What’s in a name?

  

Tom is fascinated by peoples’ names, whenever we watch CBeebies Bedtime Stories I have to make sure I know the name of the person telling the story as he will always ask. He sees names as an important part of identity, interestingly all soft toys are called by their creature name, above is Doggy, we gave him to Tom with our photo book we gave him before intros.

Tom has become upset on several occasions when he has been unable to remember his siblings’ names, we try to engage in meaningful conversation about them but we are still waiting for his life story book! (7 months since placement).

Today we were on our way to see a close friend of mine, we’ve seen her alone before with the boys and today we were meeting her with her children. Now I hadn’t thought much about this, we had told Tom the day before but this morning started our usual more detailed prep of what we’re doing today. It was at this point I realised a problem, her youngest has the same name as the boys’ other brother, the one Tom was very close to and loves dearly, the one he is confused about not being with. We put so much effort into planning and structure it hadn’t occurred to me about the names (it’s not a common name). 

We spent some time discussing the name and how this is a different boy not his brother, he sat and listened, asked questions, then we asked him if he was ok with the meet up up, he was calm and said “I think I’ll be fine”.

To his credit after some hesitation when we introduced them he was amazing, we had a fantastic morning.

To me a name is a name, I don’t give them much thought. To Tom they are so important, he wants to know everyone’s name and remembers everyone’s name and attaches an emotion to certain names (positive and negative). I expected today to be difficult because of a name but my precious boy showed me how far he had come in trusting us.

Tom introduces himself as Tom X, part of ‘Team X’. He loves his new surname and says it with pride, he loves hearing about names, to him there is a lot in a name.

Advertisements

How I feel loved in a home where the ‘L’ word is too scary.

  

In our home love is a scary thing. We tell our boys every night before they go to bed that we love them, we don’t often get a response. If we mention love during the day we can sometimes be met with screams. (See my previous post about the trampoline). However I have come to learn that our boys do love us in their own way even if they can’t say it. (James can’t even say mummy so if he came out with “I love you” I would probably faint!).

Here are 10 ways I know my boys (mostly Tom) have accepted me and love me:

1. Tom gives me a kiss on the forehead when I put him to bed.

2. James gives me his bear (the love of his life) for me to kiss when I put him to bed.

3. Tom says “you’re my friend mummy / daddy”. This is a big deal for him.

4. We share a bowl of grapes together, trying to take it in turns.

5. Tom gets excited when going shopping with daddy as he likes to choose me flowers then carry them home.

6. On a Saturday the boys try to be quiet to enable me to have a cup of tea in bed, this is not always successful but they both give me a huge hug when I see them after.

7. This week Tom admitted he missed us when at nursery.

8. Some mornings when daddy is at work, Tom will climb into bed with me and ask to make a little den together under the covers while holding me tight.

9. Both boys join in our “love hugs”. This is where all four of us have a hug together, each of us with a child on our hips so we’re close to the same head height, it is amazing every time.

10. Both boys hold onto me while we dance around the living room with massive smiles on their faces.

It’s all a work in progress and there have been a few occasions where Tom has told us he loves us but it is still such a scary thing for him to say, however trying to break it down and look at his actions and reactions we know he feels something strong for us and even if it’s hard to admit he wants to be part of this family.

The unexpected benefits of camping.

  

Last weekend we took the boys on their first camping trip, we are seasoned campers but this was their first trip and our first holiday (excluding grandparents’ house). 

The boys loved the tent and being outside, they loved the beach, just loved it. That is until it came to going to bed, it was noisy and unfamiliar. Both managed about 4 hours sleep a night and ended up in our king size sleeping bag with us eventually. Despite the lack of sleep both were amazing during the day.

Them being on their best behaviour was great, however this then lead to an argument with my mum as she was starting to say there was nothing wrong with Tom and we were over-reacting etc. I tried to explain he was doing well because we were putting a lot of work in and he was likely not feeling safe enough to express his emotions when camping, she didn’t get it.

After 2 nights we drove home Sunday night with the boys ready for bed, they fell asleep in the car and we put them straight to bed. The next morning was one of the best ever. Both woke up around 5 having had a better sleep, but the best thing was they were so excited to be home. James sat in his cot for an hour after he woke up playing with some toys and ‘reading’ his favourite book, he loved it. Tom came into our room smiling and excited about being home, he told us he missed it and missed being just the Four of us, he was also really happy this was his home.

Monday morning despite still being sleep deprived I felt refreshed in my mind knowing my boys feel this is their home and they want to be here, they miss it. 

Since being back from camping Tom seems more settled, he seems to be appreciating us and our home / things. We have had a few episodes of violence but he has ‘come down’ within 30 mins which is such a change (previously it was 90 mins+ ).

I know we still have a long way to go but it was lovely having a bit of respite and seeing a change in the boys’ attitudes to home.

I bruise easily.

  

Summer is coming and I normally see this as a good excuse for wearing dresses everyday, however this year I’m not sure I can brave it. My body is covered in bruises from our eldest boy, they are a reminder of the pain my boys go through on a daily basis.

The bruises come from when he can’t control himself, it usually starts small, he lies on the floor screaming, I try to smooth him and acknowledge his pain, sometimes it ends there sometimes he just can’t control what he’s doing. He starts doing these ear piercing, life draining, screams and kicking and punching wildly. If possible I give him space and sit close by, but usually I need to move him to prevent injury to him or his brother, this is a dangerous move! Most of the time it ends up with me holding him like a baby while he crys, possibly through shame of the injury / damage he has done, the state of the room is a reminder but by this time it can be impossible to move him without restarting the screams, we can only move this time when he is ready.

It is hard to see him in pain, but it is also hard seeing the risk he is placing me and his brother in (he doesn’t usually do it when daddy is home). He can’t see what he is doing as he is so focused on getting any emotion out in any way he can.  We are yet to find a trigger as they can start from nowhere we can see, once he told me he screamed and hit me because he couldn’t remember his sister’s name.

More recently we have seen a change in his violent outbursts, he has started to ask me if certain things hurt i.e. hair pulling or hitting, if I say yes he then does it harder. We have also started to find marks on him from where he has hurt himself, a few days ago I came into his room to find him hitting the floor, he told me he was hitting it as I had been hitting him in his dreams, it broke my heart. 

My precious boy can be so caring and attentive at times, but he can also really scare me. 

We had been telling the social workers that things were getting difficult and I don’t think they believed us, then during a recent visit Tom just started attacking me without any prompting mid sentence, he was hitting and clawing at my face with his hands around my neck. The social worker was shocked. They promised us some support form CAMHS, that was a few weeks ago, we’re waiting, hoping.

So far the advice we have been given is to not hide the bruises and ensure he understands we are in control. I can not keep the bruises on show as I can not deal with all the questions from those around us and see the heartbreak on his face, I will let him see them but only for a short time and where he has space / time to react, I know this is not what they want us to do but I just don’t feel it’s right for us to do more at present. As to asserting our control, I find this difficult, we encourage him to have some control and choice around things in the house and he seems to thrive on that, but we always ensure he knows we need to keep him safe and we are in charge of him, we have struggled taking the control away from him and are desperate for a more structured plan as we don’t feel this is right for our boy, so again we are not doing as adviced.

Over the last few days I have found Twitter and The Adoption Social really helpful in letting me know I am not alone and it has given me the confidence that I need to push for what’s right for my son, also to finish this post which has taken about 20 drafts!

Is it mine?

  
When the boys first moved in they were confused about why they had so much stuff.

James (1) loved exploring everything, which helped as he was quite delayed physically and he made huge leaps just by searching through a box of toys.

Tom (3) was able to verbalise the strange place. For about the first 2-3 months he kept asking “is it mine?”. He was confused as to why he had his own room, his own toys, grandparents etc. He was excited to be able to own things and by extension have some control over them. He did come with a lot of toys but in foster care he hadn’t realised they were his as there were several other children around, he had no real attachment to any of his toys (even those he slept with). Our home was the first time he had a sense of things belonging. He loved it. The Gruffalo outfit above was one of his first “owns”, we gave it to him the day he moved in and he wore it almost every day for the next 2 weeks. The teddy we gave him for Christmas rarely leaves his side, but when James was ill he lent it to him to help him feel better. Because he didn’t have much sense of ownership before it also means he enjoyed sharing “his” things, now this is an essential skill when you have siblings!

Tom takes real pride in his belongings and will tell anyone who listens that he has his own room etc. I do feel this has helped him understand we belong together. He keeps telling me I don’t have sisters anymore as they are his aunts! When we meet new people and they pass comment on some of the more visible “issues” (no easy word without being identifying) with James he declares loudly “he is my brother and he’s wonky” (this is far better than some of the more rude phrases which go through my head). Tom takes great pride in having a little brother and will defend him with great spirit. He doesn’t have quite the same attitude towards us yet but I believe he’s getting there.

Now the real battle is likely to be if he starts getting angry and controlling over “his” things and we get the opposite – “it’s mine!”. For now we are letting him run with it as we think it’s helping understand this is his family and his home, forever. We want him to understand he has a right to own things, to feel that things belong to him, but also that we sometimes need to share things we treasure.