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.
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.