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.

Monday, 22 August 2016

A holiday. Well the beginning

What a week, the lead up to our holiday has been tricky for child 4, the excitement of a big holiday and no pre-school routines have led to many tantrums. Much like the ones the older three had when they were two. The terrible twos at nearly five bring an interesting slant, child 4 is bigger and stronger so much hard to physically "restrain" and he is much more articulate with a what seems like a dictionary of rude words, only the occasional swear word but hearing I hate you, you big butt head screeched across a supermarket is pretty horrendous.
Child 4 is very lacking in patience so we kept the holiday plans, fairly low key until the week before, tricky with three older ones in the house, one of whom was awaiting her AS results. To my surprise child 4 knew his days of the week so on Sunday night we were able to count the day down to our holiday. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Once we had done this we could work out that it was 6 sleeps. This stopped the "when are we going" repeat, instead every morning he could announce to all who would listen that it was however many sleeps left until the holiday.
Eventually, results day came with a very happy child 1 and proud parents, then holiday mania could begin. I had to work Friday morning, so it was a quick change and out the door for the 3 hour drive to Heathrow. As we reached the M25 the Radio 1 3.30pm summer mix came on, opening with The Vengaboys, which was child1 and 2's favourite tune when they were toddlers. Well everyone in the car was singing and a dancing a perfect way to start our holiday. Everyone was happy and excited all in a good way.

All I had to hope for was a quiet 13 hour flight haha!

It's my wonderful Mum's 70th birthday and the whole family, Mum and Dad , our 6, my sister and her 3 and my brother his partner and their 4 are meeting in Singapore her birth place to celebrate. We are tagging in a visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia whilst over that way. A trip of a lifetime! 

Sunday, 14 August 2016


I like many other adopted parents hear comments about how "lucky" our child/children are. We know that they aren't, any child being forcibly removed from their birth family is not lucky but it is so hard to get that point over. I guess it is much easier to ignore the reasons why children are adopted than to think about how sad, traumatic or just plain terrible our children's lives have been to end up in the position they have and through no fault of there own.

I have struggled with this lucky commentary, often saying that actually we are the lucky ones rather than debate whether or not child 4 is lucky.

 Luck means  success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions. I don't think that chance plays much of a part in the adoption process, everything seems to be discussed, procrastinated, carefully thought out and weighed up. We have frequent meetings with a social worker, courses to attend, reading to complete and panels to sit through - not much seems to be left to chance.

However, do I think that we are blessed? Yes, I do. We have been blessed with another member of the family and he is blessed with parents, siblings, extended family and a community whom love him very much. I definitely prefer to think of our adoption journey as one that attributes adoption to some one who cares rather than a random act of chance.

So from now when anyone says that child 4 is lucky I can whole heartedly respond with we are all blessed to have him in our family. Although I may need reminding on the days that he throws chairs at the window, draws all over the bedding with a red sharpie or wee's in the corner of the conservatory blowing the electrics.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Five go on a picnic or two.

I honestly don't think that you can beat England in the sunshine. Warm sunny days make the perfect memories, like tales from your favourite books. We may not remember everything about the day, but we will always remember the feeling that the memory brings home.
I am hoping to add a whole host of happy, contented memories for the whole family this summer. 

Child 4 has finished nursery for good and will be starting school in September, my experience has been that once the children start school they begin to test their wings, they grow and flourish becoming day by day the adults they will eventually become. This is my last summer where he will still be my baby so the making of memories is as much for me as they are for him. 

With the weather being so gorgeous we have played in the Secret Garden . We met with friends some who had never visited the Secret Garden so child 4 loved introducing them to climbing trees as if they were pirate masts avoiding the very hungry sharks circling beneath, teaching them how to navigate the hills using tree roots as hand and foot holds to clamour to the top then slide down to the dried up stream beds below and then the exploration of the natural dens made by the undergrowth.  When there has been a crowd of them you can spot them or their shadows playing hide n seek amongst the tree tops on the paths that traverse the tops of the valley strolling, running or chasing single file, reminding me of the scene from Peter Pan when the boys play "Following the Leader"  Only returning to us mums on the picnic blanket when they were hungry or thirsty.

We have adventured to our local Palace gardens with a homemade picnic in tow, we have made pork,sage and onion sausage rolls, jammy tray bake, chocolate cake and cut up strawberries and pineapple. We have fed the swans with their 8 cygnets who are growing big and strong, their fluffy grey down now speckled with white feathers are preparing to fly the nest and look for mates and good nesting spots of their own. Settling under the boughs of an ancient tree that cast its shadow over the natural wells, we have enjoyed the dappled sunshine and the sounds of cool running water. Child 4 sat his toes dipped in the icy cold waters playing his version of pooh sticks for ages, he would lie on his tummy allowing the water to run over his hands, through his fingers , lifting and wiggling his fingers, watching the water drops fall, catching the sun in the drops like miniature rainbows. Other children joined him and he played and laughed with them until it was time to go and find an ice cream.

These are the memories I need to hold close, to remind me of the wonder of being 4, the joy of children playing together, the counter balance to the bickering and tantrums that take over on the days when the weather is wet and grey or the witching hours before bed when everyone is tired and irritable. The days when fight or flight is about fear and worry rather than aiming for the second star to the right or the taking on of Captain Hook.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Coming Home

I am preparing a big family lunch, a get together following the adventures our two eldest children have had. We have an enormous roast chicken, crispy golden skin hiding the succulent meat steaming below, home made sage, onion and sausage meat stuffing, a crunchy top and lusciously smooth beneath, Chipolatas, golden crispy yet fluffy roast potatoes, ginormous Yorkshire puddings with beautiful dips in to fill with gravy and broccoli, carrots and green beans as sides. Yesterday I made Favourite desserts,  summer pudding, using the raspberries growing in our garden and Nutella cheesecake, my mum is bringing my husband's favourite apple cake over with her. All this requested by child 2 as he has just returned from NYC. There has been lots of adventure in the Five Go On An Adventure household the last couple of weeks.

Child 1 has had an amazing week working with an anti slavery charity in London. She stayed with my brother in North London, travelling daily by tube from his home to her work experience placement, a huge adventure for a country girl. She has returned home, rather reluctantly, full of everything she has learned and the amazing people she has met. She was lucky enough to attend an event in Canary Wharf which was discussing a report created by Sisters of Change about slavery in the garment trade, which has probably changed her outlook about the clothes she will buy from now on. Child 1 is planning more work experience maybe with Amnesty International or Sisters for Change, she has returned home as a much more confident young lady, one who is willing to ask for an opportunity to do something, to not worry about rejection, to just go for it.

Child 2 left in the early hours last Sunday morning for his drama trip to New York City, a jolly really but one full of exciting places to see, World Trade Centre, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, cycling in Central Park, rememberance at Ground Zero, Wicked on Broadway and then all the amazing food, bagels, pancakes, burgers, Po Boys, hot dogs and ice cream. After an adventure first thing - arriving at the meeting point at 3am to find that the coach had not arrived. A car pool of parents saved the day driving the children the 200 miles to Heathrow to catch their plane. He has returned home exhausted but full of exciting tales of the places he visited, the food he ate and the people he saw.

I love these family get togethers, the ones where my children are at home and can share their adventures with their grandparents and aunt. This time though, I feel a little sorrow, nostalgia for the days when they were all little. You see as I peel the vegetables, I have just realised that my two eldest in particular child 1 are getting ready to fly the nest, child 1 is planning her gap year travels, following her A levels next year, to Europe, to visit all the galleries and museums she can during a month of inter railing then onto India, Far East Asia and beyond. She is visiting University's in London, Edinburgh and Sussex where she hopes to study history and politics. Soon she will be creating her own home and returning to us just to visit. Don't get me wrong, I know it's what should happen and I am beyond proud. Parenting is ensuring that our beloved children grow into the people they are meant to be. Adults full of compassion, love, a desire to learn and an ability to find contentment.  But ...............

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Where is the rainbow?

It's been raining again, the sun is just coming through the grey clouds, but the clouds are darker in the distance.

For the first time ever I am going to confession at my own violition. I am so very angry at so many people, some of whom I don't even know. I know that this rage is unhealthy and I know many will say that it is "bad form or sour grapes" but I don't think it is. I think that I have every right to be angry. I think that many people have been completely let down by those who made promises that they had absolutely no intention of keeping and for those of us that voted remain we are left bereft, angry, anxious and saddened by what is playing out in front of our eyes. I am hoping that confessing this anger and despair will help me to move forward and to find some peace so that I can look after my family.

My rage, I know stems from fear, funny you may say, an adoptive parent recognising the fight, flight, freeze responses in herself.

I am a first generation immigrant - something I have never even thought of, not until the EU Referendum. I have and still am really proud of my heritage but now that nagging fear of what may happen in the future makes me think of immigration, when I look at my birth children who have the beautiful characteristics of having a mixed heritage or when I look at myself in the mirror. I have always been jealous that my siblings have been blessed with the exotic eyes, colouring and hair of my mothers family where I take more from my British/Irish father (immigrant again) but now wonder if their lives will become more difficult because of it.

I am sure that many used this vote as a protest vote against austerity, complacency and corruption and yet our leaders are still not listening, they are too busy fighting among themselves or passing the baton of responsibility.

My fear is that as the protest vote hasn't given the people the outcome they hoped, for they will protest again, leading us into a society split by race, culture, sexuality, colour and class. I keep telling myself that our society nowadays is a wonderful melting pot of so many different people that hate will not win. But fear stops good people standing up or stepping in. I am wearing my safety pin and many of my friends do to, I hope that this is enough, that something so small will give us the courage to stand up should we need to.

I look out of the window hunting for the rainbow that should be here, a reminder that after the rain the sun will shine again but as yet I can't find it.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Second Interview

So, on Tuesday I had child 4's entrance into school planning meeting. This meeting has been hanging over me the past couple of weeks. I've been really worried that the staff would think that I was some kind of loonie tune mother and that I would do more harm than good for my sons start into school.
So I wore smart clothes, had my folder full of information about attachment along with research examples to back my request and held my head high when I walked in.

The meeting was with child 4's teacher to be, the SenCo and two members of staff from his preschool, his key worker and the assistant manager.
Well, what a fantastic meeting. Everyone was so very supportive, the school have already put in place plans to help child 4 settle in. They are creating a sensory corner in the foundation stage classroom and in a small fenced off part of the playground for during play time and lunch times. Perfect for when child 4 is struggling with his emotions. They are going to ensure that he has a constant staff member to link with and build an attachment too.
His pre-school key worker is going to take child 4 around the school over the next couple of weeks to create a book of where his classroom is, where he will eat his lunch, where the toilets are and so on. All the children who will be moving to school in September will have the opportunity to have lunch in the school hall as a practice before they start. This will be huge as currently there are 16 children who have lunch together, in school it will be 75 children.  The plan is for them to have their own table, near the door for a quick escape if it's too noisy and too chaotic.
Everyone listened to my concerns and the pre schools advice in what behaviours to look out for and how best to manage them. No thinking chairs or reward charts. Distraction, frequent praise, instant and appropriate natural consequences if anything goes wrong with a heavy dose of oxytocin releasing   support. A real understanding that consequences can be given, whilst in the arms of the nearest care giver.
Obviously most of my concerns and therefore discussion was around misbehaviour, anger and the negative stuff, the pre school talked about so much positive stuff it made me feel proud of my little man.
With all this support and obvious love for him, he will have the best start in school I think I could have dreamed of.

I no longer worry or wake in the night worrying about how the school will manage his "red" moments, or that they will undo the good work we have been doing. The school will help him avoid those "red" moments and when they do happen they will help him calm down, help him make amends and help him learn to manage himself in the future. What more can I ask?

Now I can relax and we can just enjoy our last few weeks of this special time before our lives change and we turn the page on a new exciting chapter in our story.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Walking in my shoes

There has been a lot about parenting in the news this week, the 4 year old boy who managed to get into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo and the young 7 year old whose parents left him in woods in Hokkaido Japan. It seems that much of society jump on the judge the parents social media debate.
We only know what the press deem important to share, we, the general public don't know all the facts that led to these two children ending up in a dangerous situations.
Last summer I lost child 4 in a zoo,  I found him happily playing on a climbing frame not far from where I was buying him and his siblings ice creams, he of course, completely oblivious to the gut searing panic that had smashed through me as I hunted for him amongst what felt like thousands of people, I was just buying ice creams, he was with me and then he wasn't.And I am sure that many of us have walked on when our children are tantruming, because they are too tired to walk or their legs don't work anymore. I often sit at the gate at the top of the field on the way home from school waiting for child 4 to give up waiting for me to walk back to him and piggy back him all the way home. It can take a very very long time, but heyho at least the sun is shining at the moment and I can catch up on Twitter and Facebook news whilst I wait.
I know that my examples are not quite what happened in the publicised cases but I can appreciate how easily a parent can take their eye off a young child or have those buttons pushed over and over again that you make a poor parenting choice. We are after all human and with that comes a number of frailties and unfortunately none of us can predict what our children will do day after day, talk about in the next few minutes.

It is this judgment of my parenting, that I have had ticking away at the back of my mind this week. Just before the holidays child 4 was involved in an incident, where a child was very rude to an adult. There were a small group of boys running around, letting off steam after pre-school, child 4 was one of them. One of child 4's little friends came running over to me, to tell me that my young son had been very rude to a mum on the playground and I should tell him off. I went off to find the mum involved to investigate exactly what had happened, to be told that it wasn't child 4 at all! After determining what had happened I headed off to collect him, when this same little boy came up to check that I was going to tell him off. When I explained that lying about some one was unkind and as he was my sons friend I thought it was sad that he wanted to get him in to trouble, he responded with he didn't care and laughed!!

I have always been scared that child 4 is going to be "that child" the one who is always in trouble, the one who is alienated by other parents and children, the one that doesn't get invited to birthday parties or after school teas. As a family we have worked so hard at ensuring that his behaviour doesn't spill out of control when we are out and about. But by doing this, by keeping him close, by pro-actively managing his anger, in a way we have created a mindset in some that he is a problem. He is being alienated because within this little "gang" the other boys are allowed to play in the forest school area unsupervised, it's too dangerous for child 4, there are big sticks, stones and rope all possible weapons if another child presses his buttons and all of this is out of sight of the playground and other adults. People are aware of him because we will remove him from the scene of an altercation that is building, regardless of whether he is actually involved, because he is likely to involve himself. Or we will call to him, to remind him that we are nearby making sure that he is ok.
I cannot change our parenting techniques as that will make things worse, if we are not watchful all manner of things can happen, I have removed big sticks being wielded as an axe or a sword, a threatening tennis racquet being raised to batter someone with, if I had not the child on the receiving end could have been really hurt, it doesn't matter that they were being mean or snatched a toy or pushed child 4 first.
I am sure that some people enjoy causing upset and anguish to others because they are unhappy with their lives or they are jealous of what someone else has, so I guess we need to surround ourselves with people who understand, who help, not who sit idly by judging others for what they do. This is obviously going to be a little tougher than we realised but with the right people with us, we will be ok. I hope that the families in the news this week are surrounded by people who love them and can help support them so that the right outcomes for them all are reached.