If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A tough week

On Tuesday I was called into school as child 4 had been struggling for the past couple of days. On Tuesday alone he had hurt 10 children before morning break at 10.40am. By lunchtime the teacher had given up on the early years foundation scheme of free flow play and learn for the class and had structured the afternoon into small groups of children being directed to specific activities for 15 minutes before being moved to the next activity all to minutely manage child 4.
Child 4 had been invited to a birthday party the next afternoon, he was tired, scared and struggling with his emotions, maybe a party wasn't the best idea but still he wanted to go so I went with him. I over heard one little girl say to her friend "oh that's just child 4, he is always in trouble at school and a parent said as he was in full tantrum "oh dear Ben rioting again" Normally these comments roll off me but that day they didn't. All my fears were accumulating. Child 4 being known as the naughty child by his peers, parents seeing him as a trouble maker, teachers struggling to manage him. We had been doing so well.
We have shut ourselves away for the rest of the week, quietly talking about being kind and gentle. Ensuring that when he is angry or struggling with his emotions he knows who to speak to and where his safe space is. I spoke to the ELSA support in school who does Theraplay with child 4 about our weekend so that she could help him. His class teacher has changed their day around so that the structured stuff is in the afternoon when he is more tired so susceptible to behaving erratically.
Our mornings and evenings have been packed with tantrums, demands and loud voices have echoed through the house. Meltdowns because I won't allow meals of sweets, chocolates or biscuits, followed by desperate clingy cuddles with him almost climbing inside me. The nights have been disturbed with him ending up in our bed or me cuddled up with him in his.
All this I think was brought on by a complete meltdown by child 2 on Sunday. He had, had parents evening regarding his upcoming GCSE's think he is just realising that he actually has to do some work and it was his birthday, as he has struggled with friendships at school I think he was worried that no one would mention his birthday and 16 years old is a big step for a teenager. This led to a meltdown of epic proportions where he wanted everyone in the house to feel as bad as he did and didn't care what he did to ensure that happened. Of course my attention was all in child 2's direction, so I completely missed the effect that this event had on the other children, particularily child 4. Now, I am left repairing the damage. Finding appropriate consequences for child 2 and working out how I am going to speak to him about the effects of his behaviour on his siblings, helping him be responsible for his actions without starting another battle. He has lost all electronics for the week and has to clean the bathrooms as he swore, a lot. However, he has actually been revising so that's a positive.

This weekend I am spending time with the children, we are going to make bath bombs, filled with lavendar oil, bake some cookies and walk the dog.  Child 3 has a gym competition so she will need TLC and support as she gets very nervous before, although her last two practice sessions have been amazing.

A time for gentle and quiet structure I think is required.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

A road less travelled

Moving into a New Year doesn't hold the excitement it did when I was young. Gone are the days where a New Year brought exciting decisions, major events, resolutions. Now it is just one day morphing into another. I no longer make resolutions as I know I am unlikely to keep them. I watch the fireworks because the children want to and I enjoy the time with them. This time I wondered about where I intend to end up, eventually, after all life is a journey but it's a journey with no definitive destination. We move from one stop to the next. Teenage years to adult hood, individuals to partnerships, new jobs, careers, new homes, cities and countries, then in our case children.



I was lucky enough to be born into an ordinary family, parents that loved me and supported me. They started me on my life journey, in the beginning they drove, choosing the direction that my life was going to take. Then gradually they encouraged or allowed me to branch out on my own. I began to make my own decisions taking the fork in the road that appealed to me, knowing that they were there to share the driving seat if everything went wrong.
Now I am in the driving seat, a seat I share with Mr L. We have chosen a road much less travelled, this of course means that the road is not so easy or efficient. The road often twists and turns and we can't see more than a few metres in front, we hit pot holes, sometimes the road crumbles beneath the wheels, we make wrong turns and have to decide whether to turn back or keep on going. Sometimes we get hopelessly lost and have to call for help. But then we see a light, the road smooths out, we've climbed a mountain, traversed a cliff side, found our way out of the dark trees, reached the bottom of a death defying hill. We can stop, stretch our legs and enjoy the view. We can picnic in a beautiful valley, lazing in the warm sun. We can stroll around a meadow covered with wild flowers. We can be in a place of contentment. But time doesn't wait for anyone, minutes pass drifting into hours and we once again start our journey. Where we are aiming for I often don't know, life is funny like that we start our lives being totally dependant on our parents, what is our end destination? heaven? We move on from one stop to the next, one Dream realised after another. Everyone's dreams are different and a certainty will be that not all our dreams come true.
What is my next pit stop to be. Seeing child 1 and 2 through their exams, definitely a long hard climb. Helping child 3 achieve her NDP in gymnastics, tip toeing through the grass avoiding the egg shells. Supporting child 4 through his first year in school, which means returning now and then to the busy, well travelled roads praying that we can get to our next stop without any prangs or traffic jams caused by others that intentionally or inadvertently get in our way. The journey we have chosen certainly isn't boring but the hiccups along the way are eclipsed by the moments of joy we are often surprised with.







Thursday, 29 December 2016

Love

"Love is all you need" doesn't seem to work in the adoption field. Love is pretty much a given, surprisingly in a way. Who would have believed that you could meet a 2 year old and fall in love so very quickly. I didn't but have been proved wrong. 
Many adopters though will tell you that Love is not enough to help our children, some of whom have been so very damaged by their early start in life. Many children need support and help outside the family unit and the families need support and help to keep their lives on an even keel. I can only speak of my experience not of other peoples, every story is different. I often hear the comment "all children do that, oh he will be fine, he was so little when you adopted him so he won't remember the best one was I know all about adoption I've watched The Dumping Ground" yes honestly that is true!! Sometimes, I doubt myself, am I imagining things, am I over protective or making excuses. When we started school I know they pooh poohed my concerns, thinking I was an over protective parent, although to give them their due they have seen the light and are putting lots of support in place to help with child 4's agression and anger.



I like many over the last couple of days have read the Daily Mail Article "They open their homes to adopt – then find they’ve taken on youngsters who wreck their family." 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4069254/They-open-homes-adopt-ve-taken-youngsters-wreck-family-continue-BETRAY-loving-parents-asks-CAROL-SARLER.html

A coarse and frightening piece of journalism. One that shows little compassion for anyone involved in adoption be it the children, the adoptive families, the birth families, social services or adoption charities. A piece of work that could sadly put off potential adopters and scare adopters like myself who are not living the lives of these families but worry that our lives could change very quickly and we could find ourselves living in homes full of egg shells where one false move could cause family life to deteriorate  into crisis. It tells of the worst case scenarios within adoption, scenarios that are being shared more and more frequently. Not that it seems to change much. No one really wants to talk about adoption breakdowns or families in crisis, I guess because it calls the whole system into question. How many noticed that in the article Katya's birth mother was only a child herself, in care because her mother was in prison, a cycle of neglect that may have been started generations before. The only way to call a halt to the cycle is help and support. Help and support that is either slow in coming or not even in existence. There seems to be an issue with spending money, short sighted because in the long run it will save a fortune. Adoption breakdowns cost the state a fortune, lack  of support could mean that some children will remain wards of the state in the prison system or they end up requiring medical intervention due to homelessness, drug abuse or obesity,  In away it is good that the article has opened up a debate, but I suspect that it is a debate that only those actually involved will join, most of society will if they even read it,  feel briefly saddened or ignore it. I think that It is hard to actually believe that children can behave the way that the article portrays unless you are living it, it is easier to brush it off as "something all children do" than to consider the whys and wherefore as to why a child would behave in such a terrifying way, full of so much anger, fear and sorrow. Especially when you consider the lives of so many children around the world today. It is easy to think we can save a baby or a toddler when we see their sad faces plastered across the media/social media but where is that desire to save them when they have grown into angry, obnoxious and agressive teenagers? 
Love has to be bigger than that we have for our families, it has to encompass all those in society that need it. Imagine what could be achieved if their was more compassion if our tax money was collected properly and was spent on helping those who need it rather than on big salaries.

So I guess all I can do today is pray for those who really need help and that love along with pro-active parenting, training, a supportive school and community and a family that stand well and truly in our corner will be enough. 





Sunday, 18 December 2016

Peace

Peace on Earth is something to dream about, something to wish for, but, finding peace in my little spot on earth is something I may actually find.
Over the last few years I have been trying to find peace in what I have or to find peace in myself, tricky when you live in a busy household, when you are a working mum of four.

Sometimes I am sure that I have grasped this elusive wish and my world feels calmer, softer and warmer. I can be surrounded by the noise of family and friends and find that I am at peace, in fact it is often when I am surrounded by those I love that I am at peace. I don't have to act in a certain way, don't have to watch what I do or don't say and I don't have to worry about how I look.
I have I think, realised that peace cannot be found, we have to create it, we have to live it and in turn give it away wherever we can.



Now with a house full of children all dealing with growing up, finding their way, moving forwards. (Although at times we seem to take one step forward, two steps back.) it seems especially desirable to be able to give peace away. I wish peace of mind to my children, I wish for them to be fearless in their heading out into a world that doesn't care about where they came from, shows little interest in how life decisions, not necessarily made by them, impact on how they grow. I wish for them to be strong and believe in themselves, I wish for them to be compassionate towards others and I hope they recognise that sometimes you have to find the courage to walk away from people to find peace, sometimes you have to leave people to find their own way, because if you walk with them they take you somewhere that you don't want to go.




Sunday, 4 December 2016

Hope

Adoption is a funny old thing, it changes everything, your outlook on life, your relationship with acquaintances, friends, work and family it impacts on everything. How I manage my family, my emotions, my work/life balance. Along the way we have distanced ourselves from some but others have integrated themselves into our lives with ease offering all manner of support, some involving coffee others involving gin. We seem to have made lots of new friends, others like us, parents dealing with children who need something more, something different. Or just those who go with the flow. We, I think are lucky to be so established within our community that many although often dubious have given us the benefit of the doubt then, when realising that we only have our children's best interest at heart and know what we are talking about, work with us to ensure the best outcomes for our children.
Pro-activity is the key life plan. We pro-actively manage everything, holidays, weekends, starting school, beginning new clubs always assuming the worst and hoping for the best. We stop cycles of behaviour by talking, planning, returning to known ways that work or try new ones. We attend courses, read blogs, articles, books all about how to support all our children and ourselves through this mine field that we sometimes stroll through, other times we tip toe, silently and cautiously, sadly we occasionally misstep causing explosions and fallout.  
Outside influences can rock this, emotions triggered by others can cause a ripple effect, like that of a stone being tossed into smooth, calm pond. The ripple starts small but spreads quickly, effecting more of the pond surface, the ripples often increasing, becoming faster and more agressive until they peter out and once again the pond is smooth and calm again.

Advent always makes me think, it's a time to revisit the year and think about the coming new one. It's a time to think about the bad stuff and what can we do to avoid it, the not so good stuff and how we can change it but most importantly the things that have gone well. We have had a wonderful year really, a fantastic family holiday, amazing exam results, medals at gymnastics, a happy settling into school, children growing and changing, making us proud. Then we have those days of quiet, calm simplicity, the days full of sunshine and joy and the days of exciting, chaos. Those are my favourite memories and I am hoping that 2017 will be filled with days like those, days like those overcome all the days that aren't so good.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sweet fillings

I've been thinking about how to minimise our tricky behaviours especially after school and at the weekends. This has meant a backward step or two for me personally, a return back to those first days when I had to be on hand tso manage those late afternoon, early evening witching hours and at the weekends to be in a 24/7 supervisory mode. I am now ensuring that dinner is prepared before I do the school pick up, on work days I prepare stuff in the slow cooker or go for simple pasta bakes when I get up in the morning. Mornings are good, child 4 wakes early but is happy to potter, eat breakfast, watch a bit of CBeebies or play with some toys. Other days I make it whilst the children are in school. This seems to alleviate the agression after school as I am more available, I can cuddle up on the sofa with child 3 & 4 or we can play, read, paint or bake. The hair pulling, the throwing and the hitting have begun to disappate. At the weekends we have to be more structured as the days are long without school.
We have been having our neighbours children over for an hour or so most Saturday mornings the last few weeks and I have found that structuring their time has been the best way to manage them. We have made biscuits, on Halloween weekend we iced ginger bread men shaped biscuits into skeletons and on Firework night we made edible sparklers by dipping breadsticks firstly into melted chocolate then a variety of cake toppings, such as 100's and 1000's, glittery sugar and chocolate sugar strands.
I've extended this to cover much of the day through Saturday and Sunday, not just baking just more structure and it is working slowly. Yesterday went extremely well, especially as Mr L and child 2 had headed off to watch the football 3 hours away. We made Christmas shaped bird seed cakes, did a bit of shopping, made lunch, went to a party, went for a walk and played in the bath.

Today was a little trickier probably because after lunch with my parents we relaxed on the sofa to watch Babe, child 4 isn't quite ready for a 90 minute movie, he soon became restless and looked for ways to annoy his siblings, very successfully. Now he is asleep in bed and I am finishing off my blog before checking out Pinterest for new ideas for activities!!!!
This mornings creation - White chocolate cookies. We also made our Christmas Cakes.  Busy busy busy hands mean less chance of trouble maker hands.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The end of the school honeymoon

This week meant a follow up meeting in school, to see how child 4 was settling in. Child 4 has settled in well, there are no concerns regarding his academic ability and he loves forest school and PE. However, he is hurting someone every single day. I was hoping that his agression and sometimes violent action remained within the home and I was saddened if not surprised that my hopes had not completely come to fruition.  In reality since half term we have been struggling with many difficult behaviours, it's quite exhausting, days that easily spill into anger, rage and fighting, evenings of clingy battles against sleep and a move from when safety was in sleep to a need from him to end up in our bed. A need to feel secure and loved despite or because of his behaviour earlier in the day.

The school are being amazing, they are planning to add yoga to help with his anger and a social behaviour learning scheme using stories in school, supported with stories at home with additional ELSA support in school, they will also look at an additional staff member to help support within the class as child 4 cannot cope without an adult presence, the minute he is left to his own devices especially in free flow play or playtime something will happen. Hopefully as his days become more structured he will feel more secure and his behaviour will calm down. He has build a strong and respectful relationship with his teacher to the degree that sometimes if he feels unable to cope he will find her and stay close to her until he feels safe again.

At home Mr L and I are going to do a Conscious Parenting course, I did one three years ago when child 4 arrived but of course he was 2 then, now at 5 things have changed and evolved and I could do with a reminder and some new ideas in managing some of the more difficult behaviours that seem to be exhibited more and more often.

All this left me a little despondent for a while, in so many ways we have made so much progress, then something reminds us that life is not plain sailing I am just so grateful that we have such a good relationship with the school and that they are willing to put huge amounts of support in place when it is required. Also with our post adoption team who have already found places on courses for us to attend, Mr L this month and me early next year.

I often wish that I had a magic wand and some magic spells to fix it all, but that I guess would be too easy.