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All posts for the month March, 2013

The Supermarket Challenge

Published March 30, 2013 by thefamilyof5

A conversation that took place today whilst trying to attempt a trip to Sainsburys………

Me: right let’s go, can you carry the bag for me please baby girl
Big girl: do we need 2 bags?
Me: no one will be fine.

*we get in the car

Baby girl: can we get a trolley?
Me: yes a small one
Baby girl: but I wanted to sit in it *sulks
Big girl: can I get the trolley cause she’s carrying the bag, its fair then
Me: yes ok
Baby girl: I didn’t want the bag *sulks
Big girl: can I push the trolley
Me: no I’ll push the trolley
Big girl: oh I thought I could push it *sulks
Baby girl: if we get some shopping can I put it in the trolley
Me: yes you can help me
Big girl: we could take it in turns so its fair
Me: yes ok
Baby girl: can I give the shopping to the lady?
Me: yes you can help me
Big girl: can I put the shopping in the bag?
Me: yes you can help me
Big girl: if we need bread can I choose it?
Me: we don’t need bread
Baby girl: we might need cake?
Me: we don’t need cake
Big girl: can I carry your bag?
Me: no I’ll carry it because it has money inside
Baby girl: can I carry the keys

Me: *insert therapeutic reply (what I said certainly wasn’t therapeutic)

* we arrived at Sainsburys

The conversation continued along the same lines with lots of ‘can we get’ ‘I like’ and ‘those look yummy’ etc.

Next time, I’m going alone! I only needed Cream Eggs!

To Play, or not to Play…………………………

Published March 29, 2013 by thefamilyof5

‘Play’ is a topic that often fills me with frustration and despair.

You’ve heard the saying 2’s company and 3’s a crowd, well its never been truer than it is here. Remove any one girl from the equation and the chaos and competitiveness of their play departs and calm is restored.

But dynamics isn’t the only issue with play that we struggle with. There are many difficulties around play in general for my girls, mostly because the leader of their little pack, the one that they all look to for guidance and reassurance, has very few play skills. I’ve no doubt that big girls ASD plays a big part in her lack of ‘play’ skills and imagination, but as the eldest, her younger sisters are following her lead.

Baby girl has a wonderful imagination, she can play for hours with something as simple as a cracker toy and loose herself in an imaginative world of fairy’s and unicorns. She’s expressive and fun and imaginative.

Middle girl also has a good imagination and great concentration skills, she will focus on her task/toy and immerse herself in whatever activity she’s chosen. She’s determined, eager and passionate.

Big girl has the attention span of a gnat and the play skills of a goldfish. She has no interest in games as these require turn taking and playing fair. She lacks the imagination to be able to play with toys and is generally only happy when she’s ‘in charge’. This means most of her play is based on learnt behaviors/roles. For example she’ll play ‘teachers’ providing she is the teacher, or ‘mommys and babys’ providing she is the mommy. She also struggles to entertain herself which means she constantly manipulates and controls her sisters in to playing what she wants to play.

The end result of this is that baby girl and middle girls ‘playtime’ is suffering. They don’t get the opportunity to use their own play skills often because they become sucked in to big girls version of play whereby they become bossed around and treated as inferior beings whilst big girl dominates over them.

I’ve tried everything to free them from her grasp, I’ve separated them and made them play alone but big girl really struggles with this and will require 1on1 attention from us, which if she gets, evokes jealously from her sisters thus distracting them from their own play and defeating the object.

I’ve assigned specific activities, but again big girl will struggle with this and will manipulate her way in to their activity or entice them in to hers, honestly you have to see it to believe it.

I’ve even removed big girl from the equation, she attends an after school club for an hour a week, but its just not enough time for it to be of any real benefit to her sisters.

We have every toy you could imagine in our playroom, there are piles of toys gathering more and more dust each day, we have building and making, dolls and tea sets, cars and horses, books and puzzles, arts and crafts, music and films, dressing up and imaginative play. But with big girl not having the skills to use these items, or the ability to learn the skills, we may as well have nothing, for in the playroom, she is the leader of the pack.

2 Sides to Every Story – The Schools Side

Published March 22, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Continued…………

So it seems my 3 girls did all managed to excuse themselves from class just like they told me! The series of events they described to me actually happened.

The deputy head at school approached me on the playground today, I braced myself for a defensive story. What I got was an admission of guilt and an explanation as to how it had happened.

As I suspected the teachers had each assumed that the girls had been summons by the office to attend their dentist appointment and allowed them to leave class.
We now know this was not the case.

School has assured me that this will never happen again and that ALL staff have been advised that they are not to release a child from class based on the child’s hearsay and that a member of staff or parent should be accompanying them out of the classroom.

I do feel confident that this particular scenario won’t happen again, however it has raised huge concerns within me about the unpredictability of the girls, this wasn’t a group decision, they didn’t collaborate a plan during their lunch break, they each individually made these choices, albeit the same choices.
Something inside them that day told them that they had to be responsible for themselves, they had to make sure they got to the school office ready for their dentist appointment themselves, they couldn’t trust the grown ups around them so needed to take matters in to their own hands in order to survive, just like before.

They did it remarkably well too, not that I’m surprised, not a single bag or lunch box was left behind, they remembered everything themselves, big girl immediately took on the role of carer and the other 2 followed her lead they didn’t NEED anyone’s help, they know how to survive.
Once I arrived at school and took over from big girl they relaxed, they were safe again, and the anxiety they’d held in became obvious almost immediately.

My girls can survive, they can keep themselves safe and they can take care of their own needs. But they need to see that the world is a safe place now and the grown ups around them will take charge and keep them safe.

That day, the school failed to show my already insecure and frightened girls that they would keep them safe. Instead their teachers allowed them to be in control which made them revert to those survival instincts once again.

Needless to say I will be making sure ALL their teachers keep a closer eye on my unpredictable frightened little girls in future!

2 Sides to Every Story – The Girls Side

Published March 20, 2013 by thefamilyof5

There are 2 sides to every story, but today I’ve only heard the story from my girls, so for now, I can only tell you what they told me, I hope to get the other side of the story soon.

The girls had a dentist appointment today, I told them, like I would for any other appointment, in the car on the way to school this morning. I explained that I’d be at school to collect them a little while after lunch.

I got to school at 1.40 as I’d pre-arranged with school the previous day. I was surprised to see my girls waiting for me when I arrived as usually I or one of the office staff would go and collect them from their class, but didn’t think much of it at the time, I just assumed the office staff had been proactive.

I ushered the girls in to the car and we left. I glanced in my mirror and noticed baby girls face was all red and puffy, I asked her if she’d been crying, she said she had because middle girl had been threatening to ‘tell’ on her (never figured out what for). That’s when it all came out.

It would appear that for some reason, today, they each decided to excuse themselves from class?!

After returning to the school building after lunch, around 1pm, middle girl passed baby girl in the corridor and told her ‘you need to get ready remember’. It would seem that baby girl took this to mean that she needed to collect her things and leave. So she told her teacher ‘I’ve got to go to my appointment now’ and she left. She headed for a small seating area by the main entrance.
Once she got there she realised that middle girl wasn’t there so decided to head over to her class and tell her teacher ‘middle girl needs to come now for her dentist appointment’ and so she left too. They both then headed back to the seating area.

Big girl’s lunch finishes a little later, around 1.10pm and she is situated in a different part of the school. Once she returned to her class from playtime she decided to tell her teacher she needed to go, as she had a dentist appointment, and she left.

So all 3 girls are now sat in the seating area near to the main entrance and school office, their teachers having released them from their classes I’m assuming having believed they’d been summons by the office to leave, and the office it would seem were unaware of their whereabouts and given the layout of the area the girls were out of their sight also.

There was some further wanderings of the corridors retrieving items they’d forgot, there was an incident involving big girl ‘telling off’ baby girl, and another involving middle girl threatening to ‘tell on’ baby girl all of which resulted in tears from baby girl, and judging by the state of her face when I collected her, quite a lot of tears, so quite a commotion from them I would imagine.

So who was supervising them? Who was keeping them safe?
If this series of events really did happen just as they’ve told me then anything could have happened and no one would have known they were ‘missing’ until I arrived at school some almost 30 minutes later.

If this series of events really did happen just as they’ve told me, then why did it happen, why did they all suddenly decide that today they needed to excuse themselves rather than wait to be collected like usual ( and we’ve had a LOT of appointments I can tell you!). The unpredictability of this makes me worry that they could have just as easily have decided to leave school via one of the unlocked doors in an attempt to ‘meet me’, who would have known they’d even left.

Needless to say all the girls were very anxious all afternoon, which is hardly surprising IF they’d been left unsupervised.

All of the girls have been and can be unpredictable, but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined them to have been capable of excusing themselves from class.

Tomorrow I plan to find out the other half of this story, I desperately hope its very a very different version, to the version I’ve been told today.

To be continued…………..(always wanted to write that)

Story Time

Published March 16, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I love to read, I love books, we have tons of books, so many that I don’t think they’ve even all been read yet, I can’t walk past a book store without bringing at least one home.

I’ve tried so hard to instill my love of books and stories into my girls, I’ve encouraged reading, I’ve taken them to buy books, I’ve let them choose books, I’ve read with them and I’ve read to them.

We have funny stories, heart warming stories, stories with a life lesson and stories to help us understand our feelings. We have big books, small books, short stories and novels, we have ones off’s, collections, traditional stories and modern stories. We have stories for new readers right through to stories for competent readers, we pretty much have a library.

So you’d think they’d at least have a favourite wouldn’t you, a story they like to read or listen to over and over, a story that warms them and makes their hearts smile.

No.

Instead story time is just another opportunity to control. A competition between siblings to see who can ignore me the most and who can talk over me the most. It doesn’t matter that they’d actually like to listen to the story, their need to control the situation and compete is far greater than their need to hear about Baggy Brown, or Albert Le Blanc, or even The Tiger That Came to Tea.

I’ll continue to read, and for now they’ll continue to ignore, but I won’t give up, because maybe one day they’ll listen and allow themselves to fall in to the wonderful world of stories where possibilities are endless and dreams are limitless.

Loss

Published March 15, 2013 by thefamilyof5

After a busy swimming class I tucked my baby girl in to bed tonight, and like every other night I said

‘Snuggle down, straight to sleep’

She replied with

‘Cause you and daddy won’t leave each other will you?’

Needless to say, we had a good chat about how mommy and daddy love each other and always will and how we’ll always be her mommy and daddy and we’ll never leave her, ever.

I’m not sure what prompted this little chat, could be many things, we have a recently divorced neighbour and also a family member going through a separation or perhaps it was something said at school or a story that was read or a tv programme watched. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know.

It makes me so sad that on top of all the loss that baby girl has suffered in her short little life already, she still anticipates that there may be more.

Needless to say I’ve told my husband that no matter how unbearable a wife I may become, he’ll just have to put up with me, I promised her you see!

All kids do that……..kinda!

Published March 11, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I had a meeting today with the psychologist from the ASD place that’s working with us to address big girls sleep issues, yes she struggles to sleep too, its not just middle girl!

However, I’m not blogging about big girls sleep or middle girls, I want to tell you about my meeting, well not even really the meeting but more some of the things that the sleep psychologist said to me.

She said those words that all adopters loath to hear ‘all kids do that’ but then she added something very important, she said ‘but with your girls very more so’. She gets it!
She talked about competitiveness and how most kids are competitive, but how its more extreme with kids from backgrounds like my girls! She gets it!

She talked about attention seeking and how all kids do it, but with children like mine its so much more intense and difficult to handle. She gets it!

She empathised and validated everything I said! It was really quite surreal, if I didn’t know better I’d say she was an adoptive parent herself!

I’ve never come away from a meeting and felt that the professional I’d seen really ‘got it’, but she did!

I often struggle to find ways to explain how parenting my girls is different to parenting a birth child, its so complex that I struggle to find a simple explanation. A good friend of mine shared with me what I consider to be a wonderfully perfect analogy of adoptive parenting.

Apples and Onions
As parents we all grow our children, many are apples, few are onions, growing our children is in many ways the same, but with onions its more complex because they have so many layers, therefore it is different!

There are so few that really ‘get it’, let’s spread the word! 🙂

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