Tag Archive | The things that we do

The things we do: Transition to a successful birthday

OK so anyone who may have read my previous #WASO post ‘Doing what has to be done’, last week I said I would tell you more about Beeswax’s VERY successful 13th birthday treat once I had sorted out a few of my favourite photos from that day.

Well here goes! Actually this post fits quite nicely with ‘The Adoption Social’s’ ‘The Things we do’ linky.

Ok, so other than my sheer determination to prove to Beeswax that his birthday is not jinxed by concealing the death of my mother-in-law for a few extra days. Although my instincts were right and once he had been told, he did try to suggest that ‘the birthday jinx’ had struck but this time I was ready for him with over 700 photographs (713 to be exact!) which suggested (and he could not argue with) his 13th birthday was more than a success and for maybe the first time in several years he enjoyed his birthday.

Between you, me and the tinternet, I will confess that I was terrified that I wouldn’t pull it off and we would have been hundreds of miles away with two very distressed boys.

So how did I manage it?

As the boys are very different in the reactions and needs when it comes to change and transitions.

Birthday boy is some ways is the easiest.

  • GIVE HIM AS LITTLE WARNING AS POSSIBLE – otherwise he will end up sabotaging it because it doesn’t fit with his view of himself and what he deserves.
  • Get him to help you organise the snacks and entertainment for the journey.
  • Constantly reassure him throughout the journey and day that we will have lunch, snacks, etc.
  • Give him something to fiddle with so that ‘mum & dad’ are not pulling their hair out trying to stop him ‘toddler touching’ everything within reaching distance.
  • And, finally do our best to make sure Buzzbee doesn’t “WIG OUT” and “SHOW HIM UP”

If I follow these few guidelines usually, we can keep Beeswax calm and on track for a great day.

In order to achieve the last bullet point – keeping Buzzbee calm, a lot more preparation is needed and in all honesty we nearly came unstuck 10 minutes before arriving at the Snowdome but after a frantic mad dash for my phone and the wonder of google images – full scale panic meltdown averted.

Buzzbee finds change very difficult and will become very anxious when visiting unfamiliar places. He also finds public places and surrounding noises disorientating. So he needs lots of preparation – military style planning sometimes (I won’t put them all because I will be here all night).

  • Prepare a book for him, showing images of the Snowdome and information about what is there, how we will get there, what the private instructor was called (actually the snowdome were wonderful and provided us with a picture in advance) – go through the book with him as many times as he needed to.
  • Bumble allowed Buzz to familiarise himself with skis by taking his old set out of the loft and leaving them in his room.
  • Make sure that Buzzbee’s favourite cuddly toy and film were in the car along with his chocolate milkshake.
  • Buy his a cheap sweatshirt to wear – we know he is going to chew it so this way his won’t fret and neither will we (Ideally he would have had his SensaChew dog tags but that wouldn’t have been safe).
  • As Beedog was going to a dog sitter, letting Buzz create a going away bag with transitional objects, helped him feel that she would be looked after how he wanted her too.  I also came with me to settle her in.
  • Once we arrived at the Snow Dome, the most important thing to do was walk around and allow him to familiarise himself with his surroundings and the noise (which actually was not too bad).

Yes, most of these things for both boys could make or break a daytrip (and trust me 4/5 times we have not been so successful in managing their anxiety in public).  For the day Bumble and I had 2 big goals – Make sure Beeswax had the best birthday ever and support the boys in their need to be perfect at everything, if they don’t quite get the hang of it or fall over.

Tick and Tick (although we needn’t have worried about the second because they are both very coordinated and were naturals – only 2 falls happened. One was more of a Buzzbee sensory seeking dive and the other Beeswax got his skis tangled when using the rope lift and caused a domino effect that left all unable to get back to their feet because they were too busy laughing).

I could go ahead and pat myself and Bumble on the back for a job well done! But, I don’t need to because looking back at the pictures I took that day, there is no question that Beeswax had a fantastic birthday and really enjoyed himself – he is smiling and looks relaxed (generally he either looks like he is about to tear your head off or his eyes look like he is somewhere else).

Many of our friends (not adoptive ones of course) believe we go over the top with preparing the boys but like the title of this post it is ‘the things we do’ to help our son’s experience new experiences to the best of their abilities.

snowdome collage

The Things We Do

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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