The good news is (besides Jesus being born and bringing salvation to the world) we survived the Christmas holidays. Husband took time off of work, which meant the four of us were together straight for 18 days from morning till night – the longest time we have spent together since we met 8 months ago. Looking back now I can honestly say it made a huge difference and raised the question whether we should have done that at the beginning… Despite what many adopters said to us we agreed with our SWs that the boys needed structure so they went straight into school a few days after they moved in.
We were prepared for the worst; not just by SWs, Play Therapists and other experts, but also fellow adopters. The general consensus was: LAC DON’T DO CHRISTMAS! Well, I am happy to say this is not true!
In general I can say we had a very OK time, even lovely at times. That’s not to say we didn’t have meltdowns and tantrums that were rooted in their horrible past, but all in all we had a very pleasant time – even hubby agrees who could take the xmas break for what it’s supposed to be: a time of rest. (you know, we, stay home mums don’t count as we ‘rest during the days, every day in fact, when the kids are in school’ anyway…)
We tried to stick with some structure that involved breakfast, play time, lunch, go outside, film, dinner, play, sleep. Depending on the weather we swapped these around, but we did go out almost every day except Xmas Day when we all had a Pyjama Day. Husband used to take Goofs (6) to a nearby country park every time he had aggressive outbursts to burn off some anger. We drove past said park one day and he recognised it. Oddly he didn’t attach negative feelings to it, it was only a matter-of-fact remark (a child after my own heart! 🙂 ). Snoops (7) has never been there and asked if we could go as a family. We did and I am happy to say this is the boys’ favourite place to go now! Lots of adventures to have, ponds, secret paths, mud, sticks, animals, ice to break…
We also allowed them to watch cartoons on a laptop every morning (normally they get it on the weekends only) to ensure parents can have a sleep in, which worked extremely well! Because hubby is the baker in the house, he decided to try some new bread recipes with the boys. Goofs especially enjoyed channelling his anger into kneading bread! The results were oh so delicious! 🙂
Naturally we were slightly apprehensive before Xmas Day. On Xmas Eve after they went to bed ‘Santa came’ meaning he finished the mince pies and milk and left the presents under the tree while Rudolph ate the carrot and accidentally knocked down some decorations (Bad Rudy, bad bad Rudy!) As any parent, you are nervous because of the presents you got hoping they are the right ones and they would be ‘enough’. Last year the FC wanted to ‘cheer them up after the adoption breakdown’ so she went way overboard with the number and value of presents. We knew we can’t match that and frankly, we didn’t want to either! To be honest we knew they will break any toys within a day anyway, plus we want to teach them what’s really important – ambitious goals for our first family Christmas!
Boys were ecstatic to come down on Christmas Day. Goofs’ first comment (‘Last year we got a lot bigger presents!’) came from a place of honesty so we couldn’t really be upset with him. Thank God it was quickly replaced by more excitement as they emptied their stockings and opened their presents. I think they got a lot more presents than ever before considering all our extended family members and some of our close friends got them things, which they all labelled as With love from… It’s great, but it also looks like Mummy and Daddy got them nothing as everything else was from Santa… 🙂
Boys got mugs with special markers to decorate them. Goofs didn’t waste time in drawing a happy family of four on it! I showed this pic to his therapist with a question ‘Do you think he feels securely attached now?’ This is the same boy who had had really nasty angry outbursts, threw things out the window, attacked us violently not very long ago! The therapist just cried… (of joy I hope!)
Daddy, too, went slightly overboard this Christmas. We decorated the house excessively on the first of December (which was a training day for teachers anyways), the tree was up a few days later and xmas music was loud all around the house all month. Aaaand then came the traditional Xmas Dinner. Hubby cooked for 10 people at least so food was falling off of the table even with the extension! 🙂 The boys really enjoyed the big fuss and had a great time! Happy
wife child means happy life, indeed!
We played endless amount of Lego and with their new Snakes and Ladders board game. Boys are learning now that ‘it’s just a game, no need to cry if you loose’; ‘it’s ok to laugh at other’s bad luck, no need to punch them in the face’; ‘you are not stupid if you can’t roll a 6, it’s just about luck’…etc. Again, happy to say they made huge progress in these areas and we can also see how this new knowledge translates into other areas of their behaviour! Amazingly the violent reactions they cultivated towards each other for seemingly small issues (like who brushes their teeth first) are now reduced to a short exchange of words – they still need parental supervision and decision making, but this is definitely a massive step in the right direction!
We even risked a sleepover party at our friends’ place on New Years Eve! Boys behaved really well, went to bed around 9pm upstairs so parents could enjoy a fun evening to finish off the year with friends and grown up games! Yay!!!
Going back to school is another trigger for challenging behaviour and again, we were nervous. The boys had such a good time off school we didn’t know how they will take it. As it turns out we didn’t have to worry. Boys were happy to go back, see their friends, compare notes on who got what presents, even to ‘learn new things‘ (!!! WHAT???).
And to top it off, 2 nights ago Goofs was brushing his teeth after dinner and said: ‘mummy, I am dfghshj...’ I said ‘what?’ He spit into the sink, looked at me through the mirror and said ‘mummy, I am so happy I have a real mum now’ and went back to brushing his teeth. He played it really cool and I didn’t correct his terminology. :)))
It was a lovely moment, but we have learnt to take everything with a pinch of salt. Yesterday he smacked his brother with a big book leaving an ugly mark on Snoops’ face and when I grabbed his hand to stop him doing it again he started shouting at me saying ‘you are nasty, nasty and I hate you so much!’
There! This is my post Christmas blues…
Hopefully 2017 will work out better!