Social media – breaking the rules – me not spud! 

Spud is nearly a teenager in age, often a toddler emotionally but in his late teens in his head.

We talk about social media, how to stay safe, the implications, the positives and the negatives.

This weekend I feel like I broke every rule around Internet and social media safety!

This weekend I went to a conference with @purdy2233. The conference was held by the amazing Open Nest. So much of the interactions before the conference was on Twitter. For weeks people talked about who was going, the speakers, meeting up and the social side of the conference. I tweeted many times about the conference, tweeted I was going and shared information. 

I tweeted with others how much I was looking forward to meeting them, putting a face to their name and a voice to their tweets. 

We arranged to meet a fellow tweeter in a hotel bar and @purdy2233 even went off on her own to find her!

During the conference we spoke to many who we had previously only known via the virtual word.  It was amazing how quickly we were able to share personal information with someone who we felt we had known for years but in fact had only met in person 10 mins ago.

The adoption Twitter community feels very safe, secure, nurturing, supportive and full of people who just get it. Is this one reason why I felt it was ok to break all the rules? Did I think it was on to break all the rules because I am an adult?

Can you imagine what I would have said to Spud if he had –

Arranged to meet in a bar someone he had met online?

Shared personal information with someone he had only known in person for 10 minutes?

Listened to him when he said “it’s ok mum, I have been tweeting with them for ages ……”

Talked about people he knew via social media but didn’t know their real names?

Sat next to someone who has a Twitter name, uses 2 different alias and is still not sure what her name really is!

Told the Internet world where he was going to be all weekend, in a city he had not been to, meeting people he had not met before face to face …………

I love Twitter, the people on Twitter, the support, the community feel, the advice, the expertise, the understanding, the acceptance but on reflection, I do feel it so easily takes your guard away. 

I had the most amazing weekend, loved every minute of it, felt completely safe but it has given me the opportunity to see how easy it could all have been a different story and how vulnerable we all really are, especially our children in this virtual world of social media. 

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“Help and support……..”

When I blog I try to blog positives even if it is a difficult subject. This blog I feel is going to be differnt! 

I adopted Spud as an older child 5 years ago. The journey has not been easy and could be described as “challenging” or, as I prefer “bloody hard work.” 

In the last 9 months  Spud started at secondary school and that was a very difficult transition. Just as I felt things were slowly starting to settle, Birth mum dies. This has caused the last few months to be vey hard for everyone. I asked for help as I felt Spud needed more life story work. Not only are the teenage years here but with the death of birth mum it was time for more support. 1st assessment of need was not worth the paper it was written on. Second assessment of need was better, or so I thought. I have not signed the second assessment of need but it was sent off to ASF. 

Various suggestions were made for support including 2 weekends of activity type respite so I could recharge my batteries while Spud had a good weekend away. Meeting arranged with the short breaks worker and then a leaflet is emailed to me to share with Spud. 

The aim of the weekend is to “prevent families breaking down.” WHAT? Who said our family was breaking down? How can I share this leaflet with Spud? He has had one placement that broke down before us!  WHO thinks this is a good idea to have the aim for the weekend around disoruptions? I can totally understand how for some families this is right and for the young people to have support and sessions around possible breakdowns but for a family not at risk and for a child who has been through one breakdown? Not on your life and I letting him go on this weekend. It would set us back 5 years, how would he trust us? 

HOW can professional who know our story think this is ok? I spoke to our PASW who suggested I spoke to the worker running the weekend. I did speak to her and she confirmed the weekend are for families at risk of breaking down and distrupting and this was why we had been referred.

I have either been totally misunderstood or our needs have been pigeon holed to meet a service that is available? I fear it is a bit of both. 

At this moment in time I feel –

Let down, hurt, angry, fearful of why we are seen at risk of breakdown, disgusted with professional that should be there to help, ready to cry, scream and shout and fiercely protective of my son and my family. So much so I have said I do not want to engage with any of their services. We have an assessment with an agency in a couple of months. It is over an hours drive away. When I raised this as a concern  I was told that others had raised it as well and it was not right, so why make the referral to them? 

Is this a sign of over worked/overstretched social workers?  A total lack of understanding of the real issues as text books can only teach someone so much? A case of making families fit into services available? Or a mix of it all? 

It maybe an over reaction from me but when you ask for help,you expect to get help and not be left in a state and not sure which way is up!!!!! Social workers ask why adopters do not ask for h LO and this is the reason why! The last few months I have cried so much I don’t think I have many tears left. The majority of my tears come from frustration with professions that are paid to understand and help. How can post adoption cause so much stress when we just need some help? 

Tonight is another sleepless night caused by the very people that say they will help ………

If Carlsberg did holidays ………. 

Ok the title maybe a slight exaggeration but it nearly sums up our holiday! 

I am writing this on the last day of our holiday while on the plane in the way home. If you count the night we spent in the hotel at Gatwick before we flew, this is day 13 of our holiday. 

That night away was truly dreadful! How can 1 pre teen roll their eyes as much as Spud did? I lost count of the number of tuts and oppositional behaviour shown to the point I was ready to leave him with the grandparents and go on holiday without him! 

Fast forward to the next day and the real Spud appeared. He was happy, laughed, joked and was great company. He even feel asleep on the plane for a couple of hours which is unheard of! 

When we arrived at the hotel it was very, very quiet with less than 100 guests and running at around 10% occupancy. I was very concerned that Spud maybe the only child here. Within minutes a mother and her 12 year old son came and introduced themselves. Suddenly Spud was off down the water slides with the boy and they had the time of their lives for 4 days. The other boy had his own quirks and he and Spud just clicked. They had fun the the pool, ate together, laughed,giggled and played cards. We had lots of relaxed fun. 

They chatted non stop which was lovely to see and hear. They were children without a care in the world. 

Then on the day that the other boy was going home we had a very sad Spud. He was sad his friend was leaving, had another loss to deal with and another transition. On the surface Spud coped very well but his eyes were sad.

Within a few hours another English family arrived. 1 teenage daughter, 1 pre teen daughter and mum. After what seemed liked hours of awkwardness from Spud, he allowed me to go and say hi to them. Spud took great delight in showing the girls around, taking them to the water slides, showing them the best pizza place and they quickly settled into a fun, easy friendship. Both girls have the longest legs you have ever seen and  towered above Spud which they would all laugh at.

They joined in with activities with Spud being a very good sport and taking a lesson on belly dancing.

The last couple of days have seen the number of guest rise in the hotel and this has linked with some increase in attitude, eye rolling and controlling behaviour from Spud. Of course it it also linked with Spud knowing the holiday is nearly over, he is going to have to say goodbye to the girls and more loss.

We have also seen a sudden dip in Spuds confidence and his need for reassurance and top up hugs, he has taken to launching himself in me while I am in the sunbed as this is an “acceptable hug.” Also a return of “my mum” instead of “mum.”

The positive to that is he has allowed us to get close again and go back to some of the games we played when he first came home.

One of his favourite games has been writing words on our backs with his finger and us trying to guess what he had written and then us taking turns to write on his back. Lots of acceptable closeness in the sunshine. 

He has eaten a wide variety of food, eaten well at the majority of mealtimes, chatted and been animated. He has joined in with poolside activities, laughed at jokes and been a delight in the whole. 

Tiredness is setting in and the need for control is creeping up. The selective listening is definitely there as is the need to be a bit more physical/sensory seeking.

The journey home has not been relaxed with the need to control rising, the not listerning increasing and the wall around him going up. The need to be fiercely independant is back.

We have had a very difficult few months since Spuds birth mum died and we all needed this holiday more than ever before. I feel the holiday has given us time as a family, time to relax and be us, time to heal and time to make memories.

It has given me hope. We start an assessment for therapy in June but to be honest, I think another holiday like this one would be as much therapy. It has given me the strength to get through the next few months as I know there are school battles waiting to be had on Monday – had emails over the school holidays! Assessments to go through and life to get on with. 

I think for this holiday we have seen glimpse of being an attached family and certainly fooled the majority who we met on holiday that we were “normal”!

Birth mums funeral

I have thought whether to blog about going to Spuds birth’s mums funeral. I have decide to for 2 main reasons –

1 – it may help others who may have similar experiences in the future

2 – writing it down has helped me to express some of my feelings

We found out just before Christmas that Spuds birth mum had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Even now we don’t have any more details which Spud has found really difficult, he has had lots of questions none of which I could answer.

I decided early on that I would like to attend the funeral, to represent Spud and to try and capture even the smallest of stories that could help Spud in the future.  Of course I spoke to family and friends about going and most people couldn’t understand why I wanted to go. My mum offered to come with me as she was concerned about me going on my own. It was very kind of her to offer but it was not the right thing for her. She really did not understand why I wanted to go, had concerns over me going and concerns for the future if I did go. Of course I could see why she felt the way she did, she wanted to protect me.

The relief on her face when I told her that a social worker was going to come with me proved that it was the right decision for her not to come.

Once we had details of the funeral, I spoke to Spud and explained when it was going to be. He asked if he was going and I said that no, I did not think it was appropriate for him to go. He seemed very relieved as well and never asked again. We sat and chose flowers for her funeral and Spud was very clear that he wanted pink roses. That is what we ordered. We chose the words carefully for the card to go with the flowers and signed it from all of us as I felt it needed to come from us all as a family. Spud asked if a photo of him could be out in her coffin. He knew exactly what photo he wanted and chose one of my favirote photos.

We did of course check  via the undertakers that the family were happy for us to send flowers and for the photo before organising them.

The day arrived and I went to meet with the social worker who was going to come with me. We drove to the Church and chit chatted then spoke about what I would say if anyone asked who I was, how I would feel if they didn’t mention Spud during the funeral and was I really sure about going.

I had prepared a very brief cover story in my head and felt I would find it harder if they did mention spud during the service.

The Church was beautiful, huge and in the middle of a large city. As we walked up to the Church I took a photo to show Spud. We were early but could already see people going in. We decided to enter and were given a copy of the order of service. That was a very strange moment when it suddenly seemed so real.

We sat towards the back which was great until we were asked to move forward as more people were coming in. I watched as approximately 100 people took their seats in the Church. You could clearly see the differnt groups who had all come to pay their respects from all walks of her life.

Sitting there and listening I had a moment and wondered if it was right that I was there. Then the music started and birth mums coffin was brought in. The first thing I noticed was the flowers that Spud had chosen, they were on the coffin and looked beautiful.

The service started and the vicar gave, what I thought, was a balanced service. He spoke about birth mums early family life, what she enjoyed doing and how the whole family spent their time. He then explained about Spud being born and that birth mum had not always made the right life choices. How she had never got over having Spud removed. This was very difficult to listern to.

The vicar then talked more about her recent life, the choices she had made and the groups she belonged to. He spoke more about Spud and then her last few days.

It was a very moving and honest service.

The service ended and as people started to leave the Church, I could listern to snippets of stories about birth mum.

We left, walked staight back to the car and home.

When I got back I showed Spud the order of service, spoke about the flowers, showed him a photo of the Church and how many people were there to pay their respects. I told him a couple of the stories I had heard and we had a hug.

That evening and the next day I felt exhausted, emotionally drained and hurt all over. I think it was the stress, pressure and general build up. I feel better today but still far from right.

Looking back I stand by my decision to go, the reasons why I wanted to go and the hope it my just help Spud in the future. Of course it would not be right for everyone and that has to be a decision you make if it ever happens.

 

 

The phone call that changed everything but changed nothing

Last week I had a call from a withheld number on my mobile. Normally it is a social worker calling and this was no exception. We shared pleasantries and then she dropped the bomb shell. Spuds birth mum had died the day before.

All the preparation training, reading and being in the adoption world had not prepared me for that telephone call. Never had it crossed my mind that it could happen. I don’t know why it was not even in my outer most thoughts as birth family had a very chaotic life with drugs and alcohol.

Suddenly I was swept by such emotion, tears, upset, fear and heartbreak.
How was I going to tell Spud? What had happened? How? Why?
My little boy’s life was never going to be the same again.
I stayed talking on the phone for a few minutes really not being able to take the information in. I asked a few questions but couldn’t make sense of the information I was being told.
When I put the phone down I tried calling Mr Football. He was at work and didn’t pick up. I then tried several of my bestest friends who are all adopters who I knew would understand. No-one picked up! I needed to try and talk and to try and make sense of what I had been told.
I was not sure how I should be feeling. Of course there is no right or wrong way to feel but such a strange feeling.
This young women had caused so much hurt to my son but she was the reason he was my son. She was always going to be something I never could be to him – his birth mum.
I had always tried to stay as neutral to her as possible. I was surprised by the feelings I had and also for her extended family. I felt for her mum but maybe that is because I am a mum myself now.
I was also angry that this could happen especially just before Christmas.
I felt sorry that a young life had been taken, that Spud would never be able to ask the questions to her when he was older.

I managed to speak to a couple of friends who I am very grateful to that were there for me, that listened to my ramblings, didn’t judge and understood.

I also spoke to Mr Football who came home from work early. We decided to go straight to school and pick Spud up. School were amazing and we took Spud home and told him his birth mum had died.
He was shocked and went very quiet. He asked questions like I had of how, when and why which I answered as much as I could but said we really didn’t have much information. He said he was not sure how he felt which I totally understood. He said he was sad but could we carry on as normal.

That evening he stayed very close to me, we talked through information like how old she was, where her funeral maybe etc.
Spud needed to be held in bed that night.

The last couple of days have brought no more information which I think has been very hard.
We have spoken about if Spud would like to send flowers to her funeral. He wants to send pink roses. He then tells me they are the only flowers he knows the name of!
We also promised Spud we would be open and honest and feel that we have and this has helped during the last few days.
He has come to me for a cuddle and said he is sad. For Spud I think it is spilt loyalties. Like me, he has no idea how he feels.

I have told a few of our family members and the responses have surprised me. My parents can’t understand why I am upset. I have tried to explain but to be honest, I am not really sure why I am so upset after what this women’s did to my son.
My siblings have been a bit more understanding which in it’s self has surprised me. All we can do it take each day as it comes. Validate mine and Spuds feelings, acknowledge that she was and will always be his birth mum.
We have to ensure that she is not on some pedestal and that a balance is maintained.

If I am honest, now I have had a couple of days to really think, I am  very very slightly relieved that she will never come back into Spuds life when he is older, won’t be able to drag Spud into her chatic life and I can stop scanning and looking over my shoulder. Not proud of these particular feelings but they are there.

So back to the title of this post. That telephone call did change everything forever but also changed nothing. We don’t see birth mum, have contact with her apart from letterbox once a year or have her in our lives so in that respect, nothing has changed.

School – the good, the bad and the tantrums

I apologise in advance for the very log blog – you have been warned!

Spud started senior school this September.  I knew the transition was not going to be easy so wanted to ensure I had planned, prepared Spud, the new school and myself as much as possible.

When Spud was in year 5 I went and visited the local secondary school. I went to the open evenings, attended the open mornings, looked at their websites, read their polices and looked up the Ofsted reports.  I made appointments and visited the SENCO’s.

When Spud was in year 6 I took him with me to visit a couple of the schools. Spud loved the very local school while I preferred the smaller school just out of town.  Watching Spud come alive at the open evening for the local school, engage himself into all the activities and look so happy, I decided to go with the local, requiring improvement school.

I know at this many of you will be shouting at the screen – “crazy, mad, what were you thinking?”

I have had so many sleepless nights, tied myself up in knots and really did not know which way was up over choosing a school. I arranged meetings with the SENCO, the year head, the deputy head the head teacher.  Had a meeting with the forum tutor and the PP manager. At each meeting I was open and honest, gave notes on Spud and attachment disorder. I explained that academically he was flying but emotionally and socially was far behind. Fought for the PPP money to be spent supporting his needs instead of it going into the big pot.

School attended training by the amazing Helen Oakwater and I arranged a detailed transition program and we went into the summer holidays with hope.

Spud started at the school and within the first 2 weeks I had a call from the new year head.  She wanted to put Spud in isolation but knew nothing about his past. I emailed the deputy and the head teacher as I was so cross that key communication had not been passed on. How could putting a child with attachment disorder into isolation work?

I was promised it would not happen again.

Yes you have guessed right – it did!

I was invited to a SEN target meeting and the assistant head kept calling Spud “chip”.

I asked him he he had met Spud – No was his answer.

I asked him if he knew about Spuds past – No was his answer.

I walked out of the meeting and sat in the car upset and frustrated for 40 minutes.  I emailed the deputy and the head and again was promised it would not happen again.

Yes it did!

Detentions, warnings and total lack of understanding followed.

Art homework – bring a photo in of you before you were 7 years old (Spud was adopted at 7.5 years)

History homework – draw a timeline of all the events from birth until now.

All very basic things that the school could have got right.

Then another call …….

This time it was a call from the behavior support manager who was asking to meet me to put a plan in place for “Mash”. She thought he may need extra support. Of course no communication or information had been passed on to her. At  this I lost my temper, told her to warn the deputy and the head i was on my way and to make sure they were ready for me. Fortunately for the Head teacher he was out for the afternoon.  The deputy greeted me and took me into the heads office.  I then had a tantrum, stomped my feet and cried.  At one point I thought my head may spin round. I asked how this could happen again? I also asked for a TAF to be arranged with every member of staff involved in Spuds education to be present.  All could hear the same information and a clear plan put in place.

In the first half term I have –

Given school notes and handouts,

Given the school training notes from the virtual school

Arranged advisory teacher training that the school have cancelled

Attended numerous meetings

Been honest

Cried

Stomped my feet

Had hope

Lost hope

Felt a failure

Schools can make a difference

Schools can change

Schools can support but

Schools need to want to do the above.

So where are we now? I really don’t know.  Had another meeting yesterday with the Senco and was told that I am a “unique” mum that I have chosen to take as a compliment. Apparently half the teachers are starting to come on board and understand but the others are not.  The Maths teacher is complaining that she is teaching the back of Spuds head. She will not move Spud from the front of the class where the “naughty” pupils sit to the back of the class.  Spud is hyper Vigilant and needs to sit at the back where he can watch the class and start to feel safe.

Spud has been let down, he has had more loss. change and trauma than any child should ever have to suffer. I am campaigning my LA to increase the remit of the virtual school to post adoption order.

As we all know, the adoption order is not a magic wand.

Summer 2015

It has been far too long since I blogged. This is partly because I didn’t have much to blog about, time and wanting to concentrate on what was happening right now and not reflect back.

So as I start to write this it is a cold and very wet bank holiday. I wanted to look back on the summer that we have had. Spud left primary school in July, I knew it was going to be emotional, upsetting, sad but also marking a huge step.

Spud started at his primary school midway through year 2. He settled in very quickly and made friends that have been there through thick and thin since. School has been the best and worst times for us. Both spud and me have made amazing friends who seem to really understand both of us. These friends are not going to the same senior school that spud is going to and I am feeling the loss of the chat at the school gates already. Both the mums I am friends with have younger children so I have said I will meet them once a week at the school to have a catch up. I have been reassuring  spud that his friends will still be there and he will see them at football but he will also make new friends in his new school. I hope this will be true. 

During the last school term I met with Spuds new school and various staff about 8 times, arranged a detailed transition programme and laid out everything to the year head and his form tutor. They appear to understand and have made the right noises, all we can do is hope and wait. I have given them very visual images of attachment disorder, training materials, answered questions and been very honest. He has enjoyed the 6 weekly afternoons at the new school, the transition day he loved and even managed to eat lunch and the welcome disco the school organised. So far he has had a very positive experience at the new school. I brought spuds new school uniform weeks ago and it has been hanging in spuds bedroom together with his school bag already packed. 

When Spud started at the primary school I was a brand new mum. He had been a child for 7.5 years but I had only been a mum for 2 weeks. Spud had already been to 2 primary schools while I had never been a school mum. I lacked confidence, understanding, knowledge and a voice. This time is very very different. I have thick skin, broad shoulders and a believe that I do know my son and what he needs. I have made it clear to the school what I expect, how they can support spud and I will ensure it happens.

So onto this summer. I decided that spud needed to be close to me this summer in the hope I could build up our attachment as much as possible before starting senior school. I felt that the more I could “top up” his attachment, love and bond, the better it would be come September. One way that works with Spud is camping. We have done lots of camping this summer, being outside, back to nature, close to each other and having fun have all helped. We have spent most of the camping trips with other adopters which have helped to keep me going over the last 6.5 weeks. We have had a very wet summer with every camping trip seeing lots of rain but in a way, it has added to the experience. We have had camp fires, marshmallow toasting, swimming, cooking outside, bike riding, scooting, den building, sea swimming and sand play to name a few. We have also laughed and danced to music in the car, shared jokes and just hung out together. It has been very hard work and I am so tired but I really think it has made such a difference. Spud has been much more tactile and often comes to me for a hug. We have had much more eye contact and he has said several times how much he loves me and I believe him. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly has not been a bed of roses, the famous five summer holiday or plain sailing but it has been good. 

Since this weekend spud has not left the house. He has stayed in his pj’s, watched TV, played board games and been on his Xbox. This is his way of getting ready for school,in a few days time. Yesterday I managed to convince him to try on his whole school uniform. He looked very smart but so little and vulnerable. It made me very emotional, not that I showed him. His behaviour has become more manic, hyper and regression play has come back. He can’t sit still, bedtimes are back to being a nightmare, food obsessions are back and he will not go for a shower without me upstairs with him. Tonight we start the “getting back into routine for school later this week.” 

It is hard to know how much to remind spud that school starts back in a couple of days time. I feel that he needs time to process the return to school but not too much time to get very worried about it. The next couple of days we are at home and keeping everything very calm and simple. I doubt that Spud will leave the house before Thursday when he starts at senior school, I know the behaviours are going to escalate and I know I have to manage my emotions that my little boy is growing up.

Like 1000’s of other parents, all I can do is prepare and be there for spud in the coming days, weeks and months and remember how proud I am of him. 

My expectations

I have been wanting to blog about this for a while and thanks to the #WASO, I had the nudge I needed to get going again.

Where do expectations come from? Society? The media? Friends? Family? Inherited?

The expectations I had of me being a mum have proved to be very far removed from realakity. I had dreamt of being a mum for a very long time, along comes Spud and suddenly I am a mum to a 7 year old. I had expectations that to a certain extent, my life would carry on and Spud would fit in and enhance it. How wrong could I have been? Of course Spud was never going to just fit in and life was never going to be the same again.

The first weeks and months were hell, I had no idea who I was, what a mum to a traumatised child did to try and help or who to go to for help. I also think I had very unrealistic expectations of adoption support. I really wanted someone to help but I didn’t know what help I needed or wanted, I needed someone to take control and tell me what to do but who could I ask?

I had expectations that I would meet mums in the school playground, have a very different social life and enjoy every second of it. Realility was I cried, a lot! Expectations were not met so I felt let down, I had let Spud down, others had let us down.

Spud had expecations that I would know what a mum does, where to stand in the school playground, how to build Lego, an expecation I would be able to control the weather and stop the rain, know the rules of football and not make mistakes. Early on Spud realised this was not the case and he lowered his expecations of me!

In the media you see images of “the perfect family”, in the run up to Christmas that seems to start in September you see images of “the perfect Christmas” and people have expectations which you will try to achieve these expectations.

Nearly 4 years on I realise that these images are false, a lie and totally made up! Expectations these days on me, my friends, family, support network, professionals, Spud and the community are much, much lower. It means that I am not set up to fail each and every day. It means that I am much happier. It means that I feel much more “normal”.

I am much braver and stronger to say no or to lower my expectations. We have history to look back on and see what worked/didn’t work.

I am also much more honest and better at asking for help. I think I am more cynical and more negative about many professionals due to my experiences. I  have a great support network who understand expectations and when they need to be lowered.

What at expecations do you have?

Trust

The theme on WASO is Time keeping and it got me thinking back to the early days when Spud had first come home. I remember having to try and manage visits from friends and family to keep the short, not too many at one time and asking for visitors to be on time. I think most family and friends understood but some didn’t. I tried to explain that Spud could tell the time and one way of building his trust was to be on time. When Spud knew that someone was coming he would start looking out the window 10 mins before. His anxiety levels would increase until he saw the car pull up and even if they were only a couple of minutes late, Spud would pace up and down waiting. From his past he had been let down, had no routine, boundaries or reasons to trust.

As a new mum I tried my hardest to manage his expectations and would often end up pacing with him. Over time his trust has increased and Spud now realises that I will do my best but can’t control the world even though I try! One of Spuds friends mum is always late, she tries her best but timekeeping is just not her thing. She tries but is always late or changes plans at the last minute. Spud accepts that this is her way and copes very well. He will accept the change of plan and the lack of time keeping but only from her.

I hate being late, I hate people being late and this has not changed but having a child has made being on time more difficult but much more important. Why is it when I try to get myself and Spud out to school in the morning does he suddenly remember he has to take a toy/book/t-shirt into school? Or needs to finish watching a cartoon even though he has watched it 10 times? I am always the first in the school playground and Spud will check from his classroom that I am there. He is scared I will not pick him up and although this is getting better with the trust building, I think it will always be one of his aniexties. To help Spud, we are normally the first at a party/outing/activity as Spud finds it easier for people to come in rather than walk in on a room full of people.

Trust has come with planning, explaining and following through what I say, not always easy but essential. Trust has taken time to build.

Parenting how hard can it really be?

I have been a mum for just over 3.5 years, Spud has been a child for nearly 11 years so has a head start on me. I feel most of the time that i am playing catch up and in the early days, felt i needed a T-Shirt saying “give me a break.  I have only been a mum for 3 weeks”.  People would look at us when we were out and look confused if I was asking him if he liked x,y or z or looked very much like a confused aunt rather than mum.  I did think parenting would be difficult but I really was not prepared for how hard.

I am not saying that being a parent of a birth child is not difficult but suddenly having a 7.5 year old with attitude, trauma, a background you have very little information or understanding about and 7.5 years head start on you has been hard.  I think we are getting there, I think I am becoming more confident in being a mum, I think we are bonding as a family unit.

For me I did not appreciate how difficult and how much impact school would have on Spud and me.  School seems to have been a constant battle since nearly day 1.  School are not very flexible so I thought if you can’t beat them, join them and decided to become a school Governor.  I thought I could try and make a difference and increase understanding from inside.  18 months on I have resigned as it was a battle I knew I  couldn’t win or even make a dent in their amour.  School should have supported us as a family but embarrassed me, shamed Spud, have given lip service, have not been prepared to change.  This has had a negative effect on our bonding and attachment .

Only this week I had a call from a parent at school pick up asking why I had not picked Spud up from school.  I explained that he was at after school club but was told it was cancelled.  No-one had told any of the parents and it was only because one of the parents was concerned I was not there that she looked after Spud until I could get there.  For a child with attachment disorder, this had a very traumatic effect on him and on me.  Spud asked several times why I was not there.

What else makes being a parent difficult? I find the expectations of others makes life harder than it needs to be.  My parents are fantastic but if I had a pound for every time  my dad said “we had 3 of you to bring up and we managed it” I would be very rich right now.  My standard response is “but non of us were adopted or suffered from trauma”.  People see Spud as a 10 years old as this is his chronological age.  He is most of the time around the age of 5years old emotionally.  This makes parenting hard as it is a balance between what his peers are doing and he wants to do and what is best for him or the gaps he needs to fill in.  He has a couple of friends who are much younger who Spuds plays with really well.  His peers are much harder work as he has such a conflict of needs.

I also think at times I make parenting much harder than it needs to be.  Do I question too much?  Do I look into things too much?  Do I need to make parenting so hard?

So, do you find being a parent difficult?