Thursday 25 May 2017

Automatic reply

Ping, the email bounces back. 

'Sorry I am currently unavailable. I am out of the office until Thursday 1st June 2019  
If you need assistance before that please ring..........................'

Oh, well that is so not helpful. I might as well put my question in a time capsule to be dug up when they knock down the council offices or when we reach the next millennia. 

I so am not ringing the duty team. I'll try someone else.

I call and the receptionist explains:

'They're not in this office, as you know our workers are all remote now, I'll email them and mark it 'URGENT', is that ok?'

I suppose, do think you could add an exclamation mark to give a little weigh to that? 

What a peculiar world we seem to have found ourselves in. I can't find myself cross with anybody, they're all cogs in the machine, this machine that pops out happy little families, or something like that.  We give ourselves to partnership with services and professionals, I say give but it often feels like there's no element of choice. An essay on power dynamics and gatekeeping has been in my mind for years. 

Anyway, I emailed this week to update a Social Worker on how we were doing and by the time I had a response form them the next day, a wholly reasonable timeframe, we'd moved all moved on somewhat. Uneasy calm was replaced by a very easy uncalm. 

Things move quick around here. We seem to measure our lives in minutes and seconds, we react and respond to each development. We dash to find support, advice, insight or to just even keep professionals informed. I started this post on Tuesday and by the time I get to this paragraph, Thursday,  we're somewhere else, somewhere new. For years I've looked for some sort of sense of coasting along but it seems to have passed us by we are definitely blown by strong winds. 

Professionals move in days and weeks and seem to miss lots of the turbulence, they appear periodically and that's ok. 

So, what's my point? No point just sayin'.

Thursday 18 May 2017

Poems and Anger

Journeying through comprehensive school in North East England in the mid 1980s has, not to underplay this, given me a certain perspective on the world. 

As a sensitive and slightly showy off soul I found myself at drama classes, this slightly confused some of my peers and family and unkind words were used and that really is putting it nicely. Lets just say it wasn't a hotbed for the arts and delicate souls.

When I watched Billy Elliot years later for the first time I almost had to be hospitalised due to my flashbacks.

Now I look at most of the arts with a subtle blend of ignorance, admiration and bemusement. 

Anyway, I'm not sure why I said all that. 

In the vain attempt to broaden my horizons I bought a book of poetry to take on my recent hols. I was determined to read a poem a day and ponder it. That and I though it might impress my fellow holiday makers and perhaps broaden my education.  I'm not sure about poems and have a genuine fear of people offering to read me 'their poems'. 

I chose Lemn Sissay's book Gold from the Stone. I didn't get far before a phrase jumped off the page. 

                                         ‘Anger is an expression in search of love’ 

I couldn't get past it, so I stopped. I pondered. I liked the words, the shape and form, they rattled round my head and strangely my heart. I could't fathom out what they meant though. I offered them to the GoodMrsC and she agreed, top words.

Anger is an expression in need of love, what the hell does that mean? I gave up and got on with my stuff. I asked a clever friend a few weeks after I got back, 'how do you know if poetry is good?'. He said it's simple, it's good if you like it. Now I see, but what do those words mean? Why do they rattle round my insides. So four weeks later it dawned on me.  

We see a lot of anger. 
Anger is like the words in Blackpool Rock, it runs through everything we do as a family. 
It's either overt or suppressed. 
We dance around it, we duck it, figuratively and literally, we explain it away and distract it. 
We try not to be drawn in by it but it wants everyone to play too. 
Anger is a bully and a brute. Anger hides and distracts. 

Anger is a funnel that all my children's anxiety, worry, stress, doubt, shame, frustration, disappointment and sadness are pushed through. 

I think I get it.

Yes, anger is an expression in search of love.

Saturday 13 May 2017


I was at school, actually the GoodMrsC and I were both school. Our presence had been requested.

I was holding it all in trying not to sob. Blinking purposefully to maintain some semblance of control and composure.
It's been a hard week, actually it seems like most weeks are hard.

I'm concerned that I write so much about the challenges, the loss, the raa, the shouting and all the tricky moments. It's a rich vein of material that never seems to end.

Child on Parent Violence has taken up so much of the last six months, reading and writing, The CPV Survey and subsequent reports have helped to push on the conversation and often that's what people want to talk to me about, even now there's email in my inbox with questions. All important stuff and it's rewarding work.

But, I really don't want to be that 'adopter guy who goes on about CPV'. I don't want to be the defined by all of that less than ideal stuff, I don't want it to be the primary focus of my energy and writing. There has to be more. Again and again I find myself drawn to these topics, I suppose I blog to help me reflect and to gain some understanding on what goes on. Im not sure actually say that much about our lives, I blog about the dots and let others join them, I worry that they come up with a less than favourable picture.

So, I'm in school and trying to hold it all together because Peanut is Star of the Week. The text comes the night before, please come and see her be presented with her certificate in the full school assembly. I'm under no illusion that it's just her turn but I can suspend belief because she is a star. She's so wee, so perfect, my little pal, my youngest daughter and the apple of my eye.

Most of our lives is filled with the standard parenting tasks and experiences, routines, washing, homework, meals, little trips here and there. Really quite normal, pretty relentless, but a well worn path.

Today I revelled in the normal, I teared up not because of this or that or some moment of overcoming adversary fist punching as we achieve something.

I teared up because I'm a soppy dad.

Thursday 4 May 2017

Crystal Ball

Welcome to adoption, please collect your crystal ball at the signing in table.

Blimey, I've written about it before but the issue never seems to be the issue.  So, the Raaa comes and we're all back in the spiky word shouty place and the issue is clearly not the issue. She's not saying or we're not listening. Who knows.

So, we regroup and ponder the possibilities. We're just back from holiday? She's just back at school, Parents evening and a whole raft of likely issues that could or could not be the precipitating factors.

We consult the tea leaves, polish the crystal ball, get out the divining rods, consult the runes and read the Tarot Cards. We say a little prayer and ask for some wisdom.

Of course we could just ask, but that route is somewhat tricky, self awareness and reflection are not strengths or attributes that we have in abundance. Questions are often interpreted as accusation and insults, petrol on the fire.

In all fairness the skills of introspection and reflection can be apparent at times of tranquility and peace, though that's not when you need them most. Questioning is pointless when the Raaa is with us and is usually as helpful as slaming your own head in a car door, which is not very helpful.

Then it leaves, the tension dissipates over a busy distracting day and we return to our usual but uneasy peace. What was all that about? We'd talked about some stuff and perhaps that was one of the issues we talked about perhaps not. Perhaps something else. We'll not find out.

So much of the lives of our adopted children is shrouded in the unknown. From the early days of their  lives and their journey through care to their inner working as they struggle to make sense of reactions, emotions and thoughts as they grow and develop. We, their parents, are left to polish our crystal balls and do our best.