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, 1 April 2018

Oh the places you will go

And so child 1 has left for her adventuring,  off she has flown to the vivid colours, sights, sounds and smells of India. Social media and WiFi access where ever you go means that contact is so very easy. A quick WhatsApp or Messenger with a photo attached means that we can see everything she is upto with just a quick click of a button. She has shared the room they are in, their meals and the rubbish left in the streets. She starts her golden triangle exploration tomorrow, starting at Agra, so no doubt there will be lots more pictures to see and lots of adventures to hear about. I am so very excited for her and yet so very wistful for those times when she needed me.

Our children arrive, some as tiny bundles, some toddling around and some quite grown up. None of them arrive with an instruction manual. And so we spend our days, weeks, years helping build, renovate and extend these,  our children's foundations. Our aim is to give our children roots and wings, except no one tells you what happens when they spread their wings to fly away. When they go, they unknowingly take a piece of our hearts with them and unaware of the gift they carry, they tend to not take care of it.
We are left on the peripheral watching, ready to step in to help when asked but otherwise left watching.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Slipping through my fingers

13 sleeps and child 1 flies off to India for the first stop on her first grown up adventure. We are filling our days with last minute visits to family to say goodbye, meals, coffee dates and shopping trips to spend as much time as possible with her before she heads off. At night when all is quiet and I am left alone with my thoughts  I am tangled up in a mix of emotions, pride in her achievements, excitement (maybe a touch of envy) for everything she is going to do and see, worry as she will be so far away and there are no guarantees of her safety and sorrow as this is the beginning of her leaving home.


I have and am encouraging all my children to be independent, to have a desire to see this wonderful world we inhabit, to look for adventure in their futures and would probably be a little disappointed if they didn't fly the nest, visiting exciting new places on their journeys. But, I have to say that I have been surprised by the mix and the depth of emotions child 1's travel plans have caused.
As for her siblings, Child 2, I think and hope will come into his own, he has for a few years now lived in child 1's shadow and will now have an opportunity to take his place as the oldest for a few months. Child 3 will miss her older sister I am sure but will, I hope take the change in her stride, no 4 however I fear, will view this change as another loss. In the hope of counter-acting this we are taking him with us to drop no1 to the airport so that he realises she has left on a trip, rather than gone off in the car and never returned, she is leaving her favourite childhood toy "Dolly" for him to look after until she returns and I have bought a scrap book for us to do, whilst she is away. We will print off two photos from her and her friends holiday Instagram and add them to the scrap book with some decorations and captions every week.

13 more sleeps and I am holding onto every moment of joy I can.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

Melancholy Mother

Mother's Day brings such a mix of emotions these days, I want my mum to know she is loved and appreciated. She is my go to support, my rock, the person who gently reminds me to laugh at the antics of my children. As a mum I would love a proper day off, no washing, no cooking, no wading into arguments, just time for me to sit and be quiet to do what I want to do, not what I should do. But now four years into adoption there is another mother who intrudes my thoughts on Mother's Day. As yet it seem so to be only me who feels this interloper, child 4 is too little yet, but as he grows I wonder how he will manage these days. Will he be confused, angry or scared or will he just ignore the fact that his biological mother is out there somewhere.
How will I cope sharing the day with her, I am the one who reads with him, deals with the tears, the rages, the joy of achievements. Then I feel guilty, how does this young woman feel every year on Mother's Day, knowing her child is out there, being cared for by someone else, someone who reads to him, wipes his tears, calms his temper and shares the joys of all his achievement.

I know that I could be hard line about child 4's mum, as adoption is due to children having to be removed from their birth family because that is the best thing for them. The birth families are not, for whatever reasons, able to provide even the basic care for their children and mix in abuse and neglect there is absolutely nothing romantic in these adoption stories, they are not Annie, Anne of Green Gables or Harry Potter. But, when we met her, I saw a scared, vulnerable young woman unable to change her life for the sake of her young son. Her story is as much a tragedy as her son's, if not more so as she has lost everything, I have absolutely no idea how she gets through days like today, how would I cope. So I sit here tonight feeling melancholy.





Sunday, 25 February 2018

The Behaviour Book

Since his return to school in January. Child 4 has been struggling, I am not sure what or if there has been a trigger but I do know we had similar issues this time last year. When it comes down to it, we have to deal with his behaviours regardless of whether we know what the triggers are. As do the school.
Since January, I have been into school at least once a week. We have had fighting, temper tantrums, defiance and a little boy desperately trying to do the right thing but when met with obstacles just can't manage by himself. The school as a whole have been trying to support him but some staff are so caught up with procedure that they forget that there is a scared little boy just trying to do the best he can. The last straw for me this week was when child 4 in an emotional outburst told me that he was put in the behaviour book, that he is in the behaviour book everyday, he is the only one in his class that is in the behaviour book and that he is the naughtiest boy in the school.
I followed this up with an email to his teacher asking what the behaviour book was for and what was the expectation for children put in the behaviour book and what would happenif there wasn't a change in their behaviour.  Apparently, the behaviour book is required as part of the school behaviour policy and is to keep a record of behaviour. That sounds like procedure and policy running the show, not what a child needs to support them. At first I was really angry and upset but once calm decided that I needed to help the teacher focus on one single behaviour that she would like to change with the most we could help child 4 through to the end of the school year, when he would move to another class and another teacher. I have also assertively requested that if there is a need for a behaviour book that child 4 should not be aware of it at all.

The teachers biggest issue is child 4's constant interrupting and shouting across the room. I went out to my Twitter and NATP groups and asked them for any ideas to help. Today I went into school armed with a 5 minute sand timer and a list of ideas and word patterns. I am jut just hoping that if we can help with this one thing, just maybe everything else will fall into place. Thank you to my wonderful support groups.
Little reminders that you know he is there, thumbs up, squeezing his shoulder, lots of smiles.
Giving him something special to look after so he knows that you will come back. 
Teaching him to put his hand on your arm, you then put your hand on his so that he knows you are aware he is there and will help him once you have finished your conversation. 
Using a timer to help work independently for a short while, knowing when the time is up the teacher can return to help.
I'll be glad to check in with you in a couple of minutes, once I have seen you give it your best independent try.  
I can't change what has already happened in school, I can however help determine what happens next to do this I have to have a working relationship with those that work closest to child 4. They may not be able to fully understand why he behaves like he does, they may not want to but if we can come up with strategies that help then there is the reason to persevere.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

I don't care

"I don't care"
"That's sad"
"If I care, I will cry"
"It's fine to cry if you need too, sweetheart"
YOU WANT ME TO BE HURT BECAUSE THATS WHEN I CRY!! THATS SO MEAN. I DONT CARE SO I DONT HURT"

(I know I missed my chance, I should have said gosh you don't care, that must be so hard)

Last week brought our first major incident of the year. Late on Tuesday afternoon child 4's school phoned me at work to let me know that he had been involved in a fight at morning break, a fight where two members of staff had to seperate him and a 7 year old. Earlier that morning a complaint had been made by a parent accusing child 4 of pinning her child (the 7year old in the fight) to the ground and then strangling him after school on Monday. According to the teacher child 4 had, had a bad day. After the fight he had taken himself off to the quiet book area and stayed there to calm down, he had been content to stay  with one of the TA's at lunchtime reading and playing games but he hadn't learnt anything! I  think he had learnt a lot, just not academically!!!
I wasn't picking up that day and child 4 had already left with his Nanna and Grandad to go to their home until I finished work.
There had been no investigation into either incident just acceptance that number 4 had done exactly what he was accused of. Interesting as I later checked with the child minder who collects on a Monday who was completely perplexed, she wasn't aware of any after school incident.

I was glad that child 4 was with my parents, safe, warm and surrounded be people who loved him, it also meant that when I picked him up we could have a chat  on the drive home about his day, no eye contact, non confrontational and no way to escape. Child 4 seemed to have no idea what I was talking about regarding the incident on Monday night, but was happy to say that the other little boy had been mean to him, trying to punch and kick him which then led to the fight. He had told the head teacher everything. I pushed too hard and his I don't care tirade began.
When I recovered from my heart cracking, I could at least consider the insight his profound words gave me. Just not sure what I am to do with them yet.


Sunday, 14 January 2018

Two Hats

Sometimes my governors role clashes with that as my parent role. Behaviour and exclusions policies is one such clash. I attended training regarding exclusions as there is has been such a huge increase of exclusions and this led to me suggesting that we tightened up our policies. Now of course because we are, when I read them I just think about how those changes could impact on my children.
I am very aware of the need to have policies that have strong boundaries and that we have to ensure that staff and children at the school are safe and treated fairly. I also know that the school doesn't believe in treating all the children the same, they treat them as individuals with different needs. But as I read through the reasons for exclusions and I can see my youngest son fitting the criteria, well on his very bad days. There has never been any talk of excluding him. But I worry that in the future it could be, especially now that we are being so specific in our policies. 
I could ask to not be involved but then I know that those children that need support with their behaviour need me standing in their corner, ensuring that exclusion is the final solution with the right steps in between. 

Fortunately, I have a very good friend who sits with me on the Governing Body, she is my phone a friend person, the person I call when I feel stressed about the decisions I am making, she reminds me that I am a good parent and a good governor. That I do not need to worry, that as parents we work with the school to ensure our son is doing the best he can and helping them support him when things are not going so well. As a governor I may need to put my mothering concerns aside but there are children that don't have parents to support them through their education and governors are there to make sure that every child matters. I can bring the best of both roles together to offer a skill set that compliments both parenthood and governor responsibilities. I am very lucky to have her.



Hope, peace, joy and love

 I love Christmas, the lead up, the preparations, the activities - the Nativity shows, Panto, family get togethers, church services, Carol concerts and so on. This December has been our hardest, child 4 has become obsessed by time. He demands to know what is happening each day and when. Then we need to calculate how many hours and how many minutes until the plan comes to fruition. We avoided talk of Father Christmas as much as possible, which was hard when the others particularily child 3 were so very excited.

We used the advent calendars to ensure that we took everything a day at a time. We planned daily events so that there was only ever one sleep before doing something that was out of routine. It could be his Nativity Show, visiting family, collecting the Christmas Tree or lighting the fire. I had bought dot-to-dot books, paper chain kits and Chritsmas Card making kits to offer quiet activities when life became to over whelming. Overall we managed, but it was at times exhausting. I think child 4 slept through in his bed maybe twice.

I hadn't realised how much I needed to kick back and relax. For the first time in what feels like forever my husband was at home when I went on a night out. Usually he is out DJing and either child 1 or 2 babysit. They are absolutely fine to watch their younger siblings and more than capable of dealing with most situations that could arise. At worst they call me and I come home. But, the evening of my work do I could go out and not worry, oh and what a sorry state I got into. Which led to an all day horrific hangover.

What I have learnt is that I need to look after me, I need to find inner peace, hope that all will work out. That we will be able to help child 4 learn the strategies to manage his behaviour. As a family I want us to find joy in the small things so that we can manage the big stuff. I hope that as the years pass, life becomes easier, big events become less over whelming but until then the love we have for our children is enough.