Monday 30 September 2013

Happy Birthday

So the gauntlet of 3 birthdays and a wedding anniversary compressed into 5 days is over.

It is easy to forget the days when flossy had to be discretely taken into another room during the singing of happy birthday. Or that a ‘safe person’ would hold her tight while we all enjoyed the cake being presented.

A remembered fear would rage inside her as we sang. A fear not tamed by reason or explanation but searing through her little body as though her life was threatened by the words and tune.

Fight, flight or freeze. She’d fight every time. In the face overwhelming emotion fight, fight someone safe, fight mam, fight dad, fight a sister or a brother.

The little girl is a big now, the song can be sung and cake welcomed but the feelings lurk, brooding, mam and dad forget, but the fear and the fight remains.

The fight simmers for days leading up, finding arguments in the little things and the big things and anywhere.

The government offers £19.7 million to help the adopted and most say ‘fantastic, thank you’. But some say ‘really’, spread across the 4,500 children adopted this year and the three thousand last year and for each child for the last decade.

High quality effective intervention costs between £15,000 and £50,000 per year.

The bean counters rub their hands, £600,000 cost reduction for each child adopted versus one off payment for good publicity.

Of course it will help: but only for the few. Those with loud adoptive parents, with access to skilled professionals, with a geographic advantage with the luck of the draw.

The cake is all gone now and Flossie feels better, for now. She doesn’t even know why she feels better. 

We all feel a little better. 

Sunday 15 September 2013


I could start at the beginning, but that would take too long. So, I'll start where I am today.

I am a moron, a twerp and am stupid. Flossie was feeling somewhat miffed at my attempts at managing her anger and was trying to spread the fun around.  I was surprised at how well I took it.

As Mrs C often notes:

"The issue is not the issue"

Well that's all well and good but she's putting Peanut to bed and I'm entering into a critical stage of negotiations. Through the wall of sarcasm, sniping and insults I manage to slip in a question that causes a momentary pause. "Has something happened at school today?" I ask.

Through the burning fires of unfettered hatred in her eyes I catch a small pause and realise I might have got her. "Did something happen to a friend? Did you get into trouble? Did you see someone get into trouble?". She's on the ropes, the vitriol is waning and I say "tell me what happened"

It all spewed out, Tarquin lied and told Mrs Teacher that Darcy and her had flushed Leggo down the toilet and she said, he said, blah blah blah.

The issue was not the issue.

A slice of toast and a glass of milk later I was not a moron, twerp or stupid and she was not going to destroy all my work on my computer and I am not the worst dad in the world and she'd stopped hitting me and we were all happy.

Well she was.

I'd re read that day on the impact of toxic stress on brain architecture. The impact of the negative environment and experiences, the pull of the familiar, safe and comforting negative emotions. The way the brain doesn't develop the subtle nuanced emotions and coping strategies and in flossy's case jumps straight to anger, the default setting.
It makes perfect sense, crazy, messed up, backwards thinking, perfect sense. Unfortunately, it doesn't make it easy.

But it helps me love her.