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*
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.