Mom Migraine

Mom Migraine

0 comment Wednesday, July 30, 2014 |
Friday, the day after this, I set about acting upon the plans I had made.
First stop, school. I cornered the drippy Learning Mentor again and told her what had happened the night before and watched as she struggled and failed to know what to say or do. Luckily, I had banked on her being clueless and had instructions for her to follow. My Son was not allowed out at playtime or lunchtime, I told her. He was to be supervised by an adult at all times and not allowed anywhere near his key friendship group. I was simply not prepared for me and my Daughter to be subjected to such violence at home because his friends had upset him at school.
I could see she was a little panicked at what extra work this might be for her, and when she said that there was adult supervision out on the playground and that Son needs to go and have a run around and let off some energy, I told her that Son lets of steam by hitting and kicking other children and that he needed close supervision. For affect I then told her that if Son continued to hurt Daughter and subject our household to such violence I would disrupt his placement did she understand what that meant?
Then I left her to go to the school office and pick up some forms to apply for Son to do the after school club. That way, I could pick Daughter up from school and she could have some peace and quiet at home for a rest, then we could pick Husband up from work and go get Son together.
Waiting to speak to the office the Head Teacher happened to be passing and asked if I was OK. I told her that, no, I wasn't. She ushered me into an office and I brought her up-to-date on the latest events at home. I like the Head Teacher. She's one of those women who inspires total confidence in her. She told me that she had a daughter-in-law who works in a close supervised unit with vulnerable children and that the 'destructive' phase was recognised as a sign that the child was 'pushing boundaries' to check he was safe. What they did, she informed me, was just replace whatever had been broken again and again and again, until eventually it would be broken no more.
She was highly concerned with me, appalled that I was personally not getting any support because I was the key to all this, and offered again a referral to the school nurse, who as a health visitor had contact with all sorts of departments and organisations who could offer me help.
I got a pep-talk. Told me that if I could just grit my teeth and get through this, keep showing Son that he was safe, that he wasn't going anywhere, that the worst had already happened to him, that we would come out the other side. Her talk was so powerful that for several hours afterwards I totally believed in what she had said.
After that, I left the school and had some work for my business to attend to, then went to meet a friend for lunch. The only friend I will see at the moment because I feel totally safe with her.
My parents-in-law were waiting for me back home. I had asked Husband to ring them the night before to come with me to pick Son up from school. I did not want to be on my own with him. I also did not want to have spent the whole day knowing I was going to be on my own with him. It was as much an anxiety management strategy as a health & safety one.
Son was absolutely delighted to see his Grandparents and was a thoroughly adorable little boy with them. After I had cooked tea and picked Daughter up from sports club, I left them all and went to bed, having got through the day on three hours of shallow sleep.

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Yesterday, my Husband and I had a catch-up session with CAMHS, that is with the psychiatrist and the Social Worker. There was a change in attitude towards us, particularly from the psychologist, which I believe is down to the fact that I have told them that since son started getting violent at home, I am showing signs of secondary trauma.
My GP had written CAMHS a letter, which I had asked to be passed onto adoption support, which mentioned that one of my symptoms was not being able to enter the children's rooms during the day whilst they were at school. I found any association with the kids when I was alone retriggred traumatic feelings in me and so I was avoiding them. This was in reaction to the outburst son had where he screamed obscenities at me, flew at me and went for my eyes, and then spent the next couple of hours tearing his bedroom apart. I recognised this as a sign of secondary-truama and I reported this to my gp and hoped for help from adoption support.
Unfortunately, this openness seems to have worked against us, because it has given the psychologist something to peg Son's aggression on. Rather than seeing my symptoms as a reaction to Son's aggression, I think she sees Son's aggression as a reaction to my symptoms.
I am frankly, gobsmacked.
I am also hurt, drained, furious, upset and, at times, despairing. Just when you think things couldn't get any worse, CAMHS come in and tear away what was left of your confidence.
Everything Husband and I told them about how we are trying to parent and also manage this situation was met with criticism. Even the fact that I use Dan Hughe's Playful Loving Acceptance Empathy Curiosity and Empathy (PLACE) was used against me because I am overwhelming the children with something they are not used to!
And they really went for me when I told them about the emergency measure we have put in place for this week. Basically, I have put Son in the after school club to give my daughter some space at home where she is not either having to be subjected to her brother's aggression or having to go to her room to get away from him. It also means that husband and I can pick him up from school together so that I am not alone with him if he decides to go on the rampage again.
This was absolute proof to them, apparently, of how we are separating him from the famly, and harming his attachment to us.
I dare say that putting him in this club for one week does do nothing for attachment, but he has had two years of therapeutic, attachment-based parenting, and so I made the judgement call to do something for Daughter for a change.
In the midst of all the defending of myself I had to do, I made sure they had some defending to do themselves. I asked why I was not allowed in these sessions with Son and the Social Worker, and was told again that it's not attachment work, just a 'safe' place for Son to talk. I asked, as the psychologist seemed to think my relationship with Son was the root of his aggression, if we could have attachment therapy. I was told that a parent needs to be in a calm and stable place to be able to do attachment work and that as I was very 'fragile' at the moment, I couldn't do it. So I asked if I got help for my secondary trauma, could we do it then, and was told no! There is no plan to give my Son therapy! I need to do all the work at home and they will give me appropriate strategies!
So I asked for a strategy for when son screams abuse at me and starts breaking things and chucking them around. The psychologist said I should hold him and the SW disagreed and said I should stand calmly by and comment on what he was doing in an empathetic manner.
For fuck's sake!
I could go on and on with the shear awfulness of the meeting. The stuff we got turned against us, like them picking up on my Husband saying he was worried about me, and not also saying he was worried about Son. Like how we told them we spend one-to-one time with the kids separately at weekends, and being told we're dividing the family!
We are managing the situation apparently, not managing our Son. I'd like them to say that to a woman who is a victim of aggression perpetrated by her partner. Tear down all the things she's put in place to keep herself safe, and say that if she just managed her man better, things wouldn't escalate and she wouldn't get hurt.
Husband and I felt very blamed by the psychologist for our Son's escalating behaviour. I felt that my being honest about suffering from secondary trauma was used against me. I don't think she understands that for two years I have been a strong parent for our Son, that I have always put my children first. And that me asking for help for myself is not an indication of my selfishness, but of my recognition that this is taking it's toll on me and that to be in the best place to parent my kids, I need support for myself.
You'd think it wouldn't need saying wouldn't you? Not to professionals.
The whole of CAMHS is a complete mess and should be dismantled. What on earth is the point of a mental health service that takes a year to see a suicidal child? I want Direct Payments so I can bugger off and get therapy for my Son from the private sector. I don't want to have to rely on these bunch of clowns.
Son's got his session with the Social Worker again on Friday. The Social Worker informed us that Son told her that when he swears at us, we swear back! No we do not, I said! Not that I felt believed. Perhaps this session Son can tell her that we beat him and get a Child Protection investigation going, that would just be the cherry on the cupcake.

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0 comment Tuesday, July 29, 2014 |
If you've had a tough morning with the school run, adoptive mothers don't find it funny if you say to them that you are going to put your kids up for adoption.
Nor do they find it funny if you say that you're expecting a visit from Social Services later because you sent your son into school in a coat with a broken zip.
Nor is it amusing to them if you've got a bit behind with the housework and you say you're expecting a Social Worker will be around to take your kids off you any minute now.
Those are 'jokes' adoptive parents can't join in with, sorry.

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0 comment Monday, July 28, 2014 |
When husband and I did our first batch of Mother's Day and Father's Day with the kids last year, friends and family were so happy for us that we finally had children to celebrate these day.
But they were awful for us, both of them. Couldn't pin down exactly why though, but yesterday was our second Father's Day and now I think I can.
Firstly, if husband and I could have had birth children, we wouldn't have to share Mother's or Father's day with any other parent. As it is, our children's birth parents are present in mind if not body, for us as well as for the children, on both days.
Secondly, if husband and I could have had birth children, they would not have been screwed up by neglectful parenting, being in the care system and the trauma of adoption. Therefore our birth children would not be presenting us with such emotional and behavioural difficulties that meant I couldn't work, that meant sleepless nights and tears shed, that meant professional input was required.
Thirdly, our birth children would love us, which I am not yet sure our adopted children do.
Lastly, it's hard to take part in a day celebrating Mothers and Fathers when our children's birth parents - and those of the majority of adopted children in this country - were so unfit to be a Mother or a Father that their children had to be taken away from them.
So, yesterday was awful. The weirdest thing is that people who are close to us have no idea of the trauma such days bring to our family. It feels like someone died and they're being all jolly about it. Still, over now for another year.

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0 comment Sunday, July 27, 2014 |
My son. Bless him. He does make life hard for himself. For a while now I have been trying to get him to see what he does have rather than what he doesn't. I like to treat the kids when we go out, and also they get pocket money to spend, but somehow, for him, it is never enough. He can have magazines, toys, ice cream, but even as he's surrounded by recently bought treats he'll tantrum because there's something silly he's just spotted that either I won't buy him or he can't afford.
I understand that this materialism may be linked to a feeling of loss inside. He thinks he'll be able to fill in the emptiness caused by the loss of his mother with material possessions like wii games or stuffed toys. Of course, he won't, he never will, and though I have talked to him about it, he'll never believe me.
But the two month summer holiday has taken its toll on me. I feel that all the lovely things we did, all the treats he had, all the time we spent together failed to really please him, because he only ever really wants what he hasn't got. Then when he does get it, he's not bothered about it anymore. The point is always the acquisition not the actual possession. This has left me feeling drained.
Last Saturday I wanted us all as a family to go leafletting to advertise my new business. Son didn't want to go. I saw this as yet another opportunity to teach him about the value of things, that money doesn't grow on trees, that money must be earned. I tried to tell him that if this business works that'll mean more money for us as a family, that we'll all benefit, so I think he should help me put some leaflets out. He then said that I would spend all the money I earned on myself.
Well, that really got to me. Because other than the basic necessities of food and clothes, all my income and savings are spent on my family. Next to food, my petrol costs are my biggest expense and guess who I'm buying the food and driving around all the time for? I'd say my only real luxuries are make-up and books (and half the books I buy are about adoption!).
So I laid down the law to my son. Gave him a lecture on my sacrifices compared to his gains in this family. I told him that I was very close to stopping all treats, not to punish him, but so that he had a chance to learn just how much he does get and how much he actually does have. I told him that I wanted to see him appreciate gifts and treats from now or I would stop them.
So, along comes Wednesday. On Wednesdays I take my mum supermarket shopping and she buys my kids a comic each. On Wednesday, after school, my children are presented with their comics as usual. A nice treat from their grandmother. Son tantrums because it wasn't the one he wanted.
I simply took it off him and said no more. On Saturday, when all four of us go supermarket shopping, I usually buy them both another magazine (there are a lot of kids magazines on the market these days!). This Saturday, he will not get one.
I have already declined to take him out with me once this week, and took his sister instead, explaining matter-of-factly that I couldn't take the chance of him tantrumming if he saw something that he wanted that I wouldn't buy him. He didn't like it, but he took it on the chin.
I wonder how long I will have to keep this up for and if it will ever work.

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0 comment Saturday, July 26, 2014 |
I am an introvert. Nothing benefits me more than time on my own to think my own thoughts and do my own things. My inner-world is a flourishing place and that doesn't need much external stimulation. Too much time with people, even people I love, drains me.
It's a struggle for me then, to have two extrovert children. They did not appear to be very extrovert when we first read about them, which was several months before we got to meet them. My son barely spoke, apparently, and my daughter was chronically shy. But the children who I read about in Foster Care are not the children that they have become since living with my husband and I. They are now a couple of lively kids with big personalities, masses of energy and a huge capacity for fun. I am immensely proud of how they have flourished.
(Yes, there is a 'but' coming ... )
But, they are BIG on nonsense chatter. They seem to need to fill up every single waking moment of every hour of every day with words, and those words are mostly complete and utter nonsense. To an introvert like me this quickly becomes like nails down a blackboard.
My daughter in particular seems to need to verbalise everything that occupies her mind at any one moment: 'Mummy, Pretty cat is lying on my bed.' 'Mummy, Sue is in her garden.' 'Mummy, when I move my foot like that it makes a noise.' 'Mummy, this toy has whiskers this one doesn't.' 'Mummy, you bought those Cocopops didn't you?' Whilst away on holiday recently we had a day trip out somewhere and she sat next to me on the bus there and back. By the end of the journey I was ready to hack my own ears off with a rusty blade in order to get some peace and quiet. She faithfully reported to me everything her eyes fell upon. On the return journey I tried several things to get her to stop her nonsense chatter, including pointing out to her that I was not blind and that I could see for myself that people were standing in Bus Stops; that the driver was using his windscreen wipers; that there was a house with some windows etc. She didn't stop. She couldn't stop.
With my son, his nonsense is more argumentative. So we get, 'Why have I got to put my coat on?', to which the answer is 'Because it's raining,' to which his reply is, 'No it isn't,' even though more water is pouring from the sky than Niagra falls could manage in a minute. 'No it isn't' to things that are 'blatantly are', is his trademark. He asks a nonsense question, gets a simple answer, and off we go, his chance to keep your attention by engaging you in complete and utter nonsense. I never correct him when he does this, because what he wants is the to-and-fro of the 'yes it is' 'no it isn't' argument, which he will continue until the end of time. What I do is ignore him and then distract him by talking about something else or giving him something else to do. Family members though, have yet to learn this simple trick, and they get stuck in the 'yes it is' 'no it isn't' argument with him until I come and release them from the hell of their own creation.
You can imagine, then, what it is like when my two children are together. Between them they can keep up a cacophony of nonsense for hours. In fact, I have learnt that - rather like with eating puddings - they simply do not know when to stop and will keep on and on until they make themselves ill. I have the odd task, therefore, as a parent who has to occasionally separate two children who are playing really well together!
Nonsense chatter and nonsense questions are difficult ones for an adoptive parent. On the one hand, this need to keep up a wall of sound comes from a deep insecurity handed to them by their neglectful background, I talk, therefore I am, and I am going to make damn sure that you know that I am here too! So it's not like you can just ignore them. In fact, simply ignoring them causing them great distress. They stop feeling safe.
On the other hand, it is such a dysfunctional, infuriating and disrespectful way of communicating that it cannot be allowed to carry on unchallenged. I have tried, with some success, to put in place boundaries for when I am available for nonsense chatter and for when I am not available for nonsense chatter. I am no longer worried about 'damaging' them when I tell them to take their chatter elsewhere when I am on the phone, or cooking tea, or attempting a reverse park maneuver. But their desire to engage me in complete and utter guff has not levelled very much since their time here with us. I have now completely abandoned any hope of being able to watch any TV programme together without expecting a running commentary from them both on what my own ears and eyes have already detected for themselves.
Sending them back to school today then, after an almost continuous three and a half weeks off school due to Easter, Bank holidays and Royal Weddings, was not only most welcome, it was much needed. Although, only one hour away from picking them up, I can say that already their bedtime can't come soon enough.
p.s. if you're a struggling adopter dealing with this in your child or children, check this quick video out made by the ever helpful Christine Moers.

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0 comment Friday, July 25, 2014 |
Before I forget, I should report that whilst Daughter was away, we had the Grandparents over so that Son could apologise for his behaviour. Both Husband and I briefed the Grandparents well beforehand and they did not make it easy for him, brush off what he did like it was no big thing, or bring him presents and offers of future treats, all things I was worried that they would do.
They sat on the Rug of Truth and Trust with him and after he had said sorry, and then upon request explained what he was sorry for, he squirmed and wriggled as we all talked about how in this family we do not hit, kick, hurt of swear etc...
He was very hyper by the time bedtime came, shame making him very uncomfortable, but he still let his Grandparents put him to bed with no trouble.
Next up, we take him and Daughter over to Grandparents' house and leave them there, during the day, for a couple of hours. The idea is to build up the trust again.
Son had news of his year groups residential course coming up in March. He wants to do it. His sister has done one and his best mate is going, and so he wants to go. Of course, by the time the course came around, he wouldn't want to go. It would completely freak him out. And there is no way he can handle being away from me and his home for four nights, no way.
Plus, he needs to earn the privilege. Daughter earned it and we made it clear to her (and Son) just how she earned it.
I had that chat with him about it all and he started wailing. When he stopped I explained that that was part of the problem, that he needed to be expressing himself more with words and less with emotional outbursts.
So he told me he was angry at me because I wouldn't let him go.
I told him that I wasn't letting him go because of his own behaviour. He didn't handle an overnighter at his Grandparents, and completely lost it last time they babysitted, so no, he'd have to show some real improvement in his behaviour before I let him do a school residential.
He said he'd never get better, so I talked about the progress he had made since I'd been his Mummy, and I stated a few examples of how he used to react, but doesn't anymore. Perhaps he can be ready for next year's residential, I suggested hopefully.
No, he said, he won't be, because his stupid Birth Mother taught him to hit and he'll always hit.
I said I thought it was sad he thought like that, and that I thought he could do it.

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