So yesterday was our first social outing with the kids for ages. We went to see friends in their new house, with their baby who is now five months old. Ironically baby smiler was born on Mini’s adoption day anniversary! Anyways, we didn’t tell Mini in advance what our plans were. Just had a normal Saturday morning, and then after lunch, got ready to go out.
We’ve been avoiding social situations for several reasons, I’ll be honest – we’ve been embarrassed by Mini’s over excitable behaviour, embarrassed that we can’t handle him, worried that he’ll cause harm to himself or someone else, and I suppose mostly worried that our friends and family won’t understand the issues Mini and us face, and will judge the way we do things because of their lack of understanding. That’s our fault for not being honest, or explaining properly to them, but until we started to get help, we couldn’t really tell them what was wrong – we had our thoughts, but it wasn’t fair on Mini or our friends to discuss those thoughts without some concrete backing.
Given this was our first outing, Mini coped well. He was excited to see everyone – he enjoyed having cuddles with the baby, he liked playing with little dog. He got silly at times (this is a cue for us, silliness often hides anxiety), he wouldn’t sit still for more than 10minutes, he asked constant questions, he got all baby smiler’s toys out and messed around with them, threw them, but wasn’t really interested in any of the things we’d taken to entertain him, he made all sorts of excuses to run around again and again. Dollop was just as bad – exploring at every opportunity and racing off up the stairs.
To anyone watching, Mini could have looked just like a normal excited 5 year old.
To us, it felt like we were waiting for a bomb to go off. Mini did not calm down the longer we were there, he maintained that level of energy for the whole time. It’s exhausting trying to contain him in a way that does not stifle who he is, but ensures that everyone is comfortable with the whirling dervish sharing space with us, and teaches him social boundaries.
However, we were proud with the way Mini handled what (given the cues we were picking up) was a stressful situation. At one point, he asked if baby smiler was his brother, and a very anxious Stix and NC watched and listened as Mrs H did her best to briefly explain that baby smiler has a different mummy and daddy and lives in a different house so isn’t Mini’s brother. Sadly to Mini, it’s normal that brothers can live in different places with different mummies and daddies! (but well done Mrs H, you did well!) Despite this conversation which must have confused him a bit, Mini was always polite, always friendly and always gentle with baby smiler.
To treat Mini (and Dollop) for being so well-behaved, we decided to turn into McDonalds on the way home. Happy meals for the kids led to happy faces all round. And even with the excitement of this unplanned treat, Mini was well-behaved and only tried crawling under the table once!
The second half of the weekend has not been so easy. With every good day, there is one equally as bad. And suffice to say, I’m battered, bruised, tear-stained and sore and the NC isn’t much better. Dollop has been scared by the screaming and lashing out (Mini, not us). Mini has been angry and upset, worried and anxious, has wet himself twice, and went to bed early as he was exhausted from all the emotions and screaming.
Tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully better than today. I have secret plans you see. I have planned activities and rest days, and in the middle of the holidays we have a day out with friends. Nearly all the plans are flexible and interchangeable depending on mood and tiredness, but some level of routine will be maintained throughout. It’s like a military operation in terms of planning and routine, but with the flexibility of a yoga-practising acrobat.