Tuesday, 3 March 2015

New boots

Dollop is a girly girl. She loves princesses, pink stuff, fairies, hearts and flowers. She has long hair (I recently had to plead with her to get it trimmed) which she loves having plaited and prettified with sparkly plastic bits and pieces. She adores Frozen, and loves Elsa and Anna.

So, when we went to pick out new wellies recently, she was very pleased to find Frozen wellies. I, however, was less enthralled by the white fake fur around the top, and the prospect of keeping them vaguely snow like. In the absence of any others in her size, we sighed with disappointment but agreed to look in another shop on another day.
As we carried on around the supermarket clothing section, we stumbled upon some more wellies that she liked, I liked and were much more practical than the silly pale 'girly' ones. These were 'Minion Boots!' from the movie Despicable Me. They were even in her size and when she tried them on they were a perfect fit.

There were a few strange looks from passers-by, and Mini pipes up "But they're BOYS wellies!".

Dollop was horrified, the thought of boys wellies was almost too much for her. (I can't blame her to be honest - I have to touch Mini's wellies and they're pretty stinky!)

I'm pretty disappointed that the store didn't have these Minion boots in both boys and girls clothing sections. After all, most of the girls I know enjoy Despicable Me as much as the boys. And I know a fair few boys that enjoy watching (and singing along to) Frozen, although I get that fluffy sparkly wellies might not float their boat so much. It's pretty much the first time I've encountered this kind of gender stereotyping as an issue because so far I've had a typical boy's boy and a very typical girly girl, but it's something that I'm going to look out more for now. And hopefully my children won't feel the need to conform anymore.

We immediately put Mini straight - these boots are as much for girls as boys. We put Dollop straight too - and reassured her that anyone can wear whatever boots they like (as long as they fit OK). And ended up buying the boots. She wears them well.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Confidence...taken it's time!

He's been here 7 years now, and it's only now that we finally feel like we're getting to know the real Mini.

The last 7 years have been full of ups and downs, and even though we've celebrated the ups, the downs have always kind of overtaken...even when we've tried really really hard to just enjoy the good bits. Perhaps it's because of my depression? Or perhaps it's because the trauma takes over? Or maybe it's because we're now experienced in the ways of Mini and know that the good times never last that long? I suspect it's because even the best of the best times don't make up for all the really challenging, frustrating, violent and scary times, even when we really want them to; when we tell everyone else they do; when we tell ourselves they do.

But now, what's happened? We are going through the longest good period we've EVER had.
Is it really because one day he was 7, then he was 8? Is 8 some kind of magic number? Or is it because all the counselling we've been having really has helped? I'm not sure it's changed our views or opinions, or our parenting, but I think it's somehow made us more assured in what we're doing. Our counsellor reminds us that we're doing great; she picks out all the good bits and all the positivity and gives us the credit for it instead of continually blaming us for all the bad bits, which is what we've done to ourselves, and what some professionals have implied.

And, along with my magic happy pills (OK, so they're not magic, and I still have a way to go but...), I'm feeling better about life generally, and more confident in my parenting skills.

So these days, we're enjoying the happy go lucky Mini, the one who is confident enough to go to football camp in half term by himself, the one who is helping his sister learn her phonics, the Mini that loves sitting down with us and watching music videos on TV, the boy that has learnt many of the moves to All About The Bass, and is desperate to learn how to do the splits (just like in the video mum!). He giggles at our jokes, and takes the mickey out of us. He grins and covers his eyes when the NC and I kiss (err...that's DISGUSTING, you're my PARENTS!). He loves to help cook, and even helps with the washing up. Yeah, so he still likes to run around naked and wiggle his bum at us, and toilet humour is still very funny to Mini, but to be fair, the NC and I both giggle at rude words and squelchy noises too!

We have days where things don't go Mini's way, and he stomps his feet, but we can manage that now. And I'm now in the place where I know my children well enough to know if their behaviour is normal, or a sign of unease, anxiety or other uncomfortable feeling, despite what other people say, and despite their attempts to brush it all off.

It's taken a long time, but I think we've finally become confident parents, and we're being the best parents we can be to Mini and Dollop.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

How far have we come?

A year ago we were struggling. We were seeing a counsellor regularly - both the NC and I had individual sessions, and we had joint sessions (sometimes including Mini too).

Mini had moved schools not long before and although he was settling well there, it wasn't having the huge impact at home that we wanted.

Spelling test day was awful, and Mini went from bouncing downstairs all enthusiastic, to argumentative, slow and in denial about going to school. He dreaded that day of the week.

The NC was having to go away infrequently for work - something that had never happened before. On the day of, or following his return he'd be met by an angry little boy, intent on punishing his father for creating these feelings of loss within.

Just over a year ago, I was washing Mini's school trousers every day through either wetting or soiling AND his bedsheets every night, as he endured horrific nightmares, and felt anxious about school everyday.

Last year, like every year I would dread half term. I'd make charts, and games and plan to make sure we had things arranged (even if it was just movies or resting) to help me feel more in control.

I was falling down a big black hole of despair. Further into depression than ever before, with the black dog constantly by my side, or -as it often felt- sitting on my head, weighing me down and clouding my judgement.

It wasn't all bad though...A year ago, Mini called me the best mum ever for making his some cool cupcakes to take into school on his birthday (and first day).


So let's have a look at just how far we've come...

We've finished our sessions with our counsellor. We could benefit from more individual sessions, but we're coping without. We're now in the middle of a package of monthly sessions to catch up and keep in touch, but last time we finished early as we had nothing to discuss with her...things are going THAT well.

Mini is much more comfortable now at school. It's like he's always been there and he loves his teachers - yes, even though we've got another job share set! He likes going to school. He likes playing footie with his mates. He loves football club each week. He is part of the class.

Spelling test day is no longer feared. In fact, I don't even know when spelling test day is anymore!

The NC hasn't been away too much this year, but the most recent episode - this week in fact, was completely different. On his return, I'd let Mini stay up a little later to make sure he saw daddy before he went to bed (well, it is half term), and instead of being an angry, red faced person, he was kind and cuddly and just pleased to have his dad home.

Mini's trousers have been much better since moving schools - and although he has the odd accident, and went through a soiling period too, I'm not washing daily through wetting, but from muddy knees instead.
I rarely have to wash his bed sheets, and have to remember to change them weekly like everyone else's!
I did not dread half term! Even though the NC was away for a couple of days. I was rested before it started, happy to spend time with the children and not at all daunted about entertaining them.

I'm now on anti-depressants. And happy about it. It took time and several attempts to find the right one for me, but I'm feeling better little by little. I know it's going to be a long journey, but I'm confident in my ability to recognise my own depressive signs, and confident that I have an approachable GP.

And I'm pleased to report that Mini still thinks I'm the best mum ever. Even more so for allowing him to have a guinea pig, creating a guinea pig cake for his birthday and letting him get Minecraft.

So that's how far we've come. I'm in the right place to recognise progress, and hope that we continue to make more.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sharing

Do you ever make things to eat that you're pretty sure the children won't like? And that's OK, because actually you don't want to share it?

Yes well. Today I made flapjack, a dairy free flapjack from my new favourite recipe book 'Deliciously Ella' by Ella Woodward. It's made with nut butter, and I used peanut butter purposely because no-one else in my house likes it. I'm finding it pretty tough this cows milk free diet, especially as we have lots of things in the house at the moment that I can't eat, so how great would it be to have something that only I like?

Except, it turns out that when it's in this flapjack EVERYONE likes peanut butter! Yes, that means EVERYONE likes the flapjack.

Guess I'll have to share then. *sulks*