Friday, 29 November 2013

New adopters?!

Today was our first presentation alongside Hackney, to promote adoption to prospective adopters.

Held at Papa's work it was much better attended than we thought.

The head of hackney child services gave a short presentation and after that it was literally a free for all question and answer session.

Papa did really well, despite his stinking cold, although I think he is still slightly jaded by some of our personal experiences with the adoption process. But the questions came thick and fast and I think we did ok. It still amazes me though how many myths there are around adoption. 

'Did we have to have an ongoing yearly check?"
"How do we know what problems the kids may have?"
"Can single people adopt?"

The answers were, no, we don't know everything and yes, in that order.

But then we heard that homophobia is still alive and well in the social services system. One gay couple were turned away because they were planning their wedding - which is ridiculous, you can't adopt because you have plans? 

It reminded me of the myriad of reasons why different social workers wouldn't take us on or didn't want to approve us with a match.... At one point we were told that the child in question may not cope with two dads.... So instead he can spend his life in care.... I don't think he was ever adopted as I saw his picture at a few conferences after.

When we chatted with the head of children's services afterwards she said that even though it was illegal to turn any prospective adopter away you couldn't always rely on the social worker who answers the phone. After all, those involved in adoption are usually older and many have their own prejudices... So to the couple turned away for the most ridiculous reason I have ever heard I say don't listen to them, don't give up... Adoption is amazing, once you get past social services... Call hackney... 
They are great! 

To those who have just joined the blog... Forgive me I am updating all the posts to now refer to the boys as the Sprog and TJ... I had a slight confusion where we thought the boys had been identified and I changed the Sprog into a girl... Which didn't work. I'll fix it!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Christmas is Coming and Daddy's Getting Fat....

Or thats what I overheard this morning.

For my birthday this year Papa renewed my gym membership on the basis that I actually go - which seems a bit unfair.

But I have been very good and my American trainer from Hell (just outside of Dallas, Texas) has me on an interval programme - at first I was very excited as I thought it meant I got to have a break between each exercise and I took my flask of coffee and a Mars bar with me for just such an occassion - but I soon found out that's not what she meant at all!!!

I have to 'run' (well walk quickly) for 5 minutes and then sprint (bloody run!) for 30seconds flat out - before doing it all again - repeating for 30minutes!

This is to get my metabolic rate back up to standard apparently. Then after that she takes me round various weights and machines shouting at me - luckily its in American so I choose to ignore it and pretend I don't understand - which just makes her madder. I have to be careful though as she plays women's rugby.

Anyway, the boys are fascinated by this new health kick and keep checking if I am actually losing any weight and have a six pack yet. (I don't)

So this morning as I was doing breakfast I overheard them chatting.

"If we are really nice to Daddy and Papa we will get more Christmas presents," says the Sprog.
"Really?" TJ pipes up.
"Yup - thats what my teacher told me in school. That we have to be good and be nice to people," the Sprog went on, "So I'm going to tell Daddy how much smaller his tummy is."

TJ thought about this for a minute.

"But that would be lying," he said, And its bad to lie."

"Some lies are ok," The Sprog went on, "If they make people feel better - they are called white lies."

"Oh Ok," TJ agreed.

I stood in the kitchen deflated, not only at the schools apparent encouragement of lying in my kids but the fact that I wasn't looking any thinner. (Yes, its all about me!)

Then TJ popped his head over the kitchen counter.

"Daddy," he said.

"Yes," I replied, knowing what was coming next.

"You know when Papa says we have to rub your tummy for good luck like the buddha statue upstairs?"

Well I didn't expect that - and this was the first I was hearing of this good luck 'rub'.

"Well we wont be able to do that soon." And he gave me a big grin.

So he does think I am getting thinner - well thats how I am interpreting it!!!!!!!!! TJ is definately getting what he wants this Christmas - as for the Sprog..... well....

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A Fear of Christmas...

Our youngest is beginning to panic...

He doesn't like Christmas. He just can't deal with it. It doesn't help that his birthday is also around the festive season.

School have told me he is becoming emotional and needy, crying all the time one minute then shouting the next. This morning I went in to find that he had been up most of the night eating blu tac... I know that as his posters simply fall off the wall. This is a sure sign that he is 'in a dark place.'

This is a throwback to his early days with us - where he would eat wall paper, blu tac - anything really that could fill the 'gap in his tummy' when he is lonely.

He isn't hungry, but he can't tell you why he needs to do this.

I sat him down this morning and we chatted about it before school. He sat in my lap, almost like a baby, and just lay there while we talked about Christmas and birthdays and... mummy... did I know she didn't feed him?

He has so few memories of his mum (I won't give herr the honour of having a capital letter), at least that's what we thought - but one thing he obviously does recall is the hunger - the hunger that led him and his brother to eat whatever was at hand.

I wonder if much of their time spent locked in a room was over the festive period - whilst the birth parents were out getting drunk and celebrating - their kids were locked in a room and forgotten about.

Its hard for school and other families to understand - after all, what child doesn't like Christmas and birthdays?.. But for TJ and the Sprog they are not associated with memories of fun and laughter... they are associated with drunkeness, domestic violence, starvation and being forgotten about - no wonder TJ dreads seeing the trees go up in shops or doesn't want to talk about 'what he wants for Christmas'.

The Sprog is coming through it - interesingly though he won't tell me anything that he wants as presents - but for him I think that is because that he simply doesn't think he is worth buying presents for - self esteem is such a big issue for him.

I don't want us to dread Christmas, as I know a lot of adoptive parents do from the various chat rooms etc, I want us to build our own traditions - so if our tree goes up later than everyone else's, or we don't make a huge fuss over toys and stuff then its not that we are being mean parents - we are just re-introducing Christmas to our children in a gentle way - so they can learn to love Christmas and know that it is a time of love and joy - not a time to fear....

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Return of Frank

The weekend has been an interesting one.

Last night TJ lost yet another tooth - that's six in two months - its costing us a fortune!

Which brings us to the issue of Frank (our over weight tooth fairy).

The Sprog, who is fast approaching his 9th birthday, proudly announced that he no longer believes in the tooth fairy and he knows for a 'fact' that it is Daddy... odd how its me and not Papa who gets called the fairy!

So last night TJ popped his tooth under his pillow and went to sleep and this morning came rushing upstairs to show me that Frank had been and left him a £1 coin... The sprog looked at him disdainfully then TJ said, "I know it was Frank because I saw him." to which I added, "That's odd because Frank normally pops his head round my bedroom door to say hi when he is visiting."

The Sprog was having none of it - 'There's no such thing as Frank." he shouted.

TJ simply looked at him and said, "Believe what you like - but at least I've got a pound!"

Sometimes our youngest son is very wise.

Oddly enough the eldest hasn't started to question Santa - well not publically anyway, my guess is he knows there is much more to lose and as he has pretty much lost all of his baby teeth the chances of Frank seeing im again were pretty slim anyway.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Telephones and Toilets

What it is with children and telephones?

Our youngest son, TJ, hates talking on the thing. To get him to chat to Granny takes an age and when he finally says something it usually takes two minutes and he is handing the phone back to me.

So yesterday, I popped into the littlest room in the house (not the kitchen cupboard) leaving TJ in the next room watching TV. I had no sooner sat down than the phone began to ring.


We have an answer phone so I thought it best to leave it and if it was important I could call them back.

But no.

Today was the day that TJ decided he would answer the phone. I heard the ringing stop abruptly and this little voice say, 'Hello - is that Granny?' - that shows how often anyone ever calls us on the landline.

It obviously wasn't Granny as the little man went on - "No, my Daddy isn't here - well, he is here, but he is on the toilet." (there are definately no secrets where kids are concerned.)

I now had to make the decision to either rush what I was doing or just leave it to TJ to sort it out. I opted for the latter.

TJ then went on to have a long conversation.

"No Daddy, could be a long time - he usually takes ages in the toilet - I can watch a whole Scooby Doo while he is in there." (What!!!!!!!!)

I was now hoping that this was someone trying to offer me a PPI insurance claim service or sell me a new kitchen.

TJ went on, "Papa says we can't go in there for ages after Daddy has been - Papa's poo smells of roses but Daddy's doesn't - thats what Papa says."

By now I was starting to laugh thinking of the poor PPI salesperson having to hear all this.

"I went in once after Daddy and I had to hold my nose - and I went it once after Papa and it didn't smell of roses to me. I don't have smelly poo but my big brother does."

There was then a silence and TJ said, "Ok, I'll tell him you will call back."

Definately a sales call I thought - if it was important they would have left a number.

So I finished what I was doing and took TJ over to collect his big brother from the school bus.

When I came back the phone rang again. I picked it up. "Hello," a lady said, "I called a few minutes ago and had a lovely chat with your son... this is Mrs Smith (our elder son's teacher) arranging next week's parent evening. Are you free to chat now?"

I could have died!

Next week is the Sprog's parent teacher evening and I will be meeting his new teachers for the first time... I am probably already the laughing stock of the staff room... Oh well - time it have a chat with the boys about telephone etiquette I guess.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Fish Finger Risotto

TJ is obsessed with food at the moment. Which is a good thing.

When he first came to us he wouldn't eat anything. He was a slow, fussy, picky eater who lived mainly on a diet of banana and cereal... oh and chocolate. He would live off chocolate if I let him.

It took us a year to get his diet sorted. We put everything out on the middle of the table, Singaporean style, and shared as a family. We only took what we wanted to eat and gradually TJ took more and more until now he will eat a full meal.

Once the children were back at school we went back to the Western way - serving individual plates of food - although we still share at weekends. This was mainly because with both boys at separate schools I spend much of the afternoon running around collecting one child from drama then another from the bus before doing homework, the Sprog gets half an hour of homework every night - which he is coping with really well - more on that later.

Well, then I feed them both and after that is done they have an hour of TV whilst I prepare mine and Papa's dinner before taking the boys up for their bath, bedtime, reading routine.

During this time Papa will get home from his job in the city, just in time to put the boys to bed whilst I cook our dinner.

The sprog loves routine and has slipped easily into this one. TJ has found the change a bit more difficult to get used to and I spent n hour this morning going over his meals for the week and then had to let him know what Papa and I were eating for the week.

Yesterday was fish fingers for the boys - with potatoes and peas naturally. Poor Sprog, he has school dinners provided within the school fees and yesterday his face fell when I placed his plate in front of him, 'What did you have for lunch?" I asked him... yes, you've guessed it, fish fingers, potatoes and peas... oops!

TJ wanted to know what Papa and I were having, 'bacon and leek risotto' I replied. TJ looked stunned... "You have that and you give us fish fingers!!!!!! I want risotto!"

I looked at him, "What is risotto?"I asked him.

Of course he didn't know but he wanted to know everything that was in it - so I took him through the recipe and the minute he saw it contained mascarpone cheese he stopped... "Mascarpone CHEESE," he said, sounding not unlike Wallace in Wallace and Gromit fame, "Cheese??? I'm not eating that."

The Sprog over heard and said, "Daddy's not your servant?" to which TJ replied, "I know that, he's my butler."

What? Where did he get that from - has he secretly been watching Downton?

Still he went back and tucked into his fish fingers and this morning he got up with me to make the bread - which he now wants for his tea, despite it being pasta night!

Monday, 4 November 2013

Back to School - well for one!

So the Sprog went back to school this morning.

I was so pleased with myself. All of his homework had been done and was now in a lovely neat plastic presentation folder. His uniform had been washed and ironed until it looked like new, I had even cleaned out his school bag. His pe kit was cleaned, pressed and placed in a newly cleaned pe bag. The shoes were polished and buffed until I could see my face in them and the Sprog had a lovely new haircut.

He stood at the front door waiting for the school bus looking like a million dollars - until I looked at his neck - and saw nothing... "Where's your tie?" I asked.

He shrugged, "I can't find it." he said.

"What? Why did you wait until now to tell me?" I hollered. It was now nearly 7.30 and th bus was on its way.

"I thought you might be angry," he said.

"Well, I am angry now!" I shouted, "Quick, upstairs. We'll look for it together."

And here came the big shock - intead of the usual mess that greets me when I open the Sprogs door there was a vision of tidiness.

And that was the reason for the lost tie. Yesterday, Papa had told the Srpog to clean his room and the child had duly obeyed. Only his version of tidying meant simply picking everything up off the floor and pushing it behind cupboards, into the wardrobe, under the bed - wherever it would fit.

So we began 'untidying' everything.

Then the bus arrived.

Itook him out to it and explained what had happened and asked the driver if he coul let the school know that I would look for the tie today.

The driver looked at me, "Going back to school always comes round too quickly," he said. I could have hit him.

Instead I smiled and said, "Well, at least thats the onl thing thats missing today."

The driver smiled back - obviously pitying the poor disorganised parent that I now was.

Still I have TJ at home with me today - his teachers have yet another staff training day, so I have one more day of being unable to do anything except entertain the youngster. Still it will be quite fun and at the moment he is doing a jigsaw puzzle - in a moment we are going to play "Let's find the Sprog's tie" that will be a fun game!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Trick or Treat?

So last night we headed out as usual. TJ had decided at the last minute that he didn't like the skeleton mask that went with his scary ninja (don't ask) so I rushed out and got face paints to paint the skull on him. The spog decided he was a werewolf, he is obsessed with the kids tv programme Wolfblood at the moment and needed additional 'blood' for his mask.

Once the kids were ready we sat and waited for Papa to come home as Halloween is always his thing with the boys.

The lead up during the day had been horrendous. Since starting his new school the sprog has been given a huge amount of homework in order to help him catch up with his peers. So Monday we did history, Tuesday we did English Comorehension, Weds was science (which being about animals we did at the zoo) and yesterday was Maths... He screamed, he cried, he shouted... He did everything except his maths... So I screamed and shouted and nearly cried too. In the end he did it... After four hours and immediately afterwards it was as if someone had set off a firework... He spiralled out of control...

So I decided I should go with them on the trick or treat trip.

Papa nearly sent me home. 

I'm not a huge fan of the 'holiday' - I guess because we didn't have it when I was young, well we had Halloween but not the trick or treat part... It was apple bobbing and scary stories in the scout hut... But that's another blog altogether!

Anyway, I set the rule that you only knock on decorated houses and knock only once. Within thirty seconds of receiving their first sweets this rule was forgotten and two small boys were tearing up the street knocking on everything whilst I shouted after them... They even knocked on the doors that said 'trick or treaters not welcome... Thank you' (at least the English are polite with their lack of a sense of humour). There were kids everywhere.... I finally got our two and pulled them back.

Papa accused me of stressing everyone out, "last year I just let them get on with it," he said, "whilst I had a quiet stroll - you are taking all the fun out of it and turning it into an organised ramble!"

I was not happy.

Nor was the old lady who came to the door shouting about 'the big kids who weren't even wearing costumes and were just expecting something for nothing'. After she finished her rant she looked down at our two stunned boys and said, " but you two are little so you can have a sweet!"

As we left TJ looked up at us and quietly said, "now she was scary!"