It’s very easy to be sucked into a downward spiral with our boys. For the last few weeks, every waking moment has been a battle, only there haven’t been any winners, just four people in various states of stress and despair.
Norman’s anger has been out of control at times, and the only way he seems to have to express it is to shout about how much he hates this family and how nobody loves him. This is usually accompanied by flailing limbs, throwing things, running up and down the stairs… It is also, at times, continuing over into school time. The minutes between 3pm when we set off for school and 3:30pm when we have both boys off the school grounds are some of the most stressful. Waiting for the bell to ring to be told that, yet again, Norman has become angry at something – nobody really seems sure what – and lashed out at another child, or, on occasion, a teacher. It’s heartbreaking and embarrassing and we are working as hard as we can to come up with ways to help him manage his emotions. Academically he is progressing, and while he is behind some of the other children, it’s lovely to see how proud he is when he reads or spells a word right and as long as he keeps moving forward I’m happy. The last couple of days thankfully seem to have been a little easier so perhaps we’re turning a corner again.
Marvin is another entity entirely! When we first met the foster carers, before we had been accepted as a match or anything, we came away from the meeting wondering why all they had talked about was Norman. Marvin was barely mentioned, and when we did finally meet the boys we understood why. Norman was a whirlwind, whereas Marvin was a baby, quiet, compliant, no bother! We brought the boys home and Marvin barely said boo to a goose for the first few weeks.
Fast forward 18 months, and today was the day that I took him to school with his pyjamas on. Mornings have become what could really only be described as a battle of the wills in our house. Actually evenings have become the same, which is why at 8:30 this morning I was strapping my lovely but defiant youngest boy into the car in mismatched baggy pyjamas and nothing else.
I do wonder whether I have lost my mind a little, but I have made the decision that arguing with a four year old before I’ve had a chance to even think of having a cup of coffee simply isn’t worth it. The nature of a four year old is to never back down from what he wants, and that is a gift I personally have managed to sustain into adulthood – in fact my mum has (lovingly I think!) previously described me as “a dog at a bone”! I asked Marvin at 8:15 to take off his pyjamas and put his school uniform on. He said no. I told him that if he chose not to put his uniform on, he would have to go to school in his pyjamas. He said fine. I told him that he would look silly in front of his friends – his pyjamas droop a little bit at the back so his bottom peeps out from time to time. He said fine. He was stubborn. But I invented stubborn!
I will admit that the walk through the school gates was somewhat embarrassing – it was on a par with the evening before when he decided to lay on the floor as we were going to the car so I sat down beside him, and a woman asked if we were alright, clearly thinking that some awful injury must have occurred as no sane person would sit in the middle of the payment with their child lay down beside them. I gave her my brightest smile and told her we were fine thank you, thus confirming her belief that I had lost my marbles. I did think he’d cave before we left the house, he always has in the past, but not today!
I think the point of the post really is to say, on record, that I refuse to let the spiral suck me in any more. I’m reading a book at the moment called The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, which essentially says that children inherently want to behave, so if they’re not behaving it’s because they lack a particular skill that will allow them to deal with a certain situation. That’s certainly true of Norman and Marvin, they have gaps in their development so they don’t always approach things in the way you might expect. I’m just waiting to get to the chapter where it tells me exactly how to fill those gaps! In the meantime, please wish us luck and coffee!
What’s on the needles?
The scarf continues! I’m on the home stretch, I think it should be finished by the weekend, I’ll post a big picture then, but for now here’s another peek: