Just Plain Tough

I doubt those supporting vulnerable children, in schools, up and down the country, know what feeling truly isolated in life feels like. To have a sense that no one wants to stick their neck out and actually give you a little support. It must feel so warming to go along in your life, knowing you’ve done your job for the day, looked after “those difficult children” but thank goodness, that you can now return to a normal life with a normal family.

The safe structure of your school rules, inflexible and heartless, giving you the backbone to stand by your every judgement and ruling. Happy to take the supporting, whole, not just a hand, of a parent who only wishes to have her children understood, seen with compassionate eyes and given the break that they dearly need. But when you turn your back and announce school rules for the meaning, there is no need to think about them once again. No you don’t have to consider the way your actions may ripple through the family’s emotional wellbeing. You don’t have to worry about the doctors appointments required to increase medication, mood moderators, tablets to support you through those endlessly sleepless nights.  The cancellation of activities that aim to offer a level of freedom to some who are chained to their family, through love, dedication, necessity.

It’s ok that the chain extends as far as the school, that way this parent can always be there as and when you need, when you can’t do your job, can’t support these children.  You assure me you are trained and experienced in dealing with attachment, where is the attachment focus in the sentence? “We don’t have time to get to know your son” .

That’s when you enjoy pointing your gnarly little finger and poke at the already vulnerable people, that you know can’t retaliate.

“You are the parents, this is your fault, we of course did nothing wrong”.

Oh don’t worry, you are not the first, I’ve seen that finger repeatedly over the years, when you don’t really know what to do or say, it’s easy to see why you would point the finger, yes because it’s easy for you to do.

You load the isolation onto that family, keep on going; they are not quite broken yet. You could always reel them in again, pretend to care and then stick your middle finger in their direction, just when you think they might finally be trusting of you, again. That should do the job, if not this time, the next or the next or the next. Who said adoptive parents are some of the most resilient folk around? No school is, stronger, harder, we will break you.

Yes my children will be well educated by you; they will receive the education you so dreadfully feel they need, that I’m not providing. They will learn that the system is always punitive, you will comply or be punished. “I’m really sorry I choose to not recognise your needs.”

In life adults have the right to critise you, but you can never say anything in your defense, that is considered rude and is not tolerated, please tell your parents this rule applies to them too.

Finally, don’t ever expect empathy from this system. This is not tough love, no this is just being tough, the word love does not get used in this system of education.

“Your son is a nightmare” you tell me.

“Why should we move him into a different science lesson when he can’t even behave for the teacher he already has?” you question.

Your son, who has high anxiety around school, he’s not allowed to be late for school or we will give him a detention and you will be in trouble with the LA.  No, all the psychological reports attached to his EHC are not sufficient evidence, but if he colour codes his timetable, red, amber, green, got the idea, that will explain why he doesn’t like school. Ofstead will approve. Oh, and can you do this for us because we don’t have time to spend with your son, getting to know him and helping him to trust us.

Is it fun to see a parent contort themself around your mixed messages and lack of understanding?

Your language and actions speaks volumes about the culture of your school.  A culture where it’s ok to label a vulnerable child, “the worst kind of child” and smile smugly in your arrogance of being right, whilst you do it.

Meeting the Head Master

It was odd to see such a young and innocent face fix a more deathly than Paddington stare on his new headmaster. The man walking towards me had his arm outstretched, and as we connected, I tried to match his firm but not over assertive hand grip. He seemed friendly, yet commanding, his smile said fair but his eyes said “I have no doubt in myself”. As my boy’s eyes bore deep bloody wells into his very being, part of me wanted to commend my young man for his bravery,  the other side of me was inwardly pleading “whoa there youngster, back down a bit, I want this meeting to go well”.

As we were politely ushered into a large but plain office, the feeling of anxiety grew within me. It were as if a ping pong ball were floating up my lungs, into my windpipe and then becoming firmly lodged in the root of my throat. My breath felt shallow and uncertain.

The question asked was “where would you like to sit Tink?”

My boy responded with an under breath muttering, which was clearly audible to me, “as far away from you as possible”.

Others heard it too, and trying to keep it light the headmaster responded “well then it depends where I sit” as he rounded the table end, to sit on the far side.

Tink’s stare is fixed hard and fast from beneath his floppy, sand coloured fringe and he selects a seat on the opposite side of the conference table and I obediently take the seat next to him.

Of course his face is also flushed, the baby-faced boy, with the hint of sun kissed skin, has cheeks the colour of a rosy apple, reminding me of the face of a teething tot.  It is obvious, to me anyway, that he is extremely nervous about the encounter we are about to have.

Tink had created quite a commotion two days previous when he refused point blankly to “reflect” on another, previous incident, declaring “I don’t want to talk about it”.

Insistent that some kind of conversation would take place, the support worker in question steamed ahead with the proposed talk. Now “steamed” may be a little unfair, I’m sure a great amount of delicacy was placed on these proceedings but in Tink’s eyes, he was being approached by a steam roller which aimed to flatten him.

My sound advice to the responsible adult in question is, don’t start something like this with Tink, in a room full of other students, if you are not prepared to clear the room of said other students when the boy digs his heels in. All students were removed from the room.

The eleven year old took firm control over the situation, spinning round and around on his chair, muttering and occasionally directing comments, which could be construed as rude, to those offering him the support.

The support, from his account was a succession of increasingly important people asking him to “stop and come to my office”.

“I mean an office, as if I’m going to go there with them, that’s way to formal, and she kept using that word consequence…. consequence, consequence, consequence, I didn’t hear her say anything else.”

The final straw was the headmaster. He came, he talked, he gave five to ten minutes for Tink to think about it, and the answer was still “no”.

The exclusion which follows is for disrupting the room full of pupils and wasting people’s time, it is made clear to me that Tink having wasted a good half an hour of the head teacher’s time is massively unacceptable. As is Tink completely having control over the situation, a power struggle between a small boy and the head honcho, the line needs to be drawn, clearly, so he realises this is not acceptable.

So for this reason we sit across the table from the head, me and the boy on one side of the table, him and the support worker on the other side. Tink stays five minutes listens to the speech about making right choices, is asked a couple of questions which he refuses to answer, and so I hurriedly answer on his behalf and he leaves, fixing me now with a stare.

I think this stare says “don’t make me go”. I feel a sharp pain in my heart as he is released from the meeting which I spend another hour in.

So we met the headmaster, he was okay, I say okay because I’ve been too quick to say “he/she was great” on meeting new possible allies. So we’ll start with okay because I didn’t leave weeping or with a sense of doom. Nor was there skipping down corridors with a fist punch to the air as, finally, early life trauma is triumphant and school punitive disciplinary rules fall to their knees in surrender. No, the small victory is that this time, the time away from school will not go on his record. However the same process of exclusion will apply the next time and we all know there will be a next time. So, the relationship with the school is improving, we understand each other a little more, there is confidence in long term commitment, we can even share a smile but it’s still a very long, long way from I love you.

The Closure of BAAF

The closure of BAAF was of course, as for plenty of adopters, a huge shock to me. The organisation, which many saw as the cornerstone of British adoption, gone just like that over night. What’s not shocking about that? However did I feel personally affected by this loss? No.

When Mr H and I first looked into adoption, some ten years ago now, much of the relevant literature and online information about adoption was published by, or provided by BAAF. It was difficult to find books, leaflets or training, which they hadn’t published or hosted. They really were the big guns.

As we threw ourselves into our family and became absorbed by the day to day, I forgot to search for more to read and more information to take on board. I knew few people who had adopted, so occasionally accessed The Adoption UK chat forums but, really, I relied a lot on instinct and the occasional bit of input from my Local Authority (LA).

That is until things became really, really tough. By this time we’d moved house and our LA was different and also fairly incompetent. All requests for support were met with a fair bit of indifference, a lack of understanding and little belief in what we were reporting.

This is the point at which I joined twitter as an adoptive parent. I lifted my head above the parapet of our everyday life, to seek others with whom I could relate, and I found them. There amongst the scrolling screen of my smart phone were other people experiencing my life. Not only did they tweet about it, they wrote about it in their blogs. Suddenly there was so much more to take in, again, reading about the lives of other adopters made me feel so much less alone. These people were supportive and friendly, sharing their experiences and recommending sources of information. Here I discovered Dan Hughes, wow what a revelation that was.

So what does this have to do with the closure of BAAF?

Well, as many of you will know, from these tiny social media seeds grew The Adoption Social, a free website, offering up the experiences and thoughts of others involved in adoption. An organisation that aimed to promote and support the online adoption community, a community you can be part of for free.

Whilst running The Adoption Social, we’ve had very little to do with BAAF, despite often trying to engage with them through social media. I must add here that on the odd occasion I’ve met staff from BAAF, at conferences and training, they have all been very friendly and interested. However online, they refused, for a long time, to even acknowledge our existence. This is not me showing bitterness or regret, it’s just a fact. Whilst organisations like Adoption UK, Coram and TACT, to name a few, were supportive and interested. BAAF never really were.

I’m not suggesting that we were ever in the same league as this mighty organisation; however, it somehow seemed a very antiquated approach, amidst this very friendly and supportive community, they seemed, to me, to maintain their seniority. I have been known to refer to them as the “dinosaurs” of the adoption world, which now I feel a little unkind about. However no matter all the incredible work they did, it seems a shame that they seemed unable to move with the times and engage in this new format, which many of those involved in adoption were embracing.

I’m sure there is much, much more involved with the closure of BAAF than a lack of social media savvy, and I can’t help feel that the government are playing a big part in the drama which is gradually unfolding. Whilst I don’t feel personally affected by the loss of BAAF, I do feel truly saddened that such an institution of adoption has been found to be so removed from what is currently needed in the adoption sector, and therefore unsalvageable. I think it casts a very dark shadow over adoption, and whilst questionable decisions are being made, and other queries remain unanswered, a sense of instability exists over British adoption.


Raving or Behaving at Forty Plus


The child like faces streamed past me and I wondered “what the hell am I doing”. I should have known better, I shouldn’t be here, my head raced and then, to make matters worse, the bouncer told the young girls in front “have your ID’s ready”.

I was nervous, this was something I did every weekend in my twenties, go to a club, dance all night and feel amazing doing it.

What if I couldn’t dance the night away any more?

What if I found it all too stressful and couldn’t enjoy myself?

What if I felt so very old that those young faces made me believe I should be home in bed with my cocoa at eleven o’clock?

We joked with the bouncer,

“Will you ask us for ID too?”

“If you want me to” he replied with a cheeky smile.

And there is the first of the many things that have changed. Now I am a forty something clubber, the bouncers are more friendly. They no longer seemed scary, more an older face in the crowd I could share a joke or frivolous comment with. Oh my goodness the bouncers are younger than me.

So here I am on a Saturday night out with the best of all friends, someone I shared many a long and exciting club night with in my twenties, clubbing again in our forties. My beautiful friend had bought tickets for, what was billed as a revival night, for our favourite club from our youth, as a birthday present for me.

I took a deep breath and entered the club (after a sniffer dog had declared us clean of anything untoward, another new one on me), the intense base beat of the dance music hit me like a wave of nostalgia and my anxieties were suddenly  disintegrated and now there was excited anticipation.

My friend and I dithered slightly about where would be the best place to dance, but after trying a couple of spots, we set ourselves up on the balcony overlooking the DJ. Difference number two, the DJ was in a small booth somewhere undistinguishable in my day, now they are centre stage, the star attraction. To confirm this shift in the world of clubbing, a young man later questioned,

“Who have you come to see?”

See? I never came out to SEE a DJ, I came to hear them.

My friend and I had booked a hotel room for the night so we didn’t have to travel back to our suburban/rural lives after our night out. We shunned the need to dress to impress and be seen in a trendy bar before our night out. Instead we stocked up on gins in a tin, vodka and energy drinks which we sipped whilst lazily transforming ourselves from older ladies to attractive club land ladies.  I asked many slightly silly questions beforehand.

“How much money should we take?”

“Should I take a bag?”

“What about a coat?”

Back in the day, I’d have known what I wanted to do and not worried about what the person next to me was doing.

My friend had done this before quite recently, so calmly reassured me at every step, my goodness it was as if I was about embark on death deifying feat.

So once in the club, the music hit me and I just started dancing, immediately I lost all fear and absorbed every beat with confidence. The moves were still there,” I’m still good at this” I beamed (who knows I might have looked like I was having a fit but it felt good).

So we danced the night away and returned to our hotel room in the early hours. However there are still a couple of things that made it different as a forty something to being a nubile teenager.

  1. I took plasters with me, just in case my feet blistered and I used them, hello, mummy alert.
  2. I drank so much water I had to go to the toilet a lot. I made sure I went in plenty of time because a queue more than six deep might be a problem.
  3. On one of my toilet trips, the girl in the next cubical seemed in trouble. She was obviously splayed on the floor, as her hair tumbled from beneath the divide, into my cubical. I knocked and asked “are you ok?” My nurturing nature in full force. I asked “Do you have water?” She mumbled and I passed my full bottle of water through. She seemed grateful and asked if she could see my face. I kindly declined the offer to put my face on the toilet floor and offered her a waving hand instead. I then informed the toilet attendant about her predicament, a sensible mum in full force.
  4. I tried at one point to take a selfie picture of my friend and I enjoying ourselves. After six failed attempts I gave up. I’m sure I heard the youngster around us sniggering.
  5. The music wasn’t all good and my friend and I discussed writing disgruntled emails referring to the trade descriptions act.
  6. Once back in our hotel room we both removed all make up and showered before bed.

So there you have it, my big fun night out, a big bit of #takingcare. I’m going to link this post to #memorybox because it was so much fun and for me offered a night of complete rejuvenation that I will never forget. I will not be waiting another twenty years before I do that again.

Thoughts on Contact – A Guest Post.

I am really pleased to be able to bring you this guest post on my blog. On The Adoption Social we have had a special week dedicated to the topic of “Contact”. There are lots of posts on the site which see contact from many different view points. It has been wonderful to see the discussion it’s sparked and the need for people to share their experiences. This post is exactly that a mum who wants to share her thought and experiences.

We have two adopted children A & C. They are not birth siblings but are part of the same extended family. A is 7 and C is 3. We have a variety of a letterbox agreements with all sorts of family members; this mostly doesn’t bother me too much, I write one main letter per child and then adapt and alter as necessary. We receive some responses but not all. Again, this is okay, there are reasons I can explain to A & C for the non responses.

We have met both A & C’s birthmums; several years apart. One was a meeting that we left feeling that there were excuses given, but even after having several children removed, the birthmum could not understand what had caused it. I feel sorry for her, but I know and understand the reasons that A (and siblings) had to be removed and as she shows no remorse or regret and hasn’t changed, I am happy to write a letter to her once a year, but want to avoid anywhere she might be.

The second meeting was more heartbreaking. C’s birthmum knows why C was removed. She understands and accepts the reasons, but doesn’t think it is fair. It is harder still as C has 2 older siblings that have stayed with birthmum & birthdad, and C and 2 other siblings have been removed and adopted.

When we had the meeting with C’s birthmum she gave us the most precious photo of C taken within hours of birth. We gave her some up to date photo’s of C, that she could take away and show the older siblings. She is heartbroken & we were heartbroken listening to her. There are an awful lot of buts and if only’s in their story. We have (with the agreement of our social worker) agreed to send her photo’s with letterbox, they will be poor quality and not necessarily of his face, but she will see photos.

But it feels like it isn’t enough. I would love C to have direct contact with birth mum and birth siblings. We and our social worker sat there after birthmum left and discussed the idea (which she hadn’t talked about), and our social worker would have made it happen. But we couldn’t decide whether we thought it would be in the best interests of C, it would have been fantastic for birthmum and siblings, but we have to do what is best for C. C was removed at birth and had contact at a children’s centre until 14 months old. She has no memories, just photos in her life story book. So we didn’t progress any further with it.

But, should I see birthmum in a park (there is a real possibility of this) I will not hurry A & C away, but stop and say hello and let the siblings see each other and let her see how C is growing and developing. Should C express a wish to meet birthmum (before 18) I will move heaven and earth to make that happen, as long as C is old enough to understand the reasons that she was removed and the fact that you cannot unmeet someone.

As C gets older she will have questions that I will be unable to answer, and whilst her birthmum may not have the answers either, there is the chance that if we work together we can help her understand decisions that have been made for her life.

The Finishing Line

imageIt’s not that I am ashamed; please don’t get me wrong, I would tell you all the gory details if I felt it would help. However, I know that those parents out there who live with a child who can rage with such anger that they have to hurt themselves, you and deconstruct their surroundings, already know what that is like. Those parents will also know that once your child is in that apocalyptic zone; there is almost nothing you can do to entice them out. Usually we have to wait for exhaustion to wash over him before we can see the finish line. For those that don’t, be grateful.

Crossing the finish line is somewhat harder than just eyeballing it. I’m not sure you ever have a clear finish, often the line fades or moves. There is never a feeling that you’ve cracked this one, a heady rush of success, no, when you live with a violent child the finish line is often out of reach.

However, we move as close as we can to it; a place where there is peace and where our child feels safe again or just safer. How we do this, how we reclaim the lost confidence in our relationship, is with grit and determination, amongst many other things.

Sometimes it’s through clenched teeth. I remember the time Stig kicked off on a busy train, yes that was the time someone filmed us on their phone, thinking we were mistreating him. Well by the time we’d got home he’d calmed significantly and had moved into tears and shame. Because he’d been writhing around on the dirty train floor and gotten very sweaty, I ran him a bath.

“Will you get in with me?”  he begged. Inside I hadn’t yet come to terms fully with the repeated punches I’d received on that train but I knew, if I could, I should.

“Of course” I trilled. I got in and we had that skin on skin contact that made him feel better and actually, I found that it helped me too. On this occasion, that connection was our first step towards that evasive line.

Often I take him an offering, expecting hunger and thirst to be top of his needs after such exertion of energy; I offer a drink or a snack. It’s like a little peace offering. Him accepting it is a step towards that line and often opens a  channel of communication. Cleverly I’ve worked out food is a great leveller. Only this week, to avoid a possible explosion, I made fried eggs.

There are those occasions when, even with clenched teeth you can’t do it, not straight away. I hope, on these occasions that Mr H can make those first steps alone, whilst I recoup. On one occasion only, but fairly recently, because it was one of the worst outbursts we’ve seen, we made no contact after. We stayed away for him and us to calm, by the time we did make advances, he’d fallen asleep. This made things hard in the morning, he was still on edge, as were we, unsure of the firmness of the ground on which we stood. I also didn’t sleep on that night, not one wink. So that was a lesson learnt.

In the past,when we first entered a long period of “episodes”, when they occurred weekly, I had been terrified by the possibilities of our future. Whilst I still find any outbursts very traumatic, when I realise his mind has altered to “that” state,  I shake at the possibilities of what is to come, I am now able to make a reasonable recovery. I know that there are always lessons to be learnt.

There is the lesson’s Mr H and I discover on unpicking our own contributions to the escalation, often recognising our own failings, not quite being therapeutic in the heat of the moment.  We also de-brief with our son. We try to work backwards, to find out what the trigger was and how we could have changed the outcome. We talk about bodily sensations which indicate anger; we talk about making right choices. We hope that he can make a little more sense of his emotional make up. He says he’s sorry and we say ours, maybe we could have been more supportive at the beginning. We never apologise for hold him and preventing him from hurting himself, we make it clear that if certain behaviour occurs, then we have no other option.

He often needs to be close in the following day and I find jobs for him to help me with, to occupy us whilst we talk. We unload the dishwasher, make the tea, sort washing and do the recycling whilst talking about everything and anything, although I draw a line at the zombie apocalypse.

Now-a-days, it’s not long before we can almost imagine that the event didn’t occur, we come together at a family meal and share jokes or mutually enjoy a walk, a television programme or a game. But we’ve not crossed the finish line; we are close but also maybe a life time away. A little bit of us remains with the last time it happened, as a reminder of the possibility.

Will we ever cross that finish line?

In honesty, I don’t know.

The Golden Child

golden childHe didn’t want to go again this morning. He didn’t want to get out of bed, or get dressed, or come downstairs. He just didn’t want to do it today. His chin dropped low, his brow furrowed and he looked up at me from beneath his beautiful long lashes. Those brilliant blue eyes, like deep pools of salty tears, pleaded with me not to send him.

After a little coercing and tiny bit of deal making,  I pulled the front door behind us both. Instead of propelling forward, towards the car, he sunk down and sat on the doorstep.

“Please” he said, “I don’t want to today.”

Some gentle persuasion and a couple of promises later we got to the car, we got in the car and we drove to school. There was no conversation. I racked my weary brain to find that elusive nugget of conversation which would stop him thinking about how much he didn’t want to go.

We parked, got out of the car and walked to the gate. He hid behind the wall instead of going through the gate. His teaching assistant happened to be there, on hand.

“Are you coming in?”


Through gentle guidance and some bribery we arrived in the main reception of the school.

Those eyes now glistened, as the pools threatened to overflow.

“Probably best if you go now “I was advised.

“Bet I’ll be back again soon” I thought, as I reluctantly turned away.

Twenty past three and I was late for school pick up. I was running, sort of, when I noticed the text on my phone from school.

“Your son has achieved a gold award today”

As I rounded the corner he was there waiting, beaming from ear to ear. He clapped his hands together and bounced up and down, as I was informed of his achievements. He’d been invited back into the school reward scheme, previously too hard for him to deal with.  Traffic lights and golden awards, certificates and special treats. He can opt out again if it’s all too much.

I am a VERY PROUD mum and more importantly he is super, amazingly impressed with himself.

“I turned it around” he thrills, those eyes now gleaming with joy.

I’m sure many of you will realise that there is a hesitation, a cause to be cautious, a moment of let’s just wait and see, as I suppress the thought “this could all go horribly wrong”.

But for now he is basking in the glow of just how golden he is and I must admit I can feel the warmth too. I’m also quietly crossing everything, saying a little prayer, preparing to sell something, anything, in hope of a gold rush.

My Return to Blogging.

blog1I’ve decided to try very hard to make more time to write. Specifically write here, in this space, my beloved but much neglected blog. There are many reasons for my absence from this space but I’m not going to go into them, it’s all in the past and that’s where the past can stay. As Harper Lee writes, on the opening page of To Kill a Mockingbird “When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident”. Whilst nobody has been in an accident here, yet, many events have occurred. I too often feel unable to look into the shadows of the recent past and be caught up in their horrors.  For now we are living amongst those shadows every day, they lurk just over my shoulder, close but still behind me.  No I live by the mantra of many an adopter I know, today is a new day.

So on this new day I’m returning to my blog to write. I really hope that doesn’t have you all too over excited, because I’m not completely sure where we’re going yet. I know it’s so far been a good day, a productive day and if it goes to plan, which we know it often doesn’t, it has all the possibilities of a big thumbs up day.

As part of this day, I spent some time reading blogs from #WASO, it would be called an occupational hazard IF, The Adoption Social was, what my husband calls, “a real job”. Like supporting an online adoption community is some airy fairy thing I do with my life, my Tupperware party. Believe me Mr H there is nothing, unreal, made up, amid the lines of the blogs I read on our Weekly Adoption Shout Out. Just to reassure, I am still married to the silver-tongued Mr H and I’m working on him. Who knows one day he may surprise us all, join the fold and give us all the benefit of his wisdom in his very own blog post.

Whilst we wait for this miracle, I will instead refer to some blogs which I have been able to read. One has helped me to make a decision I needed to make, and another two have caused me to reflect on recent occurrences in our family.  Okay you could say that this is looking back over my shoulder but it’s the good bits, so I’m allowed.

Firstly lovely Mama Bear held a birthday celebration for her son’s birth mum. It sounded like such a positive and natural thing to do and hand on heart, I thought yes, I could do that. Then I realised I don’t even know when our birth mum’s birthday is and seen as though both boys are at that “don’t even mention her” stage, lead balloons sprung to mind. However, it also brought back to my conscience that I’ve not written a letterbox letter for maybe four years. Cringe. So that’s it, I’ve decided I’m going to do that this week. You are all my witnesses and please hold me accountable.

Next to reflections. Mr Coates wrote a post for “sibling day” and discussed one of the many adoption conundrums, should they or should they not be kept together. I wrote a post way back in the early life of this blog shouting about how wonderful my sibling group are, stop laughing at the back. Since those times I have questioned, all be it only momentarily, if my boys should have stayed together. I absolutely felt the pain of poor Pink Diamonds, with her post, also from last week’s #WASO, about how the constantly niggling of each other and forever trying to be your favourite one, can drive you to insanity. However, two moments from the past couple of days make me know my boys belong as one.

We set out for a walk on Sunday morning, it was cold and windy and Tink was not in the mood. We walked up into the woods, where many dens have been built and the boys ran through the trees, throwing pine cones at each other. At this point it was harmless fun. The game progressed, each boy found delight in cornering the other inside one of the dens, their target now a sitting duck oh and stones became missiles. I’m sure you can imagine it was soon a full scale war.

I was a  little surprised, when only half an hour later, Tink asked me for three pounds of his own money, to spend it in the National Trust shop. He’d seen something he wanted to buy for his brother. Yes it was genuinely a gift for Stig, not something Tink wanted, pretending it  was for his brother, then a change of heart at the last minute. He handed it over and his brother beamed “thanks Tink”.

The second moment occurred during biscuit making on Monday. I usually avoid, at all costs, cooking with both boys, but this was Stig’s activity and as I’d said he was in charge and could do it all, he invited his brother to join in.  They worked very well together, dividing the tasks and Stig even kindly gave his little brother the much coveted job of cracking the egg and beating it. My older boy delighted at how brilliantly his little brother carried out his duty, stating “wow you’ve done it much better than I ever do”.

It was I, yes mother, who came along and rocked the boat, by getting a little bit touchy with Tink for being messy.  Tink took umbrage and ran off down the hallway and into the cupboard under the stairs. It was all okay though because his big brother rescued him and the situation, by encouraging him to come and add his egg. “It’s a very important job” he said.

It’s so important to savour these moments and etch them onto your mind, to recall during other moments, not unlike the one I faced this morning. I hid in the kitchen whilst Tink raged and ranted “That idiot brother of mine has gone to school in one of my shoes and one of his own; I’m going to beat him around the head when I see him.”

Enough blogging for today but I shall return soon, it’s good to be back.

The Phoenix


Recently I publicly humiliated myself. It was a rather unceremonious unravelling of my sanity. Wine fuelled, my very inappropriate behaviour was a climax to a couple of weeks of free falling into the depths. Unable to grasp at the sides, or cling onto a thread, I reached for the wine and hoped for the best.

Very far from being one of my finest moments.

But we have to count our blessings, see the positives and move forward.

I have put a stop to wine time, which hasn’t been that hard because I’ve now given myself permission to” not be coping”. I’ve stopped trying to be “fine”. I’m really not fine at the moment and that is ok.

In the desperate moments of regret and sadness, I’ve had this week, I’ve allowed the feelings of pain to flow and I’ve survived them.

I’ve survived because there have been others there to hold me, share the weight of my sorrow and nurse my fragility.

The blessings I’ve found are these people. From the ashes of this wreck, a light has grown in me. I have felt the warmth and love of my family and true friends.

Together they have revived my spirit, lifted my chin, nudged a smile and eventually made me laugh. They have made me realise the importance and the lack of importance of my folly.

So where as last Friday, the day of my doom, I was wading through a quagmire of loneliness and despair but pretending I was floating on air. This Friday I sit still, here in the moment, experiencing my being. What I feel is loved and blessed.

Four Days and Counting.


Things can slip so very easily, as I have recently discovered. One day you are strutting down the street, wondering how on earth you got yourself in such a fuss about one thing and another and then the  next, you’ve not washed your hair for four days and your eyes are red raw from crying, about one thing and another.

How does that happen?  How do we slip from taking it all in our stride to feeling like the sky is going to fall down? For me, this time, it went a little like this.

So we’re walking down the street with a spring in our step, my son is in school, ok not full time, but he’s going, he’s coping with what he’s being asked to achieve and within the time he’s there, he’s hitting his “targets”.

Ok now, my son is in school full time, he’s not coping, he’s not achieving what he’s being asked to achieve, he’s not meeting his targets and life for him must feel like a long string of failures, with a massive helping of stress.

As soon as the expectations are taken to a greater level, he is deregulated and unable to cope with the pressure which is being placed upon him.

This in turn brings a ramped up level of controlling behaviour at home, unable to affect change on his school life, he turns his attention to his home environment. He won’t go to bed, brush his teeth, take a bath, eat breakfast, brush his hair, go on family outings and the list goes on.

The boy is confrontational, argumentative and unhappy about a lot of things.

Cue parents under a greater amount of pressure and parenting differences between mum and dad become more exaggerated.

Boy and dad argue, boy has been rude to dad, dad is unhappy and boy uses unkind, hurtful language to push dad further away.

Dad is maddened by the increase in abusive language and behaviour.

Mum is anxious to make it stop, she steps in.

Dad does not like mum to step in. He wants to be able to sort things out himself. Mum should leave him to it.

Mum is worried for both dad and child.

Dad is now cross with mum for stepping in and being too soft on boy.

Older child, boy number two, is looking in from the outside, seeing people becoming tense. He’s thinking it must be his fault, it’s always his fault. He needs mum.

Mum is not always available because mum is either with his brother or sad because of it all.

Cue more increased anxiety, this time from older child, boy number two.

Boy number two also becomes a little more difficult around bedtime and other requests by parents. Agitation is a known method of producing attention.  He begins to sulk and look at mum with a sad face. He reaches out for a hug every time he sees her.

Mum is starting to feel drained, from trying to support everyone and keep the peace. The sight of boy number two sulking and asking for hugs is driving her potty. His neediness and her lack of desire to meet his needs, start to compound the feelings that she is not doing a good job.

Mum cries again. Dad knows she’s crying, boy knows she’s crying and boy two knows she’s crying.

Dad is frightened by mum crying, boy is frightened by mum crying and boy two is frightened by mum crying.

Dad tries to make it better but he’s not always sure how.

Dad really wants to fix this, he feels frustrated and tense because he can’t.

“I’m alright she says”

“Phew” says dad, boy and boy two.

This same dance takes place a number of times over one weekend.

Monday comes and boy does not want to go to school. Boy two however goes off happily, relieved to be escaping the madness.

Boy really doesn’t want to go.

“I don’t want to go” he says

“I don’t want to go” he says

“I don’t want to go” he says.

“I know” says mum.

He goes but his face is so, so sad.

Mum cries again, she feels like the worst mum in the world.

Mum doesn’t wash her hair for four days and counting……