Monday, 25 May 2015

Sharing experiences of CPV

CPV or Child to Parent Violence has been the focus of a week long theme on The Adoption Social. It's one of those subjects that isn't easy to talk about; a sore point - because who really wants to admit that their child hits them?

I've always been open about the violence that goes on in our home, I've written about it here before, on my Facebook page, and I think most of our friends and family know that the NC and I are on the receiving end of physical violence occasionally (though they might not know to what extent).
My personal view is that it's nothing to be ashamed of, it isn't my fault and I can't expect help and support unless I speak about it. But that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

Other people find it harder to speak about, and I understand their reticence - will they be judged? Why should they speak out? What support can they expect? And to be honest, is there really anything that can be done? And I know that in those moments, those raw moments of anger, fear, shame, embarrassment, shock, even hate, that CPV is impossible to talk about, or even think about. In those moments, all I've been able to do is exist. Sometimes it takes an hour or two, others several days to be able to think about an incident, make any vague sort of sense out of it, and move on. And that's just me, let alone Mini and all that he's feeling or felt during it all. He's still too young to be able to reflect on it after.

The newly launched Adoption Support Fund is there to access and perhaps it could pay for courses in non-violent resistance techniques, or DDP, or even private companies who can support and teach techniques to both children and their parents. But with doubts over how long the ASF will last, with no confirmed sources of funding after this initial wave runs out, relying on the ASF to provide continual and professional parenting development could be dangerous and short-sighted. And in these early days, it appears to be hard to access anyway with some adoptive parents reporting difficulties in receiving that initial assessment, a postcode lottery some might say. In fact, our own local authority has so far taken 4 weeks to tell us that they are unable to offer us the (statutory) assessment at the moment because of restructuring within the department. Well what a bloody brilliant time to restructure?! Not very well planned hey? So we don't know when we'll be able to move forward or how long it will take. And of course, there's the uncertainty over whether funding will be forthcoming, so we have to think about saving for private therapy/training rather than moving to a bigger house where we can improve safety and space.

So why should adoptive parents speak up about their CPV experiences?
Well, as The Adoption Social's work this week proves, speaking up means others can (even if virtually) support you, empathise with you, share techniques with you. Our Twitter chat this week attracted a fair few participants, and many more lurkers watching the conversation and we know it made people feel less alone. People who had intended to just watch felt compelled to join in, and even those who had CPV issues going on right there and then, still came and said their piece when they could.

There are perhaps some issues around language, and some express discomfort over this. However, discussing CPV is fairly new and whilst we all figure out how to talk about it, it will take time for language and terminology to be defined and refined, and re-refined. But that is, again, another reason to talk about it, let's make it part of normal adoption support type conversation, let's figure out how we want to speak about it and present that to Government, post adoption support teams, social workers and those that support us. Let us tell them what happens, and open up the conversations.

If we all speak up, they can't not listen. They can't disbelieve in it.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

After-school activities

The school the children are at now, well, for a start is smaller. It's in a village, it's got a PTA/HSA, the staff are approachable (for the most part), and it's just so much nicer than Mini's old school. I was friendly with a couple of mums at old school, but at new school we have our own facebook group to chat in, we've had several meet-ups in the school holidays and regularly meet for coffee. It's closer to my expectations of being mum of a school age child.

We really feel part of the school community, and at Dollop approaches her final term of Reception, I'm not filled with worry and dread about her moving up, and I'm hopeful that the current Year 4 teacher - a man - will remain in Year 4 so Mini will experience a male teacher...and helpful that he idolises Mr B already.

So this week, tomorrow in fact, both children will be attending a movie night after school tomorrow. It's something that the HSA regularly organise, and for a nominal sum the children can watch a movie with their friends, have a drink and a snack, and us parents get an extra hour and a half to ourselves before having the pick the kids up.

I'm telling you all this, not to give hints on fundraising for your own child's school (although, it does seem to be a good earner for our HSA), but to show you how far Mini has come since moving school. Apart from the fact that old school never did anything extra or fun like this, he just never would have felt comfortable being there beyond school hours. And honestly, I wouldn't have felt comfortable leaving him there after school hours.

I often look back and can't really see how things have changed all that much. The challenges are see there - less frequently but more violently, but it's the little things like this that really do show how things have moved on for us as a family.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Diet changes and noodle soup

As some of you might have recently noticed from my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds, I've changed my diet. At the start of this year, I became suspicious about whether I might be becoming intolerant to milk/dairy. So about 2 months ago now, I cut out all milk products completely. After a bit of trial and error for a month or so before that, I discovered that cow's milk products were a definite a no-no, but I was able tolerate goats milk, and also sheeps milk products.

Within weeks, the weight started to slip off, and the horrific stomach problems almost completely stopped. However, I still continued to have a few aches, wind and upset stomach, so after checking through my food diary I realised that wheat or gluten might also be a problem. So, I completely stopped my intake of those too. Again, a bit more trial and error suggests that it's wheat, rather than gluten that's the problem, although I'm having a very low gluten diet anyways.

So, now I've been about 2months milk-free (that's milk, butter, cream, whey and lactose), and about 1 month wheat/gluten free and haven't felt this good for a long time. I'm now a stone lighter and have realised that the bloating feeling that I've had for years wasn't normal and has now gone.

It's not easy I'll tell you but it's making me more adventurous, and since discovering Ella Woodward's 'Deliciously Ella' book and blog, raw food is proving a great basis for my diet.

Last night, after a long busy day, I needed to put together a quick dinner, and I want to share with you a meal that was filling, fresh, healthy, vegan, wheat, gluten and dairy free! And yes, it still tasted good!

Noodle Soup - totally delicious, plenty for 2 (plus seconds) and containing 4 portions of vegetable too:

Stir two vegetable stock pots into 1.2litres of boiling water in a large saucepan.
Throw in 6 sliced mushrooms, and let come to the boil again.
Add in about 10 baby corns, each chopped in half, and half a head of broccoli, divided into small florets. Also add 1/3 pack of King Soba Sweet Potato and Buckwheat Noodles.
Boil for 4-5 minutes, then add in about 12-14 mange tout, each cut in half.
Boil for a further 2 minutes, then serve.
A photo posted by the boy's behaviour (@boysbehaviour) on

Simples. Took ten minutes maximum and even the husband was left feeling full :-) If you try it, let me know what you think?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Highs and lows

We live our lives in extremes. Every aspect of parenting a child who has suffered trauma is in the extreme.

We deal with extreme behaviour as extreme emotions and extreme reactions affect our children. We
have to manage our own extreme emotions - guilt, love, wonder, shock, fear, grief, awe, amazement and so on, extremely quickly as we have to be prepared and available, emotionally and physically when our children need us to be - sometimes on extremely short notice.

This week I've struggled to flip between emotionally available mum and shocked fearful mum as quickly as Mini has managed to flip between frightened, angry 8 year old waving a knife at my face and cuddly, affectionate little boy who loves his mummy. And I've wanted to run away and deal with my feelings before being mummy again. But I couldn't.

It takes time to recognise our own emotions and come to terms with not only what we've experienced but how well we've managed to regulate our children and make them feel safe again. And that's OK.

I talked with another adoptive mum today and she feels the same, and that made me feel normal and better and relieved. If you recognise yourself here, then I hope you too feel reassured - you're not on your own x