Tag Archives: behaviour


16 Jun

7 a.m. and the bottles of Rosey in my belly basement started to rattle with despair and morbid dread, but I maintained poise and was the epitome of fake inner calmness.

“These trousers are scruffy. I look like an idiot. Everybody is going to laugh at me”.

The brand-new school trousers bought to replace the hole-ridden pair that have been flapping around his ankles for the past few months were scapegoated in this morning’s rather baffling outburst.

Pickle had woken up in a grump. Nothing was going to be right today.

His ever-growing defiance in the face of my often overly dogmatic ideals is becoming a challenge and a half!

It was literally a trouser-duel-at-dawn!!

The shiny new, downtrodden trousers, which were so looking forward to their debut playground outing, were simply cast aside with rude disdain while the tattered and worn pair cackled their victory with their large mouth-like holes.

The trousers were off the hook. Of course, they were. They weren’t going to steal all the glory. This wasn’t about the trousers; this was a Pickle morning. Albeit a more prodigious one!

The trouser rumpus, turned into a breakfast rumpus, turned into a teeth-brushing rumpus. You get the idea!

So after Pickle’s preferred approach of choosing to sit on the top step of the stairs screaming, “I don’t want to go to school. School is boring. I would rather have a punishment than go to school’, and after refusing breakfast, refusing to clean his teeth, refusing to put his shoes on, Gherkin and I hopped gaily into the car, birds tweeting around our heads, with a sullen Pickle dragging his shoeless feet behind us.

As the engine started and we set off down the road, Pickle chirped, “I want to brush my teeth”. Well, rats and blimin’ bastardry!!!

Rightly or wrongly, I ignored his request and drove off to school. Explaining that the time had passed in which he could change that particular behaviour but that he could still put his shoes on as a way of rectifying things. However, his recalcitrant nature re-emerged and again he flatly refused to cooperate.

Outside school, there was no way he was getting out of the car. If I wanted him out of the car, I would have to “get the headteacher”. Oh throw me a challenge, please!

Needless to say he got out of the car – without the need for the headteacher -, still shoeless, but now wailing that I was horrid and mean, and that he hated me. I flashed a sublime rictus grin at the passing mother with her perfectly behaved, merrily skipping children and slowly walked towards the school entrance, shoes in hand.

After a few paces, he called me back. The switch had rocked back for a fleeting moment, he put on his shoes as his watery eyeballs leaked down his cheeks.

Once in school, the fist-clenching, growling and head-thumping began. Sadly, that is how I had to leave him….

…with a cuddle, an ‘I Love You’ and in the capable and patient hands of one of his favourite teaching assistants.

And I was left exhausted and wondering…..who exactly wears the trousers around here?


Whistle a Happy Tune

16 Jun

6.30am: I woke to the twittering beaks of calmness. A dawn chorus of complete and utter inaudible noise. I could hear the distant silence beyond the silence. Perpetual tranquility rolled like tumbleweed over my duck-down duvet, filling me with a sense of apprehension and generating an uneasy breeze which tickled the tiny hairs on my face (teeny tiny ones, the non-testosterone-fed type. OBVS).

A shiver rippled down my spine. Goosebumps appeared on my bumpy geese. I felt agitated, uncomfortable, on edge. I raised my head from my pillow, peering owlishly like Mr ‘wot-no’ Chad (only with a much smaller and cuter nose) over the edge of the duvet. I looked all around me.

For a moment, I was unsure of where I was. I was confused. Was this my bed? My house?

I crept tentatively down the stairs, my heart lurching with each creaking step. My head could make no sense of what was happening. I suddenly felt like a visitor in my own life. An onlooker. I glanced down at my hands. They seemed to be mine. But without a Bacardi glass, it was hard to tell.

With bated breath, I shuffled to the end of the hallway, caressing the floor with my bare feet, desperate not to make a sound. I could hear a clinking sound, or was it a clunking? I wasn’t sure. It sounded a bit clinky and clunky.

A whistle. Was it a whistle? Yes, I could hear a penetrating whistling sound. It was shrill. Harsh. Tuneless. My catatonic brain couldn’t deal with its piercing invasion. I winced.

I paused, too scared to exhale. I stood there. Frozen. I needed to exhale. I really needed to un-bate my bated breath. I exhaled. Thank God. I regained my composure – and my breath. My heart was now pulsating so violently – probably from quasi-asphyxiation – I could feel it in the back of my throat.

Curiosity drove me forwards. I felt an innate fear swelling inside me. A tsunami of terror gripped my entire body. I was afraid to see what was clinking. What was clunking. What was whistling behind the white, wooden door.

I placed my trembling hand on the cold wood, not before noticing there was a strange blue crayon mark. It looked like the letter P.

P? P? Was it a code? I mentally noted that a bit of elbow grease would whip that off in no time. No time at all.

I pushed the door. It glided smoothly and effortlessly, like a diaphanous ghost entering the room.

Clink. Clunk. CLINK. The clinking or clunking continued to reverberate in my ears. Whatever – or whoever – was making the noise had not detected the unvoiced, wooden, ephemeral intruder. I closed my eyes, and mustered up all the courage I could, then took one careful and graceful step onto a huge pile of eggshells.

I strained my eyes open.

Seated at the head of the dining table, was what looked like a small boy. My small boy. My small, fully-school-uniformed ( including spade-sized shoes) boy eating his non-hemlock-laden Weetabix, inelegantly made by his own mammoth hands.

I beamed. Still wondering if I could be in some form of parallel universe, I gave him a bear hug and an undoubtedly noxious kiss.

He grinned and fired his opening salvo at me:

Mummy, look at me-I’m dressed-I’ve even got my shoes on-I’ve had my breakfast-I’ve put my jumper on myself-I’ve brushed my teeth-I’m ready to rock-n-roll-Are you proud of me?-Has my x-box game arrived yet?

6:45am: The cynical sun rises.

Day 4 or 5 (I’ve lost count) on loop. Immaculate, impeccable behaviour.

Day 1 or 2 (I’ve lost count) of one hidden Xbox game.

Sssshhhhh! I’ll ‘fess up tomorrow. I promise.

The Joy of Grandparents

14 Mar

It’s our parents’ job to worry about us and shield us from the harsh realities of the world outside As we, in turn, will do with our own children. But when does the worrying stop? Well, it doesn’t! Irrespective of our age, our parents will always be concerned that we are making the right choices in life.  Worrying is intrinsic to our very being.

At 26, I got the top of my left ear pierced. I remember my mum saying, “I get you to this age, married off, with no hitches, and then you go and do a stupid thing like that”. Annoyingly – as I’ve been told so often and as I will no doubt tell my own kids – mums are always right. It’s something I now deeply regret since my ear cartilage has subsequently rebelled and I look like I could have hailed from the Planet Vulcan.

So then at the grand old age of 36 (and 38 for OH), we go and do another ‘stupid’ thing to worry both sets of parents, we go and adopt a child! A stamped, marked, branded difficult-to-place child!

It never entered our heads when we embarked on this undulating journey: the fact that our parents would inherit the impact of our decisions, that they would be forced to accept a non-biologically related child as an integral part of the family, that they would feel the pressure to develop an emotional connection with a tiny tantrum-toting tyke.  And aside from that, as carers for the kids every Friday night, my parents would also have to be interviewed by the social worker and undergo CRB checks. They would have to be open and willing to do this. To take on the impact of a decision we made.

They did this readily and without question.

Both sets of parents were concerned about whether they would ‘take’ to the child, whether they could love him/her in the same way as a birth child, how we would feel in the future when that child wanted to contact his/her birth parents. All of these are very common concerns of grandparents in adoption.

Thankfully, Pickle never gave them a chance not to ‘take’ to him or love him. His boundless love, humour and energy make it pretty impossible for even complete strangers not to take to him on first meeting. Not that it has been an easy ride for them at all.  My parents still believe that they are some 4 or 5 months behind in terms of managing his behaviour, gaining his trust and developing security.  He pushes buttons with them that he dare not push with us. For OH’s parents, development is dragging even further behind. Primarily because they live a few hundred miles away and we only get to see them every couple of months.

A supportive family network is a crucial crutch when going through the adoption process.  The extended family is vital for helping to build and consolidate attachments and to create that all-important sense of permanence in an adopted child’s life.

This post is really just meant as a big shout out, pat on the back, and huge whoop whoop for all those grandparents who have inherited the ‘stupid’ decisions we kids make.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Do Pickles Thrive in Greenhouses?

9 Mar

This week started with Pickle’s teacher highlighting the fact that Pickle “isn’t quite where he should be in terms of his reading”…and yes he is only 5. I shan’t start quoting the statistics and findings of our Scandinavian friends at this stage The tone of slightly twisted bitterness is actually sugared with a sprinkling of gratitude for her bringing this issue to my attention.

As we parents know, raising children brings such huge responsibilities, but somehow – to me anyway – the job of bringing up an adopted child seems to be just that bit bigger; often generating that feeling of, ‘Am I really the best person for this vastly important job?’

Granted, the past 2 years have been primarily focussed on Pickle’s security, stability and his challenging behaviours (don’t you just love that expression). I have been complacent; I have been a Naughty-Step-Nazi; I have admittedly pushed his learning to the back of the what’s-most-important queue.

So now I am left with yet another feeling of inadequacy but not one which is insurmountable (at least I hope not), with (a lot of) time and effort. Nope……Not inadequacy over Pickle’s slow progress, but rather over my own personal lack of creativity, my lack of patience and my general ‘can’t-be-arsedness’.

I took the easy option. I went to school. I played the ‘I’m-just-no-good-at-this-sort-of-thing’ card and I got me a pitiful face, and a list of games and ‘helpful resources’.So here I sit armed with websites and leaflets and bingo sheets in an attempt to focus the attention of the least focussed child in Pickledom. I have printed off worksheets. I have stuck words on doors around the house. I have my ‘dabber’ at the ready. I am literally about to hothouse my 5-year old…did I say he was 5? I am literally about to stick another label smack on the head of my adoptedbehaviourally-challenged 5-year old.

No chance. You know why? Because he’s bloody clever, he’s also incredibly bloody-minded. He’ll get there, but it will be on his terms and when he’s ready. I reckon that’s a strength of character to be hothoused (just until he’s 6, of course!).

In the meantime, I’m arming myself with cuddles….

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