As not so dry Januhairy comes to a frosty end, we have spent the last week bracing ourselves for snow (might not brave the shave just yet ladies brrrr!)
My eldest son is clearly going to be the next Michael Fish as he has been studying the forecast daily in the vain hope that the white stuff will miraculously appear. Every morning this week he has jumped out of bed early (which is totally out of character) and come running into my room to press his nose up against my window. As if on cue each day his little face has then crumpled and his shoulders slumped at the realisation that he has to go to school.
For a beautiful but brief moment in time everything was peachy. We had a new school, a fresh start and a lovely young teacher who my son idolised from the moment he met him. Shock horror at the thought that some days he was actually getting dressed and wanting to go to school in the morning!
Still scarred from my previous playground experiences at pick up time I’ve spent months tensing when his teacher so much as looked in my direction. I know that my mug (described by she who should not be named as a resting bitch face) would have looked defensive when he caught my eye but miraculously he would just smile before looking away at another parent.
One day he glanced up and started to briskly walk towards me, I recognised the look on his face a mile off. As he got closer, I attempted a smile and started to gabble as he marched straight past to the lady standing directly behind. Oh how I felt her pain as my face flushed with embarrassment at my own cringey moment!
My son desperately wanted to impress his teacher so much so that he learned to mask his difficulties at school, but like a shook up bottle of pop the lid started to come loose and he would spill out, before finally exploding at home. Whilst he wasn’t fooling me or his Dad he actually managed to keep it up for a few months.
Of course sadly ‘all good things must come to an end’ and they did in the form of an email to tell us that his teacher was leaving in the next few weeks. I was sat at a training course when the email hit my inbox, followed in quick succession by a text message from my hubby with a singular elongated F bomb scrawled across the page.
I know lots of people (including teachers) won’t get this but that really is all it takes to trigger those internalised feelings of loss and rejection all over again.
So needless to say we’re back to square one and coming to terms with the fact that school may not be a positive experience for him. To be fair it wasn’t really mine or his Dad’s thing either and we’ve been open about our struggles which seems to have helped a bit. Thankfully (with a little help from my friends) I’m starting to grow a thicker skin and am beginning to realise that school is a challenging time for any parent who has a child with special educational needs. What my work tells me is there always someone worse off and I should be (and am) thankful for what I have.
Whilst my prayers haven’t been answered when it comes to schooling, my son’s were responded to this Friday gone in the form of snow. As he came running into my room with his little brother in tow to pull back the blind and press his nose against the window, I watched as his face turned to sheer delight at the sight of the white blanket outside. Thankfully it didn’t take long for the snow day message to land in my inbox from the school, cue a celebratory dance in their pants and a play day message to his besties he has had to leave behind.
Sadly, not everyone he left behind was a friend and he’s only just started to talk openly about his experiences of other children. Deep down I knew this day would come but given my daughter’s positive encounters I remained hopeful that the negativity would bypass him too.
So to the children who told my son because he is adopted ‘he wasn’t wanted’ you couldn’t be further from the truth and I’m going to tell your parents and others why.
Not so long ago I was honoured to be invited to a birth Mother’s support group to speak about my own experiences of adoption and hear about theirs. You may be surprised to hear that I had more in common with these warrior Mumma’s than most would think. The one thing that became painstakingly clear to me is the love we shared for our children and you’ll just have to take my word for it when I tell you that all of their children were very much wanted. They even gave me their time to help me overcome the writers block I was experiencing when penning a letter to one of my children’s birth parents. One of the young women shared with me that it’s the little things that they wanted to know and I can’t wait to tell her how right she was and why when I hopefully see her next.
Those of you who have experienced addiction, mental health issues, abuse trauma or simply have a family member who has a disability may be able to understand how someone could love and want their child but not be able to care for them.
For those of you who have perceptions of what background a ‘birth mother’ comes from let me just tell you that I’ve worked with ones who have attended Grammar school. If that doesn’t make you feel differently maybe one of my most imprinted fostering memories will? Which was of a couple (who I could clearly see had Down Syndrome) pushing their baby around at the contact centre; perhaps not an image that would immediately spring to your mind when considering a ‘Birth Mother’ in this situation.
Yes, admittedly there are the cases that you and I will never be able to understand but please don’t let them tarnish the ones that we can.
The one piece of information that I’m happy to share with you, if it makes a difference is that all my children were loved by their birth parents and most definitely wanted by us so please don’t let your children tell them otherwise.
Thankfully the one gift I have given my children is the ability to make and keep friends (although admittedly I’m still working on the littlest). This along with manners and being kind hearted will be better than any education they will ever receive at school.
Anyone who is fortunate enough to know will understand that the great thing about being blessed with true friends is that they accept and love you just the way you are and whilst you may not always see each other, when you do it’s like you’ve never been apart and that’s exactly what it was like on our snow day.
Finally to the children; I have a message for you and it came at the end of the Grinch Movie that I watched today with my kids, a message that my children have taken away too.
As the Grinch raised his glass and led the Who’s in a toast, it was to kindness and love, which are the things we need most.