Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tidyness and Tardiness

The Sprog is upset with out cleaner. Her sin?

She has tidied his room! How dare she! Now he can't find anything... apparently. Although to be honest how the cleaner found her way into his room is beyond me, I could barely see the floor!

Out cleaner is lovely, barking mad but lovely. She is Turkish and as regular readers know has a love for popular european music. This has rubbed off onto our youngest and TJ now insists that we play the latest hit 'tune's and wants to know what the number one song is on a daily basis.

I don't mind but whenever he plays one of the latest tracks from the hit parade I immediately turn into my parents and go on about what rubbish this is. The Sprog on the other hand has rifled through my CD collection and has 'borrowed' all my Michael Jackson albums. And this was the root of his problem with the cleaner as she had tidied the albums up and put them back where they belong, on my CD shelf.

Still I prefer him listening to MJ than having to listen to 1D (as I now call them-  see I'm down with the kids!).

I also seemed to channel my parents this morning when TJ decided he really didn't want to hurry to school. He dawdled, he played with his feet, he carefully munched on every single sodding cornflake as I got more and more harrassed. Didn't he know we were going to be late.

As we finally headed out the door he stopped and said, "Daddy, I need a poo!"

"What?!" I screamed - "Why now, why wait until we are leaving?"

"I don't know," he shrugged.

So I stood outside the bathroom door hurrying him along.

He eventually came out and we left for school. Except he fancied a long slow walk admiring the trees and commenting on the lovely day as I was screaming "Come on!" and dragging an unwilling dog behind me.

We got to the school gate just as they closed.

"Great," I said, "Now we have to walk all the way round to the front of the school and I have to sign you in at reception with all the other 'shamed' parents."

Did TJ care... no he did not. "What will they do if I am late?" he said, "They won't do anything." and off he dawdled.

As he did so the gate keeper saw us and returned to open the gate. "You are lucky," she said to TJ, "I saw you just in time."

TJ skipped into school.

"Isn't there an incentive to get them in on  time," I asked "Don't they get a punishment if they are late?"

"No," she said, "So many of them are late now we'd be filling out forms all day." and she walked off.

Now I turned into my Dad who hated being late - how will future generations like my own kids understand about punctuality if no-one teaches it at school? No wonder TJ doesn't give a monkey's if he is late or not - why should he? As I said to Papa when he called later - "There should be no reason for him to have to get up at 5am and make the 90 minute commute into London - he should go when he feels like it... Oh wait, except he'd get fired!"

Now I shall have a cup of tea and piece of delicious banana bread - made by me!

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Return of Frank

TJ lost another tooth this week. That leaves him with a huge gap in the front of his mouth which ensures he has a very cute lisp, although it also means that he seems to spray food everywhere - particularly toast crumbs which I have just spent half an hour clearing up.

However, as usual we had to put the tooth under his pillow for Frank the Fairy to come and collect it.

I may have told you this before but in order to avoid stereotypes of 'fairies' which may come up in school at some time (your Dads are fairies - something like that) then we decided that our fairy would be a burly bloke with tattoos and a shaved head. He wears a tutu and doc martin boots - in fact he closely seems to resemble a cross between Jo Brand and Phil Mitchell from Eastenders. The boys love him. They used to call him Fat Frank  but I soon put a stop to that and pointed out that since Frank had been to the gym and was watching the amount of fairy cakes that he ate that he had now slimmed down and was more muscular than fat.

So now when the boys envisage a fairy, it's Frank's image they see.

Unfortunately, this fat fairy (Dad) didn't have any money to put under the pillow and Papa only had notes in his wallet - I 'm not putting notes under there - despite the rising cost of everything else.

So I did the next best thing. I raided TJ's piggy bank and took out a lovely shiny gold pound coin.

TJ is currently saving up for a Skylander toy - we have told him if he saves up half then we will put the rest to it. I promised to put the pound back in the morning once I had some change.

So the next morning TJ arose and came running down the stairs clutching his new pound coin.

And here another problem came up.

If you have a child with 'additional' needs then you are aware that they see the world slightly differently and also remember everything.

"My coin has a dragon on it!" he said. "It will match the other coin with a dragon in my money box!"

Why didn't I check which coin I had taken out... Why??????

I told him to pop the money in his box and get ready for school. Luckily he didn't check the contents.

I rushed to the local shop after the school run and bought my milk and bits. At the counter I asked the sales lady to please give me a Welsh pound coin - the one with a dragon. She looked blank.

I explained to her the reason and she still looked blank. "He won't notice," she said.

"He will!"

So she and her colleagues kindly opened their tills and began looking for Welsh pound coins as the queue built up behind me - but there wasn't one! Not one! Why are they so rare?

So tonight I know that TJ will come home from school and start looking through his money box.

I think I will lay the blame on Frank and say that he swapped some coins around in the money box as he knew TJ likes dragons....

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

40 thousand words

Its weird when you are asked to write what is effectively your life story.

I think I've had a pretty interesting life but the adoption journey is what everyone seems to be most fascinated by.

So I'm writing about the time before we got the boys at the moment.

The three years from initial enquiry to placement and the problems in between. I still cant beleive it took us so long.

It also brings up a lot of emotional memories, particularly when wiritng about the children that we didn't get. The ones whom we lost out on to other families or because of other issues.

I haven't even reached the point where we found our two yet - but its already an emotional piece - I think because I have to be open with myself in order to be open with the reader - and thats tough. My 'mentor' (to use an X factor euphemism) has told me I have to write from the heart, find my voice and then just let it flow - 40 thousand words in and I'm exhausted emotionally. Apparently, if I can make myself cry then I'm doing a good job - well I've sobbed today!

Papa can't quite see how tiring writing is - I just sit at a desk all day but I am sitting at a desk pouring out my heart and I'm knackered!

I thnk I need a holiday - plus I'm getting blisters on my little typing fingers... but despite that I'm loving writing. Loving it!

The boys have been great. Its been parent's evenings this week and I've been called into Sprog's school - mainly to talk about his incredible progress - he is actually writing! and spelling! and his maths is really good!

I am amazed. I know for some parents its a a case of 'so what?" but for Sprog its a real achievement. Yes, he is still a couple of years behind his peers in reading but for the first time I could actually read his writing. I'm still in a state of shock - he's only been there 4 weeks! What was really nice though was to be praised as a parent. The Head said he was thrilled to see that I was working with the school. Apparently a lot of parents don't feel they have to do much with their kids as they are paying such huge fees. But as I pointed out, we are paying the fees to get Sprog the one to one attention he was so desperately lacking in his state school - and that really seems to be paying off.

There was an issue of Sprog 'bigging himself up' to his classmates - we put it down to the fact that he only gets TV for an hour a night, after homework and doesn't have computer games or access to the internet, apart from his Easyread programme - which is doing wonders. I thought the Head was going to shake my hand off. Where I think I'm being mean he thinks I'm doing all the right things. I don't know - only time will tell. But the Sprog needs some time to learn how to interact with other children - he is great at chatting with adults but has problems working alongside his peers - thats fairly common for children who have been in care I'm told.

Luckily TJ doesn't really like TV and will happily play football all day... even in the rain, which means he has a stinking cold - which he is happily passing around the family.

Tonight its the turn of TJ, its his parents evening - something tells me I might be in for as big a shock there - I hope its a happy one, I don't want any more emotional turmoil - not today anyway!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Entrepreneurial Spirit...

... Well the title would be a positive spin on today's happenings.

I was sorting out the eldest's school unifrom before school when out of his shorts pocket popped a gold pound coin.

Now my eldest is not the best at retaining money - usually as soon as it enters his grubby little mitt it is soon passed over to the local shopkeeper, either for sweets or stickers, or as was the case this week, a pair of novelty vampire fangs - which he keeps in his mouth all day - I even had to stop him trying to eat his spag bol with them last night.

So I knew something was up.

"Where did this come from," I asked him at the breakfast table.

I was given a plethora of explanations, "I found it on the floor at your birthday lunch,"

"No you didn't."

"I erm, had it left over from pocket money ages ago."


"I got it off TJ."

Now that wrang true.

Where the Sprog spends his money as soon as he gets it, TJ - whom the Sprog now 'lovingly' refers to as the Worm (I don't know why - blame Horrid Henry) hordes his - he is curently saving for a Skylander. We have a deal, if he can save half then I will top up the difference.

"Does TJ know you took it?" I asked, trying to avoid the 'stealing' word.

"Yes, I swapped it!" came the indignant reply.

"What did you swap it for?" I asked.

"You remember that hair grip I found on the floor of the school bus yesterday?"

I was silent.

"So you sold TJ a hair grip that you found on the floor of the school bus for a pound?"


"And he agreed to this?"

"He wanted the hair grip."

By now I was torn with admiration for the entrepreneurial skill of my eldest to acknowledging that he had in fact 'conned' his brother out of his pocket money.

"Give him back the pound," I said.

"Ok," came the sullen reply, "But I want my hair grip back."

"Fine." I said, "If TJ wants to buy hair grips he can buy loads of new ones with his pound."

Lecture over I took the Sprog to school.

TJ then woke up and the first thing he asked for was his hair grip.

"I've given it back to Sprog and put the pound back in our money box," I said.

"But I wanted a hair grip," he wailed, "Then I can look like a footballer."

That confused me until he went on, "Sprog told me that all real footballers wear hair grips - and I want to be a real footballer."

So Sprog had indeed conned his younger brother and apparently me!

I shall have to deal with that one later. Until then I am off to the supermarket to buy hair grips for our fottball mad son. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Mum Question... again!

So TJ asks me about his Mum again - only this time he waited until we were right outside the school gates before he decided to drop it into the conversation.

"Why do all the other children have a Mum?" he suddenly asked.

"You have got a Mum," I replied.

"No I haven't," he said, "I don't have a Mum."

Now after the last time this question was raised I have had a counselling session and one of the ways it was suggested to broach this was to encourage the idea that his birth mother 'didn't' look after him - rather than she 'wasn't able to look after him despite loving him very much' - which is social services preferred line. The argument now being played out is that as the children get older they should know that their birth family were perfectly capable of looking after them - they just didn't want to, choosing instead not to give up alcohol or drugs or whatever it is that they are into. Hopefully then the kids will realise that their coming into care was not their fault.

Recently, I wrote a 'contact letter' to the birth mother explaining how the boys were doing and how they would like to hear from her. We didn't get a reply. I can understand how difficult it can be for birth parents but  (in my opinion) it also shows an innate selfishness  in that she still places her emotional needs ahead of the boys. Maybe we will hear from her in the future, maybe not - but at least the boys will know that we tried to keep her informed. I was advised to keep copies of the letters we send so that, if in the future, they do look for her through facebook or whatever social media is around that they have the full truth and not her one sided version of it. I can hear it now, how she wanted to look after them but social services stole them etc etc etc. You only have to watch the plethora of TV shows encouraging people to look for their past families to see how easily this could be done.

So I said to TJ, "Yes, you do have a mum, but she didn't look after you properly and they had to find parents who could look after you and give you lots of love."

"You don't love me," he replied.

This would have shocked me a few weeks ago but now I realise it is just TJ's defence mechanism. I have turned this on its head. Now every night at bedtime, rather than simply throw away the "Love you loads - night night!" line - which is usually followed by an angry "will you go to sleep!" after an hour or so.

I now say to TJ, "I've got a secret to whisper in your ear." The first few times he loved it as he cuddled up and I whispered, "I love you very much."... But now he has gotten wise to it and when I say that I have a secret he shouts back, "I know what it is! ... I love you!"

"Oh, thank you," I reply, "I love you too."

"I don't mean that I love you," he shouts, "I mean that you love me!"

"Yes, you're right," I say, "I love you very much."

"Well, you might love me but I hate you!" That's his latest reply and one he shouted as he skipped through the school gate. The other parents looked surprised, I just shrugged. I don't think he really does hate me but he had to balance out the expression of love he has just made with an expression of hate - simply to ensure he is in control of his emotions.

After all love is a scary place. Even as adults we are scared to fall too much in love in case we lose it - so why should it be any different for children.

TJ does love us- of that I am sure - he just finds love a very scary place to be...