Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Lunar Honey?

The "Honeymoon Period" is a well used expression within the adoption fraternity.  It is used to describe the first few weeks of a foster or adoption placement when everything seems perfect.  The theory is that the children behave well during this period and then difficulties can start to be experienced once the child is feeling more settled and more able to express themselves in their usual way.

When we adopted Katie I think we had a honeymoon period of several months.  Katie totally missed out her "terrible twos" and these were delayed until she was well into her "threes". At the time she was very emotional about missing Grandma (who was her FC) but she settled in very easily.  It was about a year later though when I noticed that the relationship Katie and I had had deepened dramatically and felt full of trust. It's a gradual process though and it isn't until you've been together for a while that you notice the difference, even with a smooth, text book, transition such as we had with Katie.

It's  now three weeks since our triangle family became a square.  Pip, bless him, seems to be exactly the same here at home as he was in his foster placement. There has been no change in his personality. He's not been better behaved than he was before. He's eaten and slept well throughout the transition. There appears to be no signs of bereavement as yet although we had a couple of tetchy days in our second week.  I can see him feeling more relaxed and we are noticing his mischievous side being expressed more. He gets a little twinkle in his eye and then does something funny.  He is incredibly engaging.

I had anticipated that our Lunar Honey period might involve Katie being all over her brother like a rash and wanting to play with him all the time (but was a bit worried that she might be jealous and try and pull me away from her brother).

None of that has happened.

For the most part Katie is fairly bored by her brother, but not indifferent.  She can be forgiven for feeling this way. He is a baby and babies generally require the other person to come up with all the entertainment skills.  I find that tough enough at times and I used to be a children's Redcoat!  She likes to do the "mummy" type of things like helping with nappies and feeding bottles but she doesn't actually want to play with him (although yesterday's introduction of our new playpen that we've morphed into a ball pit was a great hit with both children for nearly an hour!).

Katie has been very generous with allowing me time with Pip and having to carry him around.  Hmm maybe this IS a lunar honey period after all?  Watch this space on that one.  Other than that Katie has mostly been putting her energy into having meltdowns and temper tantrums.  Some pretty impressive ones I must say.  She is showing signs of getting frustrated with him during one of her meltdowns and she gets incredibly upset if he is crying as well.  She gets quite angry with him if he is upset and this coincides with her feeling cross at the same time. We've had a couple of times with her trying to out-scream him - that was interesting!

Under other circumstances I would say that this was a direct reaction to Pip arriving, however Katie was having the meltdowns before he arrived (as are most of her friends).  She was the same this time last year during the transition to starting school.  She is exhausted.  She needs the school holidays.  She is probably anxious about moving into Year 1. She's had an enormous change at home and the adoption process has taken its toll on all of us. We are all emotionally exhausted. It does beg the question as to whether the process should leave you feeling that way. I rather feel not.

Katie and her friend have been getting into mischief at school.  They seem to leave their brains at home when they get together. They surpassed themselves yesterday with deciding to wee in the play house in the playground.  Why? No-one knows. I would say both girls have had a tough term.  Maybe they are kindred spirits and sense the emotional need in each other? I also tend to think they are just 5 and putting their quite considerable intelligence into silly activities.  I think they need to be in Year 1 when the learning becomes more formal and they will be more intellectually challenged. Thankfully Katie's teacher has calmed down and we had a good chat about it.  Katie wrote a letter of apology and gave it to her teacher. The plan is to split the girls into different classes next year and they are currently having to earn back their right to play in the Learning Area outside (and sadly won't be allowed out there together again).

At the moment we are just walking away from Katie when she kicks off. Literally taking all our energy away from her and this is working really well with her.  It almost goes against my whole personality to do it but it seems a bit like putting a wet cloth over a fire - walking away just takes all the oxygen away. If we let her rage a bit she seems to calm down much more quickly than if we engage with her tantrum.  Adoption parenting generally supports not leaving the child when they are feeling that way but this seems to be working well with Katie and she soon comes back to get her cuddle and we can chat about what made her cross.

So all in all, I'd say that we're not really having a Lunar Honey Period here at all (I feel quite cheated!).  Part of me thinks that Katie is so completely settled here that the addition of her brother isn't causing her behaviour to change.  I'm finding it tough because I now have two children to look after and that is made considerably more difficult when one of them is melting down.

Pip seems to take it all in his stride - even Katie's meltdowns.

I'm getting better......sometimes.........


  1. Well done you - hang on in there. Hopefully Pip's honeymoon won't wear off til Katie's chilled out a bit.

  2. What is it with young children weeing in inappropriate places?! My son and a friend did almost the exact same thing twice - once in the friends back garden and once in the play park. They were 3 and 4 at the respective times. When I asked my friends and family for sympathy it turned out that several of them had similar stories which made me feel a bit better! But I don't understand what the attraction is!

    It sounds like you're doing a brilliant job so far :)

  3. Sounds good. Nothing to say really just wanted to you know that I'm still reading with interest.

  4. Maybe they thought there was a play toilet in the play house :-) The 3 year old we work with at the childminder announced to me today that she wanted to wee on the grass in the garden...I managed to get her off to the potty but I think her mum is likely to have a tale like yours in the not to distant future :-)