Friday, 25 January 2013

Dear Daughter ...

Dear Daughter,

We're very proud of you this week.   You were very good at Theraplay, you learnt to forward roll at gymnastics, you showed your SW that you can add 2 + 2 and you knew some bigger numbers.   You apologised for hitting Daddy and you reflected on the last time we were in M&S and said you wouldn't get angry today and grab my cake.  You haven't moaned about your cough.  You've had dry knickers for eight days now and and you picked the cheapest set of stickers in the shop.

Small steps forward.


Mummy & Daddy


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Busy day - mum and daughter exhausted.

It was a busy day yesterday, starting with a meeting at Missy's school regarding her Personal Education Plan (PEP).  The meeting was at 9.30 although due to snow and traffic issues, the SW and Advisory Teacher from the LA didn't make it til 10.30!  Thankfully Missy's teacher was very understanding and we had a good chat in the meantime.  All Looked After Children have to have an PEP (Missy is still a LAC as we have not formally adopted her yet).  The point of the PEP is to provide a teaching and learning provision to meet the educational and other needs of the child.

The meeting lasted an hour during which Missy's teacher ran through her thoughts about Missy, how she settled in, what she liked/disliked, her hunger issue etc.  The SW and I outlined some of Missy's issues and we all discussed how the school can support Missy.  We looked at the curriculum and highlighted a couple of points such as family tree and Mothers Day work which the class will do.  What people may feel are innocent and fun subjects can actually stir up a whole load of stuff for adopted and fostered children.  I think it was a good meeting and a few things I was going to bring up were already highlighted by the teacher. I like her, despite not having worked with LAC, she is on the ball.  I also gave her and the Head a copy of Education Now, an educational supplement put together by Adoption UK, for which they were grateful.

After the meeting I had time to rush home, have a coffee and a quick bite to eat before heading back to school to pick up Missy for her Theraplay appointment.  Missy had fallen over in the snow and proudly showed me her plaster.  Unfortunately her tights were still wet so the TA had put her in boys socks.  Luckily I had her gym leggings in my bag so changed her into those.

I had previously explained to Missy that we were visiting a lovely lady  who worked with other youngsters who had found new families and could help Missy with some of her worries, and that lovely lady was going to play with her.  The point of Theraplay is to enhance and build attachment, self-esteem, trust in others and 'joyful engagement'.

All Missy was interested was whether there would be colouring pencils.  We all sat on a rug and started by drawing round Missy's hands and making hand prints to illustrate that only she has those hands and that she is an indvidiual. Then the therapist started to play a few games, all designed to help regulate sensory issues.  Missy was more interested in the toys around the room and looked a little confused as to why we were doing these silly games.  When it came to hiding a toy in the sandpit, Missy got annoyed that I was looking but the therapist explained we were working as a team.  We then finished with a biscuit game (of course, Missy had already clocked the biscuits).  We both had to but a ring shaped biscuit on our fingers with Missy nibbling round my biscuit and me nibbling around hers, trying not to break it.  No surprises this was Missy's favourite game.  We've got another 8 sessions so only time will tell how successful it is.

After Theraplay it was time for gymnastics.  Missy can now manage a forward roll of sorts and was happy jumping off some apparatus on to a mat, which I think is fabulous.  She's never going to be a Beth Tweddle (I'll probably eat my words in ten years) as she doesn't concentrate or really take it properly what is being demonstrated, but the fact is she is getting exercise, she's interacting with other children and it is boosting her confidence.

So, by the end of the day I was exhausted, let alone Missy. No surprises she was asleep by 7pm and I was falling asleep on the sofa at 9.30pm.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Snow, snow go away.

I wish the snow would stop.  If it doesn't then school will no doubt be closed tomorrow and I was really looking forward to seeing a friend.  The snow already scuppered a night out set for last Friday, which was to be my first night out in over 3 months since before the Introductions started last October.  I can't believe I haven't been out for over 3 months! I was due to meet up with one of my best friends and we've rescheduled for next Friday so fingers crossed for no snow.  I'm turning into a hermit.

Missy doesn't seem that interested in snow.  We played out a bit this morning and made a couple of snowmen, whilst Daddy shovelled loads of snow in my direction, but 20 minutes later she was too cold and wanted to come in.

Daddy and I got a bit cold out this morning as we had to defrost the central heating!  We've got a combi boiler and the outlet had become frozen - apparently it's a flaw in combi boilers.  So Daddy was up a ladder whilst I handed him endless pans, jugs and kettle full of hot water to help defrost the pipes, which we've now wrapped in a fleece!   We were probably outside for an hour and Missy was so good during this time, just sat watching some tv and doing some colouring.  She also didn't come in to our bedroom until gone 8am this morning just to let me know she was going downstairs to feed the cats and do some colouring whilst Daddy had a lie-in.  Gradually, very gradually, she is happier keeping herself amused.  She still wants tonnes of attention but there are smidgeons of improvement.

Hopefully the play therapist will help even more in this regard.  The follow up we had last Tuesday was useful and at this meeting Missy's SW came along too as did Daddy.  We explained that her behaviour had improved since our first meeting before Christmas, although there were still lots of issues, in particular the food issue and the attention-seeking issue.  The play therapist explained that it was quite probably she had missed the foundation of play during her time with birth mum.  Whilst she is good at Jenga, fantastic at drawing and colouring, getting better at board games and has a great imagination, it's likely she missed out on messy play and age-appropriate play and missing out this stage could have repercussions in later life.  So, we are starting play therapy next week with Missy.  I think to begin with it's just the therapist playing with Missy although I'm in the room, and then over the weeks I join in too.

Missy did make us laugh last night.  Although she often wets her knickers during the day, she will take herself off to the bathroom with no problem during the night, although she does this almost sleep-walking.  Often she gets up about two hours after going to bed and last night when she got up whilst we were watching TV, we heard a thump so Daddy went to investigate.  Five minutes later Daddy came downstairs laughing.   When in the bathroom, Daddy asked Missy if she was ok and she nodded yes though with no real expression, he asked her if she was going for a wee and she nodded and then he asked her why she was weeing in the bath!  She looked round, shrugged, carried on then tried to flush the loo before skipping back to her bed, giving Daddy a hug, smiled and then fell straight back to sleep.  Bless her!  The loo is right next to the bath and in the semi-conscious state she obviously mistook the bath for the loo.

In other news, it's still snowing, grrrr.  Oh, and I've won a tenner on the lottery.

Monday, 14 January 2013


The first week back at school has been, dare I say it, actually quite calm.  Missy hasn't been in a strop when she comes out, she has talked to me about her day and she has told me what she had for lunch.  Her teacher is now completing a Home School Diary so I can see what she had done during the day.  Colouring features a lot as does singing.

Missy's singing is, on the one hand, rather noisy in the car and always ends with "Was that a good song?" but on the other hand some of her words and phrasing are quite delighful and make us smile.  A new Adele in the making?  She'll make up songs about anything and everything, you name it, she'll sing it.

The mornings have also been fine, no tantrums about getting out of bed at all thus far.  She's even making her own bed - ok, I have to straighten it somewhat and if I dare move her teddies from where she puts them then I get a stern "Mummy!", but the fact she makes it is great in my book.

We've got a follow up appointment with the play therapist tomorrow and I think the main issues we want to talk about are still the constant attention-seeking, the food issue and maybe trying to help her with recognising facial expressions.  I was crying with laughter at something last week and she thought I was upset (thank God the animated film 'Up' was on after she'd gone to bed last night, I was sobbing buckets) and yesterday I was watching something on a music channel, concentrating but with a fairly neutral face, and she asked "What's the matter Mummy, why are you sad?".  I guess it must be harder for her to understand facial expressions considering her no doubt chaotic lifestyle pre foster care.

Daddy and I went to a local adopters coffee morning last Friday, where there were about 10 other adopters (all women much to Daddy's amusement).  It was lovely to be able to speak about our experiences and be completely understood by other parents, with lots of knowing nodding going on. There were a few toddlers there but many of the parents have also adopted older children (5 counts as older). The lady who organises it is very proactive and also arranges a Mum's night out (can't wait!), a Dad's curry and various other get-togethers.  The bizarre thing was that I only found out about it by chance, not because our social workers had given us any information previously which I found quite staggering.

A few other improving points of late - we played two games over the weekend; game 1 I won first time and Missy cried but second time when Daddy won, she didn't cry.  We also played snakes and ladders, I won and again she didn't have a strop.  Missy is also beginning to accept that she has tea by herself, whilst Daddy and I eat later, because she's already had a hot meal at lunch time.  I always sit with her and have a cuppa and talk to her but the fact I'm not eating with her is becoming less of an issue.  Small things for some, big in my book.

In other news, it's snowing and I have a night out this Friday, woohoo!!


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Epic tantrum and mice in clogs

So far so good.  Although Missy has only had one day back at school this week, yesterday we had a hospital appointment an hour away from home so it meant she was off school.

Previously, Missy hasn't wanted to talk to me straight after school and has been Miss Attitude.  But on Monday morning she declared that she was going to tell me all about school when she got home.  And she did.  She was fine - still full on attention-seeking - but no attitude.  Hurrah!  Her teacher also now includes a Home School Diary in her bag, outlining what she's done during the day.

I was a little concerned to see they had read Hansel & Gretel, about a bad mother who sends who children away into the woods.  Probably not the best choice of book to read to a class which includes a little girl who no longer lives with her birth mum and may still wonder why she is living elsewhere.  In fact she made up a little story yesterday and one of the characters in the woods was the name of her birth mum who she described as fierce.  I'm not sure whether to point this out to her teacher or not.

Yesterday Missy was such a good girl at the hospital and as a treat I took her to M&S for lunch.  Big mistake. One of her issues that has reared up over the last month is food and she just cannot accept that adults have bigger portions.  She wolfed down her toastie whilst I munched on mine.  She then insisted she wanted all the cake and launched into a full on tantrum with red face, shouting, tears, when I gave her a third of the slice.  Nothing would placate her.  She screamed that she wouldn't eat it as it was so small (it wasn't).  As people around us were inevitably starting to look and no doubt thinking "bad parent, can't she control the child", I decided to wrap Missy's slice up in a serviette and take it home.  Not a good move.  Missy launched across the table with venom on her face and snatched the cake.  I took it back and decided it was time to go - without cake.  She launched across the table again and grabbed the cake again between her fingers.  It was like I was taking the only bit of food she'd had for days.  She had desperation on her face.  I had to carry her out and almost drag her to the car, alongside cries of "I hate you Mummy, you're a nasty Mummy".  A couple of ladies gave me a sympathetic smile, one of whom said "Ah, heard that before".  I didn't say a word all the way home whilst Missy sobbed in the back.   Back home, I sat down on the sofa and a grizzly Missy came over for a big hug.  Although I stayed calm and didn't raise my voice at all, I was still taken aback by her behaviour and heart was pounding for about an hour.

We calmed down by watching some children's songs on You Tube which I discovered a few days ago. She loves them, particularly "Windmill in old Amsterdam". The image of a mouse with clogs on is hilariously funny to Missy.

I had thought about not taking her to gymnastics as a consequence but she had really been looking forward to it and she needs something on which to focus her energy.  So we went and she loved it.  She needs to pay attention to the teacher a bit more, but I think this might be more to do with looking at the other groups who are more advanced than her rather than an attention-deficit issue.  The time also gave me some respite and one of my old clients was there too for the first time with her little one so it was a good chance to catch up.

Missy has since apologised several times for being a 'naughty girl' in M&S and for grabbing the cake.  Bless.

This morning was another good morning.  Still no tantrums about going to school and we showed Daddy the "Windmill in Amsterdam" video so hopefully he'll have an annoying earworm all day!  Haha.

In other news, I've had my hair cut.  I feel vaguely human again.

Monday, 7 January 2013

So that was Christmas..

I had fully intended to update my blog several times over the festive season.  But that intention went out the window because a) I couldn't update during the day with Missy constantly needing attention and b) once she went to bed I collapsed in a heap.

I was dreading the holidays and whilst it was hard work, Missy was much better behaved that I had expected.  She had a few tantrums but nothing I couldn't deal with.  Her anxiety levels were still high and she needed constant reassurance and attention, but she was much better than before Christmas.

Christmas itself was quiet really.  Missy was excited but not as excited as many 5 year olds, probably because she's never lived anywhere where it's been celebrated fully.  I think I was more excited about the Advent Calendar and hanging up the stocking than she was.  We kept it fairly low key on purpose anyway and I've attempted to keep routine during the last few weeks.  We didn't buy that many presents but did include a couple of games as we wanted to teach Missy about playing by the rules.  She's learning quickly and has only cried a couple of times when she lost.  Father Christmas gave her a lovely doll with gorgeous long blonde hair that Mummy has to comb!   I got a lovely text from a friend on Christmas Day asking how we were and saying not to worry if Missy seemed ungrateful or uninterested in the presents, it's just that it's too overwhelming and exciting for them to take it all in.  We did a fair bit of cooking, made mince pies, made gingerbread biscuits in the shape of stars and hearts, went for some walks, did a huge of amount of drawing (her artwork is fabulous) and played hairdressers.

With Daddy only having four days off over the last few weeks, I did however arrange several days where I wasn't by myself with Missy.  I think I would have imploded otherwise.

Missy has made two new friends:  both are her age, one is a fellow adopteee and the daughter of a new friend of mine who the SWs put me in touch with, and the other is the daughter of one of my best friends.  I was worried how she would play bearing in mind she isn't that good at sharing and is a terrible loser, but actually she played really nicely.   The two occasions also gave me some respite whilst I chatted over lunch with their mums.  My new friend first adopted four years ago and again last year and although I've only known her a few weeks, she has been a massive support.  It's so good to hear that I'm not the only one feeling the way I do.  It was also good to see Missy alongside her non-adopted new friend and realise that some of her mannerisms are just that of a five year old, without labelling them as 'adoptive' behaviours.

One particular day I really enjoyed was New Year's Day as the three of us went up to London, first of all visiting Buckingham Palace (Missy was a little underwhelmed) then we walked down the Mall to Trafalgar Square, watching some of the NYD parade, walked up to Leicester Square to meet one of Daddy's friends and his family for lunch and then we walked to HAmleys toy store in Regent Street before heading home.  Missy was brilliantly behaved and didn't appear overwhelmed by any of it.  She then decided it would be nice to invite the Queen to ours for tea and some of Daddy's cheesecake, so the letter has been written in Missy's fair hand and Buck Palace should have received it last Saturday.  I'll update if we get any reply.

One thing Missy has been saying the last few days is that she is scared and worried.  She can't (or won't - not sure) articulate what it is that's worrying her but I suspect it might be tied in with going back to school today.  Amazingly she was fine this morning and I really hope she doesn't regress to the behaviour of last term, but we shall see at 3.15pm.

So how do we feel now that we've had her for 10 weeks and got through Christmas.  Honestly?   My feelings change by the minute.   One minute I feel hopeful, the next I don't want her here.  We still don't feel any affection and still feel like we're babysitting, although this seems common amongst adopters, some of whom take months if not years to feel a strong bond.  In theory we could now apply for the Adoption Order to legally adopt Missy but we're not going to. We're just not in the right place at the moment but I can see moments of hope, which is good.

In other news though, I very excited about having my hair cut this week and am thinking about applying for a job!!

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