Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Nursery and school

It's been a while I know - I'm sorry.

It's just you know with back to school, Dollop starting nursery...oh and having to miss her first week because she was ill. And I'm struggling with drop-offs at nursery each day because Dollop is getting so so upset. I know she's fine within 10 minutes. I know they'd ring me if there was a problem. But it's heartbreaking (as it was when it was Mini all those years ago) to leave her crying. And I know there are lots of people who get upset because their children don't show emotion, but I think they're both just as bloody hard! And I'm struggling to compose myself ready for a series of appointments I've had each morning this week...because of course there is the super big news.

We're changing Mini's school.

Yes, after a horrendous meeting with Mini's teachers where it was made VERY clear that support was not going to be available, we are looking at other schools. Ins and outs?
- Well, the home/school comms book doesn't work for Mini's new teachers, so we're not having it, we'll have to cope with just the reading diary which they find perfectly adequate (Funny though, they're not writing the diabetic child's blood measurements in his reading diary?).
- After just 3 days at school, the teachers were happy that Mini asks to go to the toilet, so they won't be implementing the bladder training that the hospital consultant has asked them to do.
- Mini seems confident and happy, so they see no need to give me notice of changes in school, clearly he needs no preparation.
- Unlike previous years, Mini doesn't need to have a primary attachment figure in school because he seems fine.
- They've seen no signs of wetting, so clearly that was just a past anxiety.
- And no, they don't really need to meet with our social worker because they have children of their own, they understand how precious the children are.

And that's just what I can remember from before I broke down and cried in front of them. No, I'm not writing that for dramatic effect, it happened. I then turned into a blubbering wreck for the rest of the day.

They appeared to believe that I am totally paranoid. They appeared to believe that I'm just an overprotective mother of a little darling. They appeared not to believe the violence and aggression we endure. They appeared to 'know it all'. We believe they have been spoken to by the head teacher who has made it clear that additional support is not to be made available. Now we really do sound like paranoid parents.

So, this week I'm viewing schools. I've read OFSTED reports, I've spoken to admissions, I've spoken to a number of schools, I've read through prospectus after prospectus, I've sought parental opinions, I've asked around for advice and tips. I've viewed an OK school, I've viewed a fantastic school. And now I am going to push as hard as I can to get Mini into the right school, where he and we will get the support needed.

So forgive me if I don't post very often at the moment. We're fighting for Mini right now, and we're about to start Attachment Focused Counselling too, so bear with us while we ride this rollercoaster, I'll be back as often as I can.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

And Year 2 begins...

Back to school, for us, like most, has now happened. Mini started getting worked up about 3-4 days before, as I started to pull together all the various bits of new school kit ready for naming etc.

My content, playful, mostly happy child of the Summer has mutated into a grumpy, angry, defiant boy again. The boy who couldn't stop talking about anything and everything has become tight-lipped about everything that occurs between 9am and 3pm.
Over the holidays, my little man gradually got better and better about going to bed; we heard less of the nightmares, less of the remonstrations about bedtime and fewer excuses to stay up. Now? Back to bedtime struggles, and not enough sleep.

Everything we do has become a battle again.

I know the phrase 'don't sweat the small stuff'. At times this becomes our mantra. So we're letting some battles go and we've introduced the use of consequences again. After posting for help on The Adoption Social, we've taken Sally Donovan's advice and each time Mini hurts either myself, the NC or Dollop he has to do a chore/household job...with us, and we provide a narrative as we do it together. Knowing that there is a consequence doesn't seem to prevent Mini hitting out (yet) but it is isolating the incident and we're moving on quicker than before, plus it's helping to get some of those jobs done!

I won't lie and say the summer holidays were perfect...we had our moments. And as usual, after the really good days, we had the bad ones. But for the most part it was much better than previous years and we had some really nice times and hopefully made some great memories. This though makes it all the more clear that it's during term time that Mini's difficulties come to the fore. Is it being at school? Is it being somewhere other than home?

Without a doubt, this school is not right for Mini, and this transition hasn't been well-managed - elements of it yes, but others no. And I'm afraid a clash of personalities with the Headteacher hasn't helped. I can't carry on fighting this woman who is more interested in raising attendance than looking after the pupils who ARE at school, who is more interested in improving academic skills instead of caring about emotional well-being. And whilst I know that school is about academic learning, surely if the children feel cared about, important, special, safe and listened to, then their ability to learn will be better too? Ah, but what do I know, I'm just a paranoid mum!

It's only been two days so far, and I'm dreading (let alone how Mini's feeling) the rest of the year. I'm not letting on to Mini of course. And with all this awful feeling I'm also caring for Dollop who has shingles! Yes, very rare for a child to get, and coincided nicely with the start of pre-school and the end of the broken leg saga!

How has back to school been for your children?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The best bits of our Summer #MemoryBox

This week Mini goes back to school as a Year 2 boy, and Dollop starts pre-school doing 5 days a week part-time. I'm anxious and excited - anxious because Mini is already struggling with being back at school and he's not even there yet, and because my baby is growing up and this is the start of her independence (and the end of me being needed 24/7).
I'm excited because Dollop is ready for pre-school. She is looking forward to making friends and I'm looking forward to see how this new adventure impacts on her character. I'm also excited for Mini, because although he dislikes school, and is unsettled by it, he is generally a sociable boy and enjoys the time with his friends.
And there's the obvious change to my own day too - 3 hours of time to myself...with which to clean, do laundry, shop but most importantly...write.

So with this last #MemoryBox before the return to school, I'm remembering the lovely Summer break we've had, as I'm sure next week the focus will be on something entirely different and I fear the memories of Summer will have faded...
There are so many memories and great moments (I'll tell you about the not so great another time), here's just a selection:

Visits to...the zoo, the beach (several times), the farm shop, a theme park, Legoland, nanna and grandad, the park, town to go shopping, a large football ground for special footy training, the strawberry fields to pick our own fruit (rather a lot!)

We've made...melty bead bowls, bracelets, pictures, chocolate dirt cups, a rice maze and story maker, mosaic pictures, Tie dye t-shirts, tents, cakes, plaster of paris handprints

We've played... Lego, beanbag toss, on the trampoline, Jenga, Scrabble, puzzles, shopkeepers, librarians, with the water table, video games on the tablet, outside with chalks, lots of made-up games

Mini and Dollop have had firsts...night in a hotel, turn on a rollercoaster, theme park ride by himself, let a caterpillar crawl up his arm, held a sea urchin

And between us we've...had leg plaster removed, been given the all clear for Epilepsy, been geocaching, had Nanny to visit, and Great Nanny, Great Aunty and Uncle and a young cousin, been to a 90th birthday party for another Great Nanny, played with cousin baby Whizz, managed to have pleasant meals out, been to several other birthday parties, shopped, baked, read, cried, laughed

Our best Summer yet...

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Safe spaces

Mini is an anxious person. There is no denying that there are certain places where he feels safe, and certain places he doesn't. In those safe spaces, he can be himself and he can share his feelings (even if he doesn't always realise he's doing it).

Home, particularly the living room, is undoubtedly his safest place. That's not to say he feels totally comfortable here, we know he feels different, we know there are many times when he clams up, but we've tried to make it safe and secure for him.
Of course it's not just about the physical space, the actual room/house/garden etc, it's about the people that are in the space too. We limit visitors - not just unknown or (in Mini's eyes) scary visitors like social workers, therapists etc, but everyone because having too many people at once, or too many visits in quick succession unsettles Mini. And I've written before about another safe space that we use - it sounds silly perhaps to consider this cookie cutter coffee shop a safe place, but it's precisely that cookie cutter aspect that makes it so safe and comforting.

And us? Well, as an adult my safe space constantly changes depending on my feelings and needs. Mostly my safe spaces are wherever I can find other likeminded people - where I am not judged, where I give and receive sympathy, where I find myself nodding in agreement. That's online, at my friend's house, with family...but sometimes it's just at the beach on my own staring at the sea and listening to the waves crash.

I can't guarantee much in Mini's future. But I hope the tools we're trying to give him now in the safe spaces we are nurturing will stand him in good stead to find safe spaces he needs as he grows - whether that's with us, beside us or in places without us - with his own likeminded and understanding people.

Today I'm linking up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out - this week's theme is 'Safe Spaces'.
The Weekly Adoption Shout Out