He's been here 7 years now, and it's only now that we finally feel like we're getting to know the real Mini.
The last 7 years have been full of ups and downs, and even though we've celebrated the ups, the downs have always kind of overtaken...even when we've tried really really hard to just enjoy the good bits. Perhaps it's because of my depression? Or perhaps it's because the trauma takes over? Or maybe it's because we're now experienced in the ways of Mini and know that the good times never last that long? I suspect it's because even the best of the best times don't make up for all the really challenging, frustrating, violent and scary times, even when we really want them to; when we tell everyone else they do; when we tell ourselves they do.
But now, what's happened? We are going through the longest good period we've EVER had.
Is it really because one day he was 7, then he was 8? Is 8 some kind of magic number? Or is it because all the counselling we've been having really has helped? I'm not sure it's changed our views or opinions, or our parenting, but I think it's somehow made us more assured in what we're doing. Our counsellor reminds us that we're doing great; she picks out all the good bits and all the positivity and gives us the credit for it instead of continually blaming us for all the bad bits, which is what we've done to ourselves, and what some professionals have implied.
And, along with my magic happy pills (OK, so they're not magic, and I still have a way to go but...), I'm feeling better about life generally, and more confident in my parenting skills.
So these days, we're enjoying the happy go lucky Mini, the one who is confident enough to go to football camp in half term by himself, the one who is helping his sister learn her phonics, the Mini that loves sitting down with us and watching music videos on TV, the boy that has learnt many of the moves to All About The Bass, and is desperate to learn how to do the splits (just like in the video mum!). He giggles at our jokes, and takes the mickey out of us. He grins and covers his eyes when the NC and I kiss (err...that's DISGUSTING, you're my PARENTS!). He loves to help cook, and even helps with the washing up. Yeah, so he still likes to run around naked and wiggle his bum at us, and toilet humour is still very funny to Mini, but to be fair, the NC and I both giggle at rude words and squelchy noises too!
We have days where things don't go Mini's way, and he stomps his feet, but we can manage that now. And I'm now in the place where I know my children well enough to know if their behaviour is normal, or a sign of unease, anxiety or other uncomfortable feeling, despite what other people say, and despite their attempts to brush it all off.
It's taken a long time, but I think we've finally become confident parents, and we're being the best parents we can be to Mini and Dollop.