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Me, the boy, and The Monster

"Me, the boy, and 'The Monster'" is a book about what it's like to parent a traumatised child. It's a raw, honest account, and it's borne out of my own experiences as an adoptive mum. Living with trauma is HARD. It's hard for the kids, and it's hard for the parents. I'd like to stand by your side, and tell you that you are not alone, that there are things that can help make things better.

In the book I'll explain some of the basics of your child's brain, how it's been physically shaped by trauma, and how it relates to your day to day experience of parenting them. I'll also explain what attachment *actually* is (clue: it is not what the social workers on my prep course told us it was), why it's important to you, and how to tell when someone is trying to fob you off with the old 'but they've obviously got attachment issues so that's just the way it is' thing.

I first used The Monster to help my daughter to und…

Attachment may not be the big deal we all think it is

I originally wrote this post on my previous blog, but I’ve reproduced it again here (slightly updated) as I was flattered to discover someone had linked to the original blog post (which has now been taken down).

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I wrote a post about attachment some time ago, mainly because I was fed up with the massive mis-appropriation of the term, and the lack of understanding surrounding it. Unfortunately this sort of stuff is still around everywhere you look, so it's worth having a quick recap with some of the key points of what attachment is, and what it is not.

Attachment is a descriptive term which denotes a dependant relationship, i.e. the relationship a child has with a care-giver. Attachment is not a term for the relationship you have with your partner. (I have heard of people being given 'attachment questionnaires' by Social Workers to determine what their attachment relationship with their partner is like. While this may be useful on some levels to reflect on the relationsh…

The ‘WHY’ question.

Tickle is very definitely at the ‘why’ stage. It’s not uncommon for children to go through this, although normally they get it out of the way a bit earlier. In Tickle’s case, sometimes the “Why?” is a genuine ‘why are you saying that / I don’t know what you mean’ - and sometimes it’s an angry “WHY?!!” (are you still going on at me?!)

We’ve had a new ‘why’ question this week: why did Birth Dad hurt me?

That’s a trickier one to deal with. It started off in the car, just the two of us, on the way back from the dentist. Tickle asked for a ‘chat’, which is his code for ‘there’s something on my mind that I need to talk about’. We had a chat. It lasted all the way home, all the way through dinner, and all the way in to bed. I didn’t really know what to say, so mostly I was honest: “I don’t know why he hurt you Tickle, but he shouldn’t have done it. It wasn’t your fault, and it was wrong. Grown ups are not allowed to hurt children. I don’t know why he hurt you.” Eventually he said “I don’t wa…

I’m dreaming of a peaceful Christmas...

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Christmas was never going to be easy, but this year has been the hardest yet.

Tickle has been in therapy for a couple of months now. He’s doing really well; by which I mean he hasn’t run out of the room or hit the therapist. Yet. He seems to have understood what therapy is all about - sometimes when he’s having a manic moment at home he will say he wants to go and see our therapist to talk about his ‘wobbly feelings’, but he hasn’t yet got to the stage where he can actually do this during the sessions.

We knew it would get worse before it gets better - but we knew that in the same way that we ‘knew’ it would be hard work adopting a child. It’s obvious, but you don’t really fully ‘get’ it until you’re in the thick of it.

Tickle at the moment is probably as bad as he’s been in at least a year, if not more. Although, when I read that back, it’s not entirely fair, as in a lot of ways the progress he’s made is still apparent. He can play independently for most of the day now, whereas a yea…

Moving on

I used to have a different blog. I started it up when we were just starting to think about adoption, when I discovered that actually I *could* get pregnant after all, but just couldn't do the growing a baby part any more. The first miscarriage came out of the blue, I didn't even know I was pregnant. The second was expected, but no less painful. I started my blog mostly to keep my friends and family updated with what was going on - much easier than having to talk about it over and over. Writing has always been cathartic, and blogging has helped me immeasurably over the years.

But now it's time to move on. I've closed the old blog off (although I haven't deleted the posts), for a few reasons. Firstly, because it felt appropriate to move on to a new chapter when Tickle's adoption order was granted. Secondly, because the old blog forms the basis for my new book, so it seemed inappropriate to charge people to buy a book when they could read a lot of it on the intern…

Sleep

Tickle's Monster has had a severe aversion to sleep for quite some months now. Tickle already has melatonin to get him off to sleep (for which we are eternally grateful) but keeping him asleep is quite a different matter. For most of the summer Tickle's internal alarm was set to 4.30am, and once he was up, he was up.

Some days were better than others. Some days he would play in his room (relatively) quietly, or watch cartoons on my iPad. Other days he would stand by the side of our bed and scream. Or he'd hit us until we woke up and talked to him. Or he'd bang his head against our bedroom wall.

This half term Tickle has had a meltdown of epic proportions. I'm not quite sure what triggered him; perhaps it was just the fact that he'd got settled back in to class with a really supportive teacher, and all of a sudden school was disappearing for a week. Perhaps the fact that he's just started therapy didn't help. Perhaps it was just the phase of the moon. He…