It has been a tough couple of weeks at the Five Go On An Adventure Towers. Exams have been a common theme leading to a multitude of additional stressors. Child 2s mock GCSE results have been trickling in, none of which have been particularly good, probably because he didn't revise. In his disappointment in himself for letting himself, us and his teachers down he reverted back to his victim mentality saying that he was being bullied, needed to move schools and was threatening suicide. This led child 1 who is now in the middle of AS', so already pretty stressed herself, to melt down because child 2 was ruining her life, she had too much going on for her to put up with his tantrums. Child 3 of course had to jump the band wagon as she was doing year 5 mock SATs, so we had tears and tantrums from her too. Of course this unrest, angry noise, tears and tension meant that child 4 couldn't cope and he reverted back to his fight responses. He was continually on the offensive and I was called into the pre-school to discuss a new issue of biting and agression.
I found myself in a cycle of being on the defensive, dealing with each attention seeking behaviour after the event instead of pro-actively managing them before they blew up in our faces. It takes so much longer to deal with the fallout if you are on the back foot than it does if you notice the signs and can nip it in the bud.
Sometimes having 4 children, birth and adopted mean that I just miss the signs, I am so caught up dealing with one child that I miss the signs of one of the others going into melt down and so the cycle goes on.
My first priority had to be the suicide threats, even if they are not meant we have to follow through, just in case the child involved takes it further to ensure that someone takes note of their distress. School was my first port of call and I have to say that they were brilliant. They arranged a meeting between child 2 and the family support officer, who after talking to him let me know that he had no signs of any metal health issue and definitely wasn't suicidal, it was attention seeking so then she looked at what was causing that. There have been 2 boys causing our oldest son distress with low level name calling and aggravation, this has now been dealt with. A mentoring programme has been put in place with the new school chaplain who is a cool dude with cookies and hot chocolate to help with child 2's self esteem and they have also arranged time with a TA to help teach study skills and revision planning. At home we are supporting with additional tutoring in maths and English. We are also working on responsibility and less screen time. Child 2 takes absolutely no responsibility for his own actions, it is always someone else's fault and so we are continuing with our "robust" parenting. At the end of the day, he is the one who has to take his exams and he has to learn to live with the consequences of his actions. As parents we can only support and be there to help when needed.
The next priority was child 4 and his behaviour spiral, once again the pre-school stepped up they became more vigilant, watching for any issues that could cause child 4 to spiral, preventative mechanisms work brilliantly, distractions or watching for any child instigating difficult situations have resolved the biting and agression, at the nursery at least. Child 1 is still struggling, but she can accept responsibility for her behaviour even if it tends to be after the event, we have had lots of apologies and hugs and child 3, well after I explained to her that her mock SATs were just for her teacher to know what her pupils knew and didn't know and that it really didn't matter if she did badly in every single one, life calmed down. It's weeks like these that I am so grateful to my support network. Friends with birth children who have dealt with exam and revision concerns, friends with children from care who get the worries about attachment behaviours, education staff who have stepped up to support my children, sometimes going above and beyond and family who are just happy to listen and hug. Without them life could be difficult and dark, instead the last few days have been filled with coffee, long walks, lunch out, pizza and prosecco, group messaging via what's app and lots of laughter. We have shared the trials and tribulations of parenting, growing up and growing older, all of us making life's load a little bit lighter.