Thursday, 24 May 2012

PEP and a good reminder

It's been a funny old week this week. The boys are still doing well, but there have been moments of them both being quite trying, but with Joe in particular, we've started to see some worry on his face. He's become really clingy at the school gates, this really escalated on Monday when he just wouldn't leave G, and it took four members of school staff to get him to come through the gate.

On Tuesday G went in to school to take part in the parent/child group work that he's been doing for a couple of weeks. Joe was really pushing things in class, and G saw quite a different side to that witnessed at home. At home he's actually very well behaved, but at school, G couldn't get him to do anything, he said he was 'bored' and just refused to work. G found this really hard, and then to top his day off, Charlie had an afternoon of really pushing boundaries. Unfortunately this coincided with a day I had to work late, so I didn't get home to help G in the normal way, so he was quite at the end of his tether by bedtime.

Yesterday Joe had a toilet accident, not the first time in the last few weeks, and in chatting to him about it, I finally managed to get him to open up a bit and he told me he was really missing his foster carers. We had a long chat and a good cuddle and cry.

We've started to get one of his teddy bears to 'talk' to him - he thinks this is fantastic, but we're building up to a point when we can start exploring his feelings through the voice of his teddy, as some children open up much more when they don't have to look at you directly and open up.

I've found it a bit hard this week just coming home and seeing them for such a short time - G has been with them all day and is really seeing some of the worries they have, and I kind of feel that I am bit helpless when I can't be here to be involved. That's made us re-evaluate weekends, and I've had to make some tough decision to cancel a few activities I had planned at weekends, to ensure I can spend as much time as possible with them both when I am not at work.

Today was had Joe's PEP - a personal education plan meeting which all looked after children have. It was a meeting with his class teacher, the school special needs officer and Jane, the boys social worker.

It was a great chance to talk to them about how he is doing. Interestingly though, even though we did much of the talking, G and I have both found that it was a great reminder of the enormity of what the boys have been through in the last 10 weeks. Already we are getting caught up in the reality of our new day to day routine as a family with two young children. And because the boys are generally adjusting well, we are almost spending so much time just getting on with life, that we haven't given much thought to all the baggage - all the stuff we know about, but that doesn't crop up in day to day conversations.

But today, taking the time to talk to the school team about the extent of the problems he suffered in his early years, and the impact of grief having just lost the foster carers that have been his parents for two and a half years, actually made me really emotional, even though it was stuff that I already knew. But voicing it again, for the first time in quite a while, made me remember just how amazing they both are.

His teacher says that he's actually very bright, but he just doesn't want to work. He wont' sit down and try. But we know that in actual fact he has very low self-esteem - he will often voice that he is 'rubbish' at things, even if he's doing really well. We are building him up lots at home, but actually he is a little boy who has been let down by every adult in his life so far - even those helping him out such as foster carers and social workers, have been the cause of lots of upset by 'leaving him' so he actually doesn't have much sense of his own worth. By not getting in to work in the first place, he can't do it wrong, so perhaps that 's why he is avoiding things.

Additionally, he's come in to an established class, who have had 18 months together learning the ropes, getting friendly with each other, and settling in to class routines. He doesn't know any of that, and because everything in his world has just turned upside down, he's just not yet ready to sit still. The result of that, is that the other children in the class see him as 'naughty' and he's not really making friends.

So, we've agreed some good strategies today, both for us and for the school to do. We're going to do a 'jar of success' at home where we write down every good thing he does and put it in a jar, so he can start to see evidence of success building up. We're going to give him a box of home comforts to take to school that he can get up and look at when ever he is feeling vulnerable, and they are going to start friendship circles too so he can start to get involved.

We also recognise that one thing he will possibly excel in, is sport. So we're going to try and get him involved in something that he will be good at, so really build his self esteem. I've signed up for a 6 week Saturday morning football school this evening, so much to my horror, I'm about to become a soccer dad!

The meeting has given us a great sense of perspective, and tonight we've had great fun. We bought him a bay blade - a glorified spinning top that all the boys are into at school, thinking that it will help him to fit in bit - and I have never seen a child so delighted with a present. He is over the moon and is excited about taking it to school tomorrow. We also got the paddling pool out for the first time this evening which they both loved, and we let him choose a special dessert on the way back from school.

It's felt quite emotional today, but I think we needed that, a bit of a reminder that it's not just the day to day parenting we have to worry about, we've got to think about all that emotional stuff too, and I think today was a good kick up the arse for us both!

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