Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Challenging Week

It’s been a difficult week this week. As well as still feeling poorly, and the anniversary of nan’s death, we’ve had a few incidents with J which have left me feeling like quite a failure as a mother.

At long last however, following J having a meltdown at school resulting in him physically attacking me in front of staff and other students, his teacher took me to see the SENS lady at the school. After a long conversation with her, I felt much better and slightly less of a failure.

It’s difficult to explain to someone the change that sometimes comes over J. When he’s good, he’s very, very good, when he’s bad he is awful. He gets an ‘angry face’ on with gritted teeth and he’ll lash out. At school on Thursday morning it was about taking off his coat. I tried to help – he said he didn’t need help so I stopped trying to help – he flopped to the floor, getting under foot of other parents and kids in the cloakroom, and started rolling about. I got him to his feet, said to him he couldn’t be rolling round on the floor like that because he’d get hurt, and tried again to help him take off his coat. He kicked at me – he punched me – he grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked it one way while kicking me again. He’s only four, and he’s a slight build, but when the rage takes over and he starts lashing out it really is painful. And I don’t think people can appreciate how bad it gets until they’ve seen it – on Thursday it was the first time that the teachers saw him get physical with me.

The SENS lady was very understanding and very helpful and we established that J seems to have some issues surrounding certain things. She is writing a recommendation for our GP that J is assessed to see whether he needs any additional support – whether he is on the autistic spectrum at all or whether it is a case of him needing to be taught additional tools to help him learn to control his behaviour. His love of routine, order, lining things up, the way he will hold a conversation with an adult without an issue but has difficulty relating to kids his own age, all seem to point toward him being on the autistic spectrum somewhere, but at this point we need the assessment to see.

If he is, it’s not like it will make a difference to me – he’s just J as far as I’m concerned, and despite as upset as he makes me at times I do love the bones of him and would do anything to support him. I want the assessment to see if there is any additional help he can get. I don’t want him labelled as a troublemaker, or that kid who hits, or for him to be one of those children who gets to secondary school and ends up in the lower sets because he can’t concentrate properly so he ends up getting left behind with a bunch of kids who’re in the lower sets because they don’t want to apply themselves properly. (I know – I was one of the kids who ended up in the lower set for maths at school despite desperately wanting to do better I just can’t get my head around mathematics and so I ended up in a classroom of kids who only wanted to muck about and not actually learn)

It was a big relief for me to hear someone say that I was doing the best I could in difficult circumstances because for a long time I’ve felt like I’m failing him in some core way by not being able to deal with him properly 100% of the time. I’m fed up of feeling like a bad parent because he runs off and refuses to come back to me; or when he starts kicking off and getting physical with me. Early this week another child from his class was removed from the school to attend a specialist school due to his difficulties and the fact that the school J is at cannot provide the support this other kid needed. When speaking to the SENS lady about this she did say that J’s behaviour was noticeably worse when the other child was around because he would copy the bad behaviour. Now the other child has gone they hope that will help to calm J down considerably but she and his teachers agree there may be an underlying reason for his behaviour difficulties.

I refuse to call days “good” or “bad” any more. We would have far too many bad days and I feel that’s like telling J he is doing something “wrong”. I prefer to say he has had a difficult day, or a challenging day, and when he gets upset and starts lashing out rather than tell him that is wrong I’m explaining why he shouldn’t do it, that it makes the other person feel sad and hurt, and we’ve had a few less difficult times this week. I don’t know if that’s a result of the other kid leaving school, or because I’m going at it from a different direction or a combination, or maybe it’s just because he’s getting over his cold so he is sleeping better. His behaviour is always worse when he’s ill, because he doesn’t sleep well. He was always such a good sleeper as a baby but after he got to 2.5yrs that went out the window – he’ll be in our bed four nights out of seven at least by six o’clock in the morning.

Today he is being very attention seeking. Since waking me up at 8am by screaming and smacking me because Daddy P had gone to work without saying goodbye to him (we were both still asleep) he has been constantly demanding. I’ve had two days off work sick this week so I’m desperately trying to catch up, as well as do the housework that hasn’t been done all week because I’ve been unwell (those damn housework fairies never did show up to lend a hand!) every time I try to do something he’s interrupting me – he wants a drink, he wants something to eat, he wants me to help him with part of his game, he wants me to watch him playing his game, he needs the loo, he wants to play with my phone, whatever. It means everything is taking twice as long as it should because I can’t just get on and do it. I eventually asked for some quiet time and during that quiet time he sat there getting closer and closer saying “mummy, mummy, mummy” constantly until I snapped. I got up and told him to leave me alone for a moment while I calmed down and went into the kitchen. He followed me “mummy, mummy, mummy” so I went upstairs for a while. I feel terrible when I do this but it’s either walk away or shout at him and I’m trying my hardest not to shout. It’s not his fault I feel so shit. It’s not his fault I can’t split myself in four pieces so one piece can do housework while the other plays with him while the other works and the other catches up on sleep. It’s just all been snowballing and getting so much to cope with that I don’t feel like I’m able to cope anymore. Not like this. Which is why I’m so relieved that the school have finally started taking me seriously and are helping. I’ve been asking them since he started Nursery for some assistance. A year and a bit later we’re finally getting there.

I know, if he is on the spectrum, a diagnosis is a long way off. I know, if he is on the spectrum, this is just a baby step into a very long journey but the way I’m looking at it is, at least we’ve taken that step.

Now, I’m going to have a coffee and spend some time playing with him.


Mummy P

Friday, 10 October 2014

This Hole In My Heart, Is In The Shape Of You

On 10.10.05 I was woken in the small hours of the morning by a phone call from my mum. It was a call I’d been both expecting and dreading. It was the phone call to tell me that my nan would not wake up again.

My wonderful nan had married my granddad toward the end of World War 2 and they’d had over fifty years of marriage before his passing in February 2004. They had four children, a boy and three girls. They’d lived in the same house in Wallington since their youngest daughter, my mum, was a small girl. And it was in that same house that nan fell asleep in her bedroom never to wake up again following a few short weeks of illness following diagnosis.

It was physically painful to pick up the phone and hear my tearful mum tell me that it had happened. Like a great weight had slammed into my chest. I dressed, drove to her house and sat holding her hand in her bedroom and watched the sun come up through the bedroom window. I cried until my throat hurt and my eyes were swollen and I could barely breathe.

I still think of her often. She never saw Daddy P and I get married, or my brother and his wife, she never met my son, or my brother’s daughter. If love alone could have kept her with us she’d have lived forever.

If you need support following the death of a loved one contact Cruse Bereavement Care

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Can We Start The Week Over, Please? It Didn't Go To Plan ...

What with one thing and another, it’s been a pretty rubbish week this week!

On Sunday last week I started getting a sore throat and sneezes. Not normally so much of a biggie for me – a day or two of sneezing and coughing and I’m usually over these things quickly. Not so this time. On the Monday I had to be in the office for an important meeting – of course – so while I was trying to be professional and give a good impression my nose was streaming, my eyes were red and watery and I couldn't pronounce anything properly as my nose became more and more blocked as the meeting wore on. On Tuesday I should have been off work, but due to some training I had swapped my days off so I was back in the office, this time with the cold in full force, coughing and sneezing and feeling utterly hell while I learned about new products and then came home to bury myself in questions about existing products.

By Wednesday I was exhausted. I had a day off work and I’d been planning a long-overdue visit to a friend but instead I installed myself on the sofa with a duvet, a pot of coffee and a pile of toast and I watched episodes of Breaking Bad all day in my pyjamas. Thursday I was expecting to feel loads better so I vowed to do the housework then. It didn't happen. I felt just as rough on Thursday and just about managed to get J to school and get home before I collapsed. Popping cold and flu tablets along with vitamins as if they were going out of fashion I struggled to work on Friday and was grateful when my mum arrived to collect J from school and whisk him off for the weekend. I had a wonderful lie in on Saturday which helped tremendously – unfortunately J was also poorly and on Saturday night I got a text from my mum saying he was crying for Mummy, so I phoned her and she said she was packing up his stuff and would be on way to us soon. Sure enough they were at ours within an hour and I was trying to soothe my grumpy, irritable, overtired and poorly little boy who had been crying for Mummy but upon sight of Mummy decided I couldn’t do anything right so he was moaning and whinging and having a right old go at me about everything I did!

This morning I woke up with that familiar belly and back ache coupled with a feeling of sickness that women everywhere know and which makes you roll your eyes with hate every time it happens. Oh yes. Coupled with this damn cold – which has still knocked me for six – I now had that to deal with as well, and that always tends to be a particular issue for me. I have a long and argumentative history with it, including vomiting, nausea and migraines. I had hoped that Daddy P might say “its OK my love, stay in bed a while and I’ll get up with J” but no, I was woken to the noise of them arguing and it’s been a theme for the day.

They wind one another up like you wouldn’t believe. This morning J was trying to wake up Daddy P – admittedly he wasn’t doing it in the nicest or best possible way – but still I found Daddy P’s shortness of dealing with it somewhat surprising at eight o’clock in the morning all things considered. I mean, he’d just woken up and he was that annoyed already? Jeez what a fun day this looked set to be. All J wanted was for his daddy to wake up, and talk to him, play with him, spend some time with him. All Daddy P wanted was for J to go away and leave him alone so he could sleep. And he wonders why at times I could cheerfully smack him … Sunday is now the single day of the week where J doesn’t have school and Daddy P doesn’t have work, so really you’d think he’d be raring to make the most of that precious time together.

I ended up getting up with J and left Daddy P in bed. We came downstairs, we had breakfast (I had lots of coffee and painkillers) we played a game, we snuggled on the sofa, he helped me do some housework and just past eleven Daddy P finally came downstairs. Almost immediately him and J were on at one another – there’s no half measures, either Daddy P is doing nothing or he’s having a go at J. There’s no warning from the other side, either – J will go from lovely playing to horrible demon child in the blink of an eye with Daddy P. I think it’s because he knows he will get an extreme reaction, but of course I can’t say anything because whenever I do then Daddy P just gets annoyed with me, too. I generally try to stay out of it, or take J away and deal with it myself which while not ideal is the best option if the other one is Daddy P loosing his rag. This morning it was all going well with me sitting in the garden working on my laptop and J was chalking on his blackboard. The moment Daddy P appeared, J decided to start chalking the walls of the house as if that was OK or ever acceptable. So I asked him not to, and immediately I was shouted over by Daddy P who’d gone from 0 to 60 and was immediately in pissed off mode and having a go instead of a firm, “please don’t do that” The threat of taking the chalk away was then used about a million times with no follow-through on the threat, so of course J took this as an invitation to do as he pleased because there was no worry about the threat being upheld. After a million warnings the chalk was suddenly swept up and put away, resulting in a major meltdown because after all, the previous million warnings hadn’t meant anything so why was this one different? In his mind it made no sense. (He wasn’t the only one who felt that way …)

All day has been the same. Five minutes of nice playing together, then one of them does something and sets the other off moaning and before I know it they’re bickering. Daddy P seems to forget that J is four, not fourteen, you can’t reason with him as much as you might be able to with an older child. He expects a lot from him, and I think he forgets because J does act quite mature a lot of the time that he is only four, he’s still just little and there is so much more he doesn’t yet understand or know how to process and react to. There’s also the fact that J knows exactly how to wind us both up, and he’ll go right ahead and press that button if he feels like he’s not getting enough of a reaction out of you already. He’s always been the same, but instead of learning, Daddy P just seems to get more wound up more quickly these days.

So the long and short of it was that this week was rubbish and this day was one of the worst. The single day I get in seven to spend time with my husband and my son.  Tomorrow J is off to school and I am off to the office and Daddy P can sit and play Lego Lord Of The Rings if that’s what he chooses to do.  I hope next week is better all round – though at the moment I’m feeling so lousy it’s already off to a bad start.

To my knowledge a video game is not something to get so upset about. J and Daddy P feel passionately differently and arguments will regularly occur about the video games. I can't tell you how many times I've felt like chucking the games console and all games in the bin!

Off to bed early for me tonight with a hot chocolate and some more painkillers!

Love, Mummy P xxx