As Girl gets older and we get wiser (hey! I can see you raising that eyebrow) we can predict quite easily the sort of things that will cause Girl some distress and the signposts are clear, warning us of bumps and hazards in the road ahead.
So, what do you do when you see a speed-hump in the road? The Hubster lines up the wheels so that two go over the hump (doesn’t want to scrape the under chassis) but still goes full pelt over them, all the passengers get thrown around the car and feel a bit sick. My mother in law does no aligning just carries on driving as if they didn’t exist. Personally, I slow down and line up my wheels so they don’t touch the hump. In fact, except for a slowing down you wouldn’t even know the bump had been there. I am such a good driver (unless you include parallel parking outside my house).
So, why not use the same method for the bumps in life? I already see a few bumps ahead and potential hazards and one huge potential landslide. In the next few weeks school will be finishing, then there are holidays, family visiting for a few weeks and then leaving, a new teacher and new classroom, contact, days out, birthdays, Halloween (Girl gets very excited about Halloween). Then we have the landslide. Girl’s grandfather’s cancer is terminal, this is going to have a huge emotional impact on us all. I can see this is a very bumpy road ahead so I must start slowing down and aligning my vehicle.
I think it takes a special sort of person to adopt children (I never realised this until I adopted my own), it’s a difficult route to take at the best of times but sometimes I feel I am just not the right person for the job. I am tetchy, irritable, fed up and stressed out.
I don’t want things thrown at me by a two year old because I have gently removed my best shoes from his grasp. The shoes he was trying to saw in two with a wooden jigsaw board. OK, so he wouldn’t actually have achieved sawing my shoes in half but they would have looked pretty knackered by the time he had finished
I don’t want my new leather settee crashed into repeatedly with a mickey mouse ride-on. I’m fed up of the stair gates and the ripped wallpaper that I dare not replace yet because Boy has still not grown out of the destructive phase. I am fed up of being a nag, ‘Girl why is your unworn pink jacket on the floor again? The one I put on a hanger only yesterday because it had been dumped on the floor of your wardrobe?’.
I am fed up of ironing and fighting a losing battle with the housework and keeping Boy amused at the same time (which I rarely achieve). I would like to be able to play with my son and he not throw a wobbly because he is so independent that he won’t let me help him with anything, I’m all for him exploring things and leading the play but if I can see he is getting cross with something because he can’t figure it out for himself then I would actually like to be able to help. I would like a day without the word No shouted every five minutes and a hand raised in the stop sign in total defiance. I would like to be not worrying about development, speech and eating issues. I would like my kids to be a bit more consistent about what they will or will not eat (OK I am probably asking a bit too much here).
I would like to be able to ask either of my children to help with something without them fighting over who is going to do it or stubbornly refusing, we are only talking about small things like opening the door for the dog. Actually shall I tell you how that goes?
Dog: ‘WOOF, WOOF, WOOF’. (Dog is scraping the back door impatiently, legs crossed because like Girl he always waits until he is desperate for a wee)
Me: ‘Boy, would you like to open the back door for the dog?’
Boy: ’NO.’ (Always shouted)
Me: ‘OK then. Girl, could you please open the back door for the dog’.
Girl: ‘OK mummy’.
Boy: (looks up in alarm because he does actually like doing things for the dog and Girl is suddenly getting all the attention) ‘NO, NO, NO!’
A tussle then ensues and a race to the door with the kids pushing and fighting all the way.
Dog: Alarmed by the stampede running towards him goes and hides quivering under the dining room table until the kids are brought under control.
Me: (cross by now) ‘Right, both of you sit down, I’ll do it myself’. This involves five minutes of tussling with and trying to coax the dog back towards the door because I know if I don’t as soon as I sit down he will start barking to be let out again.
It’s unrelenting. Some days I can just cope with it and get on with it. Some days, like today I just can’t. I feel like a sulky teenager. I want calmness, I want my own way in my own house. I want tidiness. These things just don’t come with kids, it’s not part of the package.
Despite our best efforts some days can just turn (sort of) sour. Today was Post Adoption Family Day, we were to meet at 2pm and when I looked at the the website for the venue I realised it would be a good place to try out our fab new bike trailer so this morning I packed a picnic, The Hubster did a bit of maintenance on our rusty old bikes, loaded the car and we set off to get a few hours of fun in before we met up with the other families, it would fill the day perfectly.
The morning went pretty well, we absolutely loved cycling round the park and finding a beautiful spot for a picnic. I have not been on a bike for some years and was a little apprehensive but soon I was fighting the urge to shout yee-haw in over-excitement every time we went down a hill. Girl had her own bike with her and I was so proud of how well she coped with keeping up and not moaning too much when it was uphill, I did my best therapeutic mummy bit of reassuring her that she wouldn’t get left behind, that we could walk whenever she needed to. OK, I admit this was for my own benefit too, I couldn’t do the slight gradients either but I do know that usually having to put a little effort in can make Girl very tetchy and grumpy.
We spent about four to five hours at the park, not cycling all the time, there were lots of other things to do and explore, including meeting with the other families and we had a lovely time but as soon as we got in the car…boom, the explosion that has been simmering away recently came. A bike helmet was thrown at me, a few blows rained on my arms along with pinching, scratching, kicking the car interior and some rude and disrespectful behaviour and I have a feeling it was mostly through exhaustion from our day, she couldn’t be both tired and well-behaved, I think it takes a lot of effort for Girl to keep her temper under control. We managed the meltdown quickly and moved on, we talked about it a little when we got home. However, both of my kids were in awful moods tonight, neither of them would eat their dinner, Girl cried over a lot of nothings, Boy shouted ‘No’. A lot.
So how do we manage this? We can’t stay in the house because it causes meltdowns and chaos and if we go out we can’t do too much because of tiredness. Whenever we go out we get some pretty difficult behaviour afterwards but on the other hand at least we haven’t had difficult behaviour all day. I am exhausted myself from doing too much all the time so I can’t imagine how the kids are feeling and I personally would love nothing more than a day in the house doing nothing much, we managed half a day last weekend but really it was like an endurance test.
I was chatting to one of the Post Adoption social workers about having to go out every weekend and she said it was surprisingly common among adopted families, that the kids somehow needed to be kept entertained more than regular families. Well, tomorrow I have arranged for my parents to have the kids, we are having a new settee delivered and the thought of having to cope with that and keep the kids in-check was just too much for my brain to compute. So even if I just end up catching up with the housework that is getting neglected with all our days out it will be something of a rest.
I still enjoyed my day today, despite the iffy end, the adrenaline from cycling was enough to keep my spirits up although my body has completely seized up!
Today is my birthday. My gift from Girl, which she thought of herself, was a helium balloon. A simple gift you might think. Oh if only. Helium balloons bring out the worst of behaviour in Girl and I hate them, unsurprisingly she loves them (as all kids do).
I used to love them, all shiny and gentle with pretty ribbons, silently floating in the air but every time we have them in the house they cause chaos and I try to avoid them whenever possible. Perhaps I am being a misery-moo but I can’t even begin to describe how bad they make my Girl, proprietorial, mean, manic could be just a few of the words I might use.
I opened the box with apprehension as I knew with a sinking feeling what was going to happen the minute the balloon came out. Girl immediately laid claim to the balloon (was this a gift for me? I think not) and then proceeded to whip Boy up in to a frenzy of excitement, I consequently spent the morning having to nag her to get ready for school. The excitement all got too much for Boy and he ended up having a monster tantrum when Girl finally left for school. I won’t bore you with all the details of how our morning went following the opening of the box but by the time Girl went to school I felt like having a cry, something so simple as a balloon can represent all that is complicated in our life.
So that was my Birthday morning. A helium balloon and a box of chaos. We are now (Boy and I) sitting very quietly watching Stuart Little and I am hoping that Boy is in a better mood by the time I am ready for lunch with the girls. I will be partaking of a large glass of Chardonnay.
Oh and incidentally it is a year today that we met our special little Boy, it seems like forever and yet only like a minute!
I was recently approached by Barefoot Books to review some books on my blog. I am somewhat wary about using my blog for promoting companies but on the other hand Girl and I (and Boy is getting to enjoy it too) love to share books together, we always end the day with a story and knowing the quality of Barefoot Books from previous purchases I decided to go for it. I had a chat with my contact and specified that at this time I only wanted to review books that were appropriate to my blog content and boy did they deliver.
The first book I read and my personal favourite was a book called Motherbridge of Love. It’s a simple poem about adoption that has been beautifully illustrated. I have to say good adoption books for children are few and far between and genuinely this is the loveliest I have ever read, it actually brought a tear to my eye. The illustrations are thoughtfully done with the emphasis on the relationship between the child and the adoptive mother but the birth mother is not far away in the illustrations that have a nod to the ethnic background of the child in the story. Girl did not understand the book this time round but liked the pictures, in time I think this is a book that will mean a lot to her.
The next book we read was Lola’s Fandango, Girl enjoyed this as it was quite a long story but simply told, we enjoyed clapping out the rhythms and trying out some of the actions that Lola had to learn like moving the wrist like a bird’s wings. We also enjoyed learning the Spanish words together and again another wonderfully illustrated book. The book’s underlying message is about self-esteem and this is what Barefoot Books can be particularly good at, their books have good stories but also have some educational or inspirational value to them too without being too ‘in your face’ about it. This is a book we may be exploring further and using as an example for behaviour.
The last book we read and Girl’s favourite was The Prince’s Bedtime about a prince who refused to go to sleep (ringing any bells?), the illustrations were fun and the whole story enjoyable to read, we do love the rhyming one’s the best. I particularly liked the simple end to the story but I am not giving it away!
All in all (as I suspected I might be) I was very pleased with the selection, on browsing the catalogue I found some other books that might be of some use to us too such as Emily’s Tiger. We do like a fun story but sometimes something more specific is required to help Girl through a situation and Barefoot Books seem to have given this considerable thought when putting their catalogue together, that books and stories can meet a need. Their books cover areas such as ethnicity, behaviour, environment, education and folklore.
As a thank you for reviewing their books Barefoot Books have offered readers of my blog a 20% discount until the end of July 2012. To redeem the discount just click on the link below and it will be done for you automatically.
Girl is managing to keep her temper under control and I am very proud of her for that, one tiny little outburst in the past week but I have this theory. The more she is reigning in her temper the worse the tics are getting, it’s almost like a different release for what she is feeling, we are seeing new and quite specific tics being added all the time to the palilalia and zuzzing noises and I can’t help but tell her what she is doing, in the hope that she can try and take some control of them. She has no idea what she is doing of course and I know she can’t help it but I worry that people or more specifically her friends at school are going to start noticing because the tics are getting odder, more frequent and are no longer confined to noises.
Girl’s latest and most noticeable tics include repeatedly bobbing her tongue out very quickly like a snake while she is talking (and actually while she is being quiet too) and yesterday she started clicking too. I am filled with angst. On top of this the conversations are getting harder and harder, she just cannot process anything we tell her and it is frustrating to say the least.
Yesterday in the car on the way home from school I told her that a little boy from her class wanted to invite her round to play on Thursday, we ascertained that today was Monday and I got her to go slowly through the days of the week, she said Monday, Tuesday, Friday, so I got her to think about it and she did it correctly, because she can do these things but often says the first thing that comes into her head. I then repeated back to her slowly ‘so today is Monday, then Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday and then you can play at your friend’s house.’ Thirty seconds later, ‘Mummy, what day is it today?’ (I count quickly to ten in my head and try to hold in an exasperated sigh) ‘OK Girl, we already worked out what day it is so have a think about what we just talked about and tell me what day you think it is?’. ‘Thursday’ came the reply. Start over. This is pretty much a typical conversation and I find it quite difficult to cope with them, I can’t work out how to get her to process what is being told to her and keep it in.
Along with the tics we are seeing a rise in controlling, demanding and bossy behaviour and feel like the time-bomb is close to explosion but you know what? I know when it comes we will cope and that is definitely something to be positive about, no matter how bad meltdown is with a united front we get through it.
After our meeting last week with the PASW I decided to buy some flash cards to help Girl describe her feelings and emotions, I had discussed printing some and they were intended to be used when in a particular state of mind, the sort of mood like on Sunday where she had a bad day and would have been unable to express herself with words.
After browsing Amazon I found some Todd Parr ones, well I have to say in our house we have absolutely love the Todd Parr books on adoption so as soon as I saw them I knew they were for us.
The cards arrived yesterday and so far they are a resounding success. The cards are big, sturdy, colourful and have the usual fun illustrations you associate with Todd Parr books. There are forty different emotions to consider, we carefully read each emotion, girl guessed some of them and asked what others meant so she learned some tricky new words too that she may have been familiar with but wasn’t quite sure of the meaning.
Girl is now quite happily (totally unprompted) telling us for the second night in a row how she feels, if I had asked her directly she might have said happy and left it at that but with the help of the cards two nights running she has volunteered that she is tired too, apparently she is also calm and quiet (true) and proud (of us apparently for looking after her so well), last night she had ants in her pants (also true), she would never have told me that previously.
As well as describing how she is feeling, it is also getting her to consider and explore properly how she is feeling and how other people are feeling (mommy is tired and grumpy tonight, I got a cuddle for that) which can only be a good thing, she has also told us what she thinks we are feeling (mommy is busy and daddy is quiet but happy). The novelty may wear off quite quickly but for now it’s giving us a valuable insight!
You can buy the Todd Parr Feelings Flash Cards by clicking here.
Just a small note, this post could be considered a product review but it is something that I have found useful for Girl, I will declare upfront that if you click on the link and purchase the product I will get a few pennies, as with any other Amazon link on my blog. You could actually use the information provided to come up with your own flash card ideas and print them off, I am just not personally organised enough for that. I never particularly set this blog up to make money but if I do get a few pennies it pretty much goes towards books for the kids.
After my mini anxiety episode of yesterday (could you tell?) I am feeling in a better frame of mind. Something I wrote stuck in my mind, the fact that we took Girl on knowing that there would be difficulties, that she was already considerably developmentally delayed, that the difficulties outlined were no less than what we are now experiencing. I vowed to be strong, I vowed to meet her needs.
So there I was yesterday an anxious overwrought mother, stressing about things that really I have little control over. I can’t tell my daughter what to worry about, but there are things I can do to ease her through this period, I can change her sheets without a fuss, I can talk to her teachers, I can provide her favourite foods, I can make no comment about the frankly irritating noises, I can be a consistent mum and most of all I can be there to wipe away the tears and provide the cuddles.