Archive | May, 2012

Rant

31 May

There is no purpose to this post other than to rant my little tushy off. Yes, I am proclaiming a LITTLE tushy. That’s the exquisite charm of the Internet.

It’s been quite some time since I posted. This could be down to a number of reasons:

1) There has been illness in the family which has paled everything else into frivolous insignificance and has ultimately meant I couldn’t be tushi-ed.

OR

2) Pickle’s behaviour has worsened again and I am suffering a cerebral battle of wits with myself and a delightfully destructive and downright contrary little 5-year old. I appear to be pointlessly searching for answers to his impudent deportment that are basically non-feckin-existent.

OR

3) I have had blogger’s block.

Actually, it’s a combination of all three.

After several days of school-holiday hullabaloo, I have turned into the new, modern-day Medusa. Full head of tousled, hissing and spitting snakes, writhing agitatedly in aimless abandon. Wary. Edgy. Awaiting the next unexpected bout of insolence or aggression. But without the powers of being able to see over my shoulder, behind my ears, under my armpits, OR of being able to turn small children (and Other Half) into stone.

Now, if I could, THAT would be seriously SICK (as my now 10-year old would say)!!! It would be like having an integrated pause button (couldn’t be a permanent mutation) at the tip of my cornea. I could halt any given moment that fecked me off. It would give me the time to think before dishing out a string of erratic and inconsistent punishments, which simply lead to the kids proffering that look of scornful disdain at the crazy-noob-woman.

I know it’s the same-old ‘routine’ issue that’s causing Pickle’s metamorphosis into utter horror-bag. I know it will settle again. At school, there are many more distractions, quick-changing activities and professionals trained in exercising the virtues of patience which make Confucius look like Victor Meldrew. I crave this kind of patience. Consistent patience, I mean. Maybe if somebody paid me to be patient, I could actually BE patient. *rubs chin *dials for careers advice.

I’m inclined here to blame surging hormones for my surging stints of (im)patience but since I am now a contemporary Gorgon and can turn men/small boys into marble with my post-feminist glare, I shall refrain from any girly diatribe.

Confucius say: “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”

Confucius do not say how the feck to start in the first place.

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Pickle’s Profound Philosophy (2)

22 May

A few weeks ago, the Reception class were learning about 3D objects.

Pickle:   Mummy, did you know a 3D circle is called a fear?

Me:        *sniggers.

Pickle:   And a 3D triangle is called a jail?

Me:       *puzzled look.

Think you’re mistaken with that one, Pickle. Oh ohhhhh, you mean a prism.

*sniggers more.

 

 

 

Pickle’s Profound Philosophy (1)

15 May

Sitting around the dinner table discussing a friend [Badger] who has recently adopted a little girl [Squirrel].

Pickle: Who’s Badger?

Me: He’s Squirrel’s daddy. You remember Squirrel?

P: Oh yes, she’s adopted.

Me: Yes that’s right. Do you know anybody else who’s adopted?

P: Yes. Me. I used to be adopted.

Me: *smiles. What does ‘adopted’ mean, Pickle?

P: It means when you’re a tiny baby and you live with foster carers until your real mummy and daddy come and find you. That’s right, isn’t it Mummy?

Me: Yes, babe. That’s right.

*smiles *heart melts.

Clever Pickle.

Silent Sunday

13 May

Adoption Scorecards

11 May

According to statistics, there were some 65,520 children in the care system last year, of which 3050 were placed into adoptive homes.

There has been much talk in the press recently about the government’s plan to introduce a scorecard system, which aims to assess the performance and, primarily, assess how quickly individual local authorities place children for adoption. The ultimate goal is to tackle unnecessary delays in the process.

It currently takes an average of 21 months for a child to be placed with an adoptive family. The government is aiming to reduce this to a year and the approval process for prospective adopters to 6 months.

In principle, this seems like an effective approach. I of course would like to see an improvement and acceleration in the system. However, in speeding up the process, my fear would be that the quality of the placements may be adversely compromised, which in turn could lead to more adoption breakdowns. A points system which potentially consists of ticking boxes and meeting predefined targets, possibly over and above the needs of the child, could have a detrimental effect on the success of a placement. An adoption breakdown would have a devastating and damaging impact on a child.

My simple, layperson’s view – and I realise it isn’t as straightforward as this – would be to strike a much better balance between a more efficient system and the quality of the placement, taking account of other areas which affect the speed of the process, such as the difficulty in finding appropriate homes for the different types of children in the care system (sibling groups, ethnicity, special needs) as well as an improvement in the effectiveness of the family court process. I wonder whether performance indicators could create perverse incentives which may not always be in the interest of the child.

For me, adoption is about achieving a secure, permanent, loving base from which a child can grow. Any kind of conveyor belt approach of churning children out so that local authorities can stay in the government’s good books by attaining specified targets, makes me feel very uneasy. Children must not be deemed a commodity.

I wonder whether prospective adopters would be deterred if their local authority is underperforming?

Post-placement is a crucial time for adoptive parents. I wonder whether there should be increased focus on encouraging more prospective adopters to make the huge leap of faith by ensuring that they receive adequate support to guarantee a successful adoption outcome.  Would it not be better for the government to invest in this support and provide families with much needed help so that the risk of breakdown is minimised?

All the efficient processes in the world are surely futile if there is no after-care for the parents.

Would it not also be helpful to increase support and monitoring of social workers to reduce their pressure, rather than applying additional stresses in the form of government-set targets?

Or maybe I am talking utter twaddle.

What do you think? Is this points system an effective enough and uncompromising approach to shortening waiting times for children in care and for prospective adopters?

Gherkin’s Feelings on Adoption

7 May

This is a guest star named Gherkin. And this part of the blog is all about how tough it is for me and for every child who has had such a change and impact to what has happened to them over the years they have been through the adoption process.

4 things that have been really hard for me over the past few years

  • The urge to retaliate and to do to Pickle what he does to me to show him what it feels like but I really think that that is the wrong thing to do.
  • The pain when I get bit and really hurt.
  • When he calls me names they are just words he does not know but they still get to me sometimes.
  • The thing about doing things different to what I would usually do and trying to keep my calm is very difficult.

4 things that have been good about the past few years

  • The feeling of giving Pickle a new home.
  • The feeling I get when he thanks me and cuddles me.
  • When he looks up to me.
  • Seeing how far he has come.

If you are thinking of adopting I think you should do it because it is a thing that you will not regret. Just forget about the negative and look at the positive. You will give a wonderful child a new loving family and a brand new house to live in.

In a Party Pickle

7 May

Make a wish

Earlier this afternoon I stood in the doorway, hooks a-tentered, as I waved Pickle off. He was on his way to join a mayhem of 6-year old little monsters for a birthday party.

Parties have become a bit of a nightmare for Pickle. In his words, he ‘gets scared’. He categorically refuses to put his shoes on – the very same ones he loves to launch at me – and firmly anchors himself to the nearest floor, chair, step, person. There have been tantrums, but recently the tears and wobbly, protruding lip have taken over.

It didn’t start out this way. Parties were always previously an over-exciting event. It’s a relatively new behaviour that has crept up on him, and us. Over time, its intensity has become progressively worse.  The initial fretful flare-up was just before the very first party that Pickle went to without me. OH was the ill-fated shepherd on that occasion. The fires of holy hell leapt up and burnt our unsuspecting plates of meat.

That particular (not-so-)merrymaking was a ten-pin bowling party. Pickle had been bowling once before on his debut outing with his paternal grandparents; an outing which ended in complete disaster. His behaviour was beyond control at that point in time. He ran off through a busy car park with two elderly dodderers and small Gherkin in tow. He refused to get into the car and hurled abuse – as well as his spade-sized shoes.

At the party, he refused to roll any balls. He was, however, happy enough to buzz around in his own self-contained microcosm of mayhem.

Every party since then has manifested itself in much the same way, with mounting apprehension in the moments leading up to it.

Today’s party was for a son of a close friend, who has been part of Pickle’s life from the very outset, and who is shortly to abandon us to start a new life a zing-zillion miles away in the depths of the countrified burbs; where witches perform infernal rituals and demon dogs dance at dusk. (You know who you are *glares with one evil eye).

Pickle didn’t bat an eyelid as his left for this party. He quietly asked why I wasn’t going along. I told him I had to go out, ducked, and waited for the usual feisty flip-out. Silence. I slowly opened my non-evil eye just in time to see him merrily skipping off towards the car. Result.

Maybe it’s the closeness of the relationship with my friend that has made the difference. Maybe it was the fact that Gherkin was going along with OH this time. Maybe Pickle finally realises there is no longer anything to fear from parties. Maybe being without me isn’t all that scary after all. *sulks briefly.

Smile

Who knows, who cares. I am just going to wallow in this mini-breakthrough.

Silent Sunday

6 May

Barf

2 May

[I would avoid this post if you’re planning on enjoying your breakfast/lunch/dinner]

I hate cleaning up barf. Your own barf is bad enough but cleaning up other people’s barf is barfable. Completely shamelessly, that goes for my kids too.

Pickle is poorly again. It’s the usual phlegmy chest, headache, snots and high temperature. That god-fecksaken virus that all kids get. Except mine seem to get it worse than the rest and end up having several days off school, roughly every six weeks. The doctor can doing nothing for a virus of course, so it’s sticky, sickly sweet, syrupy meds all the way. They’re enough to make anyone puke.

I’m not even going to go waste finger-time talking about the kids in this post… I’m far too fecked off about the barf.

You see, Pickle didn’t do the easy task of hurling to Ralph in the bathroom. Oh no. He had to barf up in the car. Of all the places. We had literally just pulled up right outside the house. Inconsiderately, pickle couldn’t wait to share his techni-coloured chunder with the back of my seat, the childseat, the seat next to him and the floor. As if that wasn’t enough, as I jumped out and reached over him to try to unplug him from his strait jacket of a seatbelt, he practically yacked in my lughole.

He’s vomming, I’m gipping. He’s crying, I’m aaaack-ing, he’s apologising (I did weaken at that point), I’m semi-smiling, mouthing a half-hearted it’s-alright-it-doesn’t-matter. All the time thinking, this is going to barfing well stink my car out. It’s going to linger for days and make me want to barf each time I get in it.

Inside the house, I strip child of his clothes and settle him on the sofa. I venture back outside with a sponge and a bowl of hot soapy water, ready to face battle with the jet spray of spew in the car.

I then hear a gurgling voice calling me. He’s only upchucking all over the sofa now. It doesn’t land in the middle, it pebble-dashes the entire barfing sofa. I cry and aaaack as I watch it trickle between the cushion seats.

Give me poop over barf any day.

The only good thing about barf is the plethora of euphemisms for the term.

What funny synonyms or near-synonyms do you have for “barking at the ants”.

[Yes, I’m bored and home alone. Entertain me!]

Bitter or Sweet Rivalry?

1 May

“I hate him. I hate him hitting me all the time. I wish HE had never come here. I never used to get angry before HE came.” The utterances of a 9-year old birth child about his adopted brother.

I have talked about this issue in a previous post (The World According to Gherkin), and I am now going to somewhat contradict myself. As times moves on, so do the ups and downs of post-adoption life.

Recently, I have noticed the red mist enveloping Gherkin in a way which is really starting to concern me. In a split second it consumes him and forces him to lash out at Pickle with a foot, or an elbow, or a random object. It is never unprovoked but it still concerns me. I see it rise from the pit of his stomach and fly out of his body with such velocity and venom, it’s soul-destroying.

There is so much written about the psychological effects of adoption on the adoptee but much less about the effects of adoption on birth children.

Birth children, who were once secure and happy, can be negatively influenced by the presence of the new addition the family. I am fully aware that this can happen generally in most families. Certain neurotic reactions, such as jealously, are to be expected.

When an adopted child moves into his forever home much emphasis is placed on the traumas to which the child had been subjected: the separations, the anxieties, the attachment issues, the lack of a sense of belonging and identity. The need to forge bonds with members of the new family is utmost in everybody’s mind. This is fairly cogent reasoning.

What can and often does go unnoticed, however, is the simultaneous trauma occurring in the birth child’s life. For every complexity faced by the adopted child, there is an equivalent reaction in the birth child. Often thrown in at the deep end with little support, he may be left to assume adult strategies when tackling unrelenting barriers head on. The subtle, even silent, dilemmas he’s struggling with are often difficult to pick up on.

Bitter-Sweet

The attention that is paid to Pickle often leaves Gherkin shivering on the sidelines. At times, I imagine, with a wry smile and an irrefutable sense of ‘what-about-me?’.

In instinctively requesting understanding and empathy from Gherkin, are we creating an underlying jealously and resentment that could impact on the boys’ relationship as siblings as they progress into adolescence and adulthood?

In encouraging Pickle to discuss his feelings of fear, anxiety and insecurity, are we unintentionally discouraging open discussion with Gherkin with regard to his confusion, hostility and impatience?

Wrapped in his invisible blanket of presumed security, does Gherkin feel that voicing his concerns will make him appear selfish and unempathetic?

Will what stems from this simply be a ‘normal’ rivalry that many blood-related siblings experience? Or will it fashion a deep-rooted sense of bitterness towards each other and/or the adoption process itself?

Does Gherkin feel that because Pickle was ‘chosen’ as part of the family that his being born into the family somehow makes him less special?

Am I forcing the relationship with my pushy insistence on friendship and a spirit of fraternity, instead of letting it develop naturally?

So many questions, so few answers.

I’m used to trying to micromanage each situation but I am starting to learn – as simple and obvious as it may sound – that children grow together. I am here to give them guidance and the tools to manage their own respect and understanding of each other, and to aid the development of their own personal and unique identities so that they can confront and overcome the challenges that adoption presents.

[To be continued…]

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