Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Britmums Live Here I Come!

In just two sleeps time I will be heading off to the big city with 500 or so other bloggers to attend Britmums Live 2012.  

I was amazingly lucky enough to win a ticket for the two day conference after entering a competition run by Britmums a few weeks ago.  To win one of three tickets I had to write a blog post about why I wanted to attend the conference. I didn't for one second expect to win one of the tickets and the other blog posts were so brilliant that I didn't think I had a hope but I thought it would be fun to enter.  Imagine my surprise when I received an email telling me I had won a ticket!  

So my hotel is booked; my bag is almost packed and I'm just trying to work out how long it will take me to get from London Waterloo to the Barbican so I can check into my hotel and get to the conference in time to register.  My new toy, my Samsung Note, is downloaded with books to read on the journey.  I have a note book at the ready to write down everything I hope to remember.  My home-made business cards are printed off and packed.

I am planning to meet up with some other bloggers before the conference starts to get to know a few faces because I currently don't personally (or in real time) know anyone who will be attending.  I am looking forward to meeting a few bloggers who I regularly tweet to and Britmum have organised for four bloggers to be the social butterflies who will look after the newbies and nervous!  I'm feeling pretty excited!

Whilst I am very excited about the opportunity to immerse myself in my blogging world for 2 days, my biggest anxiety about the whole venture is being away from Katie overnight.  My anxiety isn't because I don't trust Daddy to take good care of her but because I feel guilty at the thought of spending a night away from both of them really. Daddy and I have been together for 22 years and only spent a handful of nights apart in all those years and I have never left Katie overnight before.  I have embraced my role as a parent for the past 2 years and three months.  But I know that to be a good parent I also have to remind myself, every once in a while, who I am.  I have arranged to Skype Katie and Daddy in the late afternoon on Friday and will phone in the morning on Saturday.  I will also be leaving the conference an hour or so early on Saturday to get back home again to put Katie to bed on Saturday night.  Then on Sunday I'm out performing in a local theatre in a dance show with a wonderful group of adult tappers.  Life sure ain't dull!  On Monday I will rein myself back in and be normal Mummy for the rest of the week (as far as I can ever be "normal")!

I find it amazing really that a little blog that started simply to keep people in touch with our introductions with Katie has blossomed into quite a venture and taken me off on a journey that I didn't expect it to.  I find myself looking forward to the times in my week when I can sit down and reflect on things that have happened and write about them.  This little blog and Twitter have brought me into contact with other adopters and prospective adopters and adoption agencies and lots of Social Workers and will now be taking me off to London to attend this amazing conference.  I feel passionate about raising awareness about adoption as an accompaniment to writing about our lives.  I feel so enthusiastic about where this has taken me and feel a real sense of purpose of where the future may take me. I'm looking forward to getting lots of ideas from the speakers and other participants at the conference.  This is all a wonderful distraction whilst we're waiting to be allocated a Social Worker for our home study I must say!

Thank you to Britmums Live for giving me a ticket and I look forward to meeting you all!!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I'm off to Brit Mums Live!

I have my first ever night away soon when I attend the Britmums Conference in London (did I mention that I won a ticket to attend?).  It will be interesting to see how Katie copes with me not being around.  She is used to Daddy putting her to bed when I go out but I'm always there in the morning.  I'm feeling a bit guilty about experimenting on her (and very excited that I am having a mini-break in the capital).  Daddy and I have rarely spent a night apart in 22 years so it's a bit of a big deal all round.  I was going to travel back and forth for the two days but realised that I would be exhausted for the tap show I'm doing on the Sunday (poor Daddy has another day of being the babysitter extraordinaire on the Sunday as well!!) and I would spend the whole conference worrying about when I had to leave. So I've taken the plunge and booked a hotel room. It has a swimming pool and sauna that guests can use as well....I wonder if I'll get a chance to use those facilities......probably not but a girl can dream eh?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Daddy's Day

Thinking back I can remember the sadness that Daddy and I experienced throughout the years of waiting to be parents when Mothers Day and Fathers Day came around each year.  I had to close a little bit of myself off each year whenever those special days came around, to protect myself and keep my sanity.  That pain has lifted now and we love family life. The ups and the downs; the good days and the stressful days. I wouldn't change it for all the tea in China!

Today has brought our third Fathers Day celebration with Katie.  She wrote nearly all the card herself for Daddy (and even managed to get all the letters for her name in the correct order).  She chose the card (and is desperate to get it back from Daddy so she can keep the pictures of the cats on it!).  How much our lives have changed since March 2010 when we first met that tinky little lady.  Katie has grown so tall now and is every inch a young lady about to embark on her school career.  She was able to keep Daddy's presents a secret and understand why it was a special day. She reminded Daddy several times that it was his special day!

We didn't do anything especially exciting today.  It was just nice to spend the day as a family as Daddy has to work very hard during the week.  Katie woke us up at 5:30am this morning, bless her (ok you know I really want to say something far less polite there don't you?), so we snoozed in bed watching Cinderella whilst having juice and tea and Katie helping Daddy open his presents.  We had a family breakfast and dropped by Nana and Pops' house to give Pops his Fathers Day present and then headed into our local town for lunch (Katie had her usual fish and chips!) and purchasing our new mobile phones.  Buying new phones and two new contracts takes its time and Katie was a total star in the phone shop and gained her promised mint-choc-chip ice-cream as a reward for her wonderfully patient behaviour.  She only needed to go for a poo once whilst we were trying to sort the contracts out and broke the cords on three of the display phones which I thought was quite good going (and the shop really should attach those phones more securely!)  We walked through town holding hands; swinging our arms and generally enjoying each others company.  It was everything I always wanted when I dreamed of having a family.  Not a major day out but a simple, normal, family outing into town, walking along together, holding hands.  Simple yet wonderful and so appreciated by us.

I won't spoil this lovely post by describing Katie's behaviour at bedtime due to being so exhausted after such an early wake up.  All I will say is that it was fairly dramatic and she was in bed by 6:15pm tonight leaving me to spend the evening setting up the phones.

I found this poem which I think is a lovely way to finish this post:

A Little Girl Needs Daddy

A little girl needs Daddy
For many, many things:
Like holding her high off the ground
Where the sunlight sings!
Like being the deep music
That tells her all is right
When she awakens frantic with
The terrors of the night.

Like being the great mountain
That rises in her heart
And shows her how she might get home
When all else falls apart.

Like giving her the love
That is her sea and air,
So diving deep or soaring high
She'll always find him there.

Author Unknown

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ch Ch Ch Changes........

A few evenings ago Daddy and I went to our first ever parents evening at Katie's new school.  As we stood in the playground looking at all the parents (trying to find some of the other parents that we know) it occurred to me how overwhelming change can be and how much change our little girl has already had in her young life.  Even I felt slightly overwhelmed at the sea of new faces.  I struggle with new faces and names because I have a few problems with my memory and facial recognition and I have to meet people at least twice before I can remember their face and name.  I often feel a bit of a wally as I can't remember people's names or where I know them from.  I felt a bit of a sinking feeling at all the new people I would have to try to remember; who I will get along with and what the playground politics will be like and then I thought about how Katie has adapted over the past two years to a new home and friends and family; starting pre-school and meeting new people and making new friends; going to swimming and gymnastics.  She's pretty amazing really.  What an inspiration! She takes so much in her stride and has an amazing memory and recall for the people we have met.  To help us both out I have signed up for the PTA.  Hopefully that will help me meet other parents at the school and also help Katie out with making new friends as well.

We are planning various playdates with children that she will be starting big school with.  There are only four children in her pre-school class that are going to her school but they will all be in the same class so hopefully that will help them all with the change of location and all the new faces.  We have met a girl via another friend (have you noticed how everyone knows everyone else once you have children?) who is also going to the school so we have a playdate lined up with them as well.  Our school visits with Katie start in a few weeks time.  She is excited and knows the name of her new teacher and the name of her class.  She doesn't seem outwardly anxious but I do wonder how she is feeling internally.  I've noticed she is wetting her pants more during the day and wonder if this is anxiety or simply the fact that she can't be bothered to go to the toilet because she's too distracted with other things (I suspect the latter really).  Katie never bothered about wet nappies when she was younger either.

So many ch ch ch changes on the horizon with school and hopefully our second much for us all to take in our stride. My little girl is starting to grow up.  School will probably mark the start of her independence growing and our relationship changing as well.  It will be exciting and interesting to see what the next year brings....

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Verbal Diarrhea....

"A condition suffered by an individual who 
has the inablility to shut the f*** up, 
I.e the words keep flowing." 

I would imagine any parent of a 4 year old (or younger or older - ok pretty much any child once they can learn to speak) can give testament to the incredibly draining condition known as Verbal Diarrhea. I won't use the acronym for obvious reasons.......

For the past month or so Katie has excelled in talking non-stop.  It is relentless; never ending; a constant barrage of noise and sounds.  When she isn't talking, she is singing; at the top of her lungs.  At home; in the car; when she's supposed to be going to sleep; in our bed in the morning; as I'm writing this blog entry.  There is no place on earth that's off limits.  Jill Murphy really summed it up when she wrote Five Minutes Peace. That is how I'm feeling, right at this minute, whilst I'm doing my own version of verbal diarrhea.  

Some of it is quite amusing.  Katie's version of Adele's "Bloomer Has It" is something to behold. Many of her songs are mash-ups of various songs, usually Adele,Glee or Maroon 5 at the current time (guess what we have in the car at the moment?).  Some of the singing is unrecognisable and I have to admit can beome really really irritating when sung very loudly. The general idea behind the singing, I suspect, is to be as annoying as possible in order to gain as much attention as possible.  As I write this, Katie is rolling around on the floor on her space hopper singing some random lyrics 

very loudly..... 

I'm doing my best to ignore her for Five Minutes.

I'm relatively chilled out about the level of noise.  Most of the time.  I have to admit though that every so many weeks I find it intolerable. I'm sure you know when I mean. That time when it's a real challenge to be the sort of mum that I aspire to be.  That time when I'm tired and grumpy and very noise sensitive.  Usually around that time I get a migraine sneaking up on me and I'm even more noise sensitive.  Non of this matters to a child of course.  They don't really care that you're head is banging or that your nervous system is about to rise to Defcom 5.  I do my best to try and keep business running as normal but every so often I really want to let rip and shout out.......

SHUT THE F*** UP!!!!

Of course I don't and I'm very proud of myself that Katie has never heard me say the "F" word.  I don't use it that often, particularly since becoming a mum (mostly because I'm afraid I will say it in front of Katie!).  I promised myself that I would never tell my child to "shut up".....I guess this is the moment where I give a very guilty look and raise my hands up towards my shoulders and say........Please forgive me....I'm only human. I did say "Please just shut up for a moment" though if that makes it any better.  Those words have passed my lips on a couple of occasions.  I do try and say it in other ways.....i.e. "Can you sing/talk in your inside voice please?" or........"Can you try and play a bit more quietly for a while please".   I have been known to use the Ross signal for bringing the noise levels down. If nothing else it gives me a giggle.  I try to help her find her volume control in her body and we try talking in whispers. All of this only works for around 10 seconds before the volume is back up again.  Thing is,I know that when she's a teen and has stopped talking to me other than grunting noises, I will miss all this chatter and non-stop randomness.

Katie did comment to me yesterday, when I said to her I would give her a sticker for good listening..."What's listening?".  If that it what I'm dealing with can you blame me for occasionally asking her to "Please Be Quiet For One Minute"? I still hold firm to my other resolution though and that is not to ever say "You're stupid"!  I am very good at naming the behaviour and not labling the child.

Ok, I'm a little tetchy at the moment. Three guesses why..........

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!

How I wonder what on earth has happened in our house tonight.......

Poor Katie (and by default poor Mummy and Daddy) had the rage of all rages this evening.  All over a star.  A pink musical star that projects a little teddy bear onto the ceiling and plays lullabies.  A pink musical star that was usurped by the musical night night dog that is currently playing beside Katie's bed.  A pink musical star that doesn't really get played with much, other than to use it as a reading light.  What has happened this evening I hear you ask that has created anarchy and mayhem in our household?  Well I suspect combination of things.  My nearly 8 year old nephew is sleeping over tonight and I thought it would be a good idea for both children to go to bed at the same time (usually I stagger the bedtimes and get 30 minutes of Katie playing up until he comes up to bed).  So, my clever thinking was let Katie stay up half an hour later and put them both to bed at the same time.  Both children thought this was a great idea.  They had baths and then settled down to watch a film.  All great so far.  Great that was until bedtime and I let my nephew borrow the pink star to keep him company in bed and all hell broke loose (thank heavens Katie wasn't aware that I'd also lent him a Winnie the Pooh Bear but suggested that he hide that under the covers so she wouldn't notice it!).  I suspect that Katie was over-tired. We've had a busy day filled with swimming and a trip to a local arboretum for (in Katie's words) "a lovely long walk".  She has been a little emotional at times today so a slightly later bedtime probably wasn't a brilliant idea but I was hoping that that would prevent the usual messing around when our nephew stays over.

Katie is prone to the 4 year old tantrums that plague girls and boys at around this age but tonight she was raging.  Red in the face, screaming and shouting at me to get the star back with angry tears streaming down her face. She was seriously angry. I should just point out at this moment in time that all this took place whilst Katie was on the loo!  What on earth do you do in that situation? Have you ever tried to wipe the bottom of a child in mid-rage?  I wasn't going to give in to such behaviour. I actually found it really hard not to laugh (I suspect that must be a protective sort of reaction in the face of such anger).  I don't like seeing anyone that upset and angry especially my daughter.  I wanted to just make her feel better but I knew that I couldn't allow such behaviour to result in the return of the star.  In the end I held her (once she was off the loo) until she calmed down a bit and put her into bed.  I made it very clear that the star was staying in the other bedroom and it was time for bed.  Daddy and I did shifts with each child to settle them both down.  As I type this it is all quiet on the Western Front! Katie has probably worn herself out.  I will be going out to buy another musical dog I think for the next time my nephew stays over.

Tonight does answer me one question, Katie is not ready to do a sleep over with her Auntie and nephew.  Maybe if it's on a night when he is staying with his Daddy it might work but, emotionally, I really don't think she is ready at the moment.  She is currently feeling very jealous of my relationships with other children and I wouldn't want another person to have to manage those emotions and the resulting behaviour.  We are going to work on my sister putting Katie to bed at our house though to start getting her ready.

Where's the wine?


Monday, 4 June 2012

And a bit of diddly-dum!

Things are feeling much better in our house at the moment. Not because Katie's behaviour has improved dramatically but because we're responding to it differently (mostly). 

We've also discovered just how far our young lady is able to walk and scoot (5 miles) and the knock-on benefits of having a very physically tired child.  I didn't realise she could go that far! I can bring back my power walks now! I have renewed our memberships for two local activities that will provide the opportunity for lots of walks!

I find parenting to be such a trial and error thing.  Katie does seem to be responding to some of our new tactics that I wrote about recently.  She is stubborn, as am I, so some of the ignoring of undesirable behaviour aspects are fairly challenging.  I am trying to find some humour in the situations i.e. when she is shouting at bedtime "I am hot, I am hot, I am hot" for 30 mins.  Ignoring that is pretty hard and I admit I did give in and sort the situation out (although I suspect she was actually hot from shouting "I am hot" for 30 mins).  I give her something, she is tenacious!  That is a positive in life (when used correctly!).  I want to try and find a way of helping her channel her need for negative attention though.  Katie will accept any kind of attention. She gets tons of positive attention and love yet she seems to have an internal need for negative attention.  I am not sure whether this is simply just that any attention is good enough for her or whether she is expressing some internal feelings about her self esteem or whether she gets a bit bored and doesn't channel that boredom particularly positively.  When she was younger she would often blow raspberries at her reflection and she often says that she thinks other people don't like her.  It's hard with a little one to really know what's going on inside their thoughts.

The thing about parenting that is that everyone has an opinion, myself included.  You can buy endless books on "how to" and family and friends will all give their opinion.  Parenting techniques and trends change all the time which can get really confusing.  Parenting an adopted child is a minefield of opinions.  There is a fear of further damaging a child who already has additional difficulties to overcome, and getting the parenting right, but there has to be a balance between that and allowing a child to grow up without boundaries and consequences.  Our society is fairly accepting of young children with challenging behaviour but older children and adults displaying such behaviour invariably end up getting excluded from the education system and later in life spending time at her Majesty's pleasure and/or living an unhappy life.  Many of these young people were my clients in my professional life.

It is very easy to get bogged down in the negatives.  Parenting any child is a see-saw between positive and negative emotions.  I didn't know such highs and lows of emotion (often in the space of 5 minutes were possible until I became a parent).  Sometimes it's easier to get preoccupied in the things that aren't going so well and then you miss out on what is going brilliantly.  Katie is a child who likes to push things to the limit and that brings some parenting challenges but she is also a sunny and happy and amazingly clever young lady who will have an enormous amount to offer the world.  She is now sleeping without her monitor at night and we haven't had a single wet bed (I'll expect one tonight now I've said that then shall I?).  She is very resourceful but worries that she can't do things (I wonder if she gets that from me?).  It is our role as parents to know when to push a child and when to hold back.  Yesterday we took Katie to our local zoo and they had a Punch and Judy show on.  Katie was initially really anxious about whether the show would be scary (I have to say that the pictures advertising it did look a bit on the scary side).  We sat well back so she wasn't near the puppet theatre and reassured her.  Bit by bit, once the show started, Katie edged forwards and finally sat right at the front on the grass and loved every moment of it (I will just say at this point that Daddy and I had our concerns about the domestic violence in the show, which I thought had now been banned).  That's another story though, the point here was that Katie faced her fear and thoroughly enjoyed herself. It felt like a wise parenting decision (domestic violence aside and not sure I'd let her see another one!).

I am someone who likes to try and get things right.  That is a really positive but challenging trait in myself as a parent because I don't always get things right.  I drive myself and my friends nuts (and I'm sure Katie will grow to get frustrated with me as well in time, if she's not already!).  I like to understand the why's and wherefore's of my own behaviour and that of others.  To try and combat this as a parent a bit I now say that most of Katie's behaviour is "because she's 4!" and I suspect that actually I may be right.