Friday 26 August 2016

Endless summers

The trouble with looking back to my summer holidays as a child is that I think I've a very selective memory. The cliches of endless summers with days of sunshine feature heavily.
Sitting and reflecting I can also remember a summer of refusing to go out and watching endless TV everyday. I can also remember a different summer where I played out for days on end, called on friends and had adventures.
I don't remember being naughty, or irritating or a pain.
To be honest I can't remember much detail of the long summer weeks.

Each year I watch twitter and Facebook and see the summer unfold across the lives of many families, the good the bad and the interesting. I see a lot of parents relieved to lose the stress of school and I see a lot of parents struggle to hold their children safe with the lack of routine.
I feel that we hold those two positions in tension.

As parents the ebb and flow of our summers has varied.
These days we see the summer in terms of endurance, one day at a time counting weeks. At least we do for some of our children.  The lack of routine picks at the seams of our version of normal and we start to fray by this point of the holidays. There's no bottomless pit of money to provide flagpole events every day, negotiations are protracted and what suits one invariably does not suit another. Each  day brings new challenges. Then nerves of a new school or teacher starts to add that special ingredient into the dynamic.

The Good MrsC bears the brunt.

We've not reached the fever pitch of the 2014 'endless summer' that led to the legendary 'year long grounding incident' and that precipitated the seeds of our plan to move house. Still, it's not easy and by now we're ready for the return and all that brings. A different sort of challenge.

I wonder what my children make of their summers, what they'll recall? Do they see the challenge? the tensions and conflict? Will they hark back to endless summers with selective recall, I'm sure we won't.

Thursday 18 August 2016

Their Story

Lotty: So, you know how mam and dad are not your real mam and dad well that's because you've got a real mam and dad that you can't live with. 

Peanut: Ok.

I didn't get involved but spectated from a safe distance, from the front seat of the car looking through the rear view mirror with my good eye on the road. 

The conversation went on, Lotty with the sensitivity of a jet engine spelt out pretty clearly a timeline of events for Peanut. To be fair she did moderate the information with age appropriate words and tone but she was her usual frank self. 

We're out about adoption, well and truly out. If you see us walk into a restaurant then you don't have to be a social anthropologist. From the moment we decided to adopt we've laid it all bare.

But our children's story's is their story and it's for them to share.

Sat in a beer garden we got talking to a local last week. They were fishing for the story but we've learnt the art of dodging the questions. I take no offence, people are curious and love a good story. Adoptions stories are good stories.

When the big three came we said nothing to nobody about their journey to us. We told a couple of trusted family members just for our benefit.

When people asked we said, it's their story and it's their's to share. People were nervous, 'what if they told us something?'. 'Chill' we said, 'listen and talk'.  They never said much just a few incidentals and mentions.

It's their story and their's to share.

Thursday 11 August 2016


We had a visitor from a friend who is fostering a baby boy

Lotty: Dad, can we adopt a baby

Me: No

Lotty: Mam, can we adopt a baby

MrsC : No

Lotty: Why?

Together: We don't want any more children.

Lotty: We could adopt this baby like you adopted me (points to a friends foster baby).

The conversation went on and as it developed it transformed from lighthearted banter into something more serious. It became a a conversation about Lotty's life and her story. Words that meant one thing a year ago mean something different now, as she grows from little girl to big girl her understanding of her narrative develops. Like the onion the layers peal back and we get closer to the heart of stuff.

Words like 'safe' mean something more when you understand more about danger, words like 'danger' mean something more when you see them set within her developing understanding of the world she inhabits.

It got a bit fraught.................

I don't feel insecure, embarrassed or threatened. Just sad that I have to have such crappy conversations about stuff that 10 year old girls should care less about.                                            

So of course she felt a bit fraught and it got a bit fraught..........................and why the hell shouldn't it.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

The Great North Run - Training Part 3

I'm starting to build up my runs now..........

Please consider giving a little cash to the Family Rights Group
My just giving page can be found here

They work to keep children safe within their family network. 
They advise parents in England and Wales whose children are in need, at risk or are in care and wider family members raising children unable to remain at home. 
They campaign for families to have a voice, be treated fairly and get help early.

Thursday 4 August 2016

Safe as ..........

It's a year since we moved and as we slide into the summer holidays the Good MrsC and I have been pondering that decision and the year we've had.

Basically it worked.

We regained control of our environment, reducing some of the physical challenges and threats that appeared to be encroaching on us. Of course there's lots of factors around that but the primary issue is summarised in a meme I saw recently-

'Being safe is not the same as feeling safe'

The perception of safety and misguided or unhelpful reactions and strategies to manage this feeling that my children manifest was becoming harder to manage and live with. It reached a point where we realised to give us a few more years grace we needed to move. That and a few other factors helped us make that decision. 

Our old house was fantastic, and safe, but we felt that perception of being safe was eroding in the mind of one of my children.  

But, we all feel safe here in our new house.

I feel safe, if any of my children 'run' then they'll not get too far.  I didn't have to pretend to walk the dog, hide in bushes and inconspicuously follow her round the neighbourhood.

She has run. I didn't have to chase, as I knew the raaaah would have blown over before she got to the end of the track and she would return.  I could see her sobbing, telling a horse what a pig I was. She returned when it got dark and she was hungry and felt less raaaah.

Flossy feels safe in our new house, we have no passing cars, no 'strange children' playing in the street. The fact that most people get lost finding us makes us feel hidden. It's predictable, sleepy, slow and feels safe.  A few months after the move she announced 'I love our new house'

The reality for some of our children is that feeling safe is a scare commodity, negative experiences are hard wired to growing brains to communicate a constant lack of safety. Hyper vigilance is frequent and consuming it precipitates conflict, anxiety, tension and a need to control. All understandable reactions and reactions I display when I feel unsafe and threatened.

Knowing this forced the move and MrsC says it saved us. Of course there are other challenges but we aspire to keep one step ahead all the way.

I loved my old house, I make detours to not pass it as I still feel sad at the loss but ultimately it's bricks and mortar. Like all parents we do what we have to do.