Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A guessing game

That’s what it is. Life with a traumatised child is a guessing game.

We’ve bought Mini Guess Who? for Christmas. And I was just thinking how similar life is to that game – is it a male? Do they have brown hair? Are they wearing glasses? It’s all about eliminating certain people based on their physical features until you get the right person – the one who fits all the criteria and matches the answers exactly.

It translates to life quite well – guessing and eliminating the triggers that cause Mini to feel and react how he does – is it school? Did you have a different teacher? Did Mummy forget to do something today? Are you worried that Daddy’s not coming home?
Of course I can’t ask Mini all those questions, they’re all in my head; a mental check list of possibilities that I run through and tick off based on observations, the odd question, a little bit of wondering out loud and the all important home-school comms book.

Unlike the game though, no-one ever wins and it never ends. But the worst bit is that I quite often don’t even know if I guessed right or not.
Mini gets cross with me if I get it wrong, he spits out vicious denials, calls me stupid, tells me to go away, rejects me. In Mini’s eyes I become a crap, untrustworthy mummy who can’t even work out what’s upset her son.
 Guess how he reacts when I’m right, when I hit the nail on the head…because then I become a scary mummy who is making a suggestion that is too real and difficult to understand or handle, and that frightens Mini. I totally understand why he might feel ambivalent towards me.

It must be damn scary for Mini. He often doesn’t know, or at least understand, why he reacts certain ways. Often all I can do is acknowledge his feelings; but sometimes I can share a story of when I felt similar, showing him that I understand. I can plant a seed in his head, and he’ll –later on - think, ‘Oh yeah, that is how I felt’. If I can do this enough, and in the right way, eventually Mini will let me into his inner world, he’ll let me into that locked up box that is his mind, his memories and his fears. Maybe, just maybe some of that ambivalence will go, and I’ll just become safe old mum.

Until then, I’ll carry on guessing and getting it wrong much of the time. But every now and then I’ll get it right, and Mini will realise that he can trust me, he can let me in and I can help him understand. That day will come right?


  1. This sentence - 'But the worst bit is that I quite often don’t even know if I guessed right or not' - sums up my feelings of all that completely. I really know where you are coming from.

    1. Thanks for commenting Buster. I think it's something a lot of adopters (and birth parents) feel. We never really know if we get it right do we?