Flashbacks in A and E

Ok so it’s actually the minor injuries unit at our local community hospital but it was certainly an adventure for us. We have never needed A and E before and after three and a half years it was not something I was looking forward to! I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived. I’d always been led to believe by my mum friend who is a frequent flier to the unit that it was one of Dantes 7 circles of hell but when we got there only one other patient sat waiting.

We were triaged by a friendly nurse who charmed the children and we were soon sat back in the waiting room while we waited to see a doctor. At this point things had gone reasonably well, the girls were making good use of the snacks I’d bought, Amy was a bit anxious and although Josie was far more excited about the experience than it warranted but we were all ok.

Then in walk two more patients. One a drowsy looking ruffian, handcuffed and flanked by two burly policeman and another child, older than mine, accompanied by a chatty over familiar mother who instructed her literally bleeding offspring to sit near me, away from the afflicted felon!

I could tell Amy was anxious the minute she saw the policemen. At this point I should mention that Amy is vary wary of the police, with a history of domestic violence, we know the police were frequent visitors to her birth family home and she would have associated them with the feelings of panic she would have on these occasions. I could tell that Amy was having flashbacks and experiencing some of these feelings now. So I attempted to calmly talk to Amy, let her know what was going on as simply and un-catastrophically as I could.

Chatty mum had other ideas, telling my children that he had been naughty, and they mustn’t be naughty as that’s what would happen to them! Gobsmacked I reassured both my girls that nothing they do or consider naughty was going to warrant them being arrested. I was extremely relieved when the doctor arrived to examine Amy and promptly declared her arm not broken! Without a glance back we made for the car and back to safe territory. Amy was still clearly experiencing anxiety about the policemen and through some curious questioning we talked through her concerns. Although Amy will tell you she knows the police are there to help us, she does instantly flashback to feeling terrified in their presence and we discussed why this might be the case and why seeing policeman might trigger feelings from her past.

I am incredibly proud of Amy she was able to talk through how the police made her feel and even though she has been more unsettled over the last few days she has used us for support and managed her feelings better than she ever has.

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Why I want to parent like a grandparent!

When we adopted Amy and Josie, my mother was concerned that she might find it difficult to connect with our children and that she would do or say something wrong. If I’m honest, I probably still feel a bit like this myself at times, although I now realise I am unlikely to cause any lasting traumatic effects! However, one of my highlights as a parent is watching my parents and Mr March’s mum with our children. This was especially true this weekend; one of the highlights being watching my dad scooter round the garden with my girls.

It seems to me that grandparents seem to have a knack for parenting in a very PACE centred way (What is meant by PACE parenting). They seem much more playful than I am (I find being playful really difficult at times). They use gentle persuasion, games and patience to encourage them to clean their teeth or put their shoes on. They can play at being a little bit silly at times too which the girls find really engaging.

As grandparents sit just outside the immediate family they seem a bit more distanced from household tensions. They are able to see everyone’s side, and as such, use acceptance and empathy to communicate that they understand how each person in the family is feeling.  Added to this our grandparents are also able to ask questions that as a parent I don’t always make time to, and in that way they can be more curious and open to understanding the world of their grandchildren.

Of course grandparents aren’t with the children all the time and don’t necessarily have to worry about all the concerns that parents have to such as running a family household, going out to work, walking the dogs and making sure everyone’s clothes are washed and ironed when needed. But maybe we as parents should make some time to set those worries aside and spend more dedicated time parenting like a grandparent.

I would like to thank the March family grandparents for all their love and support.

What do you think? Do your families find grandparental relations helpful?

The First Sleepover

Amy had her first sleep over this week. Sleepovers have been a topic of conversation in the March Household for some time and I have always been a bit hesitant.  I know how apprehensive Amy can get when she can’t sleep and was concerned how she would manage if she didn’t have anyone she felt she could call upon.  I worry that this would put pressure on her friendships or increase her anxiety levels.  I was aware that we would be best off having one of her friends over to stay first but if I’m honest, I really didn’t want to.  The thought of extra children for an extended period of time is not my idea of fun.  And then Josie would also want a friend over and she is not very accepting of her position of youngest sibling or the idea of waiting till she is older for anything!

The issue was forced when one of Amy’s friends invited her for a sleepover for her birthday. After discussion with Mr March, we decided that we had to give it a go.  We felt that Amy would be very upset if she couldn’t go, and, as this friend seems to have a positive impact on Amy, we didn’t want this to affect their friendship.

We talked with Amy about what might be difficult about sleeping at a friend’s house. Her biggest concern was that she would wake up before the rest of the household, so she decided to take some books to read to occupy her and help her keep calm.  We made sure she had all the things she’d need including her favourite teddy bear, hair brush (she has become quite particular about her hair) and a selection of clothes for the morning.  She was still very anxious however and we had a day of giddy behaviour and arguments.  With some trepidation, we waved her off.

The next morning seemed to really drag as we waited for her to come home. She came in and gave me a massive cuddle, then, as soon as I closed the door, she burst into sobs.  She was upset that they had slept on the sofas in the lounge and I recalled how she remembers being dropped off by her birth mum with family and made to sleep on their sofas.  So I held her and told her I understood that she must have felt so sad and scared and we talked about why.  I could have kicked myself for not asking where they were going to sleep!

Amy also told me they hadn’t slept all night (though I think this was an exaggeration)! I asked her what she had enjoyed about the sleep over and she enjoyed being at her friend’s house, playing with her friend and her baby brother, doing her nails and a whole host of other things. ‘So would you go again?’ I asked. ‘Oh yes’ said Amy.  She then did something she has only done a couple of times in her 3 years with us.  She went to bed for a nap!

That evening we were still discussing whether we had done the right thing and in the end we realised that there are going to be lots of occasions in life that Amy is going to find difficult. And as much as we want to, we can’t protect her from all of them.  What we need to do is prepare her to manage when life becomes more stressful and help her develop ways to cope.