Head versus heart

My head understands that she cannot currently express herself in a way that she would like so that often it comes out in violence, in screams, in rudeness. But my heart wishes it didn’t.

My head understands that routine and structure and known places provide safety and ease a bit of the anxiety that she feels. But my heart wishes that we could go and explore somewhere new, just get in the car and go.

My head understands trauma bonds and the fact that sometimes the very sight of Little is enough to trigger. But my heart wishes that Little didn’t get hurt and controlled and manipulated.

My head understands that people are scary and that it’s hard work having to control everyone and make sure that they’re doing exactly what she needs them to do. But my heart wishes we could see people without meltdowns afterwards.

My head understands the need for total control at all times. But my heart wishes I could see her relaxed and able to enjoy the moment.

My head understands that she cannot say what is wrong. But my heart wishes I could help her.

My head understands that when you are incredibly anxious and hyper vigilant and hyper sensitive, it is incredibly difficult to go to sleep. But my heart wishes I could help her get a better sleep each night.

My thinking brain and my emotional brain are not marrying up at the moment. Big’s struggling hugely with the holidays and I’m not helping. I understand why things happen in the way that they do but I really wish they didn’t. My expectations need shifting again and it’s hard. Head and heart need to find a way to work together.

The best bits

We’ve had lots of fun in the water this holiday. We got the girls wetsuits and it’s made a huge difference to how long we can spend there. We’ve been out on the bodyboards, in the kayaks and in the canoe.

Last week Big asked if we could have a rainbow fence. This is the first time she’s asked if we can change anything in the house. So we now have a rainbow fence and we love it.

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We went to see Spike on Sunday. Spike is very lovely. He cheered us all up.

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Three years…

Three years is 1095 days.

Three years is such a long time.

Three years is no time at all.

Three years is nearly half of Big’s life.

Three years is nearly three quarters of Little’s life.

Three years is a Peppa party, a Frozen party and a unicorn party.

Three years is a Grufflo party, a dinosaur party and a penguin party.

Three years is hundreds of ‘I hate you(s)’.

Three years is three ‘I love you(s).’

Three years is woods and beaches.

Three years is learning to ride bikes.

Three years is learning how to swim.

Three years is wetsuits and bodyboarding and kayaking.

Three years is stories and drawing and colouring.

Three years is two and three quarters years of not sleeping through the night.

Three years is lullabies and whispered words.

Three years is learning when things need to be soft or hard. When things need to be gloopy or dry. When things need to be crunchy or smooth. When things need to be heavy or light.

Three years is two moments of lying on the floor, tears pouring, wondering ‘Can we actually keep doing this?’

Three years is smiles and giggles and cuddles.

Three years is playgroup and nursery and school.

Three years is meetings. And meetings.

Three years is bites and kicks and punches.

Three years is reading. And rereading.

Three years is asking the amazing people on Twitter, ‘What could we do when…?’

Three years is support from some expected places. And some very unexpected ones.

Three years is waking up each morning with a smile and a ‘Good morning my lovelies.’

Three years is wondering. Are we doing enough? Are we doing everything we can for Big? Are we helping Little enough?

Three years is hoping. Hoping we’re doing enough. Hoping we’re doing everything we can for Big. Hoping we’re helping Little enough.

Three years is how long we’ve been a family. Such a long time, and no time at all.

Three years is us, just now. All 1095 days of them.

 

 

Just be

I was asked a question last week by someone who is coming to support our family. She said to me that she’d been thinking about our family a lot and she’d been wondering, ‘Did Big ever get chance to just be a little girl?’

And the answer, as much as I don’t want it to be, is probably no.

When the girls are playing I’m always very close by as I know how quickly things can escalate. I’m always listening just in case something is said that might allude to how she’s feeling. And I’m always listening for signs that she’s not managing.

When other people are here and she’s playing with them, I’m always close by in case she shows signs that she’s not managing and they don’t pick up on it. I’m always hovering just in case.

When we’re having fun, I’m always aware that she really struggles with fun and that I need to limit it and finish it before it tips over into not managing and feeling unsafe.

When she’s upset, I’m always looking for the bigger picture, what might it be that has caused her to feel like this, what small sign did I miss earlier that has lead to this.

So, even though I recognise this. I’m not sure how to stop. If I don’t stay close, there is a real danger of Little being really hurt. Other people are not as good at picking up the small signs she gives out and if we miss them, she really struggles later. If I let the fun continue, it inevitably becomes not fun. If I don’t consider the bigger picture, she doesn’t trust that I’m able to support her through everything.

How do we get more of a balance of ‘just being’ but also help her and Little in all the different ways they need helping?

I’ve been thinking about it all week, in trying to help her in so many ways, am I failing her in another? I don’t know. But it’s something else I’ve been thinking about.

The best bits

We went to the beach on Friday after the last day of the school term. We dug holes, we carried buckets of water about the beach, we got wet and we had fun.

Little slept for 13 hours on Saturday night. In her own bed!

We’ve been swimming twice over the weekend. I know I mention swimming a lot but I’m in awe of how well they’re doing. Every time we go they seem that little bit more confident. They both swam through a hoop under the water on Sunday. Awesome girls that they are.

Hi-ho, hi-ho

It’s off to work we go. Sort of. In 7 weeks anyway.

Never have I had more people tell me their own opinions than with this decision. Their opinions are generally:

‘It’ll be fine.” “Oh, it’ll be no bother.” “Oh, I bet you can’t wait.” And my personal favourite, “Oh, if you don’t make it into a big deal, the girls won’t either.”

But the thing is, it is a big deal. This has been the most stable period that the girls have ever had. For 3 years I have done every single pick up and drop off, I’ve been to every assembly, every show, every meeting. I’ve been there everyday. And I know that we’ve been really lucky that I could do that. We’ve had no money for 2 and a half years but it has kept our family together.

And now, three days a week, I’m suddenly not going to be there. Somebody else will be dropping them off and picking them up. Somebody else will be trying to work out what kind of day they’ve had. Somebody else will be trying to work out how Big is feeling from the micro signals that she gives out.

It’s going to be hard. Anything that Big needs to get ‘out’, she’s only going to have 2 hours between me getting home and bedtime (I know, I know, teachers finish at 3 don’t they? No.) Until (If) Big begins to really trust the people that are going to be looking after her, she’s going to have to keep everything in for longer. More time where she feels that she needs to be ‘fine’ and more time fizzing inside.

So I don’t think it is going to be ‘no bother’. For the girls it’s another change. Another moment in time where Big doesn’t feel safe. Another moment where she thinks that change means everything changes. We had pizza for tea on Thursday night instead of Friday last week and the repercussions were felt for days afterwards. Change is not ‘no bother’ in our house. Change is hard and extremely scary.

And I know there are positives, we’ll have a bit more money, I’ll be able to speak to adults again, but we’re heading for a big change here and it’s not going to be easy. Or fine. Or no big deal. It’s going to be the opposite of all of the above. And I’m a little bit terrified.

The best bits

When we were watching telly yesterday, Big leaned her head on my shoulder for a wee while.

Little’s friend came to play again yesterday. They played and giggled for over 2 hours. They negotiated things between them, they came to me for help when they needed and they had fun. It was very lovely.

Visits

This week has been full of visits. Too many visits. Some lovely visits, some tricky visits, some hard visits. Visits to new classes, visits to places, visits from people, visits by me to school to watch assemblies. It’s been a very difficult week on top of a difficult few months.

But I won’t tell you about that. Instead I’ll tell you about another visit that got planned in intricate detail this week.

Little: Mummy, can we go and visit the Queen one day?

Me: Um, well, the Queen stays in London and it’s really busy there. So busy that daddy won’t go.

Little: That’s okay, daddy can stay and have a little snooze while you take me.

Me; Okay…

Little: We’ll go in the car. What’s the big house called again where she lives?

Me: Buckingham Palace.

Little: That’s it. You can drive us there. What does she look like?

Me: Sort of like she does in Minions but with grey hair.

Little: Grey like elephants?

Me: Erm…

Little: Oh! Mummy! You’ll need a gown to go and visit the Queen. You don’t have one. Cept your wedding dress. Can you wear your wedding dress? No, we’ll have to go and buy you a gown.

Me: Okay…

Little: And a hat. You’ll need a hat too. Does she have a prince?

Me: Prince Philip

Little: Do the Queen and Prince Philip have a phone?

Me: Yep

Little: Right, I’ll phone them to let them know we’re going to visit them.

So there you go. Little and I are going to visit the Queen. Wearing gowns and hats.

The best bits

On Monday I got ‘nice ice lollies’ to have for after school. When Big asked me why we had them I said that I thought the day might have been tricky for her (it was her assembly). ‘Huh. Well. You thinked right.’ We didn’t get any further than that but I hope that she knew that I’d ‘thinked’ about her, and that it helped her a bit.

We went to the beach this week instead of sports day. We had a lovely time. Little spent ages making a pool in the river by building the sand up. She then discovered that when it broke it made a wee slide for her to go down so we then had to build many more! It was lovely to see her so engaged and to see her persevere with things.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday and Today

Since January our house has been filled with rage, control, aggression and anger. It never feels to leave. We never seem to quite get to a point where there is calm before we’re off again.

It feels like we’re walking on eggshells, that we’re never sure what might start something, that we’re on tenterhooks all the time.

It feels like we’re constantly having to tweak routines in a way that doesn’t seem like we’re tweaking them. That we’re on hyper alert at all times. That we’re constantly watching.

And then yesterday Big went on a trip. It was a trip designed for children with additional needs. For the whole day, there was no pressure on her. There were no questions asked of her, no work to be completed, no 34 other children to manage constantly. And we had the first calm evening we’ve had for ages. I have NEVER seen her as animated as she was when she came back. I didn’t have to ask her anything, she volunteered it all. She smiled, a lot. She was calm. She was relaxed.

Today, Little had a ‘playday’ (as she likes to call it. I’m not sure when it stopped being ‘having someone over to play.) For an hour and forty minutes she just got to play and have fun. She wasn’t controlled, she wasn’t having to constantly placate the other person she was playing with, she could just play.

Yesterday and today mean such a lot in our house. Yesterday and today will keep us going.

The best bits

At gymnastics this week, Big walked across the high beam totally unaided. She did it forwards and sideways. She had a wee smile at the end.

Little could have a million best bits this week. When she went to sleep tonight, she moved her head so that I could lay down with our foreheads touching and she fell asleep like that. When we nipped to get Father’s Day stuff and she told the man at the till that ‘my daddy will smell nice when it’s daddy day. He will smell like oranges and blue.’ When she patiently helped me weed a flower bed. When she jumped up and down when her friend arrived today.

I love it when…

I love it when I hear Little sing.

I love it when I look in the rearview mirror and see Big dancing to the music.

I love it when Little looks at me out of the corner of her eye before she makes a joke.

I love it when Big looks at me.

I love it when we put the fairy lights on and Little jumps a little bit with happiness.

I love it when Big lets me help her.

I love it when I get to see Little waking up.

I love it when Big feels proud of herself.

I love it when Little makes us do ‘balances’ after tea.

I love it when Big sits next to me.

I love it when Little writes shopping lists.

I love it when they’re on their bikes.

I love it when they’re in the pool.

I love it when we’re in the woods.

I love it when we’re at the beach.

It’s hard just now. But there’s lots to love.

The best bits

Yesterday at teatime, I leaned into my husband to give him a hug. He was sat down and I was stood up. Big said, ‘If I was a grown up, I would take a photo of that.’ My husband asked her why and she said, ‘Love.’

In the pool this week, Little jumped to the bottom to pick up a weighted toy. She was fit to burst when she came back up.

I was planting in the garden with Little. She was helping by watering in the new plants. She then watered a bit of soil with nothing in it. When she’d finished she said, ‘There you go mummy, one might grow there now too.’