Monthly Archives: June 2003

Tears and Tantrums

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.

Thought as much!

Me and my big mouth. A perfect weekend. Then a tantrum from the kids about being told to go to sleep, and then one from me because things aren’t how I’d like them to be and my hands are tied in saying what I think. And I have to choose between two shipmeets, both of which I really want to go to.

AAAAGHHHHHHH

Heavenly

What a heavenly day that was. Yesterday, I mean. I know I didn’t feel too enthusiastic when the alarm went off at 5.45 a.m – well, who would? – but it was well worth while.

Yes, yesterday the Smudgelets and I escaped from reality for the day and were magicked away to the dreaming spires of Oxford. The boys were really excited – such an adventure. We drove into Cowes, singing at the top of our voices along with the tape in the car as everybody knows that sweet singing brings the sunshine out. We were laden with clothes for hot weather, clothes for wet weather, clothes for cold weather, first aid kit and entertainment for the journey. Poor Tiddles suffered the indignity of having to carry his winter coat – well, somehow he has to learn not to lose things, doesn’t he, and goodness only knows where he left his summer raincoat.

It was a lovely crossing on the boat. I love living on an Island. Then a smooth journey by train brought us to Oxford in perfect timing. Tiddles was rather proud to be able to mapread his way to the park to meet the others….and we entered through the gate to a chorus of singing from a random choir, to discover Beenster sitting resplendant in the centre of luxurious blankets and cushions awaiting our arrival.

Everyone arrived one after another bearing an assortment of goodies – picnic extraordinaire. All highly healthy stuff such as strawberries and cream, cherries, doughnuts, strawberries, chocolate bites, strawberries, grapes, crisps and strawberries. Oh, and quiche, of course! It was truly divine to sit there eating and chatting and soaking in the glorious sunshine and beautiful music. And so amazing to feel so at home with people we knew only from the internet.

Thence to the river.. a little walk during which a tiring Smudgelet only moaned twenty times, so that wasn’t bad going. Then two punts-worth of Shipmates hit the water. It was the perfect day for it. Tiddles joined the other punt (which was nice for both of us!) while Smudgelet kept me, Jon and Sean company in the one which Sean kindly took control of for us. I use the term “control” in its loosest possible sense, of course. Though it was nice of him to take it so close to the bank so we could see the flowers and the dragonflies close up.

The ducks were at serious risk.. Smudgelet kept enticing them to the side of the boat with bread, and then Sean would aim to squish them against the concrete bank with the side of the punt. The silly birds, no sooner had we got them free, than they swam straight back in again!.

Tiddles’ favourite moment – apart from trying punting, and paddling the boat along – was when he spotted a moorhen nest with baby chicks peeping out from under their mother. Smudgelet’s favourite was when we asked the other boat to come closer and hand over the strawberries, and Mattachu simply threw them one at a time in our general direction.

I had a go at punting… with varying degrees of success. I decided, quite deliberately of course, that it would be cooler in the shade of the trees! And their low-hanging branches were handy for..er.. wiping the sweat from our brows! Besides, I thought bank-to-bank was how you were supposed to travel along the river to get the best out of it. And anyway, I was doing Oxford a favour, sinking all those punts which were obviously manned by tourists. It was disconcerting, though, when I “walked” my hands to the top of the pole, only for the water to run straight down my arm!

I didn’t get as wet as some I could mention, though. A sudden “splash” heralded the arrival of I.A in the water. It didn’t take long to work out how she’d got there, either, as she clambered back into the punt, clambered along, and bodily threw Mark in…. and promptly punted off, leaving him to swim home! 😉 Of course we went rushing to the rescue…. well, we pointed him in the direction of the bank, anyway!

A lovely moment came as we were standing outside the icecream shop. Smudgelet, for whom standing upright is an anathema (sp?), decided to lean against the nearest object. Sadly for him, it was the icecream advertising sign, one of those swingy ones! He found himself unceremoniously dumped on the ground on his bottom, while the sign swung out, swung back and bopped him on the back of his head. He was most indignant!

The journey home was hard – two tired boys and a tired mother on an overcrowded train, and Smudgelet (on my lap) had a fit of the fidgets. We made it home eventually, though, and I didn’t kill either of them, so that’s a plus.

Today has been equally lovely. After a lie in, I picked my sister up from the ferry and we took my Dad out to lunch. A fantastic meal – two types of meat and as much vegetable as you could fit on your plate (or in your stomach). Utterly delicious…. in fact, would you believe we were too full for pudding? We drove up onto the Downs for that and ate rapidly-melting icecream while sitting on a picnic table overlooking the sea in virtually every direction you looked. Wonderful!

Now it’s back down to earth with a bump…. washing, ironing and washing up all to be done in preparation for tomorrow. Might wing it with the lesson plans, though !!!

I’ve enjoyed this weekend.

Exhausted!

(PS… typical. I don’t go to the Bryan Adams concert because I have no-one to go with. It’s part of the IOW Rock Festival. Then my friend phones and in the course of the conversation tells me that he is going. His wife was going too but the babysitter couldn’t sit so they GAVE THE TICKET AWAY!!!! Still, I suppose it could have been worse… they could have asked me to babysit!)

Kids !

Interesting conversation this morning. “OK, so we wore jewellery which is against school rules, we shared answers in the test, we talked, we answered back and argued the toss whenever you spoke to us, we sat and drew pictures on each others’ arms, and we carried on even after you gave us a final warning, but we did the work so what’s your problem?” This from two thirteen year old girls. It took most of break to explain the problem to them (oh, how sad) and I still suspect they don’t get it.

This in contrast to yesterday when the toughest girl I teach suddenly turned to me and said “I like you, you’re all right”. Amazing! I didn’t know what to say!

Test with Year Seven yesterday – the test was due to take 20 mins and they were to have the rest of the hour as extra play. It took thirty minutes to get them sitting at separate tables and quiet. Thirty minutes! After the test they had 10 minutes of sitting and listening to a lecture!!! Then I felt awful this morning when they came and brought me a beautiful letter to apologise!

My year fives and year sixes amazed me, though. They’re doing some work which is far beyond what they should be able to do, and thoroughly enjoying the challenge. I really can’t believe they’re doing it…and certainly couldn’t believe it when they suddenly said “Can we do some more of that multiples game?”

My own kids? More tantrums last night – both of them being a pain. I finally lost it when Tiddles informed me that he was tantrumming because he was worried about his girlfriend – he’s ten! – because he hadn’t seen her on the bus for a few days. This may be because he’s not actually travelling on the bus at the moment.

Conversation in the car: We’re going to be second cousins. Our cousin’s girlfriend is pregnant. S is going to be a daddy so we’ll be second cousins, won’t we? Mummy, is it a baby she’s going to have?

…. followed closely by… “Will the baby be a boy or a girl or what?”

Oh, and I am feeling rather smug, by the way… used my washing machine expertise to mend the staffroom dishwasher! Hooray for clean dishes for my cuppa.

I knew it

Yesterday I spent four hours in a church kitchen; preparing and serving salads, making coffees, setting and clearing tables, washing up and putting crockery and cutlery away.

Today I spent two hours in a church kitchen; preparing and serving salads, making coffees, setting and clearing tables, washing up and putting crockery and cutlery away.

Difference? Different church, different workmates, different pattern on the teatowels. Got deliberately soaked with washing up water by a different man for making precisely the same supportive comment 😉

Oh, and I played the organ beforehand. Went well, apart from “At the Name of Jesus” for which I bribed several members of the congregation to sing extra loud. This seemed to cover the fact that I can’t play octaves and chords very well…. indeed I was complimented by several people after the service. One of the benefits of worshipping in a church where everyone else is over seventy and deaf.

Meet your fete

So much for having a lie in yesterday – it was the church fete. I was up at the crack of dawn to finish wrapping parcels for posting (two of them all the stuff our visitors had left when they came to stay!) Then a quick dash down to the church – adorned with bunting of course – (the church, not me) to make a start on coffees for the workers.

SO once more I found myself chained to the sink in the church kitchen. Mind you, it’s a long time since I’ve shared the sink with Ken, who’s great for a laugh, even if I did end up soaked into the process. And it was rather nice to find myself able to take the pace for the whole four hours of taking orders, making lunches and drinks, washing up and clearing tables. You know, I could quite fancy owning a cafe! (as long as I got enough money to employ staff, of course) I won’t tell Chris I thought of him when I was put in charge of the squirty cream!

Utter embarrassment as Dad won the raffle – having declared his intention of doing so, and the raffle lady having promised to make sure his ticket was on top. (He’s an incorrigible flirt, you know). It’s a set of saucepans. Now at last maybe he’ll part with some of the many that my mum was given as a wedding present nearly sixty years ago. I think the sentimental value of them is rather outweighed by the fact that they’re heavy and dented and there are five million of them. What did I win? A pack of three tennis balls. I ask you!

Smudgelet helped wait on table a little… he was asked to take the rolls over to a lady who hadn’t had one with her meal, so he grabbed a roll, wandered over, and plonked it on a plate, saying “there you go”. Somehow I don’t think he has a role in life as a waiter. Tiddles does, actually – he does a wonderful job, as my sister told him shortly before he dropped all the cutlery on the floor.

Shame the lasagne burnt – but then it wouldn’t be a church meal without something being burnt or underdone, would it? And I wasn’t having lasagne anyway.

Church Anniversary today. Mad dash to swimming, mad dash home again to pick up my father, then mad dash back to church, hopefully in time to practise the excrutiatingly difficult hymns before the service starts (unlikely). Then, naturally, the Church Anniversary Lunch! Oh how I wish I liked salad! Still, it will be good for my figure, I assume. At least I’m not preparing it… but I have a horrible feeling there’s a teatowel with my name on it!

Guess what!

Another staff birthday…….. more cake in the staffroom!

You will be proud of me, I didn’t have any chocolate cake at all. And I didn’t have a single chocolate. I had several, but not a single one! Well, it was wet break and I was the only person in the staffroom.

My Year Eights had a transfer exam this morning. (Yes, more invigilating) These are my tough-guys, my reprobates, the ones who are hardest to win and hardest to teach and who think learning and working is for wimps. You can imagine my delight to discover that in the year I’ve been working with them, they have actually made a year’s progress. Miracle of miracles. Their results were so good, it was all I could do to stop myself hugging them when I told them. And it was rather nice to see them fighting back the smug looks and trying to look nonchalent. I didn’t tell them that I had a go at the test too, and got one wrong!

Would you believe it? I ordered the Tesco delivery to come between 9 and 11 pm because I had to go and fetch Tiddles back from Cubs during the previous hour. What happens, he comes early. So my sister, who’s babysitting, gets a visit from the Tesco man, and all I get is a bag full of melted icecreams when I get home. And he’s wasted on her… I mean, she’s old and she’s married 😉 (Ooops, must remember not to let her read my Wiblog or that’s a willing babysitter out of the window, not to mention my Christmas present)

Tiddles is fractionally more settled after another bad night the other night. He slept last night as I threatened that he’d not be able to go to Cubs tonight if he didn’t. I felt a bit mean, but what do you do? Tonight Cubs has thoroughly worn him out so he was asleep before he had time to think about anything. Lots of people are praying for him, though, and we are doing plenty of talking. It’d just be nice to be able to put a plaster on and kiss it better and know he’d be OK.

The computer man came tonight. Lovely chap – he’s fitted a new DVD player for me. He tried to get the original to malfunction as I’d told him it had been doing, cutting out after a certain length of time playing, but it refused to cooperate and made me out to be a liar. He sat there listening to my music (hmmm…. should have put something a little more classy in the DVD drive!) and relaxing. He should have been paying ME, I reckon! Hopefully the new drive will solve the problem, though.

Amazingly I had told him about a spasmodic error message and problem I’m having with my computer generally, knowing full well that it wouldn’t do it while he was around…… and when he tried to restart the computer with the new drive, lo and behold the error message popped up and he was able to take down all the details. Hooray! I offered to pay him and he said he’d let me off as he’d run out of invoices. 😀 Shame that he went on to say he’d send the bill!

I have gone mad this evening and ordered all the Diana Gabaldon books from Amazon. Well, a little self-indulgence never did anyone any harm. Now, where did I put that Pride and Prejudice video?

Ooops

There’s a little crowd of us here in the computer room. We all asked the printer to print off our reports, and it has gone into shock! We can’t cancel the print and can’t just leave it to get on with it because these reports are confidential and there will be a class in here in a moment. A room of trapped teachers!!!

Had a lovely peaceful morning. Some unexpected tests have arrived.. I LOVE invigilating 🙂 This is the life. I won’t mention that it actually postponed the Data Handling module yet again – which apparently I have to teach to Year Seven as well. Sunshine with a silver lining to boot!

Cakes in the staffroom again at break and lunchtime. I ignored the chocolate ones and felt very proud of myself. Of course, I had to have the tangerine gateau as consolation. Besides, it wouldn’t have been very friendly towards the purchaser of the gateaux to refuse to eat it, would it? The dinner lady was very impressed at lunchtime when I refused an iced bun and had an apple instead. Little did she know…..

Had a close encounter with the water boiler in the staffroom this morning. Well, with the water from it, to be a bit more precise. Ouch! Still, it takes my mind off my burnt mouth from yesterday’s doughnut. Warming it slightly in the microwave seemed such a good idea at the time (the doughnut, not my mouth).

Quote of the day from Smudgelet: Mummy, I know why the baddie in Star Wars is called Daft Vader… it’s because he’s daft!

Data Handling

Ok, so I can’t work out what on earth I am supposed to be teaching my Year Eight class next lesson so I am hiding my wiblogging behind my empty lesson-planning sheet and pretending to be working industriously on the staffroom computer. Data Handling? I thought I could do data handling, but this work pack leaves me scrabbling for the dictionary. Hmm… the maths coordinator reckoned I may need to “tweak” some of the figures in the work pack to make it suitable for my special needs kids….. Hmmm, wish he’d “tweaked” the teacher manual for me!

Lovely to see my brother last night. He has lost loads of weight – the rat. How could he? My one consolation was that he had a bigger tum than I.. and now he’s betrayed me. I see only one thing for it – I shall have to give up alcohol too. Only one small problem with that…. His other contributing factor was apparently increasing his exercise – one small problem with that, too! I shall have to do something, though, if I am to fit into my favourite dress without pinging the buttons across the room again!

Lovely to see my friend J last night, too. She is also my social worker and had some good suggestions to make regarding our current situation. Poor Tiddles is so distressed at the moment that he has made his mind up never to go to sleep again. This meant an hour stood by his bed at half past ten at night, holding and stroking his hand until he finally fell deep enough asleep for me to leave without him noticing. Hopefully some of the strategies being put in will help. It was nice just to talk to J, though – the good thing about having a social worker (well, one that you trust, anyway) is that you can tell them everything.

So, “is this tabular representation helpful in addressing the hypothesis?” Good question.

Mr-Computer-Man wasn’t able to come round last night – think he may arrive tonight, bearing a new DVD drive. Better find where I put my cheque book. I used to be so organised – you wouldn’t believe it, would you?

Anyway, now that I have given up alcohol, I reckon I deserve a doughnut. What do you reckon?