A Christmas Carol
I was sitting this morning thinking about Christmas presents, the fact that I have almost completed my Christmas shopping and as usual have gone completely over the top with the kids presents. I then started to reflect on last Christmas and previous Christmases Most adopters will tell you that Christmas is a difficult time. I believe that most kids will get a bit bratty in the run up to Christmas but when your child’s mental state is constantly set at high-alert and bracing for the unknown well that unknown can lead to some difficult behaviour. Everything is out of order, everything is exciting (and sadly over stimulating).
Girl’s First Christmas
This happened three months after placement when Girl was two or to put it another way (that I think puts the time scale into perspective), twelve weeks. Only twelve weeks as a new family. We were very excited to be sharing our first Christmas together with our new daughter. We arranged a Christmas Breakfast and present opening with all the close family we could fit in our little house, my parents flew over from Spain to stay with us and I offered to cook Christmas dinner for all and sundry. (I bet you can see where this is going…). The day dawned, the stockings were discovered, the snow fell and it seemed so perfect. Thirty minutes into the most stupidly, humongous pile of Christmas presents you have ever seen and Girl has had enough. It was all too much. The screaming and tantrums started and they carried on right the way through dinner and all the way to bedtime. It was so bad my parents moved out the next day to stay at my grandparents. My sister’s new boyfriend (who was meeting our parents for the first time) was practically cowering under the table looking absolutely petrified. I was crying, my mum was crying and we finished Christmas feeling shell-shocked and upset. In hind-sight I’d say that we expected too much but we were new parents we had looked forward to this moment for so long.
In terms of behaviour we did not think we could top the first Christmas and actually Christmas Day itself was fairly quiet. Having had three previous attempts with Girl and being Boy’s first Christmas with us we felt fairly experienced and decided to keep it as low key as possible. We had the whole day to ourselves which worked out brilliantly. Unfortunately, Boy had just had an operation a couple of days previous to Christmas and was poorly, needing a lot of attention and the whole run up to Christmas was probably one of our worst periods as adoptive parents, Girl’s behaviour was so off-the-scale last year that we did not put the tree up till the last minute, did not go to see Santa or partake in anything very festive and this is what prompted me to write this blog post. I had been remembering how this time last year I broke down. I drove to my parent’s house (they had moved back from Spain by this point) sobbing and not really understanding why.I broke down on their doorstep and my mum packed me off to bed. We learned a lot from the experience of last year, started to understand Girl a lot more. I understand now I was suffering from Post Adoption Depression and Girl was utterly traumatised by well, frankly everything in her life at that point, new school, new brother, adoption, hospital runs for her brother…
Despite how terrible this last year has seemed at points I am happy to say that we are excited about Christmas. We are always excited about Christmas with the kids, I mean you have to have hope that they will be fine else what else is there? But it’s different this year. We are coping, we have learned a lot in this past year more than any year before and madly we are not having a very low key Christmas, in fact both the grandparents are coming to dinner. Yes it might be bedlam, yes I am expecting some humdinger tantrums from Boy (he’s two, it’s his right), yes I am expecting some sulks and stroppy behaviour from Girl (but happily not expecting the violent outburst we had last year), yes I am probably going to have a few meltdowns myself (I’m a mum, it’s my right to get stressy over the sprouts) but as a family we are in a good place. My therapist taught me that although its probably not healthy to be always expecting the worst if I do find myself anticipating a worst case scenario (because that can be our life at times) I can plan positively how to deal with it, mentally prepare myself and mostly I have to say it works.
Well what can I say about our future Christmases other than I hope they will always be merry and bright? I’m hoping to learn from this Christmas (but no too much eh?). Something that stay’s with me now though is that some of the other day’s over Christmases past have meant more to me such as waking up Girl last year to watch the New Year Countdown and share some late night quality street, a Boxing Day steam train ride, a Frosty walk… so even if Christmas fail’s miserably there will be other days to get oh so right.
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