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?”

“NO”

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

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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.

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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……