Tag Archives: parenting

Are we nearly there yet?

21 Nov

After 5 years, it feels like this therapeutic parenting lark may finally be starting to filter through.

It isn’t easy and I am still guilty of wandering from the gold-paved path. It’s a very conscious way of parenting and is the antithesis of my instinctive style.

This mindful approach sends streams of information to my head that make it explode. It gets messy in there. It means I can think no further ahead than the next small chunk of time. It means I have to forego my morning crankiness and my grumbling of succinct greetings. It means I have to inhale caffeine at some ungodly hour just to muster up the strength to tackle the potential shiz that may be thrown at me.

But, as with any …erm…hobby, practice makes perfect!

I am far from perfecting this method of parenting but with each day I am finding that it is becoming less of an uphill struggle and more a series of small climbs. I am seeing the benefits and – dare I say – getting a glimpse of the rewards.

For those who don’t know what therapeutic parenting is: In a very teeny-tiny nutshell – it’s a nurturing approach that involves routine and firm boundaries imbued with empathy and compassion. It involves recognising and understanding the root causes of behaviours.

Though, mostly, it does feel like there’s a fine line between being a concerned, supportive parent and being a downright sucker.

Our children are often seen as “naughty”. They lie, manipulate, refuse to do as they are told, adopt a rude tone and appear controlling. Even when tackled and even if the child appears to grasp the “rules” of the house/school, they will often repeat their behaviours time and time again. They often have little or no understanding of cause and effect. But the roots lie buried in their traumatic early years.

Standard behaviour systems simply don’t work with our children. And certainly “shaming” techniques and removing privileges only serve to compound their feelings of shame and lack of self-worth, sending them into an enduring cycle of chaotic behaviour.

On Thursday morning, Pickle left the house just ahead of me. He swung his leg back to kick a twig on the floor and inadvertently wellied me in my bony shin. I bent down to grab my shin, making no sound, conscious that any rebuke would have a detrimental effect on his mood. But it seemed that even the innocent motion of bending down to nurse the throb was enough to reinforce any embarrassment, shame or whatever it was he was feeling at that moment.

Quick to explain that it was an accident, I reached out to place a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

Too late.

He was salivating with spite towards me, screaming that I shouldn’t have been behind him. The now blazing ball of fire thumped the car – and himself – and shot out a rapid and repetitive barrage of “I wish I was dead”.

No amount of cajoling, bargaining or distracting has an effect at this stage. The only tactic is to ignore and carry on with mock cheerfulness, knowing that any verbal intervention will simply serve to contribute to one almighty backdraught.  I have to allow his fiery plumes to die down on their own so that he can regain control.

However – abandoning my querulous self-pitying – I have to admit that his bend-it-like-Beckham moment with its sweltering consequences has been the only lemon that he has thrown at us this week.

We have had a curiously level-tempered seven days.

I am wary of projecting these words on-screen as, no doubt, they will jump out and bite my (unfeasibly small – ahem!) tushy in the coming days.

Maybe it’s a blip, maybe we really are becoming more focused in our parenting approach, maybe – just maybe – we are inching forward again.

It’s a fragment of hope and I’m clinging to it for the sake of my crumbling sanity.

Hope

Holy Crap!

29 Jun

By now, it will come as no surprise to you that change affects Pickle’s ability to self-regulate. This is common is children with attachment issues. Pickle is basically a slave to his impulsivity, he has a lack of control over his emotions and over his responses to the emotions of others.

One thing I failed to mention in my Trouser-gate rant last week was that there have been several changes going on in the Permanently Pickled household recently.

The main one being that my mother-in-law is becoming increasingly unwell (see The Big C). This has meant that we have had to travel 3 hours south most weekends, disrupting the usual weekend grind. On one occasion, I travelled down alone at short notice without having the opportunity to speak to the boys before I left.

Family was called in to help at the last minute.

Superficially, Pickle often shows little in the way of what most would consider ‘obvious’ anxiety. In fact many people would unwittingly believe that he is über-confident. I have seen this described in attachment theory as “low self-esteem with a big ego”; the perfect description for Pickle.

Pickle’s anxieties tend to bubble away underneath, slowly simmering and then ultimately exploding like a violent sneeze, except more prolonged and far messier!

One of his (many) latest attention-needing behaviours which appears to have superseded the former forehead-smashing against brick walls – which, quite frankly, I feel like doing myself at times – is, quite simply, running!

Yup, he runs.

Just runs.

That’s it!

He runs out of the house, out of the driveway, sometimes down the street. Usually accompanied by a distinctive staccato roar, building to a crescendo of disparaging chants.

Prior to Trouser-gate and during my absence, there was a perfect Pickle moment at school, which involved a Usain-type bolt out of the classroom… almost out of school – had it not been Pickle-proofed!

The trigger? Who knows! A pen tapping? The need for the teacher’s immediate attention? Sitting in the ‘wrong’ seat? Usually something seemingly trivial to those of us with secure attachment patterns hardwired in our brains.

So, Pickle does as Pickle does. He decided he had had enough. He was going home!

The teacher admitted to her momentary panic before realising there was no Tom, Dick or Harry tunnel leading under the school playground – well, not to her knowledge. (I believe a group of our older children know differently).

Remembering our conversations from the ‘Team Around the Child’ meetings, she remained firm, ignored the outburst and allowed him to make his under 10-second dash….to the toilets!

There, he resolutely locked himself away…for the best part of 4 hours!

I wish this were an exaggeration.

However, the four-hour sit-in did stretch over lunch hour and those of you who know Pickle personally, will be far from stunned to hear that he broke from this steadfast protest to feed his forever-famished face.

Stuffed to the gills, he then stubbornly went back to his self-locked sanctuary!

What his protest was about, nobody was quite sure.

One thing is certain, Pickle has bat-like senses when it comes to rumblings of restlessness in the ranks. Even the most minor of changes can still elicit seemingly irrational and extreme behaviours.

When I arrived back from visiting my mother-in-law, we lay together on the “Bladder Bag” (Pickle’s word for the Buddha Bag. Call me cruel but I haven’t corrected him) and talked about what had happened.

After much coaxing, he opened up by saying, “I don’t like it when you go away, Mummy. When you go away I think you’re going to die. And I’m scared our love will end.”

Suppose, both he and I had better get used to many more privy protests!

Trousers

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?

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?

10 Confessions of an Imperfect Parent

27 Apr
  • Vocal exercises: I exercise my voice. Often. Erm…would we call it shouting? *rubs chin. Possibly, at times. I can go berserk over trivial twaddle. I always sweat the small stuff – a breach of one of the cardinal parenting mantras by all accounts. The kids stare in bewilderment, or just laugh at me.
  • Patience: Patience is an effort for me. It isn’t a God-given gift. It requires much thought and concentration. I’ve always been patient with dogs, birds, squirrels, and teeny weeny cutesy bunny wabbits, even other people’s children on occasion. BUT I have sod-all tolerance with my own kids at times. This has improved hugely since Pickle’s arrival. He is helping me to slowly perfect my imperfect patience.
  • Alcohol: Those of you who pop by my blog for a ‘brew’ and a biscuit now and then will know that I’m partial to a shot of Bacardi and a slurp of Rosey. But. In all fairness. Never in the same glass. So that’s good.
  • Profanity: I swear. Yes, as terrible as it is to disclose. It’s true, I have sworn in front of the children. Not out of habit of course, but out of sheer and utter crappy parental frustration. Never intentionally. And always with regret. I have never dropped a ‘feck’ or c-bomb in front of them. Yet! That’s what this blog is for. Put your fingers in your ears now.
  • Façade: I frequently feign interest in what my kids say to me. I flash the sideways glance that, in some kind of perverse way, makes them believe I am vaguely paying attention to the fact that a) Pickle has eaten his fifth bogey of the day, or that b) Gherkin nutmegged a player on the football pitch. I’m a girl for feck’s sake. How do I know what nutmegging is? And why do I remotely care? I don’t even know if I’ve conjugated the verb correctly in that context. How can it even BE a verb?
  • Covertness: I have been known to listen to one of the kids reading, whilst furtively texting with the other hand.
  • Ignorance: I have turned the radio up louder in an attempt to drown out the noise of the fierce and doubtless bloody battle taking place upstairs, rather than acknowledge it/deal with it/split it up.
  • Childishness: Recently, I cowered under a cloak of juvenile embarrassment, sniggering, when asked what a ‘vagina’ was by Gherkin. Of course, that would have been the perfect opportunity to bring out the books and have that all-important grown-up discussion. But let’s be honest, ‘vagina’ is a highly amusing word at the best of times. *sniggers more.
  • Overt falsehoods: I massage the truth, tell half-truths, prevaricate; all entiiiirely different from telling lies, you understand. There is nothing more galling to me than when the kids tell lies. My children NEVER get into trouble for speaking the truth *shuffles in seat. Since I have eyes in the back of my head, and spies everywhere, they dare not lie. If they do indulge in any whopper-flinging, they are fed mivvits for tea and made to sit on a cold wall, which WILL give them chincough!
  • Embarrassment: I am an embarrassment to my kids. I have been told twice, this very morning, to behave myself. I am not to quote any lines from He-Man and certainly not to draw my invisible sword in the playground, whilst dramatically proclaiming “By the power of Greyskull…”. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it just shows your age….apparently!

I confess: I am a thoroughly imperfect parent.

 

 

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