Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mary Mary quite contrary...

As you might have read about already, this week our family celebrated our 4th adoption day; the day we went to court and a judge ruled Mini one of us. He officially became our son, and we became his parents – no more shared responsibility with Social Services.

We don’t really ‘celebrate’ either in a big way, but remember both adoption day and moving in day. We gave Mini a little card and a book, and talked a bit about it, and we’d earmarked this weekend to go to the seaside which is Mini’s favourite place. So today went like this…

Mini: I want the new play dough NOW.
Stix: Not right now, as we’ll need to eat breakfast at the table in a minute, and then we’re going to get ready quickly so we can go to the seaside.
Mini: But I want the play dough NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWW. Raaaaaaaaaaah.
Stix: OK, we’ll have breakfast now, but after that, you can choose if you want the play dough, or the trip to the seaside.
Mini: I want the seaside.
Stix: Great, well we’ll eat, get ready and go, then you can have play dough another day.

Now I’ll admit that the play dough is pretty special – homemade peppermint scented glittery play dough, but we all knew that Mini wanted the seaside trip more. And after washing up the play dough cutters and rolling pins at least 4 times in the last 24 hours as Mini chopped and changed his mind about playing with it, I wasn’t keen to repeat the same washing up pattern as yesterday.

Breakfast went OK and we greedily scoffed a stack of pancakes. Mini got hyper between breakfast and leaving and as the NC wasn’t in his most therapeutic mood, I took a few minutes to empathise with Mini about how excited he must be feeling and acknowledge that we know he gets worried when we’re out because he thinks he’s not coming home with us. However, we were all going to be coming home together, and it was just going to be us – no surprise friends there.

The trip to the seaside went well, with Mini – for the most part – behaving well, and doing what he was asked.

Mini waited patiently in the car with Daddy and a sleeping Dollop whilst I popped into a shop on the way home. Then we drove down our road and it all started to go wrong. His tone of voice changed, his body language was all defensive, and he started being difficult. Mini’s anxiety levels start to rise, perhaps because he worried about what he was coming home to, perhaps because of relief he was returning home with us, perhaps because he didn’t want to go home after a nice time out or maybe it was a reaction to the celebration of his adoption. We didn’t talk about it at all, not referring to it as an adoption day celebration, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about it. So…

Stix: Put your shoes and socks back on now please Mini, we’ll be home in a minute.
Mini: No, raaaaaaaaagh.
Stix: You’ll need them on so you can walk in. Please put them on.
Mini: No, I don’t know where they are.
Stix: Well have a look at where you threw them when you got in the car – they’ll be there.
Mini: I SAID I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE *Puts socks and a shoe back on*

Once inside…

Mini: Now I want the play dough. NOW. AND YOU’RE GOING TO GET IT FOR ME NOW.
Stix: Mini remember, you chose between play dough and the seaside this morning. And your choice was the seaside. We’ve done that now, and we’re going to put a film on and have some quiet time before dinner.
Mini: But you didn’t let me choose this morning, I want the play dough nooooooooooooooooooow. Waaaaaaaaaaaahhh. I WANT THE PLAYDOUGH NOW!
Stix: You made your choice earlier Mini, we’ll have play dough another day.
Mini: Nooooooo. It’s-not-fair-I-want-the-playdough-and-I-want-it-now-and-you-didn’t-let-me-choose-this-morning-because-I-actually-wanted-the-playdough-and-you-didn’t-listen-to-me-you-just-did-what-you-wanted-and-I-really-really-really-really-wanted-the-playdough-RIGHT. NOW.
Stix: Daddy would you mind heating up that cuddly thing I bought earlier?
Mini: What? What cuddly thing?
Stix: Oh, just something you can cuddle whilst we watch the film. It’s new, and it’s warm and smells nice.
Mini: Yay – I get a new cuddly. *Waits for microwaveable, lavender cuddly monkey on sofa like the best behaved child in the world*.

He’s still watching the film, so I have no idea how the day will end, but this ‘make a decision, do what has been decided, then change mind after’ behaviour is something that we battle with almost daily. One of the most traumatic occasions was when Mini wanted a snack after school, and he remembered that he’d not eaten his Penguin at lunchtime, so he took it out of his lunch bag, thought about it, and then threw it in the bin. Within seconds, he was in a heap on the floor, screaming his lungs out because he did want the biscuit after all. I did time-in, I did hugs, I did empathy, I offered alternatives, but nothing was right, and he got violent towards me and Dollop. In the end we just had to ride it out until he finished screaming, swearing and sobbing.

The NC and I are finding this increasingly difficult to deal with as the fallout becomes greater and seems more irrational and over-the-top. We try our best to support Mini in decisions. But even those he makes without us – what toy to play with, which book to look at, whether to watch Cbeebies or Disney Junior are becoming harder and harder for him to manage.We've removed choices, we've limited them...nothing works.

It’s funny. His grandad has always called him contrary, and now more than ever that seems to be exactly what he is.


  1. This is our daughter. When she 'decides' she wants to be contrary she would argue the sky is green then when she's had enough of arguing she will switch mood quick as that and expect us all to too. It's very wearing. A million reasons why but none of us will ever know, she just knows she feels better after it. Nothing works, engaging with her or not, ignoring the behaviour or not, cuddles or not. Sorry no advice, Stix but I'll look out eagerly for some. But to let you know you are not alone. xx

  2. Thanks Kat. I find it so draining and exhausting. Everything gets turned into a conflict and there seems to be no way to ease it for him, or any of us. And he seems unable to stop times I really think he has a split personality as he appears almost to be arguing with himself...not us.

    It's a relief to know we're not alone, and if I find anything that helps I'll let you know too! Xx

  3. I just wanted to let you know that my birth son behaves like this too and he's never been traumatized in any way, raised by largely attachment parenting.. It must be so hard for you because you're constantly thinking back to his past and trying to find a reason for his behaviour

  4. ....when in fact he's just a fairly high maintinence kid. I have another child 2 years younger and that child is much easier to reason with and less"high maintenence". Wishing you and yours well, Adoption is no walk in the park - so complicated. X P.s -sorry for split comment on my phone and it's playing silly buggers.

    1. Thanks for commenting Anonymous. Many children behave this way, I appreciate that, but this is just another behaviour on top of all the others that Mini displays.

      If this was the only difficult part of parenting Mini then we'd be soooo lucky. Unfortunately it's not, this and his other issues are pretty much relentless, and I (and the professionals working with us) do think it's at least in part because of his background, not because he's 'high maintenance'.

    2. Me again... I want to apologise for commenting before I'd read your blog in more detail. I had read through quite a few posts but now I've read more of it now and think I understand better. I hadn't noticed the post about "every child does that" in Popular Posts because I was reading on my tiny phone. I'm sorry if I upset you with my comment. Being a parent can be effing tough, my heart goes out to you and your family for the extra challenges you face. It sounds like you're a great mum though and Mini is lucky to have you. Also just want to say you're a great writer!

    3. Thanks for coming back. Not upset, but I do appreciate you coming back and commenting again...many people don't understand, and it's especially hard to get the whole picture from one blog post. I know lots of children do lots of things that are the same or similar to Mini, and I know that when people say 'but my birth child does that too' they're just trying to make us (adopters) feel better about what we're going through.

      I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment and come back to do so again. x