown – I wasn’t defensive, I wasn’t emotional (inside I was screaming) and I was completely honest with them, without telling them that ‘I think their staff suck at supporting and understanding children with complex emotional, social and behavioural difficulties despite it being a BESD school’.

So why had I requested this meeting? At the end of last year school had written a complaint letter to SS, which they refuse to show to me. As I covered in a previous post Dark clouds and shiny metal, apparently I lacked emotional warmth when collecting Waxy from school at end of each week – translation, I wasn’t all hugs and kisses and squealing with delight at his return home. Two main points here (which have been pointed out to them before and were again by Shamrock) 1st: Waxy cannot tolerate hugs from me most of the time, let alone very public displays of affection (that is a one way ticket to trouble later in the evening) and 2nd: I have often complained to Shamrock and Bumble that I never have a chance to even say ‘Hi’ to Waxy before the member of staff who is doing handover is bombarding me with over the top positivity about his week at school (don’t get me wrong that is great but I would prefer to hear it from Waxy himself and not have it presented to me in a manner that has me feeling I am being judged for his horrendous weekends). They have also complained about how, on a couple of occasions they have witnessed me being less than regulated when dealing with Waxy turning on his brother the moment he is out of ear shot of school staff and Buzzbee biting back – I admit I am not perfect and, yes, on occasion I have been upset or had to raise my voice to get the boys back in control. Do I like doing that? No! Have staff ever bothered to ask me if they can help or talked to me about what was happening? No! They just go running to SS and make ridiculous complaints about me (I know I sound really self-absorbed and angry at the moment, but this has been their default mode for a couple of years and never have they shown me the slightest bit of respect in coming to me and talking about their concerns – they never believed Jemima’s (Waxy’s previous therapist) explanation of the complexity of Waxy and my relationship and the ‘blocked care’ that I was experiencing at the time and working through. They saw a bad mother and still believe that to this day.

OK so I am guessing that anyone reading this will be confused by my comment that I feel I sacrificed my self-respect during the meeting – I did what any mother would do. I fought to get my child the support he needs and did it with decorum – everyone who knows how much I have been struggling with this situation, have told me how well I did and ‘this is what mum’s have to do for their kids’ – and they are right. The problem for me is school’s last complaint almost finished me off – I have been teetering on the edge of a deep depression cliff for several months and clinging on for dear life to what was left of my self-esteem and their character assassination left me feeling hopeless and I felt my feet beginning to slip on that edge of the cliff for the entire summer holidays.

Did I fall? Not yet, but at that time, in my mind, the only way I felt, I was going to claw my self-esteem and self-respect back was to tackle school and their accusations and backstabbing head on and change their minds about me, whether they wanted to or not – instead the result was I found myself biting my tongue and giving school the space to explore their feelings in a safe, accepting environment free from judgement (again, inside I wasn’t quite so calm and I was finally connecting the dots between some of the interesting nicknames Beeswax has given staff and his reasons for choosing these names, but all the time I managed to maintain a PACE mindset).

So what have I learnt from this?  First of all – I am stronger than I think, and secondly……. Well the picture says it all.

When they stop talking