I know several of my friends read this, so this is really just to bring you up to date with the last couple of days.
The tantrums started Sunday night. Tired and over excited still after the Oxford meet, the boys were in silly mood and would not settle to sleep. After clear warnings, they were grounded – tantrum number one from my beloved eldest. It didn’t last too long – he fell asleep mid scream!
Monday morning I asked him to go to the shop to buy sandwiches for his school trip. He returned empty handed, declaring he didn’t want shop sandwiches as they had nothing he liked, he wanted me to make some. Having no bread, this wasn’t an option! The first tantrum of the day started thus at 7.30 a.m. and continued well over an hour and a half…meaning that he missed the trip. Realising he had missed the trip boosted it, of course. And by tantrum, I mean violent rage and total lack of reason. Necessarily I had to phone in sick and stay with him.
We had a period of calm during which we did a few household jobs together and then sat down to tackle his homework. It was simple enough – finding some information on the internet about a castle and writing it in his own words. He just couldn’t concentrate on it as he was so tired. I suggested a nap. Thus started the second tantrum… more violent than the first. I left him to it and sat in the garden. After about an hour he fell asleep. I had some lunch as he slept.
When he awoke he demanded to play outside on his bike. No way. He was grounded from Sunday evening, and also he should have been at school so playing out was a no no. Thus began tantrum number three. This lasted another hour and a half. Then he quietened down, came out of his room, and..believe it or not… asked again to play out on his bike. Thus began the fourth tantrum of the day… and this one lasted and lasted, far longer than the bolt on the bathroom door, or the door on his toy cupboard.
Smudgelet came home from school and the two of them started messing about, big time, with their tea. I ended up having to separate them. The same happened in the bathroom when they went to clean their teeth. And again when I put them to bed. I listened at the door and the big one was begging the little one to shut up and go to sleep. I extracted the little one, put him on a chair facing the wall, and left him there until he fell asleep……. two hours later (sheer stubbornness)
Meanwhile Dad rang and we had a row on the phone. He interferes with the way I bring the children up and has a clear favourite – as both boys realise. He thinks one can do no wrong and the other can do no good. And he cannot understand that it has to be me who sorts out the problems, not him wading in and taking over.
Another row with Dad this morning – over the same thing – as I was trying to deal with another issue with Tiddles. A penny had somehow dropped into place with him refusing to go back to the shop. I asked him gently whether he had been caught stealing from the shop. It was obvious from his reaction that I had hit the nail on the head, although he refused to admit it until I picked up the phone to call the police. Whereupon, of course, we had yet another tantrum. I really couldn’t handle it – totally overwhelmed. I had to shout and be quite rude at my Dad to get him to go away as he came storming out to sort the child out, which of course has further deteriorated our relationship. In desperation I rang my former social worker, who talked me down!
Tiddles and I shared a cuddle and a drink and a biscuit, and then I took him to school. I rang in sick again and, unable to go home because of Dad, I ran away. Yes, really. I went into town (because that’s where the school is) and bought some new shoes for me and trainers for the boys (grow-into ones), had coffee and cake, went up on the Downs and read my book, and then had a picnic lunch on a bench in a picturesque little town before going to the shop to talk to the manager, and then coming home to talk to my social worker.
Social Services are wonderful. My angel of a social worker listened while I poured my heart out, then came up with loads of really practical suggestions. They are going to try to talk to my Dad, though I can’t see what good that will do as he is very angry – he cannot understand that the boys’ behaviour is typical for emotionally-damaged children and blames social services for “selling me a pup”. More importantly, they are going to fund some serious respite – time for me to get away by myself, and time for me to spend with each of the boys individually.
My social worker also reaffirmed that I’m not a bad parent. That may sound strange, but these things niggle away and you start to feel responsible for everything – you forget that someone else did the damage long long before you had anything to do with the child and in many ways that damage is irrepairable. People often say that these children are lucky and should appreciate what they have. It’s rubbish. They are not lucky at all – if they were, they would be with the family to which they were born. Why should they be grateful? They were “stolen” away from everything they ever knew in life and deposited in a strange place with people who are unrelated to them. However much love there is there, how can they ever feel totally valued when they were rejected and betrayed so thoroughly by the people to whom they should have meant the most? How can they feel that they are ever safe and secure and assured of unconditional love when that has never been their experience? AS adoptive parents we can minimise the hurt, but we cannot take it away or put things right or even begin to understand what it must feel like. The rewards come very late and the process can be soul destroying. I know that well enough.
I am blessed by the love and support and prayers of my friends. It is a wonderful thing. I know that we will get back to a smooth patch, my boys and I, and that I have two boys to be proud of. I fear for my relationship with my father, though and mourn the loss of him as a friend.