Saturday, 30 April 2011
Friday, 29 April 2011
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
The kids have been off for two and a half weeks for the Easter hols, and they're only back in school for two days this week before they're off again for four more days! Therefore, it would have been appreciated to have had a few hours to kick around for myself today.
Not to be.
School is doing a Red, White and Blue dress down day tomorrow in honour of some stupid royal wedding or something. I only realised this morning when I properly read the school letter from the end of last time. That'll teach me not to pay attention.
And so I found myself picking through both kids' washing baskets and got everything that was red, white or blue to give them a good choice of what to wear. Whilst they were washing, I duly toddled off to Tesco to buy up some Union Jack stuff I'd seen there earlier in the week. This is after already enduring one other supermarket, Morrisons, taking my mother that morning.
So, not much down time. Only had about an hour which I inevitably spent dossing on the laptop. Made me a bit grouchy that I'd had to spend my first day off in over two weeks doing stuff for other people.
What would be the wrong thing to say to me therefore, when I picked the children up from school? Well, that would be daughter telling me that the rules were you could only wear red OR white OR blue - as opposed to red, white AND blue - and that she was going to wear her blue dress. The expensive dress from Next for special occasions that I hadn't washed because there is no way she is wearing that at school.
I then said the wrong thing. I should have said, 'OK, we'll talk about that later.' Because after school is never a good time to address any issue. What I said instead was, 'No you're bloody well not wearing that dress to school! I've done a whole pile of washing today and you can pick something from that!'
My children never take being told 'no' well, but being told 'no' when they've just come out of school, well, you'd better be in combat gear.
Then, when we got home, my son said the wrong thing. What he should have said was nothing at all, because things were clearly not great with daughter kicking off. Instead what he said was that he needed packets of cakes or crisps tomorrow for his class at they are having a picnic.
A freaking picnic! I hadn't got any freaking cakes or crisps! And I'd done two supermarkets trips that day!
In which case, what I should have said was, 'OK sweetie! We have a cookie kit that we can bake together tonight if you like?'
What I did instead was KABOOOOOM!!!
I gave my children their after-school snack and a drink and told them to leave me alone. I prepared tea and then went and had a shower to de-stress myself. When I came downstairs freshly washed and in my pjs, husband was back from work. I told him I wasn't in a great mood.
Now, what he should have said was, 'I'm sorry to hear that. Why don't you go and have the rest of the day to yourself whilst I wait on you hand and foot, deal with any stuff that needs doing, and keep the children away from you.'
Unfortunately, what he actually said was, 'Is it anything I've done?'
D-OH! Of course! Stupid me! There's nothing in the world that happens that's not all about him!
I don't want to say or hear the wrong thing any more tonight. I need time out. I am therefore going to leave husband some instructions and retreat to my bedroom. It's the kindest thing. For everybody.
I leave the Union Jack stuff - that I made that special trip to Tesco to buy - on the table for the kids to find in the morning as a treat. My daughter says to me 'Mummy, that stuff on the table, do we have to wear it?'. Guess whether that was the right thing to say or not!
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
We've just had Easter, did you notice? I can tell by the fact that one of my kitchen cupboards is groaning from the weight of the many Easter eggs kind people have given my kids.
I am humbled sometimes by just how these two children have been welcomed by my family. It's harder to introduce older adopted children to people you know because their stress levels remain very high for the first few months and meeting new people had a sort of rocket-fuel-on-bonfire effect. But slowly, over the last 18 months, they've got to know my close family and meet all the extended family that were part of my life growing up. Not one of them has been as nosy or judgmental as I feared they would, and for that I am grateful.
Anyway, one of the ways that people have expressed their welcome of the children is to send them gifts of chocolate. Christmas and Easter are obviously peak times, but random packets of Aeros and Maltesers have also trickled our way throughout the year. A friend of my dad, one of his dog-walking friends whom I've never met, was at one time sending regular dispatches of chocolate like you would to front line troops during the war.
Grandparents have, of course, been the worse offenders. Only with them it's sweets too. You know, sweets, those awful chemical concoctions packed full of E numbers and sugar, that stain the inside of your children's mouth. And cakes. Cakes that fill bellies that haven't yet had their lunch.
Now, let me say before I get any further that I am not a health-freak mother who feeds my kids hummus and home made ciabata. My kids eat jam sandwiches and packets of Monster Munch when the occasion arises, and a trip to the park in summer is never complete without a flake 99. If we go to a friend's house or to a party, they can eat what they like. And sometimes, when I want a break from cooking and washing-up, we go to McDonalds.
But, on the whole, this family eats healthily. On a daily basis we eat our fresh veg, salad and fruit, and our puddings are relatively healthy too. No unhealthy snacks are allowed in their lunchboxes by the school; after school they have a wholemeal chocolate pancake for their blood sugar levels; and after tea they have either fruit of a yoghurt. At weekends we have fruit and yoghurt too, though on Saturdays we have ice cream in the evening for a treat, with attendant sprinkles sauces and wafers.
All of which begs the question just where do I shoe-horn in all the chocolate we've been given? And it is a lot of chocolate. Well, my first answer was to eat a lot of it myself. When the kids were in bed I'd stuff my face with maltesers meant for them, and so would my husband. It was an attempt to eat away the problem. But I got a bit fat and decided to cut it out and so a new way had to found.
My next proposed solution was to complain to people when they gave us chocolate. As a lot of chocolate arrived via my mother, I often had to complain to her. I asked her if she could please please please ask her family and friends to stop sending us chocolate as we didn't eat much of it and we were going to have to start storing it all in the shed.
Don't you know that depriving your children of tons of fat and sugar products with zero nutritional value makes you a meanie? What kid of mother are you, that you want to stop kind, loving, caring people buying up half of Cadburys for them? They just want to buy a treats for the children to demonstrate that they care.
It was then that I realised that the giving of chocolate was as much for the benefit of the giver than it was for the receiver. These people wanted to show their generosity and giving chocolate was the easiest, cheapest, least offensive way they could think of.
So we get lots of chocolate. It is dispensed in modest portions at weekends or during holidays. In desperation, annoyance and sometimes jealousy, some of it is redirected towards me and husband. I thought the full quota of chocolate eggs for Easter had been received by Sunday, but then my brother dropped by with two more and a friend came around with a cookie making kit. I smiled sweetly, but secretly vowed my revenge.
Still, there are worse things in life than having too much chocolate. It would be awful if nobody bought them any Easter eggs. That would feel very lonely for us all.
Took my mother shopping today and there waiting for me were two more Easter eggs for the children from a kind aunt, massive great big Mars motherfuckers. I accidentally left them behind.
Two more from the next door neighbour!
Sunday, 24 April 2011
A year and a half ago I became a mother to two adopted children of primary school age. As something new started everything else stopped. My work stopped. My blogging stopped. Some of my friends stopped. What I wanted on the TV stopped. A good night's sleep stopped. Relaxing stopped. Swearing stopped. Eating proper food stopped.
But the kids made everything worth it. They shuffled shyly into their new home and just loved everything about their new life with their new mummy and daddy. The house was filled with their sunny laughter and the days were stuffed full of cuddles and kisses. At night, me and my husband would put the children to bed and they'd say to us 'oh mummy and daddy, thank you so much for all the things you do for us, I am so happy.' And we'd kiss them on the head and say 'Love you to the moon and back' and they'd smile as they closed their eyes to slip effortlessly into happy sleep.
Bollocks, was that how it was.
The thing about adopting children is that they are traumatised. They are traumatised from their life with their birth parents, traumatised from being taken away from them, and traumatised from being sent to live with people they don't know, but who they have no choice but to entrust their life to.
And children who are traumatised are angry, sad, grieving and scared. And none of these emotions are expressed in particularly sympathy inducing manner. Traumatised children don't look up at you with big teary eyes and go 'mummy, I'm scared, I'd like a cuddle'. Children who are traumatised scream at you, they act defiantly, they deliberately break things, they freak out because you've given them a different brand of cereal to the one they want and sit screaming in your hallway.
For a long time, nothing was as it should be. For example, a family walk in the park was comparable to a horror film. Imagine being in a cemetery at midnight and a pair of small hands shoot out of the earth and grab desperately at your hands; a lost soul is grasping at you to pull them out of the darkness and into the light. You are in the fight of your life. If you don't have the strength to pull them out they are going to pull you down into the earth's blackness with them. That's what a walk in the park felt like! I kid thee not! There was nothing sweet about the way those children held mine and daddy's hand; they fought for those hands as if they thought their lives depended on it.
Because these children know what danger is. They know what it is to have their life and soul in the hands of adults and be let down. They see mortal threats everywhere and cannot yet believe or trust that you will not forget or forgo them. That's what you're dealing with every hour of every day.
It's serious shit, adopting.
As a prospective adopter, you're trained to be realistic about what taking on a traumatised child can be like. You attend courses, read the books, talk to other adopters. Nothing can quite prepare you for the frontline battle when it comes, but at least you know that you will be needing courage and strength to see you through the first year. But everyone else? Family and friends whose nearest brush with adoption was knowing a bloke down the pub who was adopted in the 1960s? Well, they think you must be on cloud nine. They think you should be on cloud nine because you've got what you wanted and they do. not. want. to. know. any. different. That can be, erm, shall we say annoying. Thank goodness for the ones who weren't like that. Thank goodness for my good friends.
Anyway, I am happy to be able to report that a year and a half in, the levels of trauma have gone down and we manage a happy state in this home on a regular basis. We now have kids who eat and sleep well, who have made friends, and who have come some way along the line to trusting us as their parents. I have therefore decided that my husband, my children and I must all be AWESOME! There is no other explanation for it.
And so, with this in mind, I have taken up blogging again! Let's see if I can keep it up!