Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Birthday Musings

Birthdays are a funny old time for both adopters and adoptees if you really stop to think about it.  The sickly sweet Facebook posts people usually come out with on their children's birthdays give the impression that a birthday is a day for the whole family to reflect on the day that a little person arrived into the world with all the pain, joy and overwhelming emotion that came along with them.  Not so for an adoptive parent.  But clearly in saying that I don't mean for a second that we didn't feel something on Squiblet's birthday.  It was still the day that this fantastic little mini human popped out and landed in the world with more of a bump than most.  I still feel blessed that she did, blessed that she survived, blessed that she made it to us, but I think what I feel on the day she moved in, or the day we first met has more of the emotion attached to it which birth parents associate with birthdays.

A small part of me thinks about Squiblet's birth family, and what they might be feeling when Squiblet's birthday comes along and they have no way to celebrate it with her.  This is the oversized empathetic part of my brain which I often struggle to keep in check as it can sometimes be unhelpful.

But we celebrate the day she moved in.  We celebrated her six months with us, we compare it to the length of her life and proportionally how big a slice of cake it would be and we feel happy!  We celebrated with massive amounts of ice cream and fizzy (aka "bizzy") apple juice in plastic wine glasses!  We all had a lovely time and I will remember it forever.  We will always celebrate how wonderful it was when she came into our lives forever, and she will always know that her coming into our lives is the thing we are celebrating and not just a "birthday" because that's what you do, because everyone celebrates their birthday.

But now I know how to include pictures, I must share some snaps of Squiblet's birthday.  I went to's what I do! There were spots, there were stripes, there was big art, there was jelly, there was cake. It was a memorable and wonderful day!  I hope you can get a sense of it from these snaps. Enjoy...we did!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Getting to grips with emotions.


Sorry it's been a while.  I've been a bit pooped and deflated in some ways, and then a bit happy and enjoying the sunshine in other ways, a combination which did not lend itself to blogging!

Things are good.  The deflation comes from a number of sources...we still don't have a court date for the adoption hearing.  It's been weeks and weeks now which means it is very unlikely we will be jetting off, to somewhere where I can sit in the sunshine and Squiblet can swim and splash, this year.  Someone said "well, you have your whole lives to do that!" And I found that rather irritating because, whilst that comment is clearly a massive untruth in the first place (presumably at some point she won't want to come on hols with her tiny mums) but secondly, it would be nice if it was our choice, rather than the choice of someone else, whether we decide to go on holiday now or at some point in the rest of our lives....sigh.  Still we have been frequenting the jolly outdoor swimming pool, drinking Pimms and eating smelly cheese in a bid to convince ourselves that we sort of are on holiday.  

Currently we are at Grandma and Grandad's house as we decided that a bit of Grandma and Grandad tlc wouldn't be a bad thing all round.  Yesterday we had a marvellous time with Squiblet in Maldon.  They have this amazing splash park thing and she really wanted to go in.  I was fully expecting her to just splash round the edges and watch the others but figured as she wanted to, we may as well pay our £2 and give it a bash.  She absolutely loved it!  We stripped her down to her nappy and she scamped about getting her and Mama completely soaked through, all the time shrieking and squealing with delight!  I was thrilled.  I love the little "child focused" button which goes off in my head when my sensible adult brain says no, and the little button reminds me to say yes, as without that button such jollity wouldn't have happened.  So that was a small 1/2 hour snippet of what a holiday could be like!  I suspect we might end off heading to somewhere like Center Parcs where we can do fun swimming and scamping and have a jolly old time.

Another reason why we were feeling a bit downhearted is that we have spoken to Squiblet's sibling's foster carer, prior to meeting with Squiblet's siblings and it turns out that the level of violence, abuse and neglect in that house was just so much more than we were ever told about.  Squiblet was removed so early it doesn't affect her directly but it makes me feel so cross that they kept these things back.  I have always painted Squiblet's birth mum as a sorry old soul who the world let down, which I think still holds true, but I think there was much more to it than that, meaning that we are going to have to think carefully about what we say to Squiblet in the future...bearing in mind that she remembers everything!

Lately I have been struggling a bit with Squiblet's behaviour where she does something which is a bit, what I call, "pickleish" like drawing on her clothes on purpose.  Not terrible, completely salvageable but a wilful act of pickling (hurrah, a small part of my head says...she is pushing boundaries, she is settled).  So I will tackle her on it, hold her hand, stick my face in her face and calmly explain that that's not good behaviour and explain why.  I get her to say sorry and then give her a big cuddle and tell her I love her.  She then becomes hysterical and completely inconsolable that she has done something wrong and it takes ages to calm her down.  It's so bad that it makes you want to ignore any poor behaviour but I know that's making a rod for my own back and you can't just ignore things!  She's very hot on what she calls "not good ahaviour" - I think it's really funny as I'm always trying to label the behaviour not the child - but she will do things, like shake her water bottle and then shake her head and say "no...not good ahaviour" and stop! She says it to other children too, and obviously finds it difficult that some children have different rules and boundaries to her own.  Which is a very difficult thing to explain to an adult, let alone a two year old!  I've just been trying to reinforce that people can be lovely people without necessarily having "good ahaviour", for example her birth brother has some serious attachment problems and really good behaviour considering, but he is a bit of a live wire and finds it tricky to sit down.  This came out the other night when she was lying in her cot "worried, Mummy" she said and pulled a cute worried face like the Worried William on her feelings mitten "Sam bashed his knife and fork...on a a table" she said and I tried to explain the above but I'm not sure how well I managed as she is still talking about it.

I'm quite confused about all her crazy mess of feelings at the moment so god only knows how she feels!  Is she really worried?  It seems like it!  Is she really feeling guilt and remorse when she does something wrong?  It certainly looks like it...but she's two!  It seems quite unlikely...?!

The emotional energy it takes me not to sit in a corner and cry when she's going through a...

Do something pickley
Wait to be told not to
Cry your eyes out
Be comforted for ages
And repeat until nap time 

...cycle is just quite immense.  After that little episode I had to have a lie down!  I should stress that this isn't happening all the time!  Not even once a day really so who am I to complain?!

So that's us.  I have a sun tan...I never have a sun tan...I'm a committed outdoor parent!  I'm still wondering about what will happen with my career...I need to stop worrying!  Squiblet's on her fourth pair of shoes (size 7) in 6 months!  Ridiculous!

It's all go!

Hope you are all well and enjoying the sunshine.  Xx

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Making memories

When Squiblet first came to us she was very unsure about being in water. She refused baths for a little while, didn't like her head getting wet, and cried at her first few swimming lessons. We have worked really hard over the past few months to calm her fears and encourage her enjoyment of water.

She has been such a little star and has overcome her fears. Her confidence in the water has blossomed before our eyes and she now giggles, sings and splashes every week in her swimming lessons and every day in the bath - she has even started to pour water over her own head!

We recently discovered a nearby campsite with a heated outdoor pool so this memory is of her swimming happily in the sunshine.

For me it speaks of how far she has come since being with us. From the subdued little bum-shuffler who was kept indoors and was scared of water to the colourful exuberant scamp who laughs, runs and swims under bright blue skies.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Response to Fraser McAlpine's Guardian Article


Really Fraser?  All of the adoptive parents you meet in your panel are middle class snobs?  Because in our experience we have met loads of adopters from all kinds of backgrounds, from factory workers to hairdressers to University professors and radio personalities.  A huge range of careers, a huge range of cultures and ethnicities and many of them, not middle class at all.  But I resent the fact that you assume that because my parents have degrees and paid for me to go to University that somehow that means I'm a snob who would look down on my daughter's birth family and encourage her to forget them.  How dare you!  How dare you tar me with that large brush which you so blindly assume will do for everyone?

Our daughter has a quirky sort of American popstar name and we love it.  We think it suits her.  Her birth father chose it for her...he didn't manage to give her much else apart from 50% of her DNA but what right do we have to change it?  None.  Our social worker (arguably a middle class snob) said "oooh...what a spelling! Don't let that put you can change it!" and we said "no way!  It's her name!"  So how dare you? And she sits in her little music class with the likes of Rory and Jemima and Penelope and I sometimes think "I wonder when you will realise that your name is a bit different?"  But if she does, and if she minds, we will talk to her about it.  If she doesn't like her name, of course she can change it, but the important thing is that it will be HER CHOICE.  

In my opinion a name is a most excellent people sieve.  It weeds out those who are too snobby to contemplate an association with someone who doesn't have a ridiculous middle class name...Katie Hopkins horrendous display on This Morning showed me that these people do actually exist.  Well, her children wouldn't have the pleasure of knowing the awesome, funny, clever and downright cutie that is our daughter...and more fool her.

In a world where University societies hold "dress like a chav" pub crawls, a world where somehow it's ok to ridicule and belittle people on benefits in a way people would never dare discuss race or religion, middle class people (such as me) will have a hard job in shielding our children from this bigotry and discrimination which is about more than just a name.  But though it's a hard job, I'm sure as hell going to try....despite being middle class....which clearly automatically makes me a snob....

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A laughably disordered day!


Wow.  I'm earning my Mummy stripes by the day at the moment.  Yesterday we had a wonderful afternoon of messy play and making oat and raisin cookies.  Squiblet was in her Fun Pod grabbing hands full of the mixture and slapping them on the tray shouting "plop!" and "eat it!"  Then it all went horribly wrong in the evening because (in the words of Dr Ranj of Cbeebies hit show Get Well Soon), Squiblet has a bug in her wee.  Now, my cleavage has seen its fair share of random things being dropped down it...such is the way of being a rather clumsy F cup...but never before has it been filled with a whole days worth of child vomit.  It was so hideous that after I had undressed a vomit soaked Squiblet and placed her onto her nice clean Mama, I looked down and laughed out loud.  I don't think in all my worries about parenting I ever expected to be picking partially digested satsuma out of my bra!

So today we headed off to the doctor as Squiblet has been crying when she wees, and this, combined with the vomiting and fever, led me to think that she had a UTI (bug in her wee).  The triage nurse called me at 9.00 to offer me an appointment at 9.40 and could I bring a urine sample.  This gave me approximately 30 minutes to feed, dress, clean teeth and catch the urine of my poorly two year old.  There were tears.  My tears.  Her tears.  I'm a bit sickly and a bit tired and having woken up at 5.30 and got up at 6.15, this was just ALL TOO MUCH!  Catching the urine of a non potty trained toddler is tricky at the best of times but with a 30 minute time limit I just couldn't handle the stress.  "Mummy crying...Mummy sad?" Then she rubbed my back.  Heartbreaking.  I told her I wasn't sad but that I was tired and feeling a bit poorly and it was all just a bit much.  Anyway somehow my tears were enough to make her wee!  Somehow my woe guilted her into performing in a spectacular fashion on the potty.  Much to her own surprise I think. 30 minutes we did all of the above and I even managed to clean my own teeth and get her snack ready.  If it wasn't for the weeping I would have felt pretty proud of myself.  We charged down the road and into the doctors as the clock struck 9.40.  Wahoo!  Where was my glass of champagne, bunch of flowers and cheering crowd?  A table with an incredibly small amount of Duplo and some teenage girl fiction books about ponies would have to suffice.  To be fair, I would have been happy with the doctor appearing at 9.40 instead of a cheering crowd.  Instead...we waited...until 11.10....yes 1 1/2 hours...with a 2 year a really hot waiting room with nothing but an incredibly small amount of Duplo and some teenage girl fiction books about ponies for company.  Squiblet was marvellous.  She kept me entertained saying things like " her walk" and when a man came in hopping on one leg she said "man...jumping...kangarooooo!"  "people...not smiling at Squiblet".  And then...when we finally got to see the doctor, she had run out of urine dipsticks and nonchalantly said "oh won't affect my diagnosis anyway!"  Erm...YOU F*CKING WHAT?!  Do you not realise the blood, sweat and tears it took me to get that wee...proudly presented to you in a hummus pot (in a truly middle class fashion).  So she said she would send it off to the lab and packed me off with some antibiotics, calpol and calprofen.

What are the ethics of whether or not to pick up all the raisins your child drops on the floor?  Somehow it seems like littering but today I was in no mood to pick up raisins!

She napped from 1-4 as poorly girls do and then we snuggled up and watched Room on The Broom which Mama and I recorded at Christmas pre-Squiblet's arrival.  So the day ended well!

I'm perky again now.  I just felt very stressed and out of control this morning.  I couldn't really cope with having to dash out of the door and leave the house in a complete state.  I should get over myself really.  The flowers arrived when Mama got home!  What a nice surprise.  I'm so glad I have a co-parent who values what I do, and that I value what she does and we don't have a terrible time understanding each other.  I downloaded a book on my Kindle and happened to pick one about a woman who is a disenchanted Mum who starts having an affair.  There are far too many nobs in the story for my liking but it's the sort of trashy novel I quite like...and it makes me feel very lucky not to have a partner who sits on their arse and doesn't understand, care, or even want to understand.

Squiblet made me laugh yesterday because I coughed and over the baby monitor a little voice said "cough it up chicken Mummy!"  I love that kid!  :)