Thursday, 29 January 2015

I'm Busy Doing Nothing...

So I've just had a meeting with our youngest's lovely headteacher.

He has had a bit of a difficult week which resulted in him falling out with another, boy. He has had a brilliant term - I know this because I have barely had to go into school since September, which is unheard of. Anyway, I won't go into details but suffice to say that TJ came off worse in the fight and had pulled out the 'I'm being bullied' card - which then had to be investigated. He's not being bullied - but he is being a little bit aggressive, especially over things that 'belong' to him. Like the football he kicked from a boy two years older - not a problem, except the boy was holding it at the time - and he retaliated.

So, the Head and I agreed that the best way forward was to get the two boys to apologise to each other and shake hands and be friends again - sometimes, the old fashioned ways are still the best.

But she also wanted to talk about the incredible progress TJ has made, both emotionally and educationally - he is doing really well. In many ways the 'scuffle' was a positive thing as TJ was showing that he was becoming more assertive, an individual and more of a 'normal' (for want of a better phrase) little boy.

I was quite relieved. Although he is being a little swine with me...

Last night he, KC and myself were chatting together in the car and KC asked who was cleverer, Papa or me? To which TJ immediately answered, 'Papa, of course, he has a job and goes to work - Daddy doesn't do anything."

I think my jaw nearly hit the floor - doubly so when KC reprimanded his younger brother saying, "you can't speak to Daddy like that!"

To which TJ replied, "But it's true - he doesn't do anything - he just sits at home all day."

It's funny because rather than get cross I went back to a similar conversation I had with my brother about our mum, she stayed at home as well - I think most mum's did back then, but we assumed that she did nothing as well. It's only now, as a parent, I realise just exactly how much she did for us.

Yes, I am studying and writing - but I enjoy those things and to TJ, it must just look as though I am playing on the computer. I enjoy cooking, as does TJ, so he doesn't see the preparing of meals as a chore. I'm quite tidy, as is he - so to him, I simply do the things he likes.

I told Papa about it and he was furious, really angry. Mainly because I didn't react. But I'm learning to choose my battles - one day, I may have to go away for work or to study and TJ will see exactly what I do - my getting cross with him would only have fed the argument he obviously wants to have.

Am I avoiding it?

Possibly - but my being called into school shows that he is going through a change of mood at the moment - and my rising to the bait, isn't going to do anything to lessen that.

Maybe I should have been cross - but instead I can write it here and get it out of my system.

On another note the Head Teacher also told me that, although she adores KC, taking him out of school was the best decision we could have made for TJ. Sometimes I wonder if we did the right thing so its nice to have it verified by a professional who know both boys.

Likewise as we travelled to KC's school this morning he looked at me and smiled, a truly joyful smile, "I love my school." he said simply.

Despite all the challenges that lie ahead for him, getting the SEN in place, a specialist school twice a week - he does truly love it there - so maybe we made the best decision for him as well.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Statutory Assessment - the forms!

And so the quest for support continues - now it's learning support for our eldest.

After meeting with the school and then with the local education authority and, oddly enough, chatting with the virtual headteacher for our area, everyone seems to be in agreement that KC has additional needs that cannot be met by the school alone.

Everyone agrees, but I still have to get the paperwork in (as do the school) and even then there is no guarantee that an assessment will be even made - we are simply requesting the assessment at the moment. The Head teacher said to me in our meeting that they have other children with 'statements' in school - but none of them are as severely in need as KC - this is his third school in three years - why has no-one picked up on this? Which was also her argument.

But I can also see that KC has been battling his own demons, coming out of care and into an adoptive family is a tough journey. Then having to deal with his past and therapy for his behaviour, triggered by memories of his past abuse. Of course, as he settled so he found it easier to share his feelings, although often not in an appropriate way - and that was a learning curve for us as well.

Now, I think he has finally found a school where he is genuinely happy. Lots of sports, drama, creative activities and within half a term of his being there school has placed him into a specialist programme for dyslexic children - he attends there twice a week with another boy from his year group, so he even has friends...

But, it was incredibly emotional for me - to sit down and chat with a head teacher who 'gets it' - who understood what KC is about - her SEN teacher was also with us on the chat and she previously worked at our adoption agency, it really is a small world. After finally being listened to I thought I was going to cry - I just kept saying 'thank you'. The Head told me this was going to be a long hard fight but that KC needed the input - he is so far behind his year group - which can be due to so many factors. But, he was polite, cheerful, very worried about me (apparently) and a lovely little boy - was it really the same KC?

She is going to fight with me to get this little boy everything he needs so he can simply take part in class. The gaps in his education are huge - probably due to missed opportunties in his early years, although they can't rule out other factors such as undiagnosed Foetal Alcohol Syndrome - or something similar.

I told her I had fought for the boys from the minute they arrived. Getting their promised post adoption support to actually materialise had resulted in three stages of complaint with their placing authority and my working with the local Government Ombudsman. We eventually ended up in court.  Nothing about this adoption had ever been easy. She didn't seem surprised, I think the SEN teacher had filled her in on adoption practices.

I came out of the meeting with mixed emotions - pleased that KC was at a school that understands his needs and is willing to help him  achieve his potential but also angry at myself and the previous schools who had missed it - perhaps I should have pushed harder. And already exhausted from the next round of obstacles I know are going to be placed in our way to prevent me from getting the funding for the educational support this little boy, who has suffered so much and yet continues to come through it all, needs!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What Happens To Me When you Die?

"What happens to me when you die?"

That was KC's little gem of a question over breakfast this morning. I wasn't really prepared. I'm doing the Dryathalon for Cancer Research and am finding waking up in the mornings with a clear head quite unnerving (that was a joke by the way - before I get told off!...).

He carried on munching his toast. 

"What do you mean?" I asked him, "If I die, which I hope I won't, then Papa will look after you, won't he?"

"But what if he dies too - what if there's a really big car crash and the car explodes and you and Papa are both killed. What happens to me?"

I was a bit taken aback by the vivid description of our death and his seeming ability to be unfazed by it. I loved the fact that he wasn't at all upset by the thought of Papa and I being destroyed in a fireball but worried more about what happens to him afterward - and, I noted, there was no mention of his brother - just him.

But, I guess thats the joy of being ten - life is all about you. Mind you, I know quite a few adults who still think like that.

I looked over at TJ who was now staring intently at me over his bowl of cereal. I could see they were both waiting for an answer.

"Well," I began, "In the, hopefully, unlikely event that Papa and I should both be killed in a car accident then you will probably go and live with your Aunty and Uncle in Manchester (my sister) or with Aunty and Uncle in Singapore (Dylan's sister). And Granny would want you or even your Godparents, Fairy and Furry."

"So I don't have to go back into care then?" KC asked.

"No," I reassured him, "You have a family now - not just our family but a whole extended family that includes Grandparents and Aunties and Uncles and cousins and lots of people who would happily look after you should anything happen to Papa and me. No-one would see you go back into care. Ok?"

KC seemed happy with this answer and TJ went back to eating his cereal.

I don't know whre this sudden insecurity had come from. Perhpas it's a sign of his willingness to accept that this is a forever home and yet, at the same time, he questions what happens if the two people who offer the forever home disappear - as so many people have in his life. After all, most children don't even have to consider the difference between their 'home' and a 'forever home'.

"If you do die," TJ suddenly piped up, "I think I'll choose to go and live in Singapore - I don't support Manchester Untied so I won't live there."

I was about to tell him that I don't think he would actually get to choose and that I'm pretty sure there are more Man Utd fans in Singapore than there are in Manchester but decided against it and just nodded as the two boys weighed up the various pro's and cons of living with the various family members. 

Again, I noticed sadly, there was no remorse shown about our demise. 

I hope they at least come to the funeral.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

I blame the Prime Minister....

Well, it's been a while... but Christmas is now well and truly over.

The boys are back at school, Papa is back at work and I am back to normality. If normality includes having three Open University assignments to be completed and handed in within the next two weeks - trust me to choose to do three courses at once, I thought I was being productive...

Christmas was great fun in the end. I got the dreaded flu bug and was knocked off my feet for the first few days, then I handed the baton onto KC who in turn passed it onto his 91 year old Nan. That caused great concern but as Nan said, 'It'll take a lot more than a few germs to make her miss out on all the sherry!"

We all blame TJ, who in turn blames the prime minister. Let me elaborate.

Just before Christmas we were lucky enough to be invited to 10 Downing Street for the Children's Christmas Party, hosted by Edward Timpson, the children's minister. He mad a brief appearance towards the end, I think he felt safer if he let the parents have a few glasses of mulled wine before he showed up - although the lady I was chatting with was practically lying in wait so she could demand to know more about her children's adoption support. I wouldn't have crossed her, with or without mulled wine.

But, actually he was very pleasant, even though he looks about twelve. The boys had a great time, they met the 'real' Father Christmas (because as TJ told us, the Prime Minister wouldn't have a fake Father Christmas in his house) and watched the reindeer play in the garden. They met Paddington and one of the princesses from Frozen (I think that was who she was meant to be). Anyway they loved it and afterwards Papa and I decided we needed to eat some proper food - the canapes were lovely but incredibly small (austerity canapes?) -  although the boys filled up on sandwiiches and crisps. So we walked into Chinatown for dim sum. On the way TJ decided he didn't feel very well and by the time we got home he had a raging temperature - and so the flu came to visit our house - hence TJ blames the PM for our family illness. I'm sure Nanny would approve.

Apart from that Christmas was fun. We had my Mum, Granny down to stay along with her ASBO dog - which meant that the cat had to go to the cattery and our older dog spent most of the time hiding under the bed. the puupy loved ASBO though and the two of them spent the holiday period play fighting and generally getting up to no good.

Poor Granny still had a cough though, which I then got, followed by KC and then TJ. Poor Papa, at one point he resorted to watching the television with the subtitles turned on as he couldn't hear it over the noise of our 'hacking'.

But, all is back to normal now. The boys are still a bit stunned by the sudden going back to school - in fact they both look decidedly hung over each morning , as if they can't quite believe what is happening. Mum and ASBO have gone home and I have finally managed to get the house back to normal, although I imagine I will be finding pine needles well into August.

Next stop - Chinese New Year!