Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Santa Claws.....

Phew! Talk about blink and you might miss it! After all the weeks of preparations the big day has come and gone. It was a blur of wrapping paper (how much of a waste is wrapping paper environmentally btw?); food; drink; people; noise; laughter; tantrums and tears (and not just from Katie).

As a parent there is a lot of pressure to make Christmas a really special day. I wanted to make Katie's Christmas magical because I want to make her feel happy and loved. It's easy to get carried away though. How many conversations did you have with parents wondering aloud if they had bought enough presents? There is pressure to make this one day of the year the perfect family experience (just look at all the perfect Christmas pictures and stories posted on Facebook). What does perfect mean to you? Is it the perfectly coordinated Christmas tree? A mountain of presents? A house full of food? Cooking the perfect turkey? Having all your family around you all singing merrily beside a piano played by Auntie Edna?  Having a quiet day on your own? The reality of Christmas is a bit like cooking the roast dinner that accompanies it: lots and lots of prep and coordination; a moment's pause whilst you sit back and savour your creation (Christmas Eve) and then it's all demolished in 5 minutes (Christmas Day) and you then have to clean up all the plates and wash up (and then sit down with a glass of wine and a migraine as was the case in our house)!  It's the bits that happen in between that that make it a special day but it can be hard to savour them whilst you're in the midst of organising it all.

We waited an age to become parents. We want to make it all lovely for Katie. This year we've visited Santa; put out reindeer food; written a letter to Santa; received a letter from Santa; received an email from the PNP; made a wonderful Advent calendar; made fake Santa foot prints from our wood burner in the kitchen to her presents. We've made Father Christmas really come alive in our house. All that is added to the build up at school with rehearsals for the school play and the performance; the excitement of sending Christmas cards and the thought of what was to come. By the time the school broke up for the holidays all the children were as high as kites and on emotional rollercoasters.

What for? What has been the end result? Several days after the event we still have an over-excited and over-tired and over-emotional child whose behaviour is generally pretty undesirable right at this moment in time (although she is currently watching TV very quietly so I'm hoping we're starting to come down now). It's all pretty stressful. That is my reason for asking what all this is for. Not to be a Scrooge or a Humbug but merely to wonder what we are trying to achieve?

Christmas Day was a crazy day. Katie woke up around 6.45am (which is about her normal time) although we had a panic around midnight when she woke up from a bad dream moments after I put a few presents under the tree in her bedroom. I rushed in to soothe her and get her back to sleep whilst angling my body in front of the tree so she couldn't see the presents. I thought I'd succeeded; that she had fallen asleep; but, no, she caught me out and opened her eyes just as I moved. Her eyes refocused and she gazed with wide open eyes at the presents. "Are those for me?" she whispered. I nodded but said that they were for the morning, not for now. She whispered excitedly that Daddy's presents were under her bed. I hushed and shushed her and she closed her eyes. I sat nervously in bed panicking that she would now wake up but no, she went back to sleep. Relief!

Seeing Katie's face with all the magic of Christmas as she came downstairs in the morning and saw her presents and the footprints in the "snow" aka my gluten-free plain flour (might as well use it for something as I use self-raising for everything else!) was fabulous. I don't know how many magical years we'll have before someone at school gives her the low-down and the innocence and magic will be gone. It didn't take long to rip all the paper off her gifts from us and ask to move on to the presents under the tree. We're now working out where to put all these presents (the mini piano seemed like a good idea at the time!)

As is our family tradition now Daddy and I cooked up a Christmas Day storm for our nearest and dearest. It was a lovely day in so many ways and I am so grateful that we still have
Daddy's parents to join us. They are getting older and Nana is in constant pain with osteoarthritis; scoliosis and now has the onset of Alzheimer's to contend with. Pops had a double lung transplant about 7-8 years ago and is doing amazingly well with his health but now has a lot of pressure caring for Nana. My sister and 8 year old nephew also joined us. It had been a tough year for many at the table and I wanted to ensure that everyone enjoyed their food and that the children had a good day. I felt awful that nobody (including myself) thought to buy my sister a present from her son so quickly wrapped up a new top I had bought and was going to give her and ensured he was able to give her something. Once everyone was replete and content with food I took the children out for a nice walk about 4pm to burn off a bit of excess energy. My nephew rode his fab new MGP scooter and Katie proudly pushed her double buggy with her new baby Annabel and baby Chou Chou (barely dressed) inside (they even swapped for a while!). I needed the walk as much as they did! I'm a fairly sociable person but get very tense with too many people around me at one time (Ma Walton I will never be I'm afraid!). I rarely relax when I'm entertaining.

We decided before the day that Katie would be going to bed at 6.30pm on Christmas Day (her normal bedtime). We learned last year that even 7pm was too late. We've learned not to let Katie stay up late on special occasions - even though some people think we are being mean. No we are really not being mean! Katie needs her sleep - even more so after an exciting day. Even 6.30pm was too late on Christmas Day judging by the 30 minute (annual) meltdown that we shared with Katie at bedtime (that's not included in the picture perfect Christmas brochure but it appears to be remarkably common from what I can gauge).

We decided to keep it quiet on Boxing Day partly to let the dust settle and let Katie calm down a bit and partly because Daddy was on-call. I have taken to privately calling Katie "The BC" ("Bonkers Child") over the past week or so because she has totally lost the plot and seems unable to hold her behaviour together. We are to blame really for this plot loss. "We" being our society's build up over Christmas and also us as parents for allowing it to happen. Is a 5 year old able to be grateful for a mountain of presents and know how incredibly lucky she is on many fronts? Is she able to regulate her excitement and channel it into calmly playing with her new toys for any length of time? Of course not. There is an expectation on children though to be able to keep a sunny disposition through a time of changeable routine and excitement. Are we being fair on them? Not a jot - we just want to wind them up; build up all the excitement and then expect them to behave themselves! Tough on most children but tougher still on many adopted children who often need the predictability of their routines.  Tougher still on adopted children who've witnessed domestic violence or experienced physical or sexual abuse (how do you explain a strange man coming into the house to leave presents to a child who has had those experiences?) How many houses have parents shouting at their children to calm down around this time of year? Errrrr is that fair when we're the ones who wind them up in the first place? I'm not standing in judgement here as I've been that parent!

We've decided to try and keep things quiet for a few more days. We went to soft play with some friends yesterday and let the children run around madly for 3.5 hours (hopefully that will help burn some of it off!).  We'll be visiting the Blue Reef Aquarium to visit the fishies and reminisce about our Adoption Day 2 years ago (and I'll also be writing up about that visit because the tickets were very kindly donated as a family day out by The Money Supermarket.com).  We'll be hosting a NYE afternoon Chilli and Brownies get-together for Daddy's family members and we're going to the panto on New Years Day but, other than that, I think we'll try not to overdo things too much.  Actually that all sounded much calmer in my head but it still sounds like a lot of stuff going on.....

This post has taken me since Boxing Day to actually complete so I'm going to post it now before I get distracted again......

Will I learn from this next year I wonder?

What has your Christmas been like?..................



9 comments:

  1. I often wonder what we do it all for, and if its better to comopletely scale things down, but everyone gets carried away with the media hype. it sounds like you had a nice Christmas wih more nic trips planned so I hope they go smoothly without too much emotional meltdowns, our Christmas has been nice althought have not blogged it yet... am tring t stay off my computer to ensure i don't get too many shouty moments!

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    1. Thanks Sarah and thank you for sharing my thoughts about the big day. How's the not being a shouty mummy working out for you? I've kept my computer limited to times when Katie is not around as well. I think it works generally as they aren't trying to get your attention away from the computer all the time. Happy New Year to you xxx

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  2. Love your honesty, Gem! How easy it is to be duped by the actors and actresses on Facebook! I applaud you and wish you a very Happy New Year!! x

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    1. Thank you Berni - I really appreciate your comments as I know this is a tough time for you. I wish you a Happy New Year honey and hope to see you soon xxxx

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  3. I really wish that society would just "stop" a lot of what it is doing with its commercialism and constant advertising bombardment to spend spend spend and oh by the way if you do not have the money to spend here you can have a loan it's only a zillion % interest and why not have a bit of a gamble too, see, we GIVE you your first £20 to bet free! I think Christmas is more about trying to make sure your own child/children "keeps up with its peers" more than actually what is best for your individual child. I have Nigerian friends and their children do not seem to have this "hype" in their lives. One gave her son a pencil sharpener as his Christmas present and he was more than happy with that. That is...until he goes back to school and find that every child he talks to will have been given iPads/games machines/scooters/toys in piles etc. Christmas seems to be more about "trying to keep your family liking you" than anything else with lots of money wasted on presents that no one really wants, horrible jumpers that have to have the "oh, that's lovely" comment when you open them which never make it back to your house but get dropped off at the charity shop on the way.

    If only, in the New Year, all this "buy buy buy, loan loan loan, gamble gamble gamble, support this cat/dog/monkey/child in xyz etc" would stop or at least become more proportional and have the rest of the time that it takes up filled with more positive things like teaching people to care for each other, look after each other and value themselves then Christmas plus many other things might turn into much nicer "monsters" than their current versions.

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    1. I think you're right Greta. It all does seem to be getting carried away with itself. I think things are changing a bit because of the recession though. I will definitely be rethinking things for next year.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your experiences so honestly. Your blog was recommended by my LA when we went to an adoption information evening and it's been really helpful in supporting my understanding of adoption and how it works differently than 'natural parenting'. I hope your new year goes less manically!

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    1. Thank you!!! Good luck with your adoption process. Have you started your home study yet?

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    2. Not yet - we're still waiting because we're moving flat soon, to a 2 bed, so it seems sensible to postpone the home study 'til then. We're also waiting for more input from fertility/endocrine folks to determine what chance there is of natural children. All on hold til they decide a course of treatment.

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