Monday, 26 March 2012

School trip and kitchen dancing

This morning was our first test of a morning routine, as we had to be at Joe's new school for 9.15 for a tour. We made it, but how G is going to do it on his own remains to be seen! We've fallen on our feet with the school we've got him into, it's really highly respected and most people that we've told have questioned how on earth we managed to get a place as they are hard to come by - the one advantage of being a looked after child is that you get to choose which school you want, and they are obliged to take you!

The Welfare Co-ordinator showed the four of us all around the school - Joe seemed quite excited by the playground (school's have changed a lot since the 80's!). We went to his new classroom and he and his brother sat on the carpet to be introduced to the other children (what is it with schools and nursery's and 'carpet'?). Joe was a bit shy so I sat behind him with a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Charlie on the other hand, 2 years his junior, was far from shy and was happily jabbering on!

The class left to go off to sing and Joe was very upset he couldn't go with them. I think he's desperate to find friends, having been removed from his old school two weeks ago, where he was a popular member of his class. We sat and talked to his teacher, Joe getting very withdrawn at this point and clinging to me for comfort, but when I suggested his teacher showed him where she kept the cars, he was off like a shot! We went to the school office to buy his book bag, PE bag, PE T-shirt, school tie and jumper. He was clearly getting distressed by this point and it was getting too much for him, but we left and went outside and had a good long cuddle. We bought him a 'tangle' over the weekend and it was getting some good use today.

We booked for him to go back in for an hour on Wednesday at a point where he can have a play with some of the other children in his class, just to ease the pressure a bit on the first day of term. Then as a reward for being so brave, we went out for a drink and some cake in the high street. We also went to Clarks to haemorrhage money on shoes. Both boys came to us with only one pair of shoes that fitted, and as the weather this week is positively tropical, they needed sandals, so we bought a pair each, plus a pair of school shoes and PE plimsols for Joe.

We walked home, stopping off to buy buckets and spades on the way, as to date we've been the mean parents that take their kids to the sandpit without any toys, and then it was home for lunch. After lunch we went to the park that is fast becoming a favourite and played for an hour or more in the sand. Charlie got on a ride and asked me to push him fast, I got a bit carried away and he fell off. Ooops! I felt terrible, and had to reassure him that Daddy would never hurt him deliberately.

I took a phone call from our social worker whilst at the park. The boys have a social worker that visits them regularly between now and when we go to court for the adoption order, and we also retain our own social worker, the same person that has taken us through the assessment. Her job is to ensure that G and I are coping and to give us time to reflect. She's visiting on Thursday but today she also suggested that she comes round one evening next week when the kids are in bed, so that we can talk without interruption and reflect on the things the boys are saying and doing, to see if there's any further therapeutic parenting or intervention required. She said that the natural tendency is for parent to normalise behaviour, especially when things are going really well, but that it's important to remember that we are parenting hurt children, and even if things are going well, we need to reflect on what is and what isn't being said, to help us to understand how to best look after them. She said that she thought we were doing all the right things, but reminded me that the first two months are crucial and that really the only thing we need to focus on is the bonding - if we get that right, the rest will follow, but get that wrong and we may never get it back. It really made me reflect and I think made me much more tolerant this afternoon.

That being said, we both feel quite different tonight. It's the first night we've put them to bed and not both felt absolutely wiped out. It's actually been a great day today. The boys have both been great fun to be with and we've had a real laugh with them. Charlie has a great imagination, today, when I was carrying him back from the park (better than a gym work out) he was happily telling me that today was his birthday. I said that if I had known I would have got him presents, to which he said he had lots in his bedroom. I asked him what he had been given, to which he said that he had chocolate, a cake and a Christmas tree, but that the Christmas tree had been eaten up in one big gulp by the big bad wolf.

We had great fun before dinner, both the boys were stood on chairs at the worktop helping Papa, and then I put some music on and the boys asked if they could dance, so all four of us did some kitchen dancing. There has been a lot of laughter in the house, and no tears today.

The boys are asking us to do a lot of things for them, like getting them dressed and in Joe's case, taking him to the toilet even though he's more than capable of doing it himself. We were in two minds about how much to indulge them in this, but reflecting on our social workers reminder that for now, they just need to know that we can care for them and keep them safe, we're viewing this as their test of us, so we're going to go with it and do as much for them as they want us to do.

Joe mentioned his older sister today for the first time. We were eating G's birthday cake and he asked if cake was good for you. I replied and said that it had a lot of sugar in, but knowing that Joe fears that sugar will 'make you die' (as he told G the first time he saw him putting sugar in his coffee) I said that lots of food has sugar in, and it's okay if we only eat it in small quantities, and not all the time, and that we also ate lots of fruit and vegetables, and cleaned our teeth twice a day. To which he said 'My sister ate too much sugar, she ate hundreds of sugar, and then all her teeth fell out and now she can't speak properly. She used to carry me round like I was a baby, and then stand on me and hurt me.'

I read to Charlie tonight - he only has two books at bed time, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Mr Big. Both of these he knows word for word, and once you've ready to him, he 'reads' them back to you - I will record one night as it's seriously cute!

This afternoon Charlie said to me 'I love you lots and lots daddy, for ever and ever, we a family now!'

I cried!

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