All about Bear.


Slightly different post this week. It is all about Bear (above) and the trauma associated with soft toys!

Attachment is a word we hear a lot about, primarily we think of it with regards to people and parenting, however for children who have been adopted and / or in foster care a soft toy or something similar can provide comfort in a changing world and they form many different sorts of attachments.

Bear is the love of James’ (1) life. He has had him since he was born and will not sleep without him, Bear needs to be within 2 inches of his face or he wakes up! When James is upset he cries for Bear. Bear is so precious he doesn’t leave the house.

Bear has been chewed a lot (good for teething) and his nose has had a few repairs however this week the nose had to come off as it was at risk of being a choking hazard.

I took off Bear’s hard stud nose and replaced it with a fabric one (took me over an hour as Bear’s fabric had been chewed too much).


Now I think I did a good job on the nose, it looks like the original and is at the same weird slant, but it’s different.

I gave James back Bear, he chewed the nose, it didn’t feel right. He then threw Bear across the room (much to the shock of his brother). He then spent the rest of the evening pointing to his nose then Bear’s. He just sat there distraught and confused at how his most precious thing was different.

Watching this acute trauma reaction was heart breaking. I would go so far as to say Bear is one of his main attachments and seeing this little boy deep in thought about the changes was so sad.

His elder brother (Tom -4) was also upset to see his brother not playing with his precious bear and decided to help them re-attach! Tom spent lots of time sat next to James cuddling and stroking Bear, talking and signing to him in the way James does. This was beautiful to watch. Eventually James went to bed with Bear and seems to be learning to love him again, though he still touches the nose with real sadness on his face.

It was horrible watching the distress but beautiful to watch Tom’s reaction and understanding of his brother’s needs. (If he hadn’t been able to cuddle Bear by the time he went to bed he wouldn’t have slept, as we know from washing day).

Seeing how they now play together and respond to each other is lovely, something I didn’t think we would see at one point, let’s hope it continues and Bear remains in one piece.

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Rescue me mummy!

Having 2 small boys means we have regular viewings of Fireman Sam in our house, so much so that when James (1) gets upset in the car singing the theme tune soothes him (we know all the words).

It was no surprise then that we have regular “fires” in our hall that we have to put out with old toilet rolls as a hose. However over time the scenarios have changed and now Tom (4) wants to be rescued. This usually involves him shouting “rescue me mummy” then leaping off something high (he doesn’t have a normal sense of fear) – so far we’ve managed to catch him every time (it can be a bit close).

Over the last few weeks he has wanted to be close to us and has been testing the “rescue me” with really small things like getting into our bed (he pretends to fall out when getting in – it’s not that high!) or getting off the sofa, he wants us to reach out and grab him then hold him tight.

I think this may be a sign of something much bigger going on in his head, he wants to be with us but can’t really express that, maybe he feels that we have rescued him in some way and we will have our happy ending at the end of the story / bed time. He is testing us over the little things before he can trust us with big things like what scares him in the night. (Or he may just think this is a great game).

We have found the strangest of games bring out different emotions in him, hide and seek is another favourite where he will hide and count and if we don’t find him within a few seconds of the count being over he makes noises so we’ll find him quicker, he is desperate to be found and the joy on his face each time we find him is beautiful.

One of the best bits in our play time together is when we “get it right”. What “right” is I do not know, but I think it’s when he feels safe to express having fun, the excitement on his face and the hug I get is great. 

Over the last few months we have learnt so much about the boys and what games they like and how to best support them in play, I love sitting on the floor amongst the mess of toys exploring things together, part of me doesn’t want them to grow up and not need help with pretend picnics and making planes out of Duplo!

Exploring emotions through Duplo.

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We love Duplo!

It has so many amazing uses. Usually I am the builder and the boys are the architect and demolition team, my architect is very fussy. Usually I am given strict instructions of how he wants his house to be and I love all the little features he wants to add i.e. you have to be able to drive a toy train through the house, this is not easy to achieve with the limited materials I have, I have been known to stay up after they have gone to bed building things and searching eBay for larger (2 x 10) bricks – I lead a sad life!

What we have seen over the last few months is a real desire to build things that are important to him like our house, we have explored adding rooms for other family members and other siblings who are not placed with us (tricky moments). The main thing the boys love is that they can destroy it safely. Safely doesn’t just mean the bricks don’t break (Duplo is indestructible, some of our bits are over 30 years old) but it means that it is ok to pull it apart and start again. To Tom that is a big step. Something he has struggled with is that he has not had much control over his life and he likes control, he likes that fact that it is ok to get things wrong with Duplo, it is ok if his baby brothers pulls it apart to eat bricks, it’s ok if he gets angry and wants to remove rooms for his siblings or grandparents, IT IS OK. The relief you see on his face when he has successfully built something and then successfully pulled it apart is huge.

As time progresses he is now starting to do more building and is feeling more confident in his skills, he built the zoo (above) himself a few weeks ago and the pride was beautiful, he also loved body slamming it as he pulled it apart (it was messy).

The main thing Duplo has taught my boys is IT IS OK … to make a mess, to be proud of what you’ve done, to change your mind etc. For those reasons I will always be in debt to Duplo for helping my boys explore their emotions, James is too young to engage fully but I can see he is starting to enjoy the building and changing process.

P.s. I don’t work for Duplo but that would be a really cool job. I can’t wait for them both to be big enough not to eat Lego!