Sunday, 31 March 2013



  Dancing with vigour and enthusiasm in church at the Easter service today, right at the front of the hall (we meet in a school). The boy is talented. I really have to sign him up for a modern dance class.

  I am so glad our church is tolerant and put up with all my boys weird behaviours. Like at the beginning of the service today. The leader stands up and says " Happy Easter!" to everyone; most of the congregation respond cheerfully, Pup shouts "Happy Easter!" at the top of his voice. Leader (a delightful lady who we know well) immediately replies "Good morning every one, good morning Pup!"

  I'm afraid they are a bit infamous. Not just in church. At school every teacher knows my boys, and I never have to introduce myself either. All the shopkeepers in town and our local shops recognise them. They are loud, the are active, they will tlk to anyone.Yes they are both extreme extroverts. As I am probably one of the worlds most extreme introverts I sometimes find this hard. I am one of those people who like to vanish into the background. Himself is not much different. At least it is only surrogate attention. But I spend a lot of my time trying to winkle them away from other people. Last weekend we were at a public event and they spent 5 minutes chatting up two of our local police. I was cringing, the coppers were laughing, the boys revelling in it, until Pup tried to grab a walkie talkie; and I hastened them away. Sometimes I know I am way too uptight about it. They talk to people in a way I'd never have dared to as a child (I wouldn't have said boo to a goose let alone tried to chat up a policemen) But sometimes I feel I am right to worry. They could get chatting to anyone. And Pup in particular is very trusting, while Tigs is still young enough to think that everyone is his friend. It's hard to know how much to worry. Pup goes into mens toilets on his own. He plays in front of our house unsupervised. He has started to go to school alone sometimes.

  How much freedom should they have? How much should I tell them about 'stranger danger'? How much should I let them express them selves, and make pests of themselves with our friends, with other children, to people we don't know, or just have a nodding acquaintance with? It worries me.

Saturday, 30 March 2013


What is play?

  I'd say that to us it's doing the things we like doing, not the jobs we have to do. I am sure that there are better definitions, but it is one the boys understand.

  I know some much more brilliant mums than me try and make anything their children do into games, so the actually enjoy cleaning their rooms etc. Maybe I am just bad at this or maybe my kids are too wise, but they are not kidded. Tidying, cleaning, helping lay and clear the table - all the stuff that they are expected to do daily - is not play. They are very clear about that. Some of it they like doing, especially Pup who loves to help people. Some they hate, especially Tigs who would rather go to the effort of stuffing his coat into a cupboard than hang it up on its peg.

  My kids do play. I've heard that a lot of adopted children find it hard, especially if they have a very negative history. That isn't true here.

  My boys play together. They play on their own. They play each and every moment of the day, given the chance. They love roleplay based on favourite TV characters. They love active sporty running jumping play. They love to ride anything with wheels. Quite often they are doing all of these at the same time. They play schools and they play 'babies'. Somedays they can both be persuaded to sit down and play a board game. Occasionally they will initiate a creative or art project.

  They play like two 6 year olds. They fight like two 6 year olds. I am hoping that Pup will develop as Tigs develops, so he isn't left behind. Certainly we have big competition between the two of them as to who is in charge. Pup likes to be the boss of every aspect of his life, and as the eldest he likes to run the show. But Tigs is fiercely competetive. Tigs is also stronger and faster. Pup recognises this (usually without resentment). I'm not getting too far here into questioning why Pup is ... as he is. He has a serious medical condition, he has some  emotional / mental / developmental issues, he is adopted. He is delayed in some areas, and this is one of them. It does affect him negatively. They came home indignant from school the other day. They'd been outside at lunchbreak playing some very physical wrestling type game, and a playground leader stopped them 'In case Pup hurt his little brother'. Both were furious.  ("I wasn't hurting him!"  "He wasn't hurting me!") It is actually a problem outside the family however, because Pup sees 6 year olds as his equals, and most 6 year olds see him as a big boy. He plays down to their level, and some of them find it very uncomfortable. Some of course love getting attention from an older child, and I find this sad as it reinforces his behaviour and makes him even less likely to play with his peers. He also gets hopelessly overexcited, so he overwhelms them.

  Pup is almost always being some character from film or TV. I have to call him back often. "Pup, I'd like to talk to you now, not Cap'n Barnacle." Or he is way too busy rescuing a sea cucumber or putting out a fire. 

 They use play guns, and do play karate; but that is not real. Tigs hates real violence of all kinds. We were attending a live passion play recently, and in the scenes where Jesus was whipped and crucified he was in floods of tears. It was realistic, but not gory. Yes there were a lot of other small children there, half of whom were looking at Tigs in amazement. Yes we had warned Tigs in advance what to expect, explained that it wasn't real and given him the chance to cop out. I also offered to take him out if he didn't want to be there, or to cuddle him so he didn't have to watch. He stayed and watched.

  Do I get involved? Not a lot. I have to step in when arguments get too vigorous or impinge on other people (or cats!) in the house. I'll join in the roleplay occasionally if they want me to. But when it goes wrong I'd rather let them sort out their own arguments. It's not as if one of them was dominant, so it is usually 'fair' if they sort out the disputes for themselves; and they need to develop their negotiating skills. And my philosophy with my kids is very much to let them make their own fun; especially as they get older. So when it is going right I'll just sit back and enjoy. I have memories of childhood when my sister and I had most fun with our games when Mum and Dad were not involved. Stories most kids tend to like reading are the onew where the kids do their own thing (with Mum and Dad safely hovering in the background, naturally!) I don't want to micro manage their lives, I'd like to produce two imaginative, self reliant people.

 Of course we do stuff together. We fly kites, we race, the boys rough and tumble with Dad. I admire their handiwork and help when asked. I make sure they have supplies of whatever they need, be it craft stuff or lego (both rarely used), or balls, toy cars, bikes, child sized garden tools.....

  But I am not their entertainer. I'm their Mum.



It's not about the bunny or the chocolate. Not for me anyway.

photography by Andy Teo @Photocillin or     
  I hasten to add that there will doubtless be a lot of chocolate eating going on in our house tomorrow. After the Easter egg hunt in the garden and a glorious celebration of Jesus' resurrection at our church.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sooo tired

Tired of getting up exhausted every morning.
Tired of ... everything really.

  Tired of the cold. Tired of worrying about Pup, who is a little better following his course of IV antibiotics but he is still sooo tired. And I'm afraid to let him run about outside because I don't think that this cold is doing his lungs any good. His CF nurse is saying that she has had many more CF kids in hospital than usual this spring, probably because of the bitter weather. I'd like to take him somewhere warm for a week, so he can run around, get some sun on his back and warm clean air in his lungs. In fact can I load a bus with CFers and take them to some sunny  Mediteranean beach for a few days? But money is too tight (for all of us) so that's out of the question!

  I have to admit that our part of GB is getting off lightly. The weather in the north, especially Scotland, is truly awful, with people snowed in without power for days. With some loss of life. With farmers losing stock to the cold, all those tiny lambs probably dying as soon as they are born. I do find myself crying more about the animals than the people. Wrong priorites yes, but that is just my gut reaction, I'm thinking about how it must be to be born to cold and snow and know nothing else. Crops are not growing too. The images of snow that they are showing on the TV are beautiful, but that white stuff is deadly. Send sushine please!

  Some things are still growing despite the cold:

Not in our garden, although we have daffodils and a few brave tulips.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


   It sounds fairly easy. Write a letter about your adopted kids once or twice a year and send it to birth family. Maybe send photos. It is called 'letterbox contact'. The mail goes to the Social Services. Receive a letter in reply. In our case twice  a year to birth mum (BM, called in our house  'first mummy') and once a year to grandma ('nana') Birth Dads are not in the equation.

  We are overdue, again. Our letter was supposed to be sent in February. We know that birth Mum  looks forward to these letters and pictures, she calls the letterbox team regularly to find out if they are in. But we cannot seem to get them sent on time. In this case the delay is partly due to health issues, we've all been struggling and Pup isn't well. Partly also due to my feelings about BM being more negative recently, as we realise more and more how Pup has suffered. from his prenatal experiences.

   We are grateful to her for our 2 wonderful boys. We want her to know what they are achieving and how they are. We love to send her photos of the boys. But, boy, those letters are hard to write. And they get harder as the boys get older.
  • Things you cannot ever say: "You screwed my sons head up before he was born, you b****!"
  • Information you have to withhold. Where you live, schools,  when you are going away, when you are visiting foster carers. Careful what photos to send e.g. not pics of kids in school uniform with logos on them  or identifying pics of our home town. Information that could be added up to tell her where we live. "We visited Legoland, it is not far from us." "We went to the seaside / London / Bermuda for the day" (these are all hypothetical examples!)
  • Difficult / painful information. Pup is not so well, he is getting a lot of pain. We think he has foetal alcohol syndrome.  Other info about Pup's health. It is his body, it is personal. But also as his health fails, she should know something. How much should we tell her?. Tigs is really challenging at times- how to phrase this?.
  •  Stuff we don't want to talk about, stuff that is too personal. After all they are our kids.
  •  Too much info about birthdays, Christmas etc; so as not to rub it in that they have so much more now than she could give them.
So it comes down to how they are doing at school / swimming / clubs; to their favourite toys, TV programme, books, activities; their achievements - they have recently learnt to swim, ride a bike / hang glide / fly a jet...... All cheerily upbeat, with smiley photos. All true (well some of these examples may be slightly exaggerated!). But not a true picture.

   The boys are not yet interested in the letters she sends. However they are short loving letters, and usually positive, so I am glad we get them. In years to come it may be reassuring to them to read those letters and know that BM loved and missed them. It also will tell them a little bit about her as a real person, so make it harder for them to hang unrealistic fantasies on her. They like to take a quick look at the pictures she sends, including those of a younger sibling who she is still in close contact with. They sometimes ask questions about their adoption. But not often. It's not their life. It is peripheral to their real world. From her letters it is obvious that BM still sees them as 'her' children, and in one sense they are and always will be. But they are also mine. (there is the conflict!) But of course in reality they belong only to themselves.

The saddest bit to me is having to tell Pup that he can't meet his younger sibling. He doesn't really understand why. He doesn't think about it a lot, but when he sees the child's photo he asks each time if he can go and visit. I wonder whether I should suppress the photos, but they are mentioned in BMs letters, and I think it would be cheating Pup. 

And the boys? They have the final say in how much we tell. At the moment I just ask them what they'd like to say. 
"Pup, do you want to say anything to first mum?" 
"Tell her I'm sorry I had to leave you."   *gulp*  No Pup, I won't tell her that -  yet. But I will mostly tell her what you want me to, and if there is stuff you don't want me to tell that is fine. And if you want me to stop, that is fine too. 
They usually pick out what photos to send from a shortlist I suggest. Pup is a generous boy and would like to send her tons of stuff. He'd give away his last Rolo. Tigs is not really that bothered. I don't think BM has much reality for him yet.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Nearly all home

  Himself brought Pup and me home yesterday morning. I then went down with a 24 hour vomitting bug, probably acquired at hospital, now nearly gone. Pup was exhausted and had a day festering in front of the TV, and is now bouncing back fast (apart from eating, which he has always seen as optional anyway).

 The weather surprised us this morning:

Heavy rain first thing turned to snow which settled very quickly, against all our expectations. We only hope this won't prevent Tigs coming back to us today.

  Doing Pups  IV antibiotics at home is not too stressful, unless you make a mistake like we did yesterday and have to end up doing one dose at 2am. We hadn't noticed the instructions that said to take them out of the fridge 4 hours before administration. Oops. Won't do that again!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

We are a divided family

Tigs is with Himselfs parents.
Pup is in hospital.
I am at home, and Himself is staying with Pup for the day. This evening we swap over and I stay with Pup tonight and tomorrow.

  It feels very very strange. I am scared that Tigs will feel abandoned. That Pup will get totally spoilt. He is already starting to behave like a little King. We are already getting "Pick that up for me Mummy" when he drops a toy off his bed. Er no, Pup, there's nothing wrong with your legs! Obviously a little bit of spoiling goes with being in hospital. The new toys and comics to keep him busy, the waiting on him with drinks, loads of TV time, DS time, 1 to 1 attention from Mum or Dad etc. The nurses are lovely, as are the doctors, play therapists, teachers, physio, dietitican.... he is lapping up all the positive attention. He is also hating some of the less positive side of the experience.

Like last night. He needs a long line in his arm to give his antibiotics. On Monday they failed to get one in, becasue he was wriggling too much, so had to settle for a cannula (short line) That is a disaster for a fiddly wriggly boy like Pup, he'll pull  /  knock or wriggle it out in no time; so he had to have a proper line in. SO yesterday evening he was sedated again, and they tried. Yes they got the line in. But otherwise it was a disaster. The sedation made him restless uninhibited and drunk. Unable to listen to reassurances and comfort, and unable to control himself and lie still. Able to scream at the top of his voice. 

"Don't do it to me, don't hold me down, don't touch me, I don't want it!" 

Continuously for the 20 minutes they were putting the line in. And himself and I had to hold him. I would rather it was us holding him  than anyone else..... but I can still hear that scream. Now the sedative had an amnesiac effect - i.e. he probably won't consciously remember most of that. I hope. But I will, and Himself will, and all the other Mums and kids on the ward will. The doctor and nurses kept their cool, thankfully, and just got on with it as quickly as possible.

Child abuse.

I hate it.

But child abuse would be not giving him his antibiotics, letting his health deteriorate irreparably. Could he have had a general anaesthetic? Yes, but that is especially risky for him. Could we just replace short cannulas as they got bent / damaged / blocked? yes but to him that is just as traumatic.

And they had to put the line into his right wrist, and as he is right handed that is one of the worst possible places for him.

PS Tigs seems quite settled at Grandmas, and is eating for England (lots and lots of cake!) So I think he's well on the mend.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Pox

On the basis that if it can go wrong it will:

 Neither Himself nor I were surprised on Thursday night to notice a nice crop of spots on Tigs neck. Further investigations revealed some more on his stomach and back. Not surprised, I think our response was one of hysterical laughter. Pup is due to go into hospital on Monday, and Tigs has chicken pox.. Pup cannot wait any longer. Tigs is obviously infectious. Oh dear. We spent 24 hours seriously wondering how we were going to manage two sick kids in two separate towns.

Ta Ra..... 

Enter  Super Grandma... and Grandad. Who have volunteered to take Tigs for a week, while he obviously cannot go to school until he is no longer infectious. Tigs is excited at his new adventure, and that he is grown up enough now to go and stay with Grandma on his own: and the pressure is off for us. Grandma  and Grandad are in their 70s, so we think that they are being truly heroic.

(By the way Pup has had chicken pox ! Thankfully.)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Catch Up.

Not blogged for a while. OK, let me sum up why:

My stress and anxiety have come back recently and I am having trouble doing more than keeping kids clean and fed, let alone all the 20,00 other jobs a Mum and housewife have to do..... and then of course there is going to work as well.

Mum is still suffering and is a real worry at the moment, her health is deteriorating, and she is much more negative than before. Her brother in law is very unwell in hospital following a stroke, unfortunately he lives the other end of the country and we can do very little to help my aunt who is living through all the stress of hospital visiting and an uncertain future.

Pup's health is deteriorating, he has been very tired recently and has a fruity cough,  sadly not helped by one course of antibiotics. Following a recent outpatient appointment a decision was made that he is to be admitted to hospital soon for a course of intravenous antibiotics. He will also be seen by the gastro Doctors to try and get to the bottom of all the mysterious pains he is getting in his chest. They make him cry out in pain sometimes. In fact I've just had a call from the school to say he is getting pain today (he's been off school for the last two days with exhaustion and pain). Pup is in a low mood, and keeps saying he can't cope any more.

Tigs is his usual maddening and exhausting delightful and lively self. I do not look forward to seeing how he will react when Pup is in hospital. He was very distressed last time.

Himself is not too well, he has been tired for a while, and left for work this morning coughing non stop and with a very tight chest. I asked him not to go in, but he had an important meeting; I'm hoping he'll come straight home afterwards.

The weather is warming up, it is great to see bulbs rising and new life budding in all the dead looking plants in the garden - so I've been out there as much as possible recently getting it back into shape after 3 months of winter neglect. We love being in our garden, and all get a bit stir crazy in winter. Gardening is very good therapy as well!

The  boys want to dress up as Harry Potter for world book day tomorrow. It is taking me longer than I expected to make their robes. In fact Tigs is probably going as Ron Weasley; we had a little contretemps this morning when he insisted that he HAD to wear his old glasses (which he no longer needs) with the lenses still  in to be Harry. Apparently his teacher would be really really cross if we took the lenses out. When given the ultimatum that he could either have his glasses with no lenses or go as Ron, he decided on Ron, to my surprise. Now I have to find a way to give him red hair tomorrow, for one day only.

Our  wonderful Church has a 'meals on wheels'  service for anyone who needs extra support, and they will be supplying us with some frozen meals for next week, as Himself and I do the child trading routine which works for us when one of the boys is in hospital. One stays in with Pup, one stays home with Tigs, and we swap every 24 hours. That way we get a decent nights sleep every other night, and Tigs doesn't get traded around our friends like a parcel. He will get picked up from school by friends on a couple of nights, but we try and make that an exciting occasion for him.