It seems strange to talk of progress in a week when each child has been off school poorly for a day, Daddy has been really poorly all week, there’s been brawling guinea pigs, brawling parents and Stig has used the F word to a teacher, oh and the half painted lounge remains half painted. However progress has been made and pleased we are with it.
After last weekend it was noticed that Tink had a cough, quite a rough sounding one but in himself he seemed fine. Eating, running, playing, answering back and digging his heels in, so all business as usual. He went off to school on Monday with no real problems but on returning home the cough was definitely taking root. Mr H and I decided that if he didn’t seem improved we would keep him off school the following day. Tuesday morning arrives and Tink is coughing a little so I tentatively approach the subject of how sore the cough is. I know Tink is highly unlikely to admit to a weakness such as pain. “It’s fine” he states.
“Mummy was wondering if you needed to have a quiet day at home to get better”
His eyes widen and I’m ready for the onslaught of negotiations to start. What will he be allowed to have on the sofa, duvet? blanket? How many cuddly toys? DVD? DS?
“No mummy I want to go to school today, it’s art”
Well knock me down with a feather; I have not heard those words from the mouth of my baby for a very long time “I want to go to School”.
There is no way I’m standing in the way of this progress, so off he goes to enjoy art.
Later at bedtime, without even thinking, a throw away comment almost, the little man exclaims “I hate having a cough and a cold”. He stops me dead in my tracks for the second time that day. Here he is admitting he is not well and that he doesn’t like it. A true revelation and when I share this news with Mr H he deservedly gives it a “Wow”.
Tired I head to bed early and as I’m climbing into bed a little pyjama clad Tink appears at my bedroom door and I beckon for him to clamber into bed next to me. As he snuggles in he tells me he can’t sleep. I make a few educated guesses and he admits his throat is sore. Now I’m starting to wonder if I have the right child. He has left his bed to find me, to tell me he can’t sleep and he’s almost verbalised the reason as being because he doesn’t feel well. Double no, triple WOW.
It probably seems to most an unlikely and undeserving day to celebrate but we truly regard this as a development of great heights for our youngest. Firstly let us consider the incident surrounding the cough and cold. Tink has always worn his brave, tough exterior with pride, hurt, pain, illness, sadness, fear have long been considered a weakness he will not contemplate revealing ( I know I’ve told you this in so many words before, but just in case you’d forgotten). The pain of being continually ignored as he cried out as a baby has set a default message in his brain, that message tells him “do not trust anyone with your feelings, they will not take care of you and they will hurt you more”. And so he has stood alone protecting himself from the world around him since his baby days. This week Mr H and I have performed open brain surgery on Tink. We have carefully manipulated the hard wiring of his brain and with a steady hand redirected these wires to a new location. The new location is on the edge of the section of the brain that deals in trust. The new message that is now being processed in his brain when he is inflicted by an emotion of derisory quality is “Ouch that hurts; maybe I can trust someone to help make it feel better”. Well maybe not just anyone but myself and Daddy and maybe we’ve been very slowly performing this procedure for six years.
Then there is the other statement “I want to go to school”. It has been a long time since Tink has delighted in the idea of going to school, especially on a day when he could, if he’d wanted to, have stayed at home. He even dressed himself one morning this week, again something that has not happened for a long while. The school is working hard to present itself as a desirable environment to Tink. His teacher is very understanding and he listens to suggestions and ideas we have as well as feeding back to us on his daily progress. So as we head into the final week of this school term I feel that real progress is being made in endearing school to Tink.
Having spent some time this week watching videos of the children when they first came to us, Mr H and I have felt quite emotional, again, about the journey we’ve all made. As the beautiful ashen blond 2 year old Tink gazes up into the camera, his azure eyes are wide and unblinking. Startled and dazed, confused even. I didn’t see it back then he was cute, adorable, seemed to be wanting and needing of us. Watching him now I feel a slight chill, I can see the fear deep within, outwardly he’s a happy little toddler with dotting new parents and a funny big brother. In a flicker of his eyes the mistrust is shockingly evident, in a split second it has been buried again.
I watched him today with a more meaningful gaze. He regaled tales to us at breakfast, excited stories which evoked laughter and smiles from him, dancing eyes and dimpled cheeks. Later as we walk to the shops he seeks out my hand and clasped together we converse warmly, easily with each other, enjoying the connection that exists between us. He is at ease with himself and with me. The frightened little man in the videos is not with us at that moment and actually he seems to be with us less and less.
So progress can indeed be celebrated this weekend, especially since I’ve also finished painting the lounge.