Monday, 3 December 2012

Illness and Attitude!

This week I feel like the inspiration to write has been sucked right out of me for a variety of reasons. It can probably be summed up in two words though:


Katie and I have shared the Illness bit.  She was doing a great impersonation of Vomiting Veronica on Sunday.  As for me well the very mild cold, that I thought I'd fought off last week, has turned into sinusitis this week.  Katie had stay home from school on Monday and Tuesday due to the "no school for 48 hours after vomiting" rule.  She was perfectly well on Monday and Tuesday but, by that time, I was feeling pretty crappy. I didn't really want to be an entertainer for those days one little bit! I totally understand why she had to be at home - the timing was pretty crappy though.

One of the hardest thing about being a parent is that you are still a parent even when you are unwell. You don't get sick leave! Trying to maintain parenting consistency when you just want to curl up and sleep is tough for any parent.  Katie isn't the kind of person who likes to self-amuse for long periods of time.  She needs attention and also needs to be walked at least once a day to channel and work off some of her energy, otherwise she will use that energy for less productive pursuits (maybe we should invest in a running machine?). 

It was a tough couple of days, made worse by the fact that Katie has developed the attitude from hell.  She has been giving progressively more attitude since starting school.  She's tired, I get that.  We've moved her bedtime back to 6.30pm on a school night because she's just too tired to hold it together.  If we don't get her to bed within a small window of time then she loses all sense of perspective and it's not possible to reason with her.  If she's over-tired then she will play up at bedtime.  She'll keep getting out of bed and coming downstairs.  She becomes aggressive and rude.  Our house mantra is "Kind hands; Kind words; Kind feet".  You can probably guess why.  She'll kick and punch and scream and even spit when she's in her tired zone.  I explained to her the other night that she won't get anything from having a temper tantrum.  She seemed quite surprised by this.  "Really?" she said.  Bless her, she's not realised that she never gets what she wants if she kicks off about it.  She's doing a lot of grumpy grunting like Kevin the Teenager.  Everything is an argument.  If I'm honest, she's quite hard work at the moment. It's made harder by the fact that I've not been feeling well.  I've felt like I've been punched in the face all week (and still do).  I don't forgive myself easily for not being the best parent I can be.  I've learnt that I have to but that doesn't mean that I like screwing it up.  I have shouted a few times this week, although I've managed a lot better than I might have imagined despite extreme provocation.

It can be hard when you are an adoptive parent not to read "adoption" into everything that happens behaviour-wise.  One thing that I am extremely grateful for is that I have a wide group of adopters as friends and I can draw on their experiences and normalise a lot of Katie's behaviour.  I no longer get bogged down with worrying about whether the behaviour is because she is adopted.  Many Reception Year children are little shits very challenging outside of school.  They have to deal with a long day in school where they have to behave......all day long.  This is such a change from Pre-School and is a tough gig for a 4/5 year old.  We parents get it in the neck once that bell goes.  I'm glad it's that way round.  At her first ever Parents Evening recently Katie's teacher said she was a "joy to be around" and that she is a great member of the class and is learning well.  Her only note was that Katie often doesn't believe in her own abilities.  She didn't tell us anything we didn't know there.  Katie often has to be led kicking and screaming through something new before she suddenly realises she can do it.  The positive side of Katie starting school is watching her enthusiasm for learning how to read and write.  We have spent hours practising how to write an "e" and she can now do it.  Her happiness is wonderful to behold.

Katie is trying out the power of words a lot at the moment.  Poor Daddy is constantly told that she wants Mummy and she doesn't love him.  She was hell on legs on Wednesday night when I went out to my Reiki group.  She was annoyed that I'd gone out (how very dare I?) and wouldn't go to bed.  Poor Daddy didn't get his dinner until 9pm!  When she's with me she'll moan she wants Daddy as soon as she's told off for anything (yeah you and me both sugar-plum!).  "I don't like you anymore" is a commonly heard statement. I've even heard "I want another Mummy".  She doesn't stick with any of these statements for long.  She will sidle up for a huggle and tell me she loves me.  She's just testing.  She's bloody good at it, I'll give her that!  I've heard her being a bit of a Meany-Peg to one of the girls in her class at school.  I won't tolerate that so I've had a word with her teacher about that and asked her to try and pair the girls together to encourage their relationship a bit.  I don't think Katie is malicious - she's just trying out her power.  The cats know all about Katie experimenting with her power!  She also hasn't developed remorse yet.  I notice some of her non-adopted friends have developed this and this is definitely where she is developmentally delayed.  This is fairly common for children who are adopted.  We'll keep working with her on it and have to put up with the "don't care" attitude until her brain fires up that developmental phase.

So how are we dealing with it? Getting Katie to bed by 6.30pm is top of the list. We're being very patient. We're using the techniques learned in the Triple P parenting course and I'm reading "123 Magic Parenting Book"  at the moment.  The techniques are working fairly consistently.  Katie is learning that if I get to 3 then she goes on Time-Out.  Now, before anyone gets testy with me, I know Time-Out is a much contested technique amongst adopters.  I think sense has to be used with this technique.  Katie doesn't have any attachment issues as such so I don't feel that this technique is inappropriate for her.  She also goes straight to Time-Out for hitting; kicking etc etc.  I try to head behaviour off if I see it coming.  I use my sing-song voice to encourage her along when she's tired.  I reward her as much as possible for good behaviour.  Again it's that balance.  We have found that reward charts don't work overly well for her.  I can use a chart for one behaviour i.e. going to bed.  We work towards a reward (7 nights seems to do the trick with  bedtime) and then we stop. Katie is fairly immediate.  She needs to see an outcome very quickly.  She seems to learn better that way.  I have a variety of techniques that I bring out of the bag.  Sometimes though it's just a simple case of moving her bedtime back.  She's been in bed as early as 6pm recently.  She's a persistent young lady.....but she has a Taurean for a mum!  She doesn't stand a chance LOL!  I invented the word "stubborn"!

There are positives and I do like to keep those in mind.  It's far easier to focus on the things that aren't going well but you need that balance to keep the whole in mind.  Katie and I do fun stuff together.  She is riding her bike well now without her stabilisers.  We dance together and are both getting quite good at the Gangnam style dance.  We read together and do her homework together.  We snuggle up to watch DVDs together.  Katie has recently gained her BAGA (Gymnastics) Badge 8 and her 10 metres swimming badge.  In fact things are fairly OK as long as she's not over-tired.

 My other mantra is....."it's just a's just a phase....."  Usually it is.  Of course one phase often over-laps with another - just to keep things interesting.  But we're getting there.

We are!!!!!!!




  1. Sounds like Mini's first year at school too - tiredness rules! Things are better now he's Y1, but you can still see a decline towards the end of each week.

    We tried time out and various other techniques - rewards charts etc and for us they work for a short period of time, then stop,but I know other adopters have adapted these techniques for their own families. If you've found ways of making them work for you then I think that's great.

    Anyway, hope you and Katie are both feeling much better now xx

  2. I think that you are totally amazing, it seems so complicated all that you have learned to do with her! I hope you are feeling better soon :-) x

    1. Hiya Greta. Nah it's just what parents mostly do. If I'm honest there is this hope inside me that if I have enough tricks in my tool box I'll be a good enough mum. I fail my own standards on a daily basis (but I suspect most parents do tbh). It's been pointed out to me (by more than one person) that I beat myself up a bit too much *rolls eyes innocently*......don't know WHAT they are on about personally!! LOL xx

    2. P.S. this will be you one day soon xx