Am I restricting my sons socialising?


It is Tom’s birthday party next week, only 3 of his friends are coming, he’s devistated. He’s only been invited to two parties all year and I suspect the invitations were more to do with my friendship with the mums than the boys friendship. He is starting to realise he doesn’t get invited to parties. He places a lot on his need to have friends at school but his behaviour at times, especially around the school run, probably puts some parents off inviting him over. 

He is a very sociable little boy and appears to have lots of friends when I’ve watched him in the playground however that doesn’t relate to invites to parties or after school. We’ve tried some after school meet ups but Tom really struggles and it’s not fair on him to do them regularly so I don’t go round inviting people over, but I now feel I may be letting him down. 

It’s such a struggle to balance building friendships and social skills with a need for Tom to self regulate after school. I’m not sure if I’m getting the balance right and feel I may be to blame for not making more of an effort with the other parents, most of the time I dread the school run as it is such hard work and I don’t have time (sanity) to socialise. It doesn’t help that I’ve not been well for several months and currently feeling sorry for myself as I await a date for further surgery and the stress of end of term disregulation hits me. 

We all need a break and time to reflect on how we support Tom as he goes into year 2, it’s a new teacher & a different mix of children. I just want him to be happy and I worry this party is going to be a disappointment as he had such big ideas about what he wanted to do with his friends. 

After all the things we’ve struggled with I didn’t think we’d have such a hard time getting people to a party!

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I need to say bye and tell them I love my new family.

I haven’t done a blog post for about 6 months as things have been hard and I’ve just not been able to write about it. Also my Twitter account hasn’t been working properly so I’ve lost touch with that amazing community (I think I have it back now).

My boys are growing up, we’re settled in our new home but school is hard and our eldest Tom (5) is starting to understand that his start in life wasn’t “normal”.

Tom has been getting very angry and asking lots of questions about his early life, unfortunately we can’t answer these as well as we’d like as his social worker and life story book (which was 2 years late) are crap.  He’s starting to explore what it means to be adopted and what it means to be part of our family.

Yesterday at lunch I think we reached a turning point, the conversation went like this:

Tom: I need a phone.

Me: Why?

Tom: Do you have tummy mummy & daddy’s phone number?

Me: I don’t, but we can write to them soon, what do you need to ask?

Tom: I need to say bye bye and tell them I love my new family.

We just sat there unsure what to say. He had clearly given this a lot of thought and wanted some closure. His birth mum hadn’t turned up for contact for at least 6 months before he came to us (over 2 years ago) something I didn’t think he would remember but clearly he had a notion of a need to tell them he was ok. We talked again, like we have many times, about his birth family and I could feel his positivivity about his future. It gives me hope.

I feel sad that he won’t get the chance to make that phone call (at least not for many years), we try to embrace his background and birth family but it’ll never replace the conversations he wants to have with them and the questions he wants to ask them. 

On a final note… he loves us!

A proactive school.

Tom is currently in reception, when he started things seemed to go well, he engaged with staff and made friends but unfortunately this hasn’t lasted. His teacher was well aware of the difficulties we have at home and how his presentation at school was different and was aware from the beginning that things may change once he truly settled at school.

Well, things changed once he settled.

Within the first week after Easter the teacher took me to one side and said “he’s struggling and his behaviour has deteriorated.” I made a passing comment of settling post-holiday but she felt it wasn’t that and it was something bigger, she was going to keep an extra eye on him and look at why he was struggling, I was amazed and encouraged she’d put so much thought into it. 

Roll on a few days later and his teacher has spoken to the SENCO and they feel his behaviour is due to his sensory and attachment issues which are more apparent now he’s had time to settle into school and feels more confident expressing his thoughts and emotions. They offered him a place in the nurture group, this is a group for a maximum of 10 pupils from reception, year 1 & 2 with 3 specialist staff. They spend the morning in this group and return to their class for play times, lunch and special occasions. It is amazing!

I met with the SENCO, who I’ve met several times, she went through how the focus is taken from a Boxhall assessment and they work towards an achievable goal specific to each child each week e.g. “I will walk not run in the school”, I could hear in her voice the passion she had for these children to feel like they are achieving and the focus on social skills and being part of a classroom. They also do their numeracy and literacy there. The success they have sounds great, typically children spend 3 terms there and spend another term reintegrating into the main classroom but they are welcome to come back anytime until they leave the school in year 6, she told me how with one child, who had a really disruptive background, she was his main constant and each week he come to her for a hug, this was really important in helping him manage at school so she made space for him each week all the way through his time there.

Tom has been there a few weeks now and he loves it, he has time to move and learn in an environment suited to him (lots of sensory toys), as a result he is much more regulated after school and we have more time to enjoy together. The afternoons when he is back with his normal class are still really hard and we are still trying to find ways to support him in the classroom but it really feels like the school are including us in their thoughts and concerns and putting Tom first.

The other area in which school have been amazing is their parent group. Once a week I have been going into school with some other parents (mostly parents who have children in the nurture group) and a trainer from the local college runs through how to support your child with reading, writing, listening, behaviour management (more sharing of strategies) and helping our children identify their feelings and emotions (the face / emotion turner in the picture was a recent big hit), the children then join us for the last 30 minutes to do a craft activity around what we’ve been learning. It’s been great to meet other parents and discuss basic things and ask silly questions, I look forward to these sessions and spending time in school learning with Tom. 

School is still hard put I feel we are very blessed to have picked this school and are very greatful to the amazing staff whom I know look out for my son each day. 

Foster siblings- an update.


This weekend we met up with our boy’s foster mum, her children and one of her foster children. We had an amazing time and it is always a joy to see them as our boys love them and very much see them as part of our wider family. 

However this time was a little different, last June I wrote about how one of the foster children was going to family under a special guardianship order, unfortunately this fell apart for many reasons just before he moved and he is now in limbo waiting for another plan. His 2 younger siblings were adopted last week, I felt unexpectedly emotional about this as we thought this wouldn’t happen due to their high level of needs, but the saddest thing is this group of 3 have been split up, the eldest (who we saw today) is feeling lost and lonely, the youngest 2 are really struggling being away from their brother. It was so sad to see but also there was a sense of great joy at the future the youngest 2 now had. Part of me just wanted to take the remaining brother home with us to give him some stability, he’d been waiting for 2 years and had many different plans and social workers, but I know he is in the best foster home with a woman who will fight to get the best for him.

We are very privileged to have a foster family who share so many of our values  and leisure activities and fit naturally into our sense of the wider family unit.

Existing.

  
The blog has been a little neglected of late for a variety of reasons (mostly illness) so I thought I would put some ramblings down.

One of the side effects of therapy (DDP) is that a lot of time is spent discussing the past and making sense of where we’ve come from and where the boys come from, however I feel that sometimes we miss the current. I haven’t blogged an update on our most recent sessions as I currently disagree with the therapist and I’m not sure what to put down without making it too identifiable!

We have lots of hopes for the future, hopes that we won’t be screamed at, spat at, hit etc but also the hope of being a family who can go on holiday or even just change our routine without consequences. My fear is that by spending so much time looking back and dreaming about the future I may miss some of the good stuff right now.

So, some good bits:

  • I have an amazing childminder staring after Easter who is perfect for James.
  • We are trying to move house and so far Tom has been really positive about it, compared to last time we tried and the violence escalated and he urinated on the floor a few times.
  • Tom is progressing at school and starting to make one good friend, he even managed a party today after school without too much fall out, this is amazing considering we haven’t even managed a play date yet!
  • I haven’t been hit for a few days.
  • About once a week I manage a shower with the boys alone downstairs in front of Octonauts without anyone getting hurt or screaming (this is so amazing I sometimes get very emotional having a shower).

The last 3 months have been difficult as I have had lots of chest infections and lots of sick days, it’s meant I haven’t had much energy to interact with the boys (or Twitter), despite this they have been very loving towards me when I have been at my worst. It has been a hard time and I’ve had to rely on family, especially my husband, to get us though. We had expected Tom to struggle with me being ill so much but he seems to love having time to sit snuggled on the sofa, though he is frustrated by my inability to run around in circles constantly. 

As a family we seem to be going forward despite the illnesses and I am enjoying being a mum, I just need a few days without feeling ill to fully enjoy every aspect of it.

I really feel that we have passed through our “existing” phase and are starting to actually live as a family.