Bubbling up.

Bubble is an 8 year old bundle of agitated energy.  She’s our little warrior, who puts on a brave face every school day, and heads into the same old routines with a determined, if slightly surprised attitude. Fleetingly she’s brilliantly funny, a comic genius.  These moments are gems.  They are as if the angry skies that have been thundering for hours, stop momentarily, and a chink of glorious sunshine powers through. She has moments of inspiration in which the heavy burden of trauma seems to dissipate, and her brain is able to process clearly. Then the leaden skies return and obscure the brilliant shimmering gleaming thing that we have witnessed.

Most days it’s Groundhog Day in our home. By the time we manage to get out of the door on a school morning, there will have been repeated early morning thunderous rampages to the toilet, arguments about who will get downstairs first, battles over breakfast, fights over getting into the bathroom, lies about whether teeth have been cleaned, shrieking over getting hair into a bobble, huffing and puffing over whose turn it is to dry dishes, 10 minutes to tie up shoes, and then decide on boots instead, whilst instructing Squeak in the finer arts of tying a scarf, and skirmishes over who gets to open the front door.

Once we are out of the door there will inevitably be forgotten book bags, loud surprise at where the car is parked, clashes over who opens the car door, repeated slamming of said door, conflict over fastening seat belts,  rivalries about whether we have passed a police car or ambulance, protestations that nobody has told Bubble what the same old school timetable promises today, hostility over who gets out of the car first, and refusals to say goodbye to Squeak.

Bubble is angry and fearful.  This kid is operating from her limbic brain most of the time. She’s ready to fight.  She’s ready for flight.  She lashes out.  She jumps at sudden noises. She’s constantly jiffling, picking, scratching, stamping, slamming doors, running.   And when she isn’t, it’s because she’s disassociated.

Bubble has huge issues of control which erupt around boundary setting, sharing, any slight change in routines, and food.  Bubble simply does not appear to believe that she will get what she needs from us.  After 3 and a half years with us, she still thinks that parents are dangerous, that she is bad, and that the only way to be safe is to be in control of everything and everyone. Sometimes this emerges as rage, but most of the time  it is low level, grindingly annoying stuff. She gives us filthy looks, huffs and puffs when asked to do anything, or even just asked anything at all, about her day, about how she is feeling. She tells us ‘it’s not fair’, ignores us, rolls her eyes Kevin style at attempts to communicate with her, makes vigorous and loud attempts to do anything other than what she  needs to be doing at any particular moment, and constantly interrupts when Squeak is talking.

Given Bubble’s trauma history this is not surprising. Generally we deal with it fairly well I think, and strive to keep away from reward-punishment responses. In the 3.5 years Bubble has been living with us, we have sought support time and again. Last year she had a Psychology assessment, which recommended DDP therapy. We’re still waiting for the therapy to start. OH and I have met with the therapist, but the sessions with Bubble don’t start until next month. Three and a half years it has taken to get to this point.  Three and a half years. It’s not for lack of trying. We’re not expecting therapy to produce miracles.  If there is even a slight shift in attachment that would be great. We’re also awaiting an appointment with a Consultant who specialises in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

What I do not understand is why we, as a society, knowing the effects of trauma and abuse, allow this sort of wait to happen.  There is a mountain of research on the effects on children of abuse, neglect, and domestic violence.  Yet social services, health and education bodies seem content to pander to the government’s agenda of proving their worth through the gathering of statistics,  and wallow in risk-averse, cumbersome procedures, rather than focus on what children actually need right now.  Individual workers in any of these sectors have only limited powers and ability to influence positive outcomes for traumatised children, and the lack of strong leadership means they struggle on individually until they crumble.  As adoptive parents we are left feeling grateful if one of the professionals ‘gets it’, when all professionals should get it and be supported by their organisations to be positive and pro-active in their approaches to traumatised children.

Bubble deserves better. All children deserve better. Perhaps we as adoptive parents need to form a national independent pressure group to demand timely, positive support for our children. Perhaps it is time for us to bubble collectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Catawampus

Catawampus!

That’s Dictionary.com’s word of the day. Adjective: askew; awry

Yep. That about sums up how I’m feeling right now. It feels like discombobulated mixed with anger.

Normally I’d be trying my damndest to supress this feeling. I have to be on top form. I have to make sure everyone else is ok. But today, just for a few hours, I’m going to go with it. The girls are at school. OH is at the gym. So I’ve taken myself off to our garden room with Cat to experience catawampus.

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The weather matches my mood. Cat and I are basking in the glow of a weak electric fire which has pumped up the temperature to 7.9 degrees. The roof leaks. So, chilly and wet. Apt. Askew. Awry. (Those aren’t bars on the window by the way. They are my home grown skew-whiff pea sticks.)

Last night OH and I organised the second meeting of our local adoption support group. This time 4 others pitched up and it was great. We’ve planned the next one. We’ve planned a day out with the children. We’ve even got the local authority to pay for our venue. And we had sandwiches. Brilliant. No catawampus there.

When we got home I checked my e mails. There was one from my old union rep, who was asking me to look at an attachment – which she had not attached – from HR about the investigation into my line manager. I left work 5 weeks ago. The union were not supportive when I was going through hell. Now, after I have given up my job, they decide to take action?! My sleep last night was marred by nightmares about work. I woke up exhausted and in a funk.

And then I turned on the radio. Big mistake. I caught the tail-end of Thought For The Day, which annoys me intensely at the best of times. This morning there was some chap banging on about motherhood. Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick, but in my funk I thought he was implying that adopters are not ‘real mothers’. I stewed in the shower.

Bless twitter and @MendingMum for making me laugh, and @mumdrah for telling me it is ok to be angry.

I’m only just beginning to believe that it is ok for me to be angry. I tell Bubble often enough that it is ok to feel anger, and I try to help her explore how she can let that anger out. And I truly believe that for her. But I grew up with the very firm message that Nice Girls Don’t Do Anger. I’ve carried that message all my life. And we all know The Body Keeps The Score. So now it’s time to discard that message for me. A little bit at a time. And what better way to do that than basking in some catawumpy ruminations in a chilly and damp garden room, with Cat on my lap?

Bubbling under

This week Squeak, who is 6, has become increasingly anxious, loud and an even more accomplished sleep-resister with frequent bouts of bed wetting.

Yesterday morning she told me that she had been thinking about old mum and old dad – as the girls call them – but she had not wanted to talk about it for fear of upsetting Bubble. Bless her! She decided she wanted to look at her life story book after school.

Usually Bubble runs a mile (sometimes literally) when Squeak’s life story book comes out. Yesterday though, she decided to have a look at hers.

I sat in the middle of the girls and whilst Squeak was asking me if old mum and dad liked taking vitamins (her word for drugs), and were they really allowed to have (insert a number) of children, and if they loved us why didn’t they look after us, and was the old house full of spiders,  Bubble sat quietly.

She flicked through her book, looked at some photographs, and sat devoid of expression, not fidgeting or jiffling. Normally Bubble is the jiffliest jiffler in Jiffleville. Then, as Squeak asked if old mum and dad loved them and I replied that they really loved them but could not look after them, Bubble announced she was going upstairs. To her bedroom. Alone. Bubble hates being in rooms on her own.

I gave her a few minutes and followed her up. She was standing by the window,  perfectly still, with no expression, still clutching her book. She didn’t want a hug. She didn’t want to talk. She didn’t resist my hand on her shoulder, though. We stood for a while together, lost in our own thoughts. I made the usual declarations about how lovely she was and if she needed a hug or a chat to let me know. How useless and empty those words seemed.

This morning when Bubble Scowled In A Prolonged Manner at me over a Toast Incident I was almost relieved.

It’s hard living with an angry child. That’s what I’ve thought for years now. It’s so hard. But living with a child who won’t let you in is even harder. At least the anger gives you something to work with. So I embrace Bubble’s anger. I will ‘work’ with it, and try to support her the best I can. From it may come strength and resolution. Maybe not, but once again Bubble has taught me much.

And so our adventure continues…