Tag Archives: Pickle

Abbi’s Words

4 Feb

All evening – since receiving it – I have been deliberating over how to introduce this guest post.

To be honest, no words seem to come close enough to express the feelings I felt when I read them. Not only the sentiment but the sheer mastery of language and rhythm.

I was approached by the author’s mum last week. She told me that her daughter was very keen on writing and had been enjoying reading my blog. She liked my writing style and really wanted to write something for me to have a look at. How can anyone ignore such enthusiasm.

What I read, though, was way beyond my expectations.

The young lady who wrote these words is just 12 years old.

She sits in a classroom for an hour and a half, once a week, with Pickle.

These are Abbi’s words:


Pickles uniqueness led me to write this description today.

I had never met anyone like him before. He was gentle yet boisterous.download

A total contradiction.

I knew there was something different but I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.

His presence fills the room. Completely.

Everyone loves to be around him.

Listening to his stories. His jokes. His laugh.

As he moves around in his own secret world I feel compelled to protect him.

From loneliness.

From fear.

From isolation.

Like magnets attracting, Pickle gravitates towards adult company:




And all is well with the world again.

To this day, Pickle inspires me.


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!


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?


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.

What’s that smell?

8 Jun

There’s something in the air.

And it’s no longer the smell of despair, singed ends of wits, or frazzled nerves.

Yesterday, I reached out for a modicum of support. Just had a need to not quite feel so alone after a tough few weeks with Pickle. In all honesty, I felt a little foolish and a bit of a failure, but I am glad I did it.

The support came in 140 characters or less. From a small circle of people who could genuinely understand the dark, heavy shadow that is meagrely attempting to shroud me. I have never met these people. They are faceless, some of them even nameless. It is highly likely I will never meet them. I am however thankful for their small uplifting utterances and consistent humour. No murmuring of ‘oh, they all do that’, just kind virtual nods of empathy.

In response, I kicked my own tushy – which is pretty difficult what with it being so little – and the result was an amazing day out with a much calmer young man. We spent a solid 5 hours in the fresh, damp air, chasing the most inventive and hilarious scarecrows lurking around the countryside.

It was fun. I haven’t had fun – I mean real belly-giggling, doubled-up, rolling on the floor fun – with the kids for a while. I had become too engrossed in the whys and wherefores of the intricate and complex nature of the child psyche. I had been blinded by theoretical discipline techniques. I had been over-analysing (though, as part of my own intricate and complex psyche, this will NEVER stop). I had forgotten one blinkin’ basic thing. To smile. To laugh. Ok, so that’s two.

Instead, I had watched the downward spiral of Pickle’s behaviour until it spludged into an abyss of crappy crap. Then I slumped down and seethed with silent fury, and self-pity.

Light bulb. Worra-a-noob!! Laugh. Smile. Inject some life and spirit and it’s amazing what can be achieved. Even with a fiercely stomping 5-year old decreeing: “That’s it! I’m just not living here anymore.”All the while I am bemoaning Pickle’s behaviour and all the while my own has been to blame.

One simple rule that I had briefly forgotten: Calmness breeds calmness.

Don’t think I am overly berating myself. I’m really not. I am human. Mostly. And some hardcore pontificating from Mother Theresa would be nothing short of miraculous should it have the slightest dribble of influence on Pickle.

I am merely stating a fact. I have been trapped in ever-decreasing circles of intolerance. And through my recent posts, you may have had a whiff of the fact that my patience has been tested almost beyond the point-of-no-return.

There’s something in the air.

It’s the smell of cwoffffeeee. I’ve woken up. In this moment, at least.

I shall revel in the delights and achievements of today and tackle tomorrow with the same vibrant determination. That is providing I don’t hear the thundering feet of my mini man mountain pre-dawn chorus.

The Big C

6 Jun

I mentioned recently that my lack of social networking presence had been, in part, due to a close family member being pretty poorly. It’s been a terrible time for all concerned. There have been a lot of assessments and investigations and a few weeks ago we received the dreaded diagnosis of The Big C.

This jubilee weekend also coincided with my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday. We had a planned visit to join my in-laws Darn Sarth and celebrate together as a family. Unfortunately last Tuesday, my mother-in-law was admitted to hospital with some complications. This meant that the plans would understandably have to change. We, of course, still went down to visit and thankfully the hospital allowed her day release to come home and, more importantly, allowed her to partake in a glass of Rosey.

In the months leading up to the visit, the children were blissfully unaware of the reasons for the numerous clandestine calls. As The Big C decided to bugger things up for my mother-in-law, it became clear that the children would need to be given some information about Grandma’s illness.  We decided that there was no need to be overly detailed in our explanation and that we would drip-feed the necessary.

We mentioned to Gherkin – separately from Pickle – that Grandma was poorly, we were unsure what was wrong, but the doctors were carrying out some tests. Pickle was simply told that Grandma was poorly and her greatest birthday wish was peace and quiet. That was greeted with a nod, relentless spinning, and more machine gun style peowm-ing.

As the weekend approached, Gherkin started to ask more questions. He argued candidly that he thought he was old enough to know what was wrong with Grandma. The subtle changes at home were clearly being noted far more than we had realised. Could this also be one of the reasons for Pickle’s recent extremely testy behaviour? Ultimately, he was right. They both deserve honesty. Age-appropriate honesty, that is.

The dreaded conversation finally took place in TGI Friday’s, on Gherkin’s birthday. Not planned. Without warning, Gherkin blurted out ‘Does Grandma have cancer?’ Initially, there was stunned silence. OH remained dumbstruck and couldn’t utter a syllable. It was down to me.  I answered with a firm ‘yes’. I wanted to say all the right things.

There was no pretence to soften the blow. I was open and honest. I explained that some cells just grow faster than others and that medicine would be needed to make her better. To a 10-year old who only really knows the negative connotation of the word, it was difficult answering questions in a matter-of-fact way. I told him stories of close friends and more distant family who have and are stoically battling this horrid disease. I reminded him of the son of one of our close friends – for whose fund he recently helped raise money – who is kicking cancer’s fat, wobbly tushy.

He got very upset and couldn’t finish his birthday ‘tea’. He’s concerned but ultimately happy that he feels included, and understands the need for positivity. I think, or at least I hope, I pulled it off.

Thoughts are with all those laughing in your face, Big C.

And for those whose fighting spirit you have beaten and have taken from us too soon, sleep well.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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