A lot has been said recently about my ability to ‘cope’. Interestingly, it’s never been about us as a family but about me and how I’m ‘coping’.

I’m constantly left speechless by the lack of basic understanding of the girls’ social worker. A recent report said that ‘some of the current concerns may have been caused by early life experiences.’ As far as I’m concerned, there is no ‘may’ about it, but there is the implication that actually, some the current concerns ‘may’ be caused by her current living situation. Once again, criticism about the role that we are playing in this.

So this week, I’ve been cross again. Am I coping? Well, I’m ‘coping’ in the sense that both my children are fed, cleaned, played with, read to and loved on a daily basis. I’m ‘coping’ with the violence and aggression that are shown to us daily. I’m ‘coping’. What I’m not ‘coping’ with is somebody saying that ‘they are not sure whether I can provide the high level of support’ that one of my children requires. Never mind that this ‘support’ was not mentioned (or identified) before the girls came to us. Never mind that within weeks of placement I tried to talk about my worries and concerns but was told that ‘I need to stop thinking like a teacher and start thinking like a parent’. Never mind that actually if we hadn’t asked for help, this ‘high level of parenting support’ would never have been known about as their SW had not picked up the phone to ask about them for five months.

So I’m cross. We’re always told to ask for help if we need it, in all walks of life. But in this case, we asked for help to try and support our family and we feel immediately criticised. I think because none of the concerns we have were noticed (mentioned) before the girls came to us, there seems to be lots of ‘oh well, they were fine before they came to you’ (they weren’t, they were just very good at hiding it) and ‘well, I can’t possibly have made a mistake, so the mistake must be yours’ going on. None of which helps us as a family.

At a recent meeting with the child psychologist I (a little bit cheekily) asked if she could refer me for counselling as the wait is currently nine months and I thought she might be able to help make it happen a bit faster. I asked for this counselling to help me come to terms with the fact that we are now parenting a child with a high level of additional needs (and another child who is displaying some huge sensory issues and other possible concerns) of which we were not prepared for as they were not mentioned once. (I’ve since read over the Form E again and it really is remarkable what is written in it.) I would have thought that this was a sensible thing to do and would be another step towards making our family work better. But again, their SW had other ideas and she is now concerned about ‘my emotions being at a low level’. So once again, we ask for help, to try to make positive changes and we are criticised. (She can’t be that concerned, because once again she has yet to lift the phone.)

So am I ‘coping’? I’m not sure that this is right word to use. As a family we are finding a way. It is a different way and a lot of it feels like an uphill way but we are finding a way.

The Best Bits

My thirty minute timetabling is working and we are getting through the days. And my wonderful friend who cleans the kitchen is coming tomorrow.

We took the girls for a run on the beach and the tide was out but had just left enough water to come over their toes. They loved it. They ran up and down the beach for ages.

One day this week Big let me feed her. She didn’t try to wrestle the fork back off me, she didn’t try to control when it went in her mouth, she just let me feed her.


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