Warning – May Light Fires, Abscond and Steal

ImageI think my children should have come with some sort of hazard warning, an alert to dangers ahead. Nothing too imposing just a few tags with prompts to how our future may evolve. My little lost souls with Paddington bear style labels attached.

Six and seven years old and it was the third time in about a month that fire had featured as an activity. I can’t recall the first occasion but just two weeks previous the boys had locked themselves in the upstairs bathroom at grandma and granddads and set fire to bits of toilet roll with some matches they had squirreled from beside the fire place. On this day in question Mr H and I, distracted by household chores requiring urgent attention due to an impending visit from someone, we sent the boys to play in the garden. Later when crossing the garden I spotted a lighter flung on the floor. How strange I thought, unusual even or most uncommon and with a knowing nose for mischief, which any Christie sleuth would be proud of, I went to investigate.

My suspicions revealed the activity of attempting to burn things, thankfully not too successfully, had conspiratorially taken place behind the decking. Completely enraged and also greatly alarmed by this fire fascination I lined the guilty parties against the wall, I demanded hands be shown and smacked them. Both cried, Stig tears fell from the hurt of the smack and the disappointment in him. Tink bit back his tears and anger bubbled within. I panged with guilt immediately and the tears on my own cheeks smarted with shame, my gut to parent as my parents had I knew was wrong.

Later, after eight at night and after the children’s bedtime, ensconced in the lounge with the door firmly closed harbouring the new kitten, I was totally unaware of the break out which had occurred.  My phone rang.

A voice sheepishly asks “Hi Sarah, are you aware that Tink is in the Co-op in his pyjamas?”

Heart lurches, sickness presents in the back o f the throat, rage, embarrassment, dismay, mortification all churn and tumble unsure which will fall free first. As Mr H is out I had to bundle the other sleeping son into the car and drive the very short distance to the Co-op. The pounding in my head beat “how could this happen? How could this happen? HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?”

Within the local shop, uncomfortable faces have managed to trap the wayward boy in the shop office. Hiding under the desk coiled and presenting his back to the world, he’s a suppressed spring quivering in anticipation of release.  Tentatively I search for his face, a connection or understanding, defiantly he lifts his chin and I am cut deep by the steely sharpness in his eyes. He doesn’t come easily, in fact dragging kicking and screaming is an accurate account. I just want him home so do not wait to therapeutically prise him but heave him into my arms and dump him into the car.

Later as we lie on his bed and he finally allows me to sooth his pain, I understand with even greater horror the consequence of my actions. He of course has informed me “it is all your fault” and “You should never have smacked my hand”. He wants to know “Why did you have to do that?” The wound is deep, infected by a painful past; it will take time to heal.

Later still, the next day I visit the Co-op to thank those involved and to glean a greater understanding of the event. It transpires that the absconder had also visited the shop twice during the day and on his second visit, he’d left with a handful of comics. My jaw at this point is on the floor. The extent of his resistance to being captured is also exposed with a description of kicking screaming and the line “Get off me you F**king B***h”. Bang there goes my jaw again. That will also explain why Stig couldn’t find him whilst they were playing hide and seek.

“Oh go and check the sheds he’ll be somewhere” I dismissed Stig, as the stress of the chore I was attempting took priority.

Sure enough, behind the play house at the very far end of the garden I find a pile of soggy paper and plastic tat that most definitely used to be children’s magazines.

Sometimes, a long time after, ten pounds of holiday money has been handed over for the stolen goods and apologies have been made, small jokes are told about our little run away, thief. Slight ribbing which is taken mostly in jest. Tink will however inform you now, and for now I believe him “you know I don’t do that anymore”.  I’m sure however if I turned him upside down and search for a warning tag hidden in some dark corner of his being I will find a future alert for lighting fires, absconding or stealing. I just hope they don’t once more arrive in a single day.

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23 Comments

  1. Stix January 11, 2013 / 10:33 am

    Sarah, you dealt with a difficult situation in the same way that many parents (including me) would have.

    We just can’t be therapeutic all of the time, and when our children have done something dangerous it’s really difficult to not take that harder line with them and reinforce how dangerous they’ve been. Particularly when we’re feeling scared about what might have happened…and cross with ourselves too.

    Things might have gone wrong, but in the end you made a space, a safe space, where he was able to tell you what was wrong, and share thoughts with you….you clearly are doing something very right too xx

    • thepuffindiaries January 11, 2013 / 10:41 am

      Thank you, I think you live and learn, this was two years ago now, I don’t think either of my children would readily hold their hands out to me now, thankfully. We laugh now but it was one of my worst days ever, at the time.x

  2. mascaraandmud January 11, 2013 / 10:38 am

    oh my life! *makes a mental note to hide EVERYTHING potentially dangerous in the house* high five to you lady! high bloody five for surviving! it did put a smile on my face too 😉

  3. Older Mum (@Older_Mum) January 11, 2013 / 2:17 pm

    Well you handed that very, very well – and there are certain actions and behaviours that need much sterner boundary setting – I think many, many parents would have done the same thing. Brilliantly told.

    • thepuffindiaries January 11, 2013 / 2:31 pm

      Thank you, it’s funny now but not at the time, although, Tink will not let me forget about the smacking bit.x

  4. 5kidswdisabilities January 12, 2013 / 1:38 am

    I have such empathy for you…it is never easy. It’s the one thing they don’t warn you about when adopting. If they did, it would scare people away.

    • thepuffindiaries January 12, 2013 / 8:45 am

      I think you are right, all the emotions and the depths at which you feel them are hard to explain or understand until you are actually there in the moment feeling them. Good and bad. x

  5. Sarah January 12, 2013 / 9:36 am

    Oh my goodness, what a stressful day. I promote adoption and fostering at work and know that running away and lighting fires is very common for looked after children, but didn’t realise the scars ran so deep that they even affected kids who were adopted at a reasonably early age. Lots of love to you and your family. X

    • thepuffindiaries January 12, 2013 / 4:06 pm

      It think it’s a common thought that adopted children soon forget about their beginnings because they are now part of a loving family. The trauma a neglected and abused child is subjected to during their early years of their life can remain with them for ever. I know you probably understand this more than most and believe me I would have found it difficult to fully comprehend at the beginning but six years down the line we are living proof that the scars run deep. Thank you for your love and lots to you too. x

    • thepuffindiaries January 12, 2013 / 8:51 pm

      I doubt it, just my little gems keeping us on our toes. x

  6. bavariansojourn January 13, 2013 / 7:13 am

    I think you handled all of that amazingly well, we do the best we can at the time. Someone once said to me, “That we might regret something at a later date shows what caring parents we are, or else we wouldn’t care at all!” Oh, and if it makes you feel any better. My Mother in Law takes great delight still in telling how my husband set fire to their neighbours fence with a magnifying glass. He cringes every time! 😀

    • thepuffindiaries January 13, 2013 / 10:01 am

      As I said before we live and learn and that’s what I think is important. These tough situations always show us something for the future.:-)

  7. Erica Price January 13, 2013 / 7:45 pm

    What a worry! I think you did the best you could – they have to be safe.

  8. HappyMum January 21, 2013 / 9:05 am

    Good grief! You handled that so well! Very scary about the escape to the Coop though – I had a sympathy stomach lurch! x

    • thepuffindiaries January 21, 2013 / 10:19 am

      Yep really scary, he’s luckily not done anything quite as drastic since but give him time..x

  9. Sharla January 22, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    What an awful day for you! This therapeutic parenting thing is not easy, that’s for sure!

    Thanks for linking up to Adoption Blog Hop!

    • thepuffindiaries January 22, 2013 / 7:17 pm

      Truly terrible but I did learn from it and that’s what’s most important when we go through these tough times.

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