Friday, 31 May 2013

The Holiday by the Sea

We are about to go off on holiday - our first one together - and we are both very, very, excited.
PJ has been desperate to see the sea - as she has memories of going on holiday with her foster carers previously, which she clearly loved, so the stakes are high.
I've tried not to feel the pressure of my perception of what children might have experienced with their foster carers and comparing it to what I might be able to do and afford but at times I have wondered if I will do it well enough. That aside, this is our chance to create new memories and for us to be family and hopefully set some traditions in place that will form our basis of our family holiday - and all that that means for us. There is no pre-requisite, so I should not pre-judge myself.
We have talked for months on and off about going on holiday and her memories of her holiday and I have re-affirmed that one day we will go on holiday but not yet.
I didn't want to go too far away as I didn't want to trigger the going back to where she has come from for PJ and I also have heard stories from adopters of the first holiday not being so great so don't want to travel to far if we need to come home - or for the holiday to be too long. We have only been away for a couple of one night stays away from home so far and only travelled for a couple of hours to reach our destination. With this in mind, I began to plan. I have studied the maps and worked out which beaches we can get to without driving for hours and hours and hours and hours and then have to travel forever again to get home. Success is my aim for this holiday experience, rather than a big holiday to the sun via a plane!
I found what I wanted and booked it.
I kept it quiet until we broke up for Nursery half term holidays break as it would have overwhelmed PJ and the excitement would have been too much, I fear.
The Nursery holidays arrived and I announced that we would go to the seaside for our holiday.
Big beaming smile and then the list of what we will do - dig in the sand, splash in the sea, build and sandcastle, eat ice cream, go for a donkey ride and eat fish and chips.
We have done a countdown from 5 sleeps to go and had a few wet pants and a little hitting the last few days, it has to be said -  but I have managed to pull in the reigns quickly and we have both hung in there, whilst counting down for our holiday by the sea. Then yesterday and today PJ has helped me select a few toys and favourite DVD's and books to take with us. She has done really well.
And now it is only 1 more sleep to go.
So, we have swimming costume, beach towel and bucket and spade packed and ready waiting by the door.
Little house by the sea, here we come.
We can't wait.
Some sun would be nice but right now we don't care.
Excitement has taken over.
In reality, I now need to pack my own clothes.
I hope everything fits in the car!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Best of 3

What toy would you like to take with us today? I asked, as I pulled the scooter out from the cupboard, getting ready to go out.
Um, Zebra, my doll and my pastry brush, PJ called back, decisively.
Well Zebra is too big and won't fit in my bag, I'm afraid, I said and reminded her that is only one toy to choose to come with us.
So, think again, I said.
Baby doll or the pastry brush?
You choose.
I held them out, ceremoniously, one in each hand.
My pastry brush, PJ said, jumping for joy and reaching out for the pastry brush.
Pastry brush it is.
For the scooter ride to see the ducks.
You gotta love the heuristic play, haven't you!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Precious Moments

This Weeks theme for the Adoption Shout Out #WASO is on Treasured Memories. For me, these are my precious moments to be treasured close to my heart - the things I have hoped and dreamed of and for and waited and waited for the fulfilment of being a Mum, a parent, of investing in and sharing life with another. A child. A daughter. Mine.
So, here are some of my firsts, my Precious Moments.
  1. Being told yes by panel chair for approval.
  2. Seeing the profile photo of PJ for the first time.
  3. Getting the phone call of a yes from meeting PJ social workers and family finders.
  4. Preparing for PJ: Introduction book, decorating room, buying buggy and car seat.
  5. Getting cards and encouragements from friends.
  6. Getting the yes recommendation from matching panel.
  7. being asked if I wanted to go and meet PJ for the first time after our Planning Meeting.
  8. PJ opening the door to me and saying I am her new Mummy and asking if I wanted to go in and play.
  9. First visit home.
  10. Making a big mess with glitter and paint and the cat joining in, sitting down on it.
  11. Holding hands and walking, skipping and jumping together.
  12. The Christmas Nativity Play, when PJ was dressed as an angel and called from the stage: Mummy I need you and I went to her.
  13. Being called Mummy rather than Mummy and a first name added on.
  14. PJ saying: Mummy, I love you all by herself.
  15. PJ rolling in mud and loving it.
  16. The train ride.
  17. PJ sitting on my lap watching a DVD
  18. PJ smiling when we play hide and seek.
  19. PJ dancing and twirling in the lounge.
  20. Dancing in the lounge with our umbrellas.
  21. Going down the slide at the soft play.
  22. Cooking Basghetti Gamanese (Spaghetti Bolognese) and being told it is Belicious, with a beaming face sat opposite me all covered in sauce, as the plate is held up empty like a trophy, in triumph.
  23. Going to a wedding and PJ singing Happy Wedding Day to you - and everyone joining in.
  24. Saying grace before a meal with friends and PJ thanking God for her New Mummy.
  25. Running Mother and Daughter race at Nursery Sports Day.
  26. Saying goodnight at bedtime and telling PJ I love her and PJ saying I love you too Mum.
  27. Hearing Mamma, is it morning and are we going to Nursery, today? first thing in the morning.
  28. Baking cakes and sharing the icing and sprinkles.
  29. Changing batteries for PJ on her electric guitar and getting a hug and a thanks Mum.
  30. Celebrating Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, shared joy, together.
Sit back and listen to this - a blast from the past - in honour of those of us who have hoped and dreamed for our dreams to be fulfilled and wondered in the long process of the Journey towards adoption when the link from seeing a photo will become a reality. Enjoy this Precious Moments
I couldn't resist it - on sooo many levels - added to my thoughts are that in this particular video - where the audience all sit as if wooden, as if missing it completely. Some people just don't get adoption, or think that we can have precious and treasured moments and attachments, do they?

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Party Dress Code

We have had a few parties that we have been to these last few months with some of PJ's friends from Nursery. It has been lovely to see the beam on her face when I have shared the invitation with her, as she still can't read and the fun we have had choosing and geting a gift and card ready and then on the day told her that today is the day. Party day.
They have been in soft play type places with a chance to play and then food and then play again at the end before we go home.
With about 30 wee children from the Nursery.
My idea of hell.
And by the look and actions of PJ it has been her idea of hell too.
Party number one was within a few weeks of PJ arriving and it was with one of my friends children at one of these soft play areas, with friends she would later meet at Nursery, when she would start to go. She was still at the stage of really not wanting to wear socks at all - she doesn't wear socks, said her foster carer. I tried a little, aware that we would be fats approaching winter and the need for socks would happen but had mostly settled for shoes when we absolutely needed them - the choose your battles approach equals a win win.
We arrive. Excited and wearing an eclectic mix of clothes, jewellry, hat and handbag from her dressing up box and clip clop shoes. The news is broken to us that she would need to wear socks to go into the soft play area. I didn't even have a pair of socks with me!
A kind Mum went to her car and my friend and I tried telling PJ that she would need to wear socks.
She ran off into the soft play area, anyway, returning a few minutes later looking a bit sheepish and crestfallen. My friends husband had been trying to explain to her that she needed to wear socks.
She lay on the floor.
We showed her the pictures of the no bear feet and showed her the socks.
She ran off again and disappeared deep into the play area.
Again, she returned to us, sheepish, and it seemed that one of the staff and others had spoken to her and sent her out.
Socks worn.
Then the party food time came. A room set out with long tables with benches either side and all the children sat around and their parents was completely overwhelming for PJ.
Besides, when she is anxious, eating comes way down on the list.
Add the choice in her head of eat food with a room full of people or play, and play wins.
For several subsequent parties, PJ has struggled with sitting and staying in the room with the others for the food time. It has been too overwhelming for her.
I have found a quiet place on our own to sit with some food, instead and gradually at each party encouraged her to sit with the others a little more. It will take time but it is getting better each time we go.
As long as we keep being invited to parties...
You see, she can also hit others.
She is quite honest and comes to me, looking all sad and comes for a hug and then says: Mummy I pushed some children. They were in my way.
Sure enough, I hear the wails of said child as their parent seeks to comfort them and I reassure PJ that we can sort it out and say that we don't need to push but we can say excuse me for them to move out of the way, or wait for them to go first and then we can all play nicely. We then go together and say sorry to the child - and the parent - and play resumes.
Play resumes after PJ is calm and says sorry.
It is hit and miss - literally!
It all happens randomly and very quickly to the observer.
All playing nicely and then boom.
Sometimes I don't even see it and a parent comes to me and says: Just to let you know, your daughter has just hit my child.
Sometimes several children.
I am mortified.
Then I remember, I used to do the same.
Aggression and the hurting child. Push others away. Adoption and Aggression and random acts of spite can go hand in hand whilst the deep pain in our hearts have that searing pain until more healing comes. I used to hit and scratch and come home with blood pouring down my face from ballet class when I was 3, my Mum would say.
I need nerves of steel for this parenting at a party.
Sorry, I say and do my best to reassure the crying child and rescue PJ from the situation and do my best to try and resolve the situation and work on rebuilding relationships with both children and adults alike.
Some adults are more tricky than the children.
Sometimes I have more resilience myself to deal with it, than others.
I take a deep breath and clam and order is restored.
Armour is my new dress code.
Calm and confidence is my make up.
Sorry and grace is my perfume.
Peace, perseverance and patience are my sparkly and ridiculously high heeled shoes.
Other times my smile is knocked sideways and I wear my heart on my sleeve and want to cry.
I think nerves of steel need to be my new underwear. Forget magic pants.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Scooter, the Bike and the Walking

I haven't blogged for a while - a lot has been happening - but first let me tell you of some of our successes in our modes of transport with the sunshine we have been having these last few weeks: scooter, bicycle and feet.
When PJ first came to me she didn't have much road sense or sense of listening to instructions or following them through. She had lots of determination and showed lots of speed when running. She was really fast and when she runs off and thinks you are chasing her, she thinks it is a game. She can run off in the opposite direction too, at great speed, along with the word NOOOOOOooooo! During introductions, I witnessed her running alongside a quiet road with the foster carer walking on behind and her calling out instructions to wait at the next landmark and PJ may or may not have waited at the next landmark. She had progressed since she had first been with her foster carers greatly from running off and not seemingly being bothered to this point, but I needed a little more security and road sense for when she would come to be with me.
We discussed using reigns or buggy as a more secure alternative when PJ came home to me and decided we would try reigns. It was met with screams and tantrums and much wailing and kicking and almost gnashing of teeth - or was that me doing the gnashing? I tried reigns twice and gave up and used the buggy. I have loved it and it has been a life and sanity saver at times.
Buggy it has been. Everywhere.
For months and months and months the buggy has been our trusted friend and ally. Sometimes there has been great resistance to getting in the buggy or back in the buggy after we have had a chance at running free in the park, but for the most part the buggy has been the best thing I purchased before PJ came to me.
She has napped in it, sat quietly in it, sung happily in it and screamed and kicked all the way around the shops in it. Buggy has been watched and needed to be brought closer to our table when we have sat at a table in a cafe and has been got back into at times, probably for extra security, at times.
We have been practising running and doing good listening in the park and have practised walking around the block in a very quiet few streets to buy a lollipop from the lollipop shop.
Now, months on and as summer is approaching we have begun practising walking and using the bike and the scooter a little. We are still using the buggy for longer walks - and it is really useful for carrying shopping!
We began with the bike. The first few times we went to the park with the bike it was a great success and PJ loved it. However, it hasn't been without it's trials. Even with stabilisers, we have had a few falls in the park. The other day, I suggested that we take the bike out with us to the park and this was met with many wails and arms gesticulating in the air as she twirled around saying: " but No Mummy, No! My bicycle is not very good at cycling."
Love it!
So, the bicycle practise is on hold just now...
We have practised walking to the park and playing football. Success!
We have begun walking to a lollipop shop hand in hand which is going well. We will keep working on the walking adjective, rather than hopping or jumping or leaping along hand in hand but so far, so good. For short distances.
We have also been using the scooter. Today was a brilliant success. She scooted along and stopped and walked with me hand in hand when we crossed roads or downhill and listened to the places where I said it would be safe to scoot.
I am delighted with each of these successes and very proud of my little girl.
I think I might need to get a scooter myself too.
What do you think?
I am quite enjoying this new found freedom.
Anyone else have a grown up scooter, or recommend one?