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Brains, RAM and virus protection!

Published March 28, 2018 by thefamilyof5

I’m a pretty organised person, I’m one of ‘those people’ that starts Christmas shopping in January, has birthday gifts purchased weeks in advance and has a collection of varying sized and varying coloured envelopes for all eventualities. Yup, I’m one of those people.

Well, I used to be. Yesterday I suddenly realised it’s Easter Sunday THIS Sunday! I’ve no eggs for the Easter bunny to hide in the garden or gifts for the girls (because they’re lucky enough to get many many eggs from friends and family). I’m thankful for my Amazon Prime account right now.

So whats happening to me?! Have I broken?!

No, well, not yet. It’s a distinct possibility for the near future though if I don’t clear out my busy head. My head is so busy that when I try and think, some kind of whirling spinning motion begins in my head with thoughts flashing past so quickly that I can’t even see what they are.

I know I know, I’m a mom, I’m supposed to have a busy head, I’m supposed to be planning tea, mentally keeping an eye on the washing basket, remembering to load/unload the dishwasher, feed the cat (Oh and our newly arrived Hamster), water the plants, iron the shirts (that’s literally all I iron, life’s too short for ironing!!), do the shopping, pay the kids club fees, keep the kids (and husband) alive.

Simple eh!

No, not simple, my brain isn’t doing any of the above because it’s too busy doing all the other crazy shit that is my life.

Always having to stay one step ahead of three ‘not to small any more’ people, always having to pre-empt what their reactions to things will be, reminding them to wash their faces, ensuring they’re brushing their teeth, checking they are wearing appropriate clothing for the day, sniffing hair as they depart the shower to make sure it was actually washed, keeping an eye on footwear, does it still fit? They won’t tell me if it doesn’t, constantly having to keep plans in my head until the last minute so they don’t get anxious, listening to everything they say as well as everything they don’t say.

In my head right now I’m keeping a hair appointment for Friday a secret, a trip to Nanny and Grandads for Easter dinner Sunday a secret, an optician appointment for big girl next week a secret, a day trip with grandparents in the holidays, a visit to see cousins next week a secret, even plans to visit the farm for Easter dinner supplies and possibly lunch in the cafe tomorrow has to remain in my head until tomorrow. I can’t even reveal that we may go out for dinner bank holiday Monday whilst Daddy is off work, as much as they’ll enjoy it, they won’t manage knowing this stuff before it happens.

Then there’s the longer term stuff, holidays, meetings, birthday parties, weddings, which incidentally are a nightmare, imagine trying to keep an upcoming event a secret whilst simultaneously ensuring everyone has an outfit to wear, nightmare! Preparing for a meeting with all this stuff in my head is also a nightmare, I’ve been trying to refresh my brain on everything attachment lately for the meeting with big girls school (which was rearranged for the end of April) but as soon as I pick up one of the new shiny lovely smelling books that I bought, my brain starts thinking about something else ‘is our gas and electric on the right tariff?’ Or ‘have we got enough milk for tomorrow’s cereal’ or ‘why did big girl mention xyz eleventy billion times earlier, is it a problem?!’

Honestly, my brain has no filter, my filing cabinets are full and my virus protection is failing, the blue screen of death is fast approaching. And I still have no eggs for the Easter bunny to hide!

Consider the blog my ‘to do’ list, I’m hopeful I just freed up some disk space 😉

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Big girls first lesson.

Published March 18, 2018 by thefamilyof5

It’s been a really tricky few days here with big girl, it’s been building up for several weeks. She’s been gradually distancing herself from anything and everything family related. No interest in her sisters, or speaking to any of us, no interest in making the intricate models she’s grown to love, nothing. Her only interest has been school, and school homework/practise. Unusually, I had absolutely no idea why all this was happening. Usually I can identify a specific trigger but as this was a gradual build up (again unusual) I really had no idea what was going on.

A brief chat about something Tuesday quickly escalated to violence and aggression. It became super apparent that we were all still traumatised from big girls violence from last summer/autumn. We all crumbled under the strain quickly.

On Friday big girl came home from school in a state I can only describe as ‘manic’. I’ve never seen her behave that way before, MrFo5 and I were ready to call an ambulance as we were convinced she was having some sort of mental health breakdown. She was laughing hysterically whilst shouting aggressively, demanding me to ring a social worker to take her away, not making sense, incoherent speech, it was scary to see.

4hours I talked with her, and after 4 hours she was a little more like herself again whilst I resembled goodness knows what. It was an exhausting 4hours.

I now know what Overwhelmed looks like. She was completely overwhelmed. There had been an event in school and she’s found it scary and overwhelming. She told me about various other things that she finds difficult in school, noisy dinner hall, relaxed boundaries, and feeling a bit lost at break and dinner times were the most notable. She didn’t tell us before because she doesn’t need us now she has friends (she said). Saturday she remained hostile but was markedly calmer.

Sunday, today, I shared with her a theory I’d had at 3am whilst my brain was frantically still trying to process the previous 48hrs and some of the garbled nonsense she’d blurted out on Friday, particularly about peers talking negatively about their parents.

My theory was that big girl is now actually making friends, she’s socialising with other children, having actual conversations and social interactions, something she’s never experienced before. The friends that she’s socialising with, even though it is a special school, are still way ahead of big girl emotionally and socially. She may be leaps ahead of her class academically, but that’s where it ends.

So in reality she’s learning what its like to be a friend as a 13yr old, without having learnt to be friends as a 6yr old, or a 10yr old so she isn’t familiar with the friendship/peers/being a kid rules. All kids bitch about their parents at school, all kids make out that they have the worst family ever, but most go home, snuggle on the sofa, watch TV, chat, share some Pizza and just generally do the family thing. The bitching stuff in school is just showing off, bravado, but of course, big girl doesn’t know this.

She seems to have a friend that is particularly vocal about her terrible family and how awfully they treat her. Big girl likes her, wants to be her friend so she copies. She doesn’t know the rules though. She doesn’t know it’s just showing off and she has been convinced that this friend really hates her family, really goes home each day and has an awful time. So big girl did the same she said. Only she doesn’t have an awful family that treat her badly, she generally quite likes her family, but to ensure she is just like her friend and can be liked even more by her new friends, she continues the showing off game at home.

I shared my theory with big girl and after a little bit of thinking she told me about some of the other things this friend has said, and photos she’s shown her, that actually show that she is very much loved by her family and very much happy to be with them. She began to see that what the girl was saying, wasn’t necessarily true, just a thing that kids do.

Today she has been lovely, she has played with her sisters, sat with her family, laughed and joked and listened to music with us. It’s been a good day, the best for months.

I’ve encouraged her to begin a new trend at school whereby it becomes cool to openly like your family, because she does, I’m hoping the teachers jump on the idea and use it to bring more positivity in to the classrooms and playgrounds.

Here ends this lesson on ‘showing off’ for big girl, until the next one, there will be many more lessons to come I’m sure.

Here comes the sun…….

Published February 7, 2018 by thefamilyof5

It’s taken me a while to write this, I feel a huge amount of guilt over what I’m about to write, ashamed even, but I can’t deny it.

Since big girl went back to school, I’ve felt happier. So so much happier.

It’s not even that I’m feeling happier because I know she’s at a good school. I’m feeling happier because she isn’t chipping away at my smile from the second she wakes to the moment to goes to bed. It wasn’t until she wasn’t here with me 24/7 that I realised how much her negativity (aimed always at me), was effecting me. I know it isn’t her fault but the change I’ve felt in my own sense of worth and mental health has been huge. I know she’s just a child, a very anxious child at that, but her negativity is so draining. I feel awful. What kind of a mother feels happier away from their child.

“I can’t do that”

“That’s stupid”

“I’m not doing that”

“It’s stupid”

“It’s rubbish”

“I hate it”

“I won’t”

All worded in a way to imply that it was all my fault, that I was stupid, that it was my fault she couldn’t do it, that it was rubbish because of me, that she hated me.

Even when she was being remotely positive, it was still negative.

“It’s nice, but not as nice as the cake I had before”

“It was a funny film, but not as funny as….”

“It’s been a sunny day, but yesterday was sunnier”

“I had a great day, but my best day ever was….”

Can you see? It sounds so petty now I write it down, but the negativity was killing me. 24/7 sucking the life from me. Baby girl and Middle girl felt it too.

I would wake each day with a positive fresh outlook and every day she would gradually chip away at me until I ended my day full of gloom and despair. Big girl has always struggled with her relationship with me, needing me, but pushing me away, wanting to love me, but unable to allow herself. All of her anger and hurt has always been directed at me, her violence too.

My days still begin fresh and positive, and hers still negative. My days are now happier and filled with sunshine and laughter. Home educating baby girl and middle girl has become more fun and easy going. When big girl returns from school, seemingly after a good day, she still brings that bag of negativity with her, she throws it at me sometimes, but now I’m stronger, so I just pocket it and move on. I wonder what she does with the bag all day at school? She must pocket it too, saving it all for me when she gets home.

They say that children from trauma backgrounds often project the feelings they have about themselves, on to those around them, which is incredibly sad.

I’ve tried so hard to build up her confidence, fill her with positive experiences, happy memories and love. But always she’d focus on the negative. Big girl has never been able to talk about, manage, even face her feelings. She would rather die than even think about how she feels inside. Perhaps thats why she projects so much negativity, easier to throw it at someone else than it is to face it.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, I don’t have a way of making everything OK for big girl. School, whilst she’s currently managing it, isn’t addressing her needs on a deeper emotional level, in fact, it’s probably just offering her a distraction from them. The medication she was prescribed last year, again just another way to avoid what’s real. The 4+ years of therapy she had was unsuccessful, she wasn’t able to engage. I’ve not been able to get through the wall, or even get her to acknowledge her own wall. She tells me nothing. Ironically, her teacher emailed me only last week and commented on what a lovely relationship big girl has with me and how lovely it is that she is able to talk to me. Goodness knows what she’s told them but realistically it’s just another way for her to avoid reality. Fake is safer. Fake is something she excels in.

For now, things are better. Baby girl and middle girl are enjoying their learning, I’m happier and mentally stronger, Mr FO5 is benefitting from all of the above and big girl is seemingly doing OK and enjoying aspects of school. So for now, I shall pocket my guilt along with big girls bags of negativity. The sunshine is here, and we shall bask in it for as long as we can.

Next chapter…

Published December 31, 2017 by thefamilyof5

2017 is almost over, it been a pretty awful year for us for so many different reasons. I won’t go on.

2018 looks to be full of new beginnings and new chapters. Big girl will complete the final part of her transition to her new school before immersing herself in the wonderful possibilities and opportunities it will offer her over the coming years. She is understandably anxious but also very excited. 

Baby girl and middle girl will continue with home education, with a little more tuition planned, lots more growth and the promise of more flexibility and opportunity within their learning also. They are understandably apprehensive about the changes afoot but will soon settle in to their new and more active routine I’m sure. 

This new chapter will hopefully bring more confidence for all of the girls with waves of new found self esteem and positive experiences. We will continue to learn and develop as a family. 

We will try really hard not to be so fiercely independent and learn to ask friends and family for help when we need it. We will continue to appreciate those people around us that share their love and support with us and we will continue to offer the same.

We would like to wish you all peace, health and happiness for 2018.

Our new adventure!

Published November 8, 2015 by thefamilyof5

We made a tough decision over half term, it had been on the cards for quite sometime, over a year in fact, but the issues we were experiencing with high school made it all just feel like it had become ‘too much’. So we de-registered all of the girls and have decided to give ‘Home Education’ a go.

School has always been an issue for the girls. We originally started with a large primary school, after 3 years we made the decision to move to a smaller one in the hope the girls would begin to feel safer. Even with masses amounts of support and understanding from the amazing staff at primary school, the girls still struggled. Then big girl moved to high school, and well, the less said about that experience the better I think!

So here we are. We’ve just completed our first week. Its actually been much better than expected. I expected exhaustion, frustration, an unkempt house, a piled high laundry basket and bickering kids! I expected it to be an absolute nightmare!

Its been nothing like that! When we made the decision, which the girls were all involved in and given the choice about, they instantly relaxed, their sleep that evening improved dramatically! (I think that says it all really). There has been no bickering, at all! I’m not exhausted and the house and laundry have all been managed! There hasn’t even been any of that stressy, sweaty stinky pong (there was lots of it half term, they were worrying about going back to school they said! In fact, its actually been quite a lot of fun! The girls stress levels have all reduced dramatically and life feels so much easier and happier in our house right now. I can already feel my relationship with the girls blossoming and MrFO5 has been able to become more involved too.

I didn’t really plan on doing much ‘learning’ for now. I thought we’d spend some time getting out of the routine and practices that school came with. It hasn’t quite worked out that way because the girls have all wanted to ‘do learning’. So along with baby girl insisting that we keep ‘morning break’, we have already put some structure in to our days and have devised somewhat of a timetable for our week, it doesn’t look much like a school day, its much more flexible, we even did some learning (Sunday) today!

We’ve included daily diary writing, swimming, science experiments, math, spellings, hand writing practice, and have even joined some local Home Education groups!  The girls have been amazing, they’ve become so eager to learn. They love writing their diaries each morning and showing me their sentence structure or neat writing or how they used a good ‘describing word’. They sit at the table for written work without fuss, they listen and they hear, even baby girl! We’ve incorporated learning into nearly everything we do, so much so that they all keep pointing out the ‘learning’ or asking what the ‘learning’ is. When MrFO5 gets home each evening they’re all super excited to show him their work folders and tell him what they’ve learnt that day and what exciting adventures we’ve been on.

There is so much that we have done this week that I couldn’t even begin to list it all, so here is some of it:

I’ve accessed online resources both free and paid for

We’ve carried out experiments about colors and noted our findings

Learnt about what some of the vital organs in the body do

They’ve played educational games on their tablets and even learnt about ‘algorithms’

We’ve been learning a new song that we found on youtube

We written some poetry about popping candy, that was a lot of fun because of course we had to eat it first!

They’ve all learnt how to spell at least 7 new words each.

They’ve swam over 100 meters each

Had fun with paint and glitter at an Art Club

Made new friends

Learnt about different types of measurements in the park with tape measures

We’ve laughed, smiled, and snuggled a lot!

Like I say, there is just too much to list, and that’s just this week!

We plan to get a math tutor in the new year. We have music tuition lined up. We have plans to visit science museums, art galleries and historical places. We may even do our own Christmas performance for friends and family to watch. I’m hoping to finally get round to being able to do some baking with them as well. We’re even hoping now they’re sleeping better that they will be more able to manage some extra curricular clubs and activities. Middle girl really wants to go to a Dance class! We do hope to get them back in to some sort of formal education later on, perhaps for college. We may need to look at getting a cleaner in once a month, we may need to employ the services of an ironing company (only for Mr FO5 work shirts, us girls are happy to wear creases). We may even need to change our car to one that’s more economical now we’re doing more than just the school run each day. So we may also need to do the lottery more often too!! 🙂

I’m not naive enough to believe it will always be this easy or that they will always be this willing, or that it wont get exhausting either but for now, it really does feel like we made the best decision for our girls and I just wonder why we never did it sooner!

Homework

Published September 16, 2015 by thefamilyof5

So big girls homework tonight, after a whole 6 days in high school is ‘draw a time line of your life from birth to now including any special events’.

So here is a timeline of an adopted child (I’m making it up so you get the idea of why this homework was so inappropriate). I wonder how they’d feel if this was what she handed in.

Born in 2004 I had to stay in hospital for a while because I was addicted to heroin the nurse that cared for me was called Mary.

Christmas 2004 I was hungry and left to cry for 8 hours in my car seat whilst my parents got drunk and smoked weed.

Jan 2005 The police came to my house because me and my siblings had been left home alone.

May 2005 I was abused by my moms friend, he said it was a secret but I think its ok to tell now.

Christmas 2005 my dad hit my mom until she was unconscious and we spent the night in hospital, the nurses were kind and fed us, I had coco pops.

March 2006 the social worker visited and found me and my siblings wearing dirty clothes and dirty nappies. Mom was asleep upstairs drunk, Dad was out.

November 2006 was the first time my dads friend showed me porn on the tv.

June 2007 my dad was sent to jail for stabbing my grandad, my grandad died.

Feb 2008 my mom tried to kill herself by cutting her wrists. There was a lot of blood. My older sister called an ambulance. At the hospital I had a cheese sandwich.

March 2008 my baby sister was born, she had to stay in hospital for a while because she was poorly and kept crying.

July 2008 I had to go to hospital with a broken arm, my mom told the doctor I fell, but I didn’t.

November 2008 the social workers and the police came to my house and took me and all my siblings to another house and said we had to live there. My mom didn’t come with us and I forgot to get my purple teddy.

June 2009 the social worker told me I’ll be having a new family.

November 2009 my baby sister went to live with a new family, the social worker said I’ll never see her again.

Feb 2010 I went to live with a new family, my brothers and sisters didn’t come with me, the social worker says they’re too old to have a new family and I’ll never see them again.

September 2010 I started at my new school, it smelt funny

March 2012 is the last time my birth mom wrote me a letter, it was on flowery paper and smelt of her

Feb 2013 my birth mom killed herself, they told me she took some pills

April 2014 I got a letter to say my older sister hanged herself because she was so sad

September 2015 I started high school

I don’t think I really need to say any more about this do I.

** Edit**

I urge you to share this fictional timeline post far and wide, spread the word, lets educate our educators.

I’ve linked this up with #WASO over at The Adoption Social where you can read lots of new great adoption blogs.

Siblings & Trauma by Force Four Coaching

Published May 21, 2015 by thefamilyof5

Parenting a traumatised child is incredibly hard. Parenting two or more is practically impossible – whether it’s only one of them who has significant trauma or if it’s all of them. It can result in issues that can be painful, exhausting and guilt-inducing, and decisions that are emotionally agonising.

http://www.forcefourcoaching.com/siblings2.html

This is a really great article. I found it to be very validating. Big girl is really struggling right now and meeting her extreme needs as well as the ever increasing needs of her sisters is hard, too hard. I feel like I’m failing. This article helped me today. I’m not alone. I’m not a failure. I’m doing the best I can. It’s not my fault.

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