Here’s big girl, in half term last week, playing with her baby doll, her favorite thing to do.
When she goes to school, even though it’s a special school, she feels a huge amount of pressure to ‘be’ her 14 chronological years.
Big girl is a 6-7yr old in a teenagers body, what you see is just a facade. People see a teenager and interact accordingly. The girls in her class assume she can handle their friendship woes and talks about their teenage worries, they even ask her for advice. The boys see a pretty girl and flirt, expect an appropriate reaction when they flirt with her despite her not really know what flirting is, or what it means. The teachers see an academically able, smiling teenager and wonder why she’s in their school so they load her up with expectation and responsibility.
She’s crumbling under the weight of other peoples expectations and pressure.
She so desperately wants to fit in, and her mimicking skills give her the drive to respond as expected. Thus creating the illusion, and with it comes increased expectation and pressure.
Life overwhelms big girl constantly. She is unable to manage her emotions. She doesn’t understand them. She can’t verbalise them. She can’t self regulate. She erupts. Violently.
In an ideal world she’d have stayed in primary school forever, I even remember expressing this view when the time came to move. Primary school age is where she has always been most comfortable and she has never progressed from this. Yet she is academically able.
She came home from school today a jibbering wreak of psychotic hyperness. Laughing manically, high pitched voice, strange gestures and mannerisms, not making any sense. It quickly moved to anger.
I don’t know how you help a child who can’t cope with the life society expects of her which then makes her expect it of herself?!
The numbers just don’t add up.
Where does someone with those numbers feel like they fit in?!
I have 3 children, not just 1.
I’m just reminding myself, but mostly others. I’ve spent 8 years fighting for support for big girl, but there are 2 other equally special little girls that also need support, and a Mommy that isn’t preoccupied and exhausted with school appointments, support services, CAMHS, medication, trauma and violence.
Those people that make it so difficult for big girl to get the help she needs, also need to know that the walls they put in place effect all of my children, my entire family in fact.
Hope you guys sleep well at night.
So, apparently it’s national adoption week, it’s pending arrival passed me by. I’ve been preoccupied talking with emergency social workers, police men, mental health professionals and tending to my bruised body, broken heart and traumatised children.
So here we are, it’s that special week every year that organisations and champions really push adoption in what’s basically a recruitment drive. The stories of the children who ‘only need a loving home’ to grow up in, or the siblings that ‘want a new mommy and daddy’, or the child that ‘just needs to be loved’, you know how it goes. Tag lines, catchy phrases, heart wrenching photos of sad looking children that just want to be loved.
We have a loving home, plenty of love to share. Our 3 easy to place (apparently) children got their new mummy and daddy. Doesn’t stop the trauma. Doesn’t stop the violence. Doesn’t stop the heartache.
Well, I’m done with #NAW, I’m done with organisations painting pretty fairy tale pictures and avoiding the truth of the matter. Adoption is NOT for the feint of heart! Its nothing like parenting a birth child! Its a relentless battle for help that no one’s prepared to pay for! Its being blamed, judged and shunned! Its emotionally and physically exhausting! (I’m not even sure exhausting is a strong enough word?!).
I’m tired of fighting for my children, for the support they need and deserve and being passed from pillar to post, blamed or ignored.
Would I recommend adoption? No, never. I love my children with all my heart and I will never give up on them, but would I recommend it? No. Uh Uh, no way!
If all those organisations that use money and power to push this drive every year for new recruits, instead used that power and money to push for better support and understanding, maybe less adopters would feel so let down and misled, maybe more children would get the support and understanding they need and more people would be making informed choices to adopt.
*Sorry if this isn’t the fairy tale post you hoped for, it’s been a really rough few weeks (more like 8years!!) and my positivity appears to have gone missing (died a slow painful death!).
How does attachment ‘look’ in school.?
For big girl, it looks like she is very capable. She has a avoidant attachment style so will do everything she needs to do to avoid any kind of dependant relationship with a teacher/adult. She learnt in her past that adults can’t be trusted or relied upon, in fact sometimes, they can even be dangerous.
So in school she will appear capable and competent because any sign of weakness may cause her teacher to try and help her, and she can not possibly allow that to happen, ever. She will volunteer for things she feels the teacher might expect of her, she will choose to lead her group and even opt to be the spokes person for her team. All of these fill her with absolute fear and terror. None of that matters to her though, her only focus is to not need any kind of relationship with anyone if she is to survive.
She will do everything she can to hide any sign of weakness, she will mask her fears and anxieties and ‘cope’. It’s not a positive experience for her, she feels no sense of achievement and next time it happens it’s equally as terrifying. There are no benefits to her self esteem or mental health for her to be this way.
When she comes home, and she feels safe, she knows she’s understood and her fears and anxieties are finally allowed to be shown.
How does your child’s attachment ‘look’ in school?
Great article for teachers and school staff here, can you identify the students in your class here?
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.
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 😉
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.