Still Pickled

6 Nov

You may (or may not) have noticed that I have been mentally constipated for the best part of 2 years.

I had been unable to find a laxative to unbung my usual verbosity. It simply dried up.

The urge to run-n-tell has been within me but, in all honesty, I’ve been struggling to form a cohesive blog.

Bah, enough of the scatology. Basically I’ve been crap. Shit, there I go again. Oops and again!

In a nutshell, Things were going well, Pickle was jogging forwards at a sloth’s pace. I started putting more into my work, I got me a shiny new office and a shiny new colleague and I started to feel like a shiny new me. Not just the adoptive mum, with the adopted kid. It felt good, taking time away to focus directly on Pickle’s challenges, proactively tackling them and not simply focusing on the negative thoughts lounging around in my head. I felt like a better parent.

So much has happened over the last 2 years, it difficult to know how or where to begin. There’s no point in going over those past months since life as an adoptive parent is pretty much a haze at the best of times. I will start from the here and now and just type whatever guff spews from my fingertips and hope it makes some semblance of sense. Forgive the lack of coherence until I get back into the blogosphere stride.

Pickle is now in a year 3 pupil. A junior.

New teacher. New classroom. New building. New rules. New expectations. New anxieties. And with these, of course, new behaviours.

Some of his previous behaviours flicker now and then, but on a much lower heat, and they simmer for half the time. Rarely boiling over with the fervid zeal they used to.

His new behaviours have been, at times, rather extreme and, let’s say, different. More short-lived, yet more aggressive. More reasoned, yet more manipulating. More intelligent, yet more desperate. And worst of all, they’ve involved self-harming.

Sitting back, watching your child hurt himself, bang his head against brick wall, thump his own head, cause purposeful friction burns on his knuckles, scratch himself until he bleeds, all while maintaining a neutral expression is possibly one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever had to do. Stressful to say the least.

There comes a point where imbibing the super-human powers found at the bottom of a ‘Cardi bottle simply aren’t enough to turn me into the virago I was hoping.

Time for expert intervention.

First port of call: school. We have called in his new teacher and the SENCO. We have drawn up a CAF and established a Team Around the Child. The first couple of meetings have been promising.

We have had a speech and language assessment. All fine. We have had a referral to parenting support, which was deemed unnecessary due to the progress he has made with us and the techniques and startegies that we already have in place. We have see the paediatrician, who diagnosed “attachment disorder manifesting itself in anxiety and impulsive behaviour”. We have seen family support worker who, as well as being on the academic case to gain as much school intervention as possible, has engaged in play therapy focusing on anger management.

Our final referral, the one I’m dreading, is for CAMHS. We’ve yet to hear back. With the recent negative press in relation to our mental health services and the generally poor feedback from adoptive parents tangled in the CAMHS web, I’m feeling rather unenthusiastic and sceptical.

But since Pickle has fought – and continues to fight – so hard to gain some control over his emotions and behaviours. I will fight even harder to gain him the very best support.

Silent Sunday

15 Jul

Countdown

14 Jul

7 more school days until the end of term.

“Whoop whoop”, shriek the small things. “Oh, for the L o v e  of  G o d”, shriek I.

7 more school days until I lose my sanity to the unavoidable repeating of the same phrases over and over again, like some oversized demented parrot.

7 more school days until I morph into a human spider, scurrying to the glut of importunate demands thrown at me from every conceivable angle.

After the somewhat disastrous previous holidays back in May, which saw us on a one-way ticket to Meltdownville, I have decided to take a more proactive stance this time around.

I aim to prevent any displays of excited anger and avoid drawing the attention of the mordant masses by completely kowtowing to my little urchins in pursuit of The Easy Life. I have a solid vision of what I wish to accomplish: peace, harmony and general survival.

So, to ensure I don’t suffer at the hands of two small destructive gremlins and find myself strung to an oscillating ceiling fan, I launched myself into a Jacuzzi of Bacardi, with a pen, a diary and the National Trust’s What’s On Guide.

I have planned to fill as many days as possible with as many exhausting activities as possible, rather than stress my cerebral synapses one iota.

It’s the fight or flight response, and although my kids know how to use the microwave and a tin opener, I’m thinking flight probably isn’t the best option when it comes to a 5 year old and a 10 year old.

So fight I shall.

I’m going to burst my bubbles of selfish escape: put down my books, put away my phone, close my laptop and overindulge my kids in time with me. I’m attempting to be going to be FUN MUM EXTRAORDINAIRE for 6 WHOLE WEEKS.

Plenty of outdoor activities. Plenty of fresh air. As much time away from the house as possible in a bid to prevent tedium and the bad behaviour it spawns, which in turn means both kids have a modicum chance of returning to school with all limbs intact and fully functioning.

Obviously, the rain is bound to come and piddle on my parade. If Mother Nature’s pelvic floor lets her – and me – down, you may have to come and retrieve my mutilated body from the blender, and reaffix the dismembered limbs that my charming little soldiers have ripped from each other.

*Bummer. Suddenly realises urgent need for rainy-day contingency plan.

In the meantime, I still have a few empty spaces on my calendar, so if you’d like me to come over and drink your coffee/tea/Bacardi, while my gremlins disable the brakes on your car, short-circuit your electrics, and set fire to your pets, give me a call and I’ll pencil you in.

OR, better still.

If you would like to provide lodgings my über-feral children for a few days – in the name of friendship – that would also work for me.

 

What are your plans? Are the hols filling you with the same imminent dread, or are you loving the thought of not having to force a fake-cheery morning grin on the school run for the next 6 weeks?

Progress

5 Jul

It’s the end of week 4 of pretty much faultless behaviour. *finds penny, picks it up *bites foot off next door’s rabbit.

My elusive absence from the Blogosphere is down to the fact that things have actually been going incredibly well. I KNOOOOOW. Crazy!! So I have been sitting here. Not breathing. Not moving. Not eating. (Have been drinking).

It’s like I’m existing in some kind of space-time continuum. Dare I say: It’s like I’m living a NORMAL life. One where birds twitter around my head, and the smell of freshly baking bread emanates from the oven. That IS normal, right? That’s what y’all have been doing while I have been drowning in the rolling waves of insanity, right?

Yup! It’s the end of week 4 of NO tantrums, NO shouting, NO explicitly aggressive behaviour. Quite frankly, it’s weird. Weird in a good way. But weird all the same.

Feeling slightly awkward with my new NORMAL life, the odd movements I have been making have involved the clenching of shoulders and furrowing of brow. In pure anticipation of the sharp shards of the eggshells puncturing my feet. But nope! Nada! Zilch! My feet are still pretty and scar-free.

Even my own natural captious demeanour hasn’t evoked so much as a grouchy retort or a spade-sized foot-in-the-face.

A couple of weekends ago, we made a snap decision to go and see the foster carers. It was a fantastic day. I no longer felt that I was an interloper, looking in on my own son’s life. All his attachments to them as parental figures seem to have dissolved. As much as he was pleased to see them, he was equally happy to leave and come home. It signified a huge breakthrough.

However, the following day at school did result in Pickle’s fist meeting a small child’s face. Several times. A minor glitch. *lifts rugs, sweeps glitch under.

Pickle seems to have suddenly developed an ability to listen and understand. But more importantly, I’ve been able to reason with him, to talk about his frustrations and he, in turn, has been able to get on top of his anger before lobbing his usual verbal hand grenades.

This more composed behaviour has meant that I’ve been able to spend more time on his learning. From being ‘behind’ in his reading, he has made some great forward strides and, according to his recent school report, “is now meeting expectations”.

Above and beyond his academic development, the words that really puffed my chest out were: “Pickle is a lovely little boy, who is always happy and smiling. He is very kind and has shown a caring aspect to his personality when he has helped other children who have hurt themselves or lost a toy”.

Minor as that may seem, that’s progress!

Sex

21 Jun

Gherkin has had his first sex education class today. The conversation on the way home was filled with sniggers. And ashamedly they weren’t his.

Gherkin: Mum, we learnt about how the body changes when you hit puberty.

Me: Oh that’s great. You’re getting to that age now. And you know babe, you can ask me anything if you don’t understand *nonchalant face.

Gherkin: The teacher said we could write down absolutely any word we liked on easel paper to get rid our giggles before we started. So, mum. Don’t shout. I wrote the words DICK and COCK

Me: Riiiiiiiiight *stifles snigger. And how do you know those words?

Gherkin: I just do. And, mum, Bob wrote the word TITS.

Me: *silently sniggers

Gherkin: But then the teacher said we weren’t to use those words and we could only use the words PENIS, VAGINA, BREASTS and SCROTUM.

Me: *silently sniggers

Gherkin: Then, the teacher said we could write any question on a piece of paper and she would answer it. But she refused to answer John’s question because he asked: What is wanking? And she said he had to ask his parents that one.

Me: *chokes back tears

I’m not cut out to parent a pre-pubescent child. Somebody come and take over, please.

Yummy Mummy Meme

21 Jun

Blimey, I’ve been ‘got’ again. The lovely Jess at Catching A Single Thought thinks I might be in the running to be a yummy mummy.

Apparently, the answers to these questions shall determine my worthiness.

Though if I pass, I will sell you my soul if you would please refrain from mentioning it to Cherie Blair. After her comments yesterday, I couldn’t bear it if she stripped me of all nail polish, my Manny Poppins, and his rather LARGE….brolly. *shudders

OK, here are the rules:

1. When answering the question give as much detail as possible.  It’s all about the finer details people!
2. Leave a comment here (Busybeemummybex blog where the meme was created).
3. Tag three or more people and link them to your blog.
4. Tweet #yummymummy when you share on Twitter.

Here’s comes the initiation:

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
CRINGE. Throw the duvet over my head, wait for the rhythmic drumming of thunderous feet, and BRAAAAACE as the weight of 6 elephants lands on my head. Then I feign a smile, whilst seriously resenting the fact that I can never wake up gradually to the sound of the ocean and defecating seagulls.

Do you shower daily?  Are you an early morning shower or an evening bath type?
Yes, of course I shower and/or bath every day. At some point. I like both equally. Choice depends on stresses of the day or which room I can escape to unnoticed in under a minute. I have been known, on a rushed morning, to act on a bit of Impulse. An evening bath will have surely followed. I’m sure. Yes, it will have. Definitely. I’m sure. *clears throat.

Do you wear make-up daily?
Abso-blinkin-lutely.  Those of you who have seen my natural beauty know there is no naturalness, nor indeed any beauty. My face was born for make-up. That or a wide, flat shovel.

What’s in your make-up bag?
A mish-mash of cheap and cheerful, branded make-up; 1 never-been-washed concealer brush; 3 cotton buds; dental floss; an old plaster (used) *hangs head in shame; a rogue tampon (not used, obviously) *redeems self.

When you’re having a slummy mummy day, what do you normally wear?
This is probably most days for me. Working from home means I tend to have my own school-run/dog-walking uniform: jeans, jumper, boots/wellies.

Nails – how often do you get them done?
I had them done for 2 recent nights out. I paid the GDP of a small country to have luscious, non-chip Shellac nails, which chipped 3 days later as I was putting my Bacardi glass in the dishwasher.

Your top tips for tired eyes?
Like ‘em, lump ‘em. Until the kids have left home. By that time, my tip will be Anusol for the wrinkles.

Are you a Starbucks or Costa Coffee kind of girl? 
Nothing beats a brew. English Breakfast tea that is. None of the liver-detoxing, colon-cleansing, flavoured muck. Since I don’t particularly like the tea in either place, I am basing my decision on the choice of patisseries. Starbucks wins by a brownie thanks to its lip-smacking, hip-packing Rocky Road. Ooh, and that spongey cake thingy with the raspberry and coconut gunk on top.

How many children do you have/want?
I have 2 rugrats, and I think that’s it for us. There has been talk of purchasing another, but surprisingly that conversation only takes place during a behaviourally-stable period. The rest of the time, it’s HELL NOOOOOO.

What is your favourite place to shop for babies/children’s clothes?
George at Asda. I utterly begrudge spending shed-loads of money on clothes that my kids will grow out of 4 hours later. I am unyielding on this one. My kids look like feral street-urchins. They don’t even have shoes. Just cabbage leaves as moccasins. But hey, that means more money for Bacardi and Porn Star Martinis.

Flats or Heels?  Everyday shoes are?
When Gherkin started school, I used to wear heels all the time. Well, c’mon, you never know when Gorgeous Hot Dad might be around.

Apparently, though, wearing heels means you’re high-maintenance. It’s what THEY say. Apparently. So I hear. I just thought they made you slightly-taller-than-average and your tushy wiggle more. These days, mainly because I need to run lightning-fast to catch Pickle, it’s the flattest of flats. Which generally means my tushy drags on the ground.

Am I in? Am I? Surely the nails get me in?

I really wanted to be a rebel and tag some yummy daddies in this meme. But I think I could be banished from the Blogosphere, and sent to live a life of prayer and penance for rule-breaking. So it’s down to the following ladies to keep the meme a-rolling.

Franglaise Mummy

Vanessa @ Vanessa Chapman

Sarah @ Glasgow Mummy

444

19 Jun

Feast your sparkly peepers on those beauties above. Those juicy, luscious positive integers. All angular and masculine in their definition.

Apparently 444 is the angels’ number. A number that signifies the gathering of ethereal Seraphim all around you, sent to guide through your thoughts, visions, feelings. Show you signs. Things you see with your physical eyes.

THINGS YOU SEE WITH YOUR PHYSICAL EYES. Right now my physical eyes are like pissholes in the snow – as my Great Grannie Annie would say – they are seeing sweet Fanny Adams at 444 in the morning. Yes, I was roused from my delicate, ladylike, non-dribbling slumber at 04:44.

Pickle was AWAKE and when Pickle is AWAKE, the world and his neighbours are AWAKE. Any attempt to ignore the across-the-landing grunting results in a gradual build-up of loud whispers, eventually reaching a crescendo of epic wailing.

Oh AND …..444 is a very powerful number by all accounts. Not as powerful as the stinking headache raging through my fod right now.

So I am UP. In all fairness, I have only been up since about 05:02.

I have a brew. I intend to have many more.

But as a forewarning: if you see me this morning, I suggest you don’t speak to me. Don’t even look at me. Certainly DO NOT smile at me all fresh-faced, bright-eyed and cleared-headed. My clenched fist may have an involuntary spasm and land on your mush.

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

*slumps into brew  no. 444

Life Story

18 Jun

Kept safely on a low shelf inside my wardrobe are 3 very special books:

One is a book crafted by my own fair, dextrous and creative hands. Lots of perspiration and profanity went into its fine production.

The book is a veritable Who’s Who of the Permanently Pickled household. It holds pictures of me, OH and Gherkin, the Olds, the animals, the car, the house. Surgically sutured into the back of the book is a DVD, containing a short clip of moi (as the protagonist) standing in the doorway, rather awkwardly and gawkily offering a warm welcome to Casa Chaos.

From the hallway, I glide towards the living room with all the gracefulness of a bag of bricks and, à la Anthea Redfern, present my loving family – just as my cousin quickly dives out of the way of the lens.

It’s cringe-worthy. It’s god-awful. It was a horrid reminder of those not-so-halcyon days of GCSE drama.

But there was a damn fine reason for putting myself into such an embarrassing position. This book and – soon-to-be-acclaimed – DVD were to provide Pickle with his first glimpse of his new forever family. The foster carers adeptly used them to drip-feed information to Pickle, so that when we finally met he would have some sense of familiarity with the random strangers he was to call mummy and daddy.

The second book is an album of photographs meticulously compiled by Pickle’s foster carers, charting his time with them. This was the most useful book to us in the early days following his transition. It made Pickle feel warm and safe to look back on the good times with the foster carers when he was feeling uneasy and at his most insecure and vulnerable. He would also understandably cry a lot and miss the sanctuary of their home. It could be difficult to sustain animated enthusiasm and a jolly tone when a frightened and anxious child was crumpling in your arms.

The final book is Pickle’s Life Story Book. Assembled by the infinite number of professionals who have flitted in and out of his life. Ultimately, this is the most important book. It’s my link to Pickle’s babyhood. It tells me the place and time he was born, how much he weighed, the circumference of his head. All those specifics that you naturally absorb at the moment you hold your newborn in your arms.

It’s factual and to the point, if not actually that detailed. It’s an honest account of the reasons that Pickle can no longer be in the care of his birth parents.

Up until now, we have only ever looked at the photographs in this book. Photos of him as a tiny baby. There are only 3 or 4. Taken on a mobile phone. Grainy with very few intricacies, like cute dimpled cheeks and knees. I’ve tried squinting my eyes to see them.

I hadn’t therefore expected him to hand me the book last week and ask if I could read the words to him. I wasn’t ready or prepared, but I duly obliged, siphoning off the inappropriate and unnecessary, and watering down the complex language. He then blurted out “Why can I not live with Mummy X and Daddy Y?” I really hadn’t expected THAT question just yet.

But what both flummoxed me and gave me the best feeling ever was when I explained to him about how he came to live with us, about how he was specially chosen. He maturely put his arms around me and asked me where was heart was.

I pointed.

He kissed the place.

Silent Sunday

17 Jun 2916_93425727655_789767655_2497816_7798049_n

Saturday Caption

16 Jun IMG03922-20120607-1334

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