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, 3 December 2017

Roots and Wings

Child 1 has just booked her gap year trip. She and a friend fly off to India at the end of March, from there they fly to Hanoi and have 12 weeks to work their way through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore before they hop over to Bali then finish up in Australia. They don't have a specific return date but do have to be home to start their next exciting chapter at University. I am so very proud, she has worked full time since finishing her A levels and has already saved enough to pay for her flights.
Although, I have known about roots and wings it is now that I am really appreciating the importance of both. However, what I am now poignantly aware of is that without roots our children can't really develop wings.Roots are so important, for all children. A safe, secure place where they can try new things, knowing that no matter what happens there is someone in the background to support and help them. So far, child one knows her roots and has found her wings. 2 and 3 are still learning about roots but, they know we are here for them, they are just beginning to try new things and looking for their place in the world and this can be tricky from a parenting view. But, therapeutic parenting is something that is built into developing roots. Unconditional love, gentle giving of praise, natural consequences. All these help our children to flourish and thrive. My birth childen of course have an advantage, they have only ever known our desire to give them roots enabling them to try and fly, knowing that we are there to help them when life goes wrong. Child 4 comes from a different place and we have to help him recognise where his safe roots are and that they actually exist.  This is often difficult but also so very rewarding. With Christmas in the air, he is finding the change in routines and the building excitement overwhelming. He is clingy, demanding, quick to anger and just as quick to tears. But, he is learning to articulate his feelings. In between throwing his dinner at his sister, pulling chairs over and slamming doors  he has told me, well screamed at me that he is angry and I am making it worse and in the midst of a "tantrum" he has sought out my lap as a means of regulating his rage, calming down almost as quick as losing his temper. It is these moments that give me hope, he knows that he is safe at home with us, he even very occasionally will just find me for a cuddle and will quietly say sorry for calling me a bum hole.
We have to work on the roots first, making sure that they are strong and stable, that they can withstand the ups and downs of life, before our children can attempt to fly, it's just sometimes so damn hard working on the roots.

Sunday, 12 November 2017


I often toy with stepping away from my school governor duties, especially since I have become a "reluctant" chair. I was Vice Chair earlier this year and when the Chair resigned I had to step into his shoes and funnily enough at the next meeting I was voted in. Not because I am organised, efficient, and able to keep my distance emotionally, no because no one else wanted it! There is quite a lot of work and a huge amount of responsibility involved in school governance, regardless of position and when trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance it is our volunteering roles that get sidelined. However, every time the thought of resigning pops into my head something happens to stop me in my tracks.
I am not a school governor because I am generous with my time, no I want to be involved in the education of my children and all those other children that need someone in their corner. So at a Chairs meeting when we were informed that there has been a worrying increase in fixed and permenant exclusions of children from school, I decided to attend the next exclusions training session.
Many counties are moving the responsibility of fixed term (more than 5 days) and permenant exclusions from the Headteacher to the exclusion panel, (school governors) This is to ensure that the school behaviour policy has been followed and that each child is being treated fairly. There is a definite trend in schools not providing the right support that some of the pupils need. Not because they don't want too but because they can't afford too. With budgets being cut, less CAHMS available and SEND funds being reduced, I have to say that I do have some sympathy with school staff. Classes are getting bigger, getting children a place on the SEND register is harder and County are running on limited resources. All theses things will effect our children, my child in particular. So when a child becomes to big a drain on resources, finances and other children's education, exclusion is seen as an easy way out. Our trainer even said that permanent exclusions are a good thing for the child and their family because In many cases it forces County and the support agencies to up their game and put more support in place, but for the child the damage is done.

Being a Governor means that I am involved in policy making decisions, ensuring that the panels are made up of people who aren't afraid to question the status quo, who will ensure that decsions are fair and school processes are followed. With my involvement in the adoption world I know of attachment training and support and where the school can go for help - this is what our Pupil Premium Plus money should be being spent on. I can ask the questions about progress for all the minority grouping, English as Another Language(EAL), Pupil Premium children (disadvantaged). I remind staff that if we can't support childrens behaviour then the children can't/won't learn.  

I am very lucky, my school is pretty amazing, we work well together and Child 4 is very settled, doing well academically, and loving his sport. Behaviour is monitored and he is supported at lunchtime, which is when struggles the most. They are even having some "Transition" training from County Post Adoption team.  I do wonder though if they would be so open if I wasn't involved as a school governor as well as a parent, which is why when those thoughts about walking away are often ignored as I know that in reality my family are the only people in child 4's corner.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

National Adoption Week 2017

Four years ago I felt part of something special during National Adoption Week, child 4 had just arrived and all was new and shiny, we belonged to a new exciting club. Now, I am not sure that I even like National Adoption Week. In fact this year I've kind of ignored it, well as best you can when our Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of all that is adoption.

I am saddened and angry that siblings are paraded through the media looking for their forever families. Although, I know that adoption is probably the best outcome for them. I am tired of reading stories of adoptive parents desperate for support and help with their traumatised children are not believed, are blamed, ridiculed or ignored by schools, health professionals and those supposedly in charge of our society.

I guess the new and shiny wears off, not that we are having a particularily hard time. Life here is pretty fantastic most of the time. We have our moments of anger and rage but so far we are managing it. For us adoption has brought our immediate family unit closer together. It feels like child 4 has always been here. The bit I struggle with is other people, those that just don't get it and actually don't want to get it. There are those who are unaware of child 4's difficult start in life so don't understand why he reacts to certain situations like he does and then there are those that do know but think that he should be all better now.

Our eldest described her angst about how other people are in a nutshell not so long ago.
"How would they feel if  one night the police and social services arrived at their home, forcibly removed them. Carrying them through the house whilest everyone is screaming and crying. Putting them in a car  and taking them to a new house to live in with a very nice new family, who they will stay with for a little while, whilst others decide where they will end up permanently. So would they recover in a few days, a week, a month, a year. If an adult couldn't cope with what we do to these children how can they expect children too!!"

What we do to these children and how we expect them to be grateful is one of the biggest issues with adoption, if everyone accepted it as a horrific thing to be party to  and  understood that our children needed support, counselling, love and educating, then adoption journeys would be better for all those involved.

For National Adoption Week, would I do it again. YES I would.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Alienation, not as you thought it!

I had my first parent teacher meeting this week to see how child 4 was settling into his new class. I was surprised to receive the "invitation" as we have our termly meeting  booked for just after half term, (the end of the honeymoon period meeting) and I haven't heard of any major issues.

All in all the meeting was just an update, no concerns with his academic achievement, although completing homework, especially his spellings has been a little tricky, his success in class means that we don't have to worry too much. Child 4 is struggling a little with the expectation to sit down and work but nothing unusual for a 6 year old little boy. His teacher is really impressed with his ability to not only recognise the need to apologise after an incident but also the need to put things right, once he has calmed down. We have worked very hard on saying sorry is good but how do you show someone that you mean it, especially if you struggle to not repeat the action. Obviously, the eventual aim is is that child 4 can control his anger but we have to work with what we have got.

When I asked if there had been any major issues, I was relieved to hear that not really.  During the summer term, it had been noticed that 12.30 to 1pm playtime is the time that most incidents involving child 4 occurred, so a TA has been monitoring and supporting him during this time. Sometimes they set up games to play but generally they are just there to step in if child 4 needs support in dealing with a situation. it also means that he isn't being labelled, at least by the school as a naughty boy, and the staff know exactly what is happening, they are not reliant on what the children say. This has helped him hugely and the school are leaving this support in place for the foreseeable future.

However, the teacher did mention that a few parents had been in to see her at the beginning of term asking if their child and child 4 could be kept apart. Her response had been that the school encourages the children to find ways to get along with each other, to be kind and friendly with each other. Not to separate them. I know that there have been some concerns with child 4's behaviour  but what had been picked up pretty quickly was that he tended to hurt other children in retaliation to something they had done. Not that I'm condoning his behaviour, I understand that to throw a rock at the child that has destroyed your tower or to hit someone with the tennis racquet because they have run off with the ball is not acceptable but I do understand why he does it. That is exactly why we have been working on sorry is not always enough. Luckily, the school understands too, so they work with all the children on how to behave.

Understandably, I am upset by the fact that parents are already trying to alienate him. He is 6 years old, he is your stereotypical little boy and he had a crap start in life. My biggest fear has always been that he would be alienated by his school friends, I hadn't thought that it could be parents encouraging the alienation. How on earth do I prepare for that?

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Fresh starts

Interestingly, September always feels like a new beginning to me, it must be because of the new school year. After what is often, these days a very long six week holiday I look forward to a return to the weekly routine of school days and after school clubs.

As its a new start I thought I would try and return to my blogging, life kinda got in the way in the Spring, what with all the exams, revision and stress that comes along. But now things are settling.

Child 1 excelled in her A levels and is looking for work to fund her gap year travelling trip next year before heading of to University to study History and Politics.

Child 2 as expected did not. I have learnt a lot about myself and our education system in dealing with child 2. Child 2 was always expected by his teachers to do well in his exams, throughout his school career he has done reasonably well but he hated secondary school, he never settled. There is so much research now into how being a victim of bullying affects school achievement, and this has definitely been our experience. I knew he was unlikely to do well as you will have read from previous blogs,  so I was prepared with seeing the reality. However, I was not prepared for what to do next. Hind sight being a wonderful thing, I wish I had investigated those options much earlier it would have made things so much easier.

Education is not like it was on my day anymore. Children cannot just retake exams anymore. All schools and colleges have to support children to retake Maths and English until they are 18 but that is all. Our local college allows retaking of Biology and a language but no other subjects. Instead the children do a level 2 Btech, if they achieve a good result they can then go on to study a level 3 Btech or A levels. My suggestion to child 2 is to chose a Btech he fancies, one that looks like fun. So he has chosen Public Service with sports. It's a bit like a grown up version of scouts and so far he is loving it. In fact he is a different child, happier, more content, showing greater independence. Fingers crossed this is a new beginning.

Child 3 has started secondary school and apart form the normal anxiety with an added bit of diva she is settling well. New friends, exciting bus rides and exciting lessons.

Of course we could potentially be in a honeymoon period with child 4, new class, new teacher, new TA and some new children. I think that it says a lot when after his first day he says " I had a good day and I didn't hurt anyone"

So here we are new beginnings, new starts, no doubt new issues to deal with, but at least we are starting positively.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

744 hours

Well I didn't exactly plan my children with examinations in mind. Child 3 has just completed KS2 SATs, child 2 started his GCES's last week and Early June sees the start of child 1's A levels. You can seriously feel the stress and tension as you walk in through the front door. The children deal with pressure in different ways, the girls are weepy and spiteful, child 2 is aggressive and angry. It only needs one to kick off and everyone follows suit, especially child 4 who, with his unsettled background seems to absorb his older siblings angst and go into full melt down. Being in school has meant older children, older language and new experiences. He is threatening to stab and kill and our experience has been that if he says something and has the opportunity he follows through on his threats. So if he says that he is going to throw the book in his hand at you, he will and his hand eye co ordination is good enough that you need to move, quick. We don't leave knives or scissors anywhere not even the sink, because, well just in case.

What we have noticed is that he mirrors the behaviour that he sees and hears, so, the best way to deal with his meltdowns is to be completely calm and quiet. You can imagine how successful that is when everyone in the house is shouting and screaming!

I am struggling with all the button pushing myself and I am an adult, so there is no surprise that everyone is pretty unsettled at the moment. I have reverted to a day by day coping mechanism, (it is only 31 more days to go) I am saying no to all requests of help except where there is no choice, so no additional hours at work, no extra volunteer stuff, except governor stuff as we are seeking a new Headteacher, yeah it never rains but pours. I can't remember the last time that I really checked out Twitter, had a quiet evening to myself or just didn't dread the coming evening. My conservatory is a mess, we can't eat in there as the table and surrounding floor is covered with three different types of revision paraphernalia, I daren't even touch it because if something got lost or moved the fireworks would be off.

This blog is being written whilst I sit at a gymnastic competition with child 3. I know that I have lost many of my coping mechanisms (although we got a night out last night with friends, a few hours escape to talk about holidays, food, gin cruises and just a bit of general gossip) then it's back to our "normal" feeding the children with food to aid brain power, emotional support to keep everything as calm as we can and give them the time they need, I am reading essays, marking science past papers, checking grammer and mathematic revision. Giving a hug when asked and often when not, listening to the ramblings of teenage thought processes, stepping in when an argument is brewing, taking child 4 out and away when his emotions start to overflow I need to find time to look after me but someone always needs something, I am one person, my brain can't cope with all the remembering, my emotions are riding high, it isn't going to take much to push me over the edge, I am exhausted nearly running on empty. Then I think I just need to get through the day, it's not long until bedtime, then it's another day and another day. 744 hours to go.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

When sorry isn't enough

When child 4 arrived it was obvious that he had not joined our family in the traditional manner. I remember walking home from school only a few days after he arrived, he was in his buggy and child 3 who was 8 at the time was chattering on about her day. Behind us was a mum and her similar aged daughter. I could hear their conversation. The little girl was telling her mum that child 3 had a new brother and the mum was laughing gently and indulgently explaining to her daughter that there was no way that I had been pregnant, had a baby and that baby was already a toddler without her knowing. I just stopped and laughed as well and explained that her daughter was right, we had just chosen a different way to add to our family. There were surprised gasps, hugs and congratulations and I felt happy.

In the beginning it was obvious to most that we had adopted and for the most part people were pleased, excited and happy for us. Over time that has changed. We have become a "normal" family unit. Two parents, four children, a dog, a couple of cats and some chickens. Adoption is not something we hide but we don't shout about either. The school staff know as he is in school and they need to be aware, as do those who clubs he attends other than that it really isn't anyone else's business.

Yesterday, I took child 4 to a class mates birthday party, I always stay, life is busy these days and I don't know very many of the parents in his class, many of them are new, their eldest child having just started school. Birthday party's are a great way to meet over a cup of tea and have a chat or just catch up with old friends, whilst our children play.

Child 4 was having a great time running around and then pass the parcel. Then it was time for the entertainer, a magician. All the children were sitting down in front of him vibrating with excitement. When the entertainer announced that he was videoing the show and wanted to check it was ok. Child 4 circumstances are that he cannot have his picture on social media, in the press or on TV. Child 4 was sitting waiting for the show, understanding everything that was said and I was surrounded by parents, many of whom don't  know that child 4 was adopted! I had to ask in front of everyone why it was being video'd. So I could make the decision that was best for my son. Of course the video was for the magicians website. He said that if I wasn't happy I could pull child 4 from his seat at the front and sit him at the back over to the left. In that split second I chose to leave it. Child 4 was watching this whole interaction, confusion marring his face, parents were either frowning with confusion or looking at me with sympathy. I just wanted to hide away and deal with the myriad of emotions that slammed into me. Fury for being placed in this position and what if I wasn't there, sorrow because this isn't how life should be for any child, disappointment in myself for possibly not handling the situation right, embarrassment for having to be that parent. So, I sat at the back, my hands wrapped around a lukewarm cup of tea thinking about how I could have handled the situation better and what was I going to do. Someone came over to check I was ok and of course I said I was fine, I couldn't
 talk yet, I didn't know what would come out of my mouth but, it wouldn't have been kind. In reality it wasn't anyone's fault, people just don't understand the nature of adoption, if they haven't experienced it how can they know. My job as an adoptive parent means that I have to educate those I come into contact with and this magician needed to understand how his ignorance and thoughtlessness has affected us and that for some adoptive parents it could have been worse. I hate these discussions, I don't want a confrontation, I don't want to share my sons story, I don't want to embarrass the person I speak to but sometimes we have to do the right thing. I was calm and kind when I explained our situation and the difficult and embarrassing position he put me in. Of course he was very apologetic, he hadn't thought and next time he will speak to the parents in the days leading up to the party so they can check with parents of the party guests. The parents were very apologetic they hadn't thought either.
Do you know what none of the apologies made me feel any better, it was done, saying sorry doesn't erase what happened. Maybe that's why I am still sad and cross, I will move on, I don't have time to linger over these bumps in the road. I don't think I could have handled it differently I just wish that we hadn't had to handle it at all.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Our Secret Garden

The tall, gnarled trees bend their branches, reaching out and beckon softly. "Just step through the gate, go on, step through, it will take you to a enchanted garden." A garden where the last minute jam sandwiches, bottle of watered down juice, the last of the grapes and the last packet of cookies from the biscuit tin will change into a feast for kings. There is no wind just the faintest of breezes that whispers through the branches of trees, enticing families, dog walkers and lovers young and old in. The trees have watched generations of children picnic and play and grow up. The children disappear for a while but return with friends and picnics, they stroll with their first loves, sneaking a kiss in secluded sun spots, hidden from prying eyes. Then in years to come they return with their children.

The trees watch from their heights, guardians of this garden as time spins forward, days spill into weeks, the weeks into months, the months paint their seasons and the seasons merge into years blurring as the years continue, but from the day when summer time begins, the world slows in this magical place, it allows us to escape the humdrum of school and bed. The screaming and tantrums of youngsters are subdued, muted by the green flourishing woodlands. A dragonfly, a feather, the bleating of lambs calling to their mothers offers a distraction, enough to stop the rage. There are trees to climb, muddy slopes to traverse and slide down. There are treasures to find, a pine cone, an acorn. If you sit beneath a blossom laden tree as the breeze blows you can be dusted in pink and white confetti. There are bugs to study, butterflies to chase, mole hills to dig, ancient tree stumps to hunt for mini beasts or create dinosaur lands. The gnarled roots of the trees become fairy houses and doors to magical lands.

I can just lie here as I have done every year for the last 16 years, watching the clouds drift overhead, wondering where they are going and from whence they came, I can feel the sun on my face as it warm fingers caress encouraging me to drift away just for a few minutes. I wonder what the guardians think when they watch my children, do they know what the future holds for them, do they know their pasts or do they just enjoy these moments of now. The children are safe, here in our Secret Garden, the walls keep them from straying. They can explore and play, exciting adventures will find them sharing wonderful magical gifts. Gifts they will keep in their hearts and memories that will last them for a lifetime. A little magic I know they will want to share with their children I the future. In this little garden of enchantment I find peace and contentment, even if for just a few hours.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Shooting Stars

It was clear cold night as we headed home from gymnastics, when child 3 leapt up in her seat pointing in the sky. "a shooting star"

Child 4 started to explain that a shooting star was a rock high in the sky, travelling through space. I was torn between pride that my gorgeous 5year old son knew about what makes a shooting star and sorrow that there was no magic in anything that he said. No wishing upon a star, no wondering as to where it travelled to or from or what planets or spaceships it may have seen en route, just the scientific explanation. 

I think that Shooting stars should be filled with magic, something to encourage wishes and dreams. What wonderous things had that star seen on its journey and what hopes and dreams would it carry as it sped on its way.

I have never seen a shooting star, I am 46 years old and have never wished upon a shooting star. I couldn't even say what I would wish for.

To believe in magic is to be able to hope, to hold nuggets of happy memories close to our hearts is to know someone loves you and gives you something to hold onto when life throws a curve ball and to be able to dream means that you can aim high, believing that if you aim for the moon at worst you will land amongst the stars, so I am saddened that my youngest seems to be missing out. I want him to watch for shooting stars so he can hang his dreams on them, I want him to catch falling stars and put them in his pocket, save them for a rainy day. I want him to find his second star to the right follow it and head straight onto morning.

Big dreams, hope when there seems to be none and adventures to chase that is what I want for all my children.

So back to our car journey,  with a little suggestion from me we all wished upon that shooting star.

Sunday, 5 March 2017


"When a law is unjust, it is only right to disobey" Ghandi

Defiance in our children is seen as rude, disagreeable, irritating and frustrating and seems to trigger a quick and often over-reactive response from an adult, I wonder why?

One of our jobs as a parent is to educate our children in social niceties and acceptable behaviour, so when they are overtly resistance this, for me, can sometimes trigger something primal in my response. Perhaps because sometime back in the Stone Age a child saying NO, refusing to do something when asked, dragging their feet in protest or intentionally ignoring us could have potentially led to serious injury or death.

But defiance when it is Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parkes or Malala to name a few is bravery, inspiration and just. How many fictional characters who have a defiant streak become our heroes, Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Alex Rider or even George in the Famous Five.  So how do we harness defiance for good? How do I teach my child to use his strength in a good way and how do I learn to respond to his  attitude in a way that encourages him to stand up for the right things.
I have no desire to quash the spark of defiance that runs through my son but I do need to help it flourish into something positive. He is defiant when he views a request as unfair, that may be because he just wants his own way and has not yet matured to be able to look at the bigger picture. Examples of this happen at school every day. He is in the middle of an exciting activity and is asked to do something else, not being compliant in nature his response of course is no and why shouldn't it be. He doesn't understand that learning his numbers or phonics is the basis of his whole education, he is perfectly content playing his dinosaur game.

As the grown ups we have to find a way of working him with, maybe the playing with dinosaurs happens after the phonics, not asking him to do something, just expecting him too interestingly has more success, immediate and appropriate consequences may lead to stomping and even a tantrum, but the message is loud and clear and next time there may not be an issue. But just as important it is understanding why, after all it may not be defiance that is playing out in front of us it could be preoccupation (playing with dinosaurs),fear , or anger. Communication is so important even if sometimes so difficult. Getting a 5 year old to explain how he feels is not easy, but by not assuming that he is in the wrong or that his behaviour is disagreeable is a way to teach trust and that in turn leads to him seeking an adult out to help him manage his feelings.

Obviously, I have failed at this on numerous occasions, hence why I write about it now, maybe writing and thinking about defiance will help me, help him and that is after all what it is all about.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

When is a reward chart not a reward chart?

I had our half term meeting about child 4 the week before the holidays. After the two weeks of agressive behaviour, life is settling down, now instead of aggression and violence usually directed to his peers we have defiance against the staff. The class teacher is managing him well, but the support staff struggle, generally because they try to talk him into doing things, rather than expecting him too. Something the class teacher and Sen Co will work on with them. In fact the teacher is pretty amazing in that she will try something and if it doesn't work she will go back to the drawing board, speak to other staff or us and try something different. If something works fantastic but the minute it stops having the desired effect she will rethink and come up with something new to try. Academically child 4 is doing well but I worry that if we do not resolve his behaviours, his academic ability will suffer in the future.

This week the school have tried a sort of sticker chart, (I know, I know....it sounds like a reward chart and I guess in a way it is one.)  Child 4's teacher has noticed that he loves stickers, if she says "I wonder who will get my sticker for sitting nicely?" He sits beautifully and then is overjoyed to receive a sticker for doing as asked. So, she has created a special sheet full of pictures depicting his day. Every time he completes a section of the day without hurting someone or being rude he gains a sticker. It can be just sitting nicely or moving to an activity when asked. In fact he can't fail to gain a sticker. There is no penance for not getting a sticker they just move on to the next part of the day. By the end of the day he has a sheet full of stickers, they just focus on the good stuff. So far it is working.

 On Thursday he came out of school saying that the teacher needed to speak to me, "uh oh now what" was my understandable response. Well, on Thursday he got through the whole day without hurting anyone! That is the first time, since he started school last September. A whole day and he was so proud of himself. He couldn't wait to tell his siblings, his Daddy and his Nanna and Grandad. I am not one for reward charts, in fact I don't think any adoptive parent is, anything that may set up our children to fail is not of any use, however a reward chart that is not a reward chart but a sticker chart that celebrates the little successes and leads to a major success is something that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I know that the sticker chart life span could well be short but if it means that child 4 can celebrate the joy of making it through a day without resorting to violence then it shows that he is finding his way to manage his anger and that can only be a good thing.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Growing up is tough

Bullying is an insidious thing and it can have long reaching tentacles that invade not just the life of the person affected but also their family and friends. When you are a teenage boy loaded with testosterone and going through puberty life at home can be tricky at best and down right miserable at worst. Even when the bullying has been stopped there is a residual victim mentality left, especially if there is low level "p**s taking still going on. The children probably aren't even aware they are doing it, it just becomes habit.
For us though it can make our life feel like a minefield of emotions, one out of place comment and our teenager sees red, I mean a blinding red, one where he cannot control himself. He has to make everyone else as miserable as himself. So he hits his younger sister and intimidates his younger brother often reminding him that he is adopted. He will swear and be right up in our faces.
The knock on effect is huge. Both of the girls are scared of him when he gets angry, his brother moves directly into fight mode none of which help as it feeds the anger and his power kick. He will not respond to us his parents except to shout, swear or be defiant. Of course, once everything has calmed down he is sincerely apologetic but sorry is a word it doesn't repair the damage already done.
We have moved into quick, decisive but appropriate consequences and are hoping that this will help him control the rage.

One of the downsides of secondary school is that you are who you begin those pre-teen years as. The persona of year 7, is the one you have to carry throughout that part of your education. Your peers seem unable to allow you to grow, change and flourish, to become the person you are going to be. These are the years where education has such an important role to play, how you behave, how you are treated and how you are educated and not just in academia help to mould you. If you start this time wrong footed or different it is so hard to mature, to find your way. You sometimes fall into a victim mentality and that is so hard to break, you assume that people are out to get you even when they are not.
I have yet to work out how to deal with this. I listen, ask if my help is required to intervene or sometimes I email the school regardless.

We don't have long to go now and child 2 can study his sixth form years elsewhere. Where he can be who he is today and not who he was 2,3 or 5 years ago. He can be the funny, bright, articulate good looking boy that I spend my time with!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A tough week

On Tuesday I was called into school as child 4 had been struggling for the past couple of days. On Tuesday alone he had hurt 10 children before morning break at 10.40am. By lunchtime the teacher had given up on the early years foundation scheme of free flow play and learn for the class and had structured the afternoon into small groups of children being directed to specific activities for 15 minutes before being moved to the next activity all to minutely manage child 4.
Child 4 had been invited to a birthday party the next afternoon, he was tired, scared and struggling with his emotions, maybe a party wasn't the best idea but still he wanted to go so I went with him. I over heard one little girl say to her friend "oh that's just child 4, he is always in trouble at school and a parent said as he was in full tantrum "oh dear Ben rioting again" Normally these comments roll off me but that day they didn't. All my fears were accumulating. Child 4 being known as the naughty child by his peers, parents seeing him as a trouble maker, teachers struggling to manage him. We had been doing so well.
We have shut ourselves away for the rest of the week, quietly talking about being kind and gentle. Ensuring that when he is angry or struggling with his emotions he knows who to speak to and where his safe space is. I spoke to the ELSA support in school who does Theraplay with child 4 about our weekend so that she could help him. His class teacher has changed their day around so that the structured stuff is in the afternoon when he is more tired so susceptible to behaving erratically.
Our mornings and evenings have been packed with tantrums, demands and loud voices have echoed through the house. Meltdowns because I won't allow meals of sweets, chocolates or biscuits, followed by desperate clingy cuddles with him almost climbing inside me. The nights have been disturbed with him ending up in our bed or me cuddled up with him in his.
All this I think was brought on by a complete meltdown by child 2 on Sunday. He had, had parents evening regarding his upcoming GCSE's think he is just realising that he actually has to do some work and it was his birthday, as he has struggled with friendships at school I think he was worried that no one would mention his birthday and 16 years old is a big step for a teenager. This led to a meltdown of epic proportions where he wanted everyone in the house to feel as bad as he did and didn't care what he did to ensure that happened. Of course my attention was all in child 2's direction, so I completely missed the effect that this event had on the other children, particularily child 4. Now, I am left repairing the damage. Finding appropriate consequences for child 2 and working out how I am going to speak to him about the effects of his behaviour on his siblings, helping him be responsible for his actions without starting another battle. He has lost all electronics for the week and has to clean the bathrooms as he swore, a lot. However, he has actually been revising so that's a positive.

This weekend I am spending time with the children, we are going to make bath bombs, filled with lavendar oil, bake some cookies and walk the dog.  Child 3 has a gym competition so she will need TLC and support as she gets very nervous before, although her last two practice sessions have been amazing.

A time for gentle and quiet structure I think is required.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

A road less travelled

Moving into a New Year doesn't hold the excitement it did when I was young. Gone are the days where a New Year brought exciting decisions, major events, resolutions. Now it is just one day morphing into another. I no longer make resolutions as I know I am unlikely to keep them. I watch the fireworks because the children want to and I enjoy the time with them. This time I wondered about where I intend to end up, eventually, after all life is a journey but it's a journey with no definitive destination. We move from one stop to the next. Teenage years to adult hood, individuals to partnerships, new jobs, careers, new homes, cities and countries, then in our case children.

I was lucky enough to be born into an ordinary family, parents that loved me and supported me. They started me on my life journey, in the beginning they drove, choosing the direction that my life was going to take. Then gradually they encouraged or allowed me to branch out on my own. I began to make my own decisions taking the fork in the road that appealed to me, knowing that they were there to share the driving seat if everything went wrong.
Now I am in the driving seat, a seat I share with Mr L. We have chosen a road much less travelled, this of course means that the road is not so easy or efficient. The road often twists and turns and we can't see more than a few metres in front, we hit pot holes, sometimes the road crumbles beneath the wheels, we make wrong turns and have to decide whether to turn back or keep on going. Sometimes we get hopelessly lost and have to call for help. But then we see a light, the road smooths out, we've climbed a mountain, traversed a cliff side, found our way out of the dark trees, reached the bottom of a death defying hill. We can stop, stretch our legs and enjoy the view. We can picnic in a beautiful valley, lazing in the warm sun. We can stroll around a meadow covered with wild flowers. We can be in a place of contentment. But time doesn't wait for anyone, minutes pass drifting into hours and we once again start our journey. Where we are aiming for I often don't know, life is funny like that we start our lives being totally dependant on our parents, what is our end destination? heaven? We move on from one stop to the next, one Dream realised after another. Everyone's dreams are different and a certainty will be that not all our dreams come true.
What is my next pit stop to be. Seeing child 1 and 2 through their exams, definitely a long hard climb. Helping child 3 achieve her NDP in gymnastics, tip toeing through the grass avoiding the egg shells. Supporting child 4 through his first year in school, which means returning now and then to the busy, well travelled roads praying that we can get to our next stop without any prangs or traffic jams caused by others that intentionally or inadvertently get in our way. The journey we have chosen certainly isn't boring but the hiccups along the way are eclipsed by the moments of joy we are often surprised with.