“The work of my children.”

15 02 2014

GM has been hovering around the edges of the adoption social since coming across it at a conference back in November.   It’s a place for fellow and prospective adopters to link up and share stories and experiences. The theme for the weekly adoption shout out is the work of my children and this gets GM thinking.  There’s the work involved in raising Lolly and LML, this labour of love that is the main focus of the mostly functional parents energy. It is never ending and all consuming, but when GM thinks about the title it is the pictures stuck up in the hallway, the paintings and objects that litter the house, the school books and the tablet pictures that she thinks off. It is the work that the girls have done.

Over the week GM studies the pictures, painted piggy banks and ducks, the self portraits on the tablet, the collages and colouring books. The tale they would mostly tell, to a stranger entering the house is that it is inhabited by toddlers. Maybe a three and a half or 4 year old. LML and Lolly have just about reached the same stage as one another in terms of their mark making. The mostly functional parents are thrilled that both the 5 and 8 year olds have recently become much more deliberate in their mark making, indeed LML has started not only colouring in, but colouring inside the lines!! In colours other than black!!

It seems that maybe LML is eventually becoming interested in, or at least aware of, the product of her work as much as the process. Until recently all creative activities have very much been focused on the act of producing, rather than on the end result .. To the extent of having to battle LML for the biscuit mix, just to get some in the oven! Baking doesn’t seem to have moved on much, but in other creative areas LML and Little Miss are each making their own progress.

Both children seem to have taken a step towards understanding the written word, both writing their names over and over, repeating the read, write, ink rhymes (“nk, I think I stink! nk”). Lolly sits with the Which? magazine on her lap, pointing at different letters. “d d d dad”.

GM remembers drawing, colouring and making as a child and hopes that one day her children may be able to develop the interest and skills to enjoy this type of ‘work’. If only so that they could self entertain for more than a few minutes without the aid of electronics!





Spec’tacular

12 02 2014

Lolly really does not want to wear her glasses and now she needs an eye patch. The mostly functional parents have read books with roll models wearing glasses with her. They point out the people Lolly knows and likes that wear glasses.

GM has decided it is time to bring in the big guns …

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The eyes have ’em

4 02 2014

GM receives a text from CD “Erm…. Um…. (Whispers tentatively)… Lolly lost her glasses in school today”

GM can’t delete the expletive that bursts out, and heads in the office turn in her direction. She explains that these are the new (2 weeks old) glasses, that were fixed last week, after Lolly pulled one of the arms off. These replaced the last pair that were broken and mislaid repeatedly, so were replaced with a more comfortable, better fitting pair. There were the other two pairs as well of course, one run over in a car park, the other ‘accidentally’ dropped in a river.

GM is just glad that after the last visit she told CD (in no uncertain terms) that he would be going to the opticians the next time!





Juggling

31 01 2014

It is 6.15 in the morning and GM finds herself sitting on a child’s chair in the kitchen. She feels a slight breathlessness, resulting in regular sighs and explores that feeling of teetering on the edge. She checks out the physical signs of stress and takes some deep breaths, trying to calm her heart and relax the tense shoulders, to still the slight trembling in her guts.

She doesn’t know if she has dropped any balls .. Suspects that she has. It’s been a busy week at work, and she knows that although she has achieved much, she is not as organised as she needs to be, is likely to have missed something that will rear its head at a later date.

GM’s gut drops as she remembers … being late to pick Lolly up from after school club was definitely a dropped ball. She has been tearful and clingy ever since, GM having to provide lots of cuddles and support. GM doesn’t know how long it will take to repair, with the busy weekend ahead.

It’s the weekend of ‘the wide a wake party’, a celebration of GM’s father’s life, where her nearly 90 year old dad can bask in the warm glow of his loving family and friends. It is a happy event, which her children are not invited to. LML they would be too disruptive at the day time meal, taking attention away from the star of the show, so CD will be home with the girls whilst GM attends the meal.  She will then dash home for a short while and return to the evening ceilidh with CD, leaving the LML and Lolly with a good friend. The whole day fills GM with a confused mix of feelings, including the anticipation of the fallout they will be dealing with for who knows how long. Sunday will have to be a calm walking day with nobs on.

GM starts the washing up, thinking about the long conversation she had with the head teacher the day before. LML is not coping at school at the moment. Not at all. Her behaviour is increasingly challenging and difficult for Lovely TA to manage. She is being more oppositional than ever before, push push pushing Lovely TA away, before she disappears again.

Later, sitting on the bus going to work GM tears up, swallows past the sudden lump in her throat, as she thinks about her mum. So so poorly. Back at home from the hospital, but still experiencing hallucinations; a frightened, confused old lady, in the final stages of COPD, becoming rapidly more frail and dependent over the past few weeks. Her heart aches with the recognition that her mother may be approaching the end of her life, in a difficult and traumatic way. She feels guilt and regret that she can’t ‘be there’ more, for her mum or her amazing sisters who are providing so much of the support and daily care. GM takes another deep, calming breath, as she gets off the bus, forgiving and blaming herself simultaneously.

At lunch time GM calls Big Sis to see how she and her 3 day old, tiny 4lb 10oz baby son is doing. GM and CD are excited to be grand parents for the second time, but also desperately worried. Although Big Sis’s partner does not appear to be physically abusive he is certainly controlling, and comes from a tough background, having an extended family with a history of involvement with the police and social services. GM thinks about how hard it is to judge what is happening from 200 miles away. She wants to be reassured by what she is being told by Big Sis, but she and CD worry about what might have happened to baby Jim in utero. The call that GM makes goes straight to voicemail, so she leaves a loving message and hopes to hear from her step daughter later in the day.

GM leaves work early, relieved that the working week is over, and makes her way home. Lolly greets GM with enthusiasm and spends the rest of her day following GM from room to room, rarely letting her out of her sight. LML is feeling tired and is close to taking herself off to bed at 5.30, so GM gets the paints out, which entertains the girls for the next half hour. The family have a lovely evening, playing, laughing and loving. Throughout it GM is aware of how deliberate their parenting is, how little true spontaneity there is. The mostly functional parents cuddle and comfort, are playful and directive, and so so mindful of what is happening with their daughters. The girls go to bed, CD cooks whilst GM prints something off for the party the following day. By the time they have eaten they are too tired to do much more than watch the TV.





The week that was

19 01 2014

GM sits on the sofa. Its ten past six on a Sunday morning. LML has her first breakfast and juice, GM her cup of tea. Cbeebies is on, LML mesmerised by the Teletubbies. GM thinks about the day ahead, about what she needs to do to have a better day, for them all to have a better day. Stay calm, remember PLACE, be playful and spend a chunk of the day outdoors .. Its a plan of sorts.

GM sighs. It’s been a tough week. Lovely TA has been off sick all week. GM purses her lips as she thinks about LML’s teacher waxing lyrical about how well LML has dealt with the changing TA’s, how much more compliant (GM’s word!), focused .. It feels like the list goes on. The teacher doesn’t see the anxiety, stress, anger, confusion that comes out at home. LML misses Lovely TA desperately, but doesn’t speak of it. She talks a lot about missing her lost Cheeky Monkey (that is a whole other sad tale), hits out at Lolly and generally finds self regulation impossible without significant support from the mostly functional parents.

All week LML has been enjoying the challenge of getting into the mostly functional parents bedroom early in the morning, the focus to ensure that both parents are awake and available. This means that whichever parent has got up first has to be hyper vigilant to stop her going upstairs. Any lapse has resulted in a bolt for the stairs and a early awakening for the parent who is supposed to be getting a lie in. They are tired, feeling stretched thin. Everything seems a little more brittle, a bit more precarious. Really it’s the same as always .. Just more so, thinks GM, as she sits LML on her knee for the fifth time that morning. “Feel your heart racing sweetheart, drop your shoulders. Take a deep breath and blow out slow slow slow ..” She instructs and explains and hopes that one day LML will understand what it is to be calm.





Measures of success

12 01 2014

OK, so the first “can I get off mum?” came at 2.42 .. but that is 12 minutes into the half hour lesson, nearly half way! GM did have to put LML on to the wide, stubby legged Bumble, struggling and grasping at her mum, shouting “No, no, NO!”.

This weeks trainer has some interesting games for LML to play, which hold her attention intermittently, and LML is asking her the odd question by the 20 minute mark. They do the occasional trot, some figures of eight. LML finally gives Bumble a surreptitious pat, unprompted and spontaneous.

The session ends and LML runs towards GM. When asks if she has enjoyed ridding bumble she says yes. GM is still uncertain.

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Drip. Drip. Drip.

7 01 2014

It’s a conversation that GM has become familiar with over the past couple of months.  LML goes through her teddies “Monkey? Who gave me that?”, “Betty bear?”, “Stripy Cat”. She lists her soft toys as GM confirms the gifter .. “Mummy & daddy”, “Aunty J”, “we did”.

Today is slightly different .. “Who gave me this” she asks, holding up a white teddy that usually lives in a  box under the bed.  “That was a gift to Lolly from your birth parents LML.”

“Do I have one?” she asks.

“Of course you do, look the gifts from your BP’s are here, safe in this box”, GM pulls the box from under the bed. The girls have been playing with the clothes and toys inside it for weeks. “We keep them in here to keep them safe”.

Lolly goes to bed half an hour later snuggling up with the teddy her birth mum gave to her.





Music to his ears …

4 01 2014

CD is sitting in the passenger seat, a look of disappointment on his face. “It’s empty” he says of the CD case he is holding “I was really looking forward to that!”

GM glances to her side to see what he is holding and snorts with laughter .. He is holding Lolly’s Christmas CD … Disney Princesses Sing!





Updates#1 – Lolly

31 12 2013

Lolly is 5! GM looks at the strapping stropping (not so) little girl with amazement. She has grown so much in the past 6 months, physically and developmentally.

Lolly has friends at school, although GM often worries about some of the things Lolly tells her .. Is Lolly being bullied? Is her emotional delay and her social ‘oddities’ marking her out as a victim?Just how vulnerable does her neediness make her? GM gently probes her youngest daughter but find nothing that she can put her finger on. CD does most of the school run and is not overly worried, so the mostly functional parents just watch and monitor, question and often worry.

Meal times have recently become her favoured battleground, with most meals being refused. The mostly functional parents are having to find a balance between LML’s need for regular fueling and not allowing snacking between meals for Lolly. They haven’t quite got there yet!

Lolly has attended a gymnastics class from September .. GM has the honour of taking her, and has watched her oh so slowly grasp the ‘rules’. Lolly and another child have to be repeatedly brought back on task by the teachers, she I’d more ‘clumsy’ in her movements than her parents expected, and is not as confident on the equipment as she us in a playground. GM was delighted though, when Lolly said that she would like to continue to attend. She can see the small steps of progress that Lolly has made, and knows that this will continue. Lolly finds getting up and off early on a Saturday morning painful and unpleasant (she really isn’t a morning person!), but she enjoys it so much when she gets there. She has also joined a street dance and drama group, with very similar issues of confidence and her ability to follow rapid or complex instructions.

Last but not least, Lolly is funny and sociable, sensitive, caring and affectionate. She loves loves loves her cuddles and physical contact. She often plays the baby, asking to be rocked or bottle fed and pushing her way up GMs top to be “Your baby in your tummy mummy”. She can switch from happy to major strops in the turn of a pin, and can be aggressive and violent towards LML and her parents. She is charming and chatty to strangers and always finds a playmate in playgrounds.

Lolly had a very tough introduction to the mostly functional family, being assaulted by her big sister unremittingly for the first 6 to 9 months, and having a mum that had to spend even longer than that, faking it, until eventually making it. Given all that, on top of her early start, Lolly is doing fine. She is lovely and loved and loving.





On sharing …

6 10 2012

Lolly is having a big tantrum, as GM has just taken the big fat worm from her.  “LML found the worm Lolly. If you want one find your own.” she says, and carries on planting onion sets.

A few moments later LML runs down the garden shouting for her sister, “Lolly, Lolly, here worm! Worm for you Lolly”.  LML is roundly praised for good sharing and the girls carry on playing happily together.

CD sees Little Miss putting the worm into her pocket and remonstrates with her “it is a live creature Lolly, it does not belong in your pocket” …

Lolly laughs and runs to GM, producing the worm with a proud smile “How kind of LML to find you a worm,” she starts to say “oh, half a worm! Oh LML! You gave Lolly half YOUR worm …”








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