We live in a terrace of houses. For every four houses there is a shared alleyway between the middle two. We're one of those middle two so it runs alongside our living room, and then is separated from our yard by fencing...which sadly we lost some of in the storms earlier this year. The children now love the free access they have to the alleyway where they play, skip, search for special stones, race and use their imaginations.
Of course it's gated at the front, by a pretty tall gate that Mini can just reach to open, and he knows not to. But there is a 18inch space above it, which it appears is the perfect size space to boot a football through.
Why am I giving you such a detailed explanation of my house and outside area? Just read that last bit again 'the perfect size space to boot a football through'.
Yes, because that's what has happened, several times now. The trouble with this is that we live on a main road, a very main, very busy road. So far it's only gone into the road once, and luckily when there was no traffic, so no accident caused.
We've talked about the risks and ramifications of this happening again. We've banned football playing in the alleyway, but yet again, the ball went over the front gate yesterday.
"Mummy, mummy, Dollop kicked my ball over the gate".
So I retrieved it from next door's empty driveway. Removed the balls from the children, and tried for answers. He was adamant she'd done it, she was adamant he'd done it. Horns locked, that was the end of outside play. I stayed calm, and today when they asked for balls, I said 'no'. No ball playing until tomorrow at least, and definitely not until someone owned up and told the truth.
"Is that the good thing mummy? Telling the truth?" Mini asks.
"Yes of course, the truth is always the best thing".
"I'm sorry mummy, I did it. I kicked it over" he easily and quickly admits.
Now at this point, ever the typical four year old Dollop pipes up "See I told you mummy, I didn't do it, it was him like I said yesterday, he kicked the ball over the gate and then he came and told you and he said it was me and I told you it wasn't but you didn't believe me you just made us stop, but I told you all along and next time you should listen".
Dollop distracted with dandelion hunting duties for the guinea pigs, I took the time to hug Mini and explain that he must have felt really worried about getting into trouble if he'd blamed it on his sister. I explained that I know accidents happen and I also know that he wouldn't have kicked it over on purpose. We had more hugs, and he relaxed.
We even chatted about how Dollop must have felt when she'd been blamed and it wasn't really her fault. And I pushed it even further, to explain to I felt frustrated when he told lies.
So this really long post is a very round about way of saying that Mini owned up. He told the truth (albeit after 24 hours) because he realised the consequence was not having his ball to play with anymore. It's taken us a long time for Mini to understand consequences, but I believe his growing maturity, settled feelings at school, and the work we've done is really starting to positively influence Mini and how he manages situations, and us too.
And I know this isn't necessarily an adoption specific issue, most children try to dodge blame for fear of trouble (I know I did), however I do believe that Mini's attachment issues, coercive nature, and heightened anxiety levels make these 'normal' issues more challenging. It's typical behaviour, but with knobs, bells and whistles on!