I like conferences and training. Though the conference and trainy bit can be hit and miss, ranging from excellent to dire, it's meeting other people on a similar path that feels the most rewarding. Chewing the fat, crying on shoulders and sharing tips and tricks.
Of course, you meet at least one person who you can't help wonder how they managed to get approved as adopters and one person on the edge of firebombing their local adoption office.
One of my favourite bits is when we all play 'Challenging behaviour top trumps' in the breaks. There's always someone who starts with a relatively modest,
'Oh, we have challenging bedtimes, sometimes I have to get really firm'.
Sensing an easy victory another will come in.
'Well, I must tell you that Tarquin spontaneously combusts at the mere thought of bedtime'
Not to be outdone a bystander will add.
'Combusts? Once when we tried to get Petula to bed she held a three day rooftop protest that had to be quelled by the local branch of the territorial army'
And so it goes on, the anecdotes slowly getting more extreme, we laugh and our mouths are agog at the scale and scope of the challenging behaviour. Of course someone wins, my friends true story of having cement poured down their toilet usually wins.
But all the losers walk away feeling much better and thinking 'Crickey, I thought I had it bad, little Franella seems quite tame by comparison'. In fact it was quite productive for the losers and they can pick up tips, tricks and the number of the local TA.
Of course there are other break time activities including my personal favourite, 'Stupid and Insulting things my Social Worker Said Snap'.
The best bit being that we're in environment where we can use shorthand, not have to start at the beginning and can share our fears, joys and journey with people who get it. The 'games' are a therapeutic and important part for all the above reasons. Of course, everywhere parents meet, playgrounds and playgroups, similar games are played. It's a parent thing.
So, in light of this I wish all of you at the Adoption UK conference a smashing day and next year they should formalise the games and give out awards.