Tag Archives: developmental trauma

Bragging Rights

Today Suddenly Mummy  is findings others bragging about their children a little upsetting. 

All parents brag about their children. I know that. Before I had children I used to brag about my friends’ children so I could join in a bit with the seemingly endless conversations. Now I have OB, I certainly do brag about him. And I brag about my fostered children too.

But all too often, I find it hard to keep up. I have good friends with a 3-year-old little girl who is two months younger than OB. She can write her name. She can dress and undress herself and take herself to the toilet. She can recognise all of her letters and is beginning to spell out simple consonant-vowel-consonant words. Yeah. OB can do none of those things.

On one level I’m ok with all of that. OB has many wonderful qualities, and is progressing really quite well for a child of his age. He isn’t developmentally delayed, and in most areas his abilities are in line with his age. Plus, my friend’s daughter hasn’t been from pillar to post and experienced all the early instability that OB has had.

I’m very happy with his progress. Delighted in fact, since in so many areas he started so far behind.

Take swimming. He is terribly afraid of water. I was reading through the daily notes I kept when I was his foster carer and saw there the first time I mentioned his hysterical reaction to having a bath. It was the night after he had spent his first transitional night with his birth mum as part of the lengthy process of rehabilitation that ultimately failed. Did something happen in the bath that night he was away? I’ll never know, but I suspect something. He never had a problem before, and he has been terrified of water ever since.

So I knew that swimming lessons would be a trial for him. A nightmare even. Yet despite this, and after many months of crying, just under a year in and he has earned his second badge. It’s very basic – I think it’s for making it one width across the pool without the teacher holding him (but with loads of armbands and a pool noodle!), but I was proud as anything when he got it.

The same week, my friend’s daughter got her third badge. She has been swimming just five months. I have to admit that I just didn’t want to hear about it. I found it hard to be all excited for her when her Mummy was showing me, and almost choked on the congratulatory words. Awful isn’t it.

She’s three years old, and she’s done really well, but I, the adult, felt like a jealous child.

I said the right things though, and I sorted my head out afterwards. I reminded myself that I really don’t believe that parenting is a competition. I reminded myself that someone else’s achievements don’t downgrade my son’s awesome achievements, especially considering how far he has had to come. I reminded myself that I truly love my friend and their daughter. I remembered how I plan to home educate partly because I don’t like the competition and continual assessment our education system is riddled with and don’t think it would be a good environment for my son.

DSC_0189In the end it was all good. But today, I encountered another bragging situation that nearly brought me to tears. We went to an air show. It was stupid of me, really. OB hates loud and unexpected noises. He always has. I think I know the reasons for it. Why it didn’t occur to me that low flying jet planes would be unbelievably noisy, I don’t know. My only excuse is that I’ve never been to an air show before. Not a great excuse I know.

We travelled there and back with friends – surrogate grandparents to OB. At the air show, we met up with their two children and their young families. Of course, once the planes started, OB was mortified by the noise. He couldn’t enjoy the red arrows because he was holding his ears and burying his head in my stomach and when the tornado screamed by it was almost as though his head was being torn right off. Baby Girl wasn’t a fan either, so I had two frightened, crying children to deal with. Thankfully, we all enjoyed the quieter planes and, on the whole, I think OB did like the event – he does love his planes. He went to bed fine tonight and doesn’t seem to have any lasting upset. Next time we’ll have ear defenders!

But on the way home, our friends bragged and bragged about how their two older grandchildren (four and two) weren’t frightened of the noise. They didn’t cry. They seemed to be enjoying every minute of it.

How pleased they were that they enjoyed the red arrows so much. How adventurous the two-year-old is and not afraid of anything.

Who brags about that?!

They are lovely people. I have known them for over 20 years and I love them very much. They adore OB and take him out to the park and other places just because they want to. But I nearly cried in the back of their car today.

And I thought, this is probably going to be par for the course. Parents will be excited about their children’s achievements, and they will want to share that with their friends. I know that all parents sometimes find the bragging of others a little hard to manage. My very good friend has a daughter with invisible special needs, and I know she struggles to hear all about the achievements of other friends’ children who all seem to find everything so easy while her child struggles and falls more and more behind.

I also know that all parents have a long list of things about their own children that they don’t want to brag about. We only tend to hear the glowing reports – there are no badges and certificates for the time a child was rude, or lied, or hit someone, or wouldn’t obey. I try to be realistic.

But I felt sad today that my child seemed so very different to the others, and that it was so noticed.

I felt sad because I will probably have that feeling many, many more times as he grows up. I felt sad that he is fearful and nervous because of what was done to him before he was even one year old. I can save him from being constantly compared to his schoolmates over his educational or sporting achievements, but it seems that there is always going to be something to compare, even if it is only who was bravest when the loud plane went past.

Life on the Frontline – week 1

lotfA weekly blog from a family made by adoption,  warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears. 

I’ve discovered today that school is a scary and confusing place.  I did already know that this is how Small, my youngest boy, finds school but he was expressing it himself for the first time, sort of. This is how I actually found out.

Setting the Scene: A boy, about ten years of age, has flatly, most ardently refused to go to school. Several attempts to coax him from the house have been met with, “I’m not going. I hate it”. After getting very upset boy is now sat on sofa with a silk scarf draped across his face. Mum sits on the other sofa.

Small: I’m not going. I don’t trust anyone, not even YOU.

Me: soft sing song voice – That must be so awful for you, to live in a world where you can’t trust anyone, not even your mum. It must be especially difficult in school if there is no one to trust, in fact, I would say that would be very frightening.

Small:(still hiding under scarf)tiny voice –  It is frightening.

Me: And now you have a new teacher, a new classroom, a new head teacher, that’s a lots of new things and new rules. That must be very hard, it must seem confusing.

Small:(still hiding under scarf)tiny voice –  It is confusing.

I did get him to school, about half an hour late but I didn’t feel triumphant. I left him in the foyer of the school, with a teaching assistant, him hiding behind a door and still flatly refusing “I’m not going in”.  No, definitely not triumphant. Hopeless, mean, lost and utter anguish for the little boy I love so much.  Cue sobbing in car, whilst driving home. Not advisable for safety reasons.

School and I are working on a number of things to help Small with school and I’ll spill the beans on these  as we go, but, for now, just know, that my head is constantly buzzing around the topic of Small and the dilemma which is his education.

So here we are, I’m an adoptive parent, married to the MR and we have two boys who came to us as a sibling pair, Small you’ve met and there is also Tall. Tall has just started high school. Thankfully so far it has been with a hop and a skip of joy. Little cracks are starting to show, there were those two snapped pencils that fell from his bag this morning. He also openly confessed (honesty praise was given) to having walked out of a class room yesterday.

I so admire the approach of his form tutor (note the sarcasm here) who informed me during our first phone conversation,

“I don’t like to read the files on the children, that I receive from their previous school, until we are a few weeks in. I don’t like to have preconceived ideas on how they might behave and judge them on this information.”

Do you mean that file that will inform you of some of the challenges my son faces in school and the behaviours you may see because of them. So how will you handle it when he destroys his work, swears at you and storms out?

I hastily sent her an email, detailing some of my concerns, hoping she would read it and rethink her strategy. Don’t worry, I won’t be leaving it at that but my suspicions are that they might be contacting me soon; I’m not sure high school will get a very long honeymoon period. And to all those saying, “Don’t be pessimistic “. I’m not, I’m just being realistic.

So we are finally back into the swing of it all, the routine, a sort of yay,  some free hours for me during the day, a definite yay, the anxious, stressful mornings, not a yay,  and the dread of home time, a big fat BOO.

So with our first weekend approaching of the school term, we will attempt to get rested and restored for the coming weeks ahead, with low key family time and some big cuddles. But first, to celebrate the end of one week down, I feel a family film night with popcorn is calling. See you next week.

In Other News

I cried at the video of a gorgeous baby girl. Why does that loss thing still creep up on me so unexpectedly?

I cried ( can you see a pattern emerging) when I took small for a medical to do with the assessment of his special educational needs, when describing the terrible support we’d received from our LA. Yep that still hurts too.

Small really can’t see why it would be inappropriate for him to wear fake tan.

Tall confessed to setting his alarm, for the middle of the night, to belly crawl across my bedroom to retrieve electronic devices. More honesty praise was given but, we quite obviously are not over those impulses yet.