This has been the longest time away from this blog I have had since I started writing it 4 (!) years ago. The reason for the absence has multiple facets, but they can be summed up in one word: Transitions.
Since I wrote my last post our family has undergone a number of transitions. Some went more smoothly than others. Unfortunately the others have caused me some issues.
I’ll start with the one that went smoothly, Eldest went from reception to Year 1 at school. He didn’t exhibit too many signs of anxiety, there may have been a bit of regressive behaviour although I think that could also have been attributed to his chameleon-like nature and spending 6 weeks with his younger brother! Ultimately he has transitioned to Year 1 without too much bother. I’m not sure he likes the new TA very much as he has complained about her using a horrible tone of voice too much. We will mention this to his teacher as he tends to switch into his survival mode when people shout even if it isn’t directed at him.
Now the less pleasant transitions. My own at work, and my Youngest’s from nursery to reception.
Leading up to the school holidays I can only describe as an absolutely horrible time. I was feeling a huge amount of stress at work which was causing me to come home full of anxiety with no space left to deal with anything else. That, unfortunately, included my son’s own anxieties about leaving nursery.
I had resigned from my job partly because I knew it was causing me problems, partly because I had been there a long time and I didn’t like where it was going and needed something new. I was working my notice period when this all occurred.
My youngest was angry. His internal fuse, which is fairly short to begin with, was almost non-existent. He would fly off the handle at any tiny thing that he didn’t like. From being told to hold a hand when he was walking next to a busy road, to not getting something he had demanded. His anger came out, and it was often very violent.
To their credit his nursery generally coped with his aggression, they adapted what they did to try to keep him occupied so the staff and other children didn’t get in his way too much. But there were still incidents. And those incidents resulted in phonecalls home, and those phonecalls home fuelled my anxiety to the point of almost no return. It was horrific.
Only once did nursery ask me to take him home. They used words like “trashed the nursery” and claimed it was totally unprovoked. Now, I know my son, and he is generally a good boy who doesn’t want to do the wrong thing. If he’s behaved like that then something would have set him off. So I asked them to find out. It transpires that he was being a bit silly with his milk (as a very young 4 yr old might be) and a member of staff had taken it off him. This is a boy who came from a home of incredible neglect. A boy who had clearly regressed to the emotional age of about 2. And they removed his milk. Argh. They brought that behaviour on themselves.
They asked me to collect him early as they had done reparations and “wanted him to end on a high”. It was only after I challenged them and accused them of “wanting rid of him” that they started describing everything that had been going on.
He stayed at nursery. I had a panic attack.
If he was going to be like this at school he was going to get excluded very quickly. I didn’t want that for him because I know how capable he is if he can control his emotions. Something he finds very difficult.
By this time I had been escorted to the doctors by a concerned relative and had been signed off sick for the first time in my life for the rest of my notice period.
This gave me some extra headspace by, for the most part, eliminating the stress from my work.
It took me a while, but slowly my daily shouting matches with my son which had noticeably damaged our relationship became less frequent, and eventually stopped. I was coping better and as the school holidays progressed my son slowly became less angry and less aggressive.
So, now my transition to self-employment and my son’s transition to school were complete how are we faring?
I’m still of low mood, but I’m coping better. I am less anxious but that could be to do with the medication I’m on. We’ll find out when I stop taking them which will hopefully be very soon. My relationship with my son is probably the best it has ever been, even if I do receive the odd over-the-top death threat from him.
As for my son himself…
He’s settled very well at school, he has made lots of new friends, although still occasionally claims to be missing his ones from nursery. His teachers have recognised he gets angry quickly and have tried some strategies with him to get him to self regulate. They are having a limited impact but so far we haven’t had any reports of him hurting anyone which had become a daily occurrence at nursery (mostly as accidental side-effects of being angry rather than deliberate targeting).
I think we are going to approach the school to get him some pastoral support. He does after all come with pupil premium plus funding for precisely that.
But… Dealing with the school is another battle, to get them to recognise that they can’t just leave my children, who are still so vulnerable, to it and hope for the best is very difficult.
It’s a battle I have started, and it’s one that seems to be so common amongst adopters. It’s something that all the training we have just doesn’t prepare you for: The fight to get the resources to give your children a fair education.