Sunday, 20 May 2012

The end of week 10

I cannot believe that 10 weeks have passed since we met our children, in some ways that time has flown and in others, it feels like we've known them a life time. Certainly when we meet people now, they are always stunned to hear that we've been together for such a short amount of time, the boys feel, and I am told look, really settled.

It's felt like quite a busy week. Week days are now an action packed routine, I'm at work Monday to Thursday, working at home on a Friday which gives me a chance to fit in a school run. But the day is packed from the moment the boys wake up and come sleepily in to our rooms to cuddle up and watch a bit of Cbeebies (I've not seen the news since the boys arrived, I hope we've not been invaded...), to breakfast, wash, getting dressed and school/nursery run. Charlie is only part time at Nursery so G only gets the odd hour to himself before it's time to do the school run again. Then there's homework, playtime, dinner, bath and bed.

Our bedtime routine is well established with the boys continuing to settle really well, normally they are asleep by the time we get back downstairs.

Generally we feel like we're coping well, there are days that seem harder than others, but it's not about any major adoption related problems, it's just about the reality of life with two very active, energetic and inquisitive little boys in tow.

G has started attending a group session with parents and children from Joe's class on a Tuesday morning, which has been a good chance to start to get know people, and to see Joe in action. He's finding it a little hard to settle down I think. G was there on Tuesday at break time, and he looked out to see Joe walking around the playground on his own, with his coat over his head. It broke his heart. But the other parents are slowly starting to hear our story and respond to that with kindness and support.

One in particular has encouraged her son to teach Joe some of the playground games, and on Thursday G took both boys back for their first play date with George from Joe's class. This was the first time we had taken the boys to someone else's house to play, and G found it really quite stressful. The boys can be very easily over excited and they get in to everything and become very, shall we say, energetic?! When in someone else's house, that you don't know that well, and when their child is very calm and well behaved, that can be quite a tough shout!

Joe has been very clingy this week when we've been dropping him off. That can be viewed in a good and bad way. It's possibly a good sign that he feels the desire to be with us, and that he turns to us for protection. But also, it's a sign about his anxiety at school, and it's heart breaking to force him to leave you at the school gate.

There's been other firsts too this week. We've had our first photo's back from both school and nursery. G has taken Charlie to his first singing group and to his first messy arts club. Both of which were a great hit - although G found being the only dad at singing a tough one, as he had to play all the male parts in all the songs!

On Friday we had social worker visits, both ours and the boys. The boys social worker was blown away with the boys, especially commenting on the improvement to Charlie's speech. She also said that the affection shown to us by Joe, especially last visit when he had hurt himself and clung to G for dear life, was the most moving thing she had seen in a very long time - which given what she does for a living, we take as a really positive sign!

This weekend has been a busy one - on Friday night, another first, we used a babysitter! The parents of Joe's class had arranged drinks at a local bar to welcome G and I to the class 1C group, which was really lovely of them. Our neighbour and good friend Fleur came to sit for the boys (after we had ensured that they were deeply asleep!) and then we got a bit of time out - which was really lovely. The other parents have been very welcoming and seem to be full of admiration and empathy for Joe.
We took the boys out for a nice walk and some lunch on Saturday and then for afternoon tea with our neighbours.

Sunday I took the boys to church (and had a fright when I realised that Sunday school was cancelled which meant trying to keep the quiet in the pew for an hour on my own, not an easy task!) and then we went to New Family Social.

New Family Social is a charity and support network for same-sex adopters and foster carers. We've been going to meetings since we started our journey last January, and I have to admit to being more than a little bit proud taking our family there for the first time today! There were lots of other children a similar age there for the boys to play with, and they largely played boisterously with a group of similar aged boys for a good couple of hours! We didn't discuss it directly, but the boys will have, on some level, clicked that all the children they were playing with had two dads, and over time I think this will be an important group for 'normalising' our family make-up to them. There were lots of pre-children couples there too, in the same position as we have been up until now, and it was lovely to chat to them, share thoughts and give encouragement, as well as chatting to the other parents, many of whom are also quite new to their roles, and just to compare stories and realise that we're not alone when we get stressed over silly things, like how long it takes Charlie to eat a meal, or how hard it is when they aren't behaving quite as you would like them to when out in public!

I read a great book this week, called How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk. I have been filled with noble ideas about what an amazing parent this new discovered style of interacting with the boys will make me, and I've tried to put lots of the ideas in to practice. Some of them have worked really well, but then much to my dismay, I still find myself losing patience and raising my voice - which the book makes out is the last thing any parent should do. I think I have to take the bits that will work, and accept that I can't ever hope to be a completely chilled, laid back parent. I think we do need to relax about some things, sometimes we make a big point about something that probably doesn't really matter, and sometimes I think our expectations for behaviour are probably unrealistic. We also sometimes forget (because it seems so settled) that the boys have only been with us for a couple of months and are still experiencing so many things for the first time. But Joe's play date's mum said to me on Friday night, 'you do need to relax because you were worrying about things that really didn't matter,' but (she said), it took two years for her to realise that, and now as a parent of a five year old, things are a bit more normalised and in proportion. We've not had the same run up to parenting a four and five year old as most people, so I guess we can afford to cut ourselves some slack!

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