Can I quit school?

Slightly alarmed at today’s request from Big Bro.

And there was me thinking school was providing some level of inspiration and/or sanity in stark contrast to the Little Sis-induced occasional war zone that is ‘home’.

Here’s how Bro’s dream academic calendar pans out, inspired from some Google research, it seems:

Music: Ever heard of YouTube?

Sport: We could buy a Wii.

Spanish: There’s a new season of Dora the Explorer coming out on Nick Jr.

French: Little Sis can teach me.

German: Virtual teachers.

English: Everything is shortened anyway – (lol, brb, idk).

Math: We have calculators.

Geography: There is a glowing globe on the shelf in my room.

Technology: A carving knife and a block of firewood would cut it for me.

History: They’re all dead anyway.

Religious Studies: Ask my Muslim friend.

Science: Blender + random ingredients from the kitchen.

Dance: No. Just no.

There is a very definite element here, of wishing Big Bro would put half as much effort into his homework.

 

 

Advertisements

I can count to 100

Little Sis, some time ago, we’re sure, could count to 100.

No problem.

image

Right now, in a Friday night wine-fuelled haze of semi-relaxation (ours, not hers, of course), we realise we’re not sure she still can. Struggling a tad with one thing and another these days (dummy never too far away, cuddly toys neither), our lovely eight-year-old mighty girl generally plays somewhere around four years of age.

Managing – just – in amongst the madness that is school, Little Sis is, in fact, enjoying extra maths (after school) and was chuffed to bits to be recite to me her 4s and 5s times table. I was chuffed to bits to hear her too.

Slowly does it. She’ll catch up with her mates, she so wants to. Bet they can count to 100.

No problem.

Tomorrow morning when she comes into our room with Teds underarm, ready for a Saturday morning cartoon-viewing-fest, I will ask her: “Babes, can you count to 100?”.

“Course!” She’ll say. And I know she’ll have a go.

No problem.

Always proud of our mighty girl, no matter what.

Ages since MoBro’s last post (time and head space frequently lacking), but always sneak a peek at #WASO posts (thank you adoption bloggers!)  – inspire me, inform me, make me laugh and make me cry, in equal measure. As does too much wine.

Congratulations to The Adoption Social on your special 100th #WASO

 

Bruce Perry: my top ten takeaways

Yesterday, along with lots of other fabulous folk, we heard Bruce Perry speak on ‘The effects of trauma and neglect on childhood development’ at Adoption UK’s 2014 conference in Birmingham.

With neurons and neural networks aplenty, there was lots to take in. And as well as loads of factoids about brains, Bruce (no surname required, you know, like a celebrity) brought humour to the day. Made us laugh. Always a good thing.

Anyhow, my top 10 takeaways from the day:

1  Get up 10 mins earlier – give yourself half a chance of everyone starting the day regulated.

2  Intimacy overwhelms our children (yet we crave it).

3  Negative feedback, from anyone about anything, makes our children feel dysregulated (course it does).

4  When it comes to child brain development, essentially, all models are wrong… but some are useful.

5  We’re not just parents, we’re external regulators: Regulate, Relate, Reason (we have to Connect before we can Correct).

6  Rythm is the way to regulate kids. And adults. Rocking desks…

7  Most important to take care of ourselves: we need a self care strategy for our entire day

8  When all hell breaks loose: be present, be parallel, let them control, lower your voice and move away.

9  Walking is great for regulating, as is making and listening to music. Riding bikes, watching TV, playing video games all good after-school regulators too. (Note to self: time to get a dog.)

10  Some children are hyper aroused, some dissociate, some do both. The brain’s way of coping with trauma.

One thing’s for sure, brains are really, really cool.

It seems even the cat is stressed

Blimey. Haven’t posted since March.

There’s been a lot going on with one thing and another (more another time), suffice to say we’ve not had the time, energy nor inclination, to be honest, to write. And not even to read other posts / blogs.

imageOther things are beginning to sort themselves out but our adoption struggles are continuing apace. Battered and bruised physically and emotionally. Big Bro, too. *angry face*

We’re taking steps to address things, trying to understand where it’s all coming from, how much of her behaviour she can help and how much she can’t. And we’re getting some professional help with that, although not the overarching social work key worker role to keep all professionals – and us – in the loop. Promised, but not yet received. *sad face* *angry face*

Limping along till the next test, appointment, meeting. Whatever.

Anyhow, took the cat to the vets the other day. And it seems even the cat is stressed. *stressed face*

 

 

Oh mother!

Last year’s Mother’s Day was, it’s fair to say, a shambles. Day of rest, meals cooked, thoroughly spoilt… oh and adored, of course.

Not sure why we hadn’t cottoned on to this a few years earlier, but in a family of two mums (and two children under 12), it just ain’t gonna work like that. Children still need feeding, and there is no resident Dad in the house to spoil us Mums silly.

mother

And then there’s the other Mother’s Day stuff to add to the heady cocktail of Mother’s Day. It was only last year (little sis age 6) that we first felt ( and I mean felt) the effects of what confused thoughts Mother’s Day must throw at her mind. No doubt there were memories of birth parent contact which took place for the first  couple of years (not any more, more about that another post). And then there’s thoughts (everyone’s) about how birth mum must have felt today. Although no apparent desire to make card for birth mum, or not mentioned at least.

Forever trying to be prepared, we’d talked to school about how Mother’s Day might be difficult for little sis. Would she want to make a card for birth mum? Would she want to scribble all over ours? (At least school is cool with two mums though, no problem there.)

In any event, here’s how this year’s day went:

6.45am:  In she comes, with bag of goodies trailing behind her. It’s a mixed bag (literally), humour soothes her underlying anxiety (ie strop). Little sis delights at giving us both cards and carefully chosen gifts (from the depths of under her bed!) all equally carefully wrapped.

6.50am:  Mums exchange tentative glances – so far so good.

7.00am:  Presents opened – little sis and us delighted. Delighted that she was so excited about giving us presents. Sweet.

7.10am:  “Happy Mother’s Day” says bro as he schleps past the bedroom en route for a pee. (Already under instruction to go with the flow on what was likely to be a tricky day.)

7.15am:  Cards opened – a moment of sibling bonding occurred as big bro and little sis wrote joint cards for each of us (progress in itself). “I love you so much” she’d written in the cards 🙂

8.15am:  Strong coffee drunk while plans made to go out for breakfast at the farm. Excellent, gorgeous sunny day.

10.20am:  We actually leave the house without any tears or tantrums whatsoever. Astounding.

10.50am:  An attempt is made by little sis to sabotage breakfast (don’t like, won’t eat, throws book). There are tears (ours – frustration, exhaustion, probably disappointment) and little sis says “why is everybody crying?”.

11.00am:  Sabotage  is successfully aborted and breakfast resumes.

5.00pm:  Back home and pasta dinner all together after a fun and fresh-air-filled day. Little sis enjoyed the day. We enjoyed the day.

7.00pm:  A happy (and healthily exhausted) little sis is ready for bed and asks to be rocked (cue Theraplay) and then to be tucked in (a first).

It’s good to look back sometimes and see how things have changed. Gives us hope things can and will change more in years to come. We hope that things change for birth mum, we hope she stops being angry that we’ve stopped contact and we hope she moves on with her own life.

Yay. We feel we’ve made progress from last year.

flowers

 

 

 

 

A boy called Betsy

The other night as we were saying goodnight to little sis, she began some vague ramblings which caught our attention more so than most vague night-time ramblings.

image

The room was dimly lit, the house fairly quiet and all was well. Little sis had begun the ritual of attempting to delay bedtime and the impending separation from us. It’s not unusual for us all to end up in her room to say goodnight at one stage or other during the proceedings.

Lying in her bed, little sis happily begins her storytelling and in great detail describes her ‘friend’. We discover that ‘friend’ lives on the ceiling and comes down at night. His name is Betsy (boy? girl? who knows) but it seems Betsy is a shadow. So far so good, shadows are cool – easy to have fun with shadows. Realising she has us hooked, little sis tells us that once upon a time Betsy lived with his parents in our house. There was a terrible fire and the house burned down. No longer able to live with his parents but now safe and sound living on the ceiling and coming down at night time, Betsy, it seems, is little sis’s night time friend.

image

Usually delighted ( as parents are) when little sis tells us about a new friend, I think we all agreed that this, slightly freaky tale, made us sit up just a little more than usual. Furtive glances up to the ceiling just to check we are indeed alone, smile and ‘night then Betsy’!, before we scrambled out of the room, leaving little and sis and Betsy to catch up on their respective days. Now, little sis was not in the slightest freaked by her macabre storytelling. Children’s imagination is a wonderful thing – I’m blown away by the stuff that both little sis and big bro come up with pretty much on a daily basis. Maybe it was the still of the night, the power of imagination at any age or possibly little sis’s storytelling skills, but we left her room just everso slightly perturbed.

As many adoptive children do, little sis does struggle with friendships – a good few years younger emotionally than her savvy infant school peers, we try hard to nurture friendships and probably admit to a bit of social engineering from time to time (always easier if you get on with the mums or dads). It turns out that there are several adopted children at little sis’s school, some with siblings, so we try to encourage hooking up so that even if they’re not in the same class, they’re aware of each other. Really hope they become firm friends who can share their stories with each other in years to come. For now, who are we to judge. If a boy shadow called Betsy who lives on the ceiling cuts it for little sis, then so be it.

Linking this up with The Adoption Social’s weekly shout out #WASO with the optional theme of friendships.

And on the last day of LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week, and as two adoptive mums, thanks to everyone who has worked hard this week to increase awareness and encourage others to adopt. Providing a warm, loving and safe home for children who need it is a fabulous, rewarding and life-changing thing to do. (Having children is life changing, adopting children throws you into an entirely different parenting stratosphere – just saying!) The point is, it doesn’t matter what form that family takes. One parent or two, male or female, two women together, two men together. Whatever.

Hats off to diversity.