It's a great word and it sums up a whole myriad of feelings with something that feels fun to say. You can roll the word around in your mouth and make funny shapes. It puts a smile on my face. I'm in need of that smile at the moment because it is a reminder that I'm still functioning and still in the land of the almost living.
Part of my smile is currently because we are over half way through the school holidays. We're on the home straight and I feel really mean for feeling that way. I know that I'm not alone in this feeling, despite the number of cheery blog posts I'm receiving in my in-box of all the wonderful arts and crafts that people are doing; all those bright and cheerful pictures of unused paints and crayons and material just waiting for someone with crafty fingers to turn them into something amazing. I'm not reading any more of those blogs at the current time. I need blogs that talk about damage limitation and ways to maintain your sanity and therapeutic ways of handling a very hyper and rude and silly and precocious 5 year old without any blue lights being required.
I can access my counsellor and relatively experienced adopter brain (for a brief second) and see that Katie is having a spell of regression (oh I hope that that is all that it is....a spell). Pip has now been with us for 11 weeks. Katie has had a bit of a rude (pardon the pun) awakening (as have I) with the start of the school holidays. She hasn't actually had to spend much time with her brother because she has been at school. She has been cushioned from how restrictive his current sleep routine can be and how much watching he needs when he is awake, particularly now that he is pulling himself up and wanting to crawl anywhere and everywhere his rather stylish commando crawl will take him. We are used to spending our spare time out and about for the day; seeing friends and going for walks and generally having fun. Pip can't help it but, at the age that he currently is, he's a bit of a kill joy. So Katie is responding probably the only way she knows how....by doing anything she can for attention.
And boy is she good at it!
Katie has a history with attention seeking. She's not overly fussy what kind of attention she gets. She is happy with being praised but she is equally content (or so it would seem) if she can wind me to a point when I am screaming like a banshee at her (I haven't managed to maintain my therapeutic parenting hat for the whole of the holidays I'm afraid). I noted to Pip's Social Worker this morning that we had just reached a point when Katie could be trusted to be doing something quietly without us having to check that she wasn't busy torturing the cats or drawing all over the carpet with lipstick and had started to relax a bit, feeling vaguely content that we had finally reached a developmental milestone but suddenly we are back to square one. Katie cannot be trusted to be alone for more than five minutes at the current time. We are having to lock our Velux windows after she thought it would be a good idea to climb into the sink to talk, through the window, to our neighbours 12 year old son. Despite me explaining to her how dangerous this was she has repeated this action again and again so the bathroom window now has to remain closed (not always a pleasant thing). She takes great delight in doing the opposite of everything I have asked her to do and is constantly rude and refusing to do what she has been asked. She has learned to name call and is frequently calling me a "Fat Witch". I think it's quite funny actually(not that I show her this) because "fat" is the only word she currently knows that is a word we've asked her not to call people (rooky error what can I say?) and she thinks a witch is someone ugly and horrible. I did throw at her that, as Mummy mostly follows a Pagan path then I actually have no issue with being called a "witch" but she then argued with me that I wasn't a witch!! Her other favourite expression at the moment is "I don't care" or "Shut up!" (to which I've privately taken to doing the hand signs for "What-ever Major Loser" - what can I say - I need some sanity).
If she isn't being rude or doing the opposite of what she's been asked, she's collapsing into tears. Not quite so many tantrums as when I recently wrote "All Children Do That?" but more of an exhausted weeping and wailing. I don't think she's tired in the normal sense because I'm a total stickler for a 7pm bedtime, even in the holidays, but I'm wondering if there is an emotional exhaustion that she is feeling. I'm feeling it too so I can relate. The fact that I'm feeling it too isn't so great because I don't have many emotional or physical reserves to offer to the situation at the current time. I'm pretty much just limping along, still adjusting to being a mum of two and still recovering from the intensity of the adoption process. A process that isn't yet over as we still have all the legal side of the adoption to wade through. That side of things is being stalled by Pip's very overloaded Social Worker who doesn't have time to write our bloody report to go with the paperwork. Don't get me wrong, I'm full of sympathy for her workload but I'm not happy that we have to wait to become Pip's legal parents. She has said that she won't have the paperwork completed before the end of the month (despite the fact that we could have applied last week) and then we'll still have to wait 2-3 months for the paperwork to work it's way through the court system. I was hoping that we would be all tied up by November but that's not looking likely at all now. That means ongoing Social Worker visits and continuing to have to use Pip's birth name. I'm not embarrassed by his birth name but I want all the legal stuff tied up so that he is 100% legally ours. Until that moment there are always those little niggles that sit in your peripheral vision. Little worries that really only reside in my head. Concerns that add some interesting variety to my nighttime dreams.
Anyway I digress. So what do I do to manage Katie's emotions and behaviour? The Social Worker suggested today that we put a chart up on the wall (gotta love a good chart!) to show all the successes she has had over the holidays. It's a good idea I think. We can highlight her gymnastics camp and resulting badge; her swimming badge; climbing a rope into a crows nest at an adventure playground (which Katie didn't believe she could do); riding her bike without stabilisers (which we've been a bit remiss in practising until recently) and going to today's street dance camp. I'm thinking we could make a bit of a game of it and actively find things to add to the chart. It might help. She has also suggested treating Katie more like the toddler that she seems to be regressing into at the current time. Keeping her close and with lots of supervision and positive reinforcement. I can see the logic in that but my already frazzled and exhausted brain isn't feeling so energetic about that. Of course I will do it. I will do pretty much anything to help her but there is a little voice in my head that is moany because I'm so tired. As an adoptive parent I feel guilty even feeling that because we're supposed to be stood to attention with therapeutic parenting tool bag at all hours of the day and night and I'm feeling a little bit selfish just at the present time because I have backache and am feeling rather emotional myself.
I don't want to spend the rest of the holidays starting every sentence with "Katie don't......" so I'm going totry and ignore a lot more of the negative behaviour. I'm going to try a lot more walking away (which is really, really hard..... believe me). I'm going to continue to be on the look out for anything I can praise her for and I'll try and keep her occupied and continue to spend as much time together as we possibly can.
And whilst I'm doing that I'm going to continue to ignore all the perfect parents with their brightly coloured smiley blogs and dream of the start of term when normal business can resume but I will be on the look out for as much fun as we can muster in the meantime because it's not all doom and gloom and we do have fun in between all the stressful moments. I'm just choosing to be all doomy and gloomy and a bit foot stampy today.
And in the words of Forrest Gump....."that's all I have to say about that"....
Other than to keep using my favourite word until I smile or the men in white coats come to take me away..........