Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Talking to friends tonight it struck me just how overwhelmingly we've been supported by our local school. Coming to parenthood via adoption you have lots of expectations. When I thought about school I imagined the playground would be a friendly place but I might struggle to get the teachers to understand the complex needs of children who had experienced early neglect and trauma. How wrong could I be?

The playground is a ferocious place. The fact I have just appeared from nowhere (nowhere meaning absent from any earlier years groups, clubs or nurseries) but having admitted that 'no, I have not just moved to the area' makes me a bit of a unknown. I don't want to share the children's life story with every single person who asks, it's not my story to tell, it's theirs, so they can choose who and what they say. Because of this, the playgrounders can't place me so I might as well not exist oh and to them my children are probably a bit strange. They don't run to me when they spot me at the end of a school day, they sometimes say 'strange' things when we're getting into the car ("I've been thinking a lot about the bad house today"), they've bitten, kicked and punched me in front of astonished parents for no reason other than the fact that they've probably fretted all day about whether or not I would even turn up to pick them up (something they were used to in the past). 

Mine is the daughter who got invited to the party and was brave enough to go for ten minutes. Whose other daughter gets up from story time to make loud animal noises and put her hands in the sand pit (just wanting to soak up every sensory experience she can in this new wonderland that is a classroom having been so void of early stimulation). Whose son runs from the room every time a tap is turned on having been scolded due to poor supervision.

The fact is I honestly care less about what any of them think than I thought I would. What matters to me so much more is the overwhelming support of all of the teachers, dinner ladies, care takers, receptionists and head teaching staff. After a difficult education meeting where the reality of just how much our children had been let down by the education system was laid out in front of us, I received a call from the acting headmaster. He said he understood it had been a difficult meeting but that 'for the record' he thought 'we were doing a great job' and that we were 'greatly admired by him and his team'. He also said he understood 'just how enormous an undertaking it was' to take on 3 children and most importantly that he knew 'we'd have good days and days that were total shit'. He wanted me to know that 'no matter what, there'd always be someone at school to have a cup of tea with us if we needed to chat or just rant about a difficult sock morning or a spelling meltdown' so 'to know they were there' and 'just pop in anytime'.

That was the first time since we met the children that I felt fully supported by anyone aside from Mr W. Since this time we've worked together, the children have been unobtrusively and unknowingly assessed and we know where we are. It is grim reading, my 53 month old daughter scores 8-20 months in her ability to make and maintain friendships, but we finally have a start point. Somewhere from which to begin.

Tomorrow we meet to discuss the support and funds needed to make up some of the earlier mistakes. Temporary cover is in place to ensure that class teachers can attend and knowing they're there with me makes such a difference.

Last week the children all dealt with a big week at school admirably. I was so so so very proud. They all managed to sing their little hearts out at Harvest Festival and then eldest daughter sprinted across the playground in my direction at pick up on Friday clutching a certificate from said deputy/acting headmaster. It said simply, Headmasters Certificate awarded to xxx  xxx for 'never giving up'. Well if the ferocious playground Mums didn't think that me and the tiddlers were crazy enough already we all whooped and skipped out of the playground just to prove we are. Took all my strength not to high five the headmaster as we went past. Never imagined a school could give them so much. Feeling very lucky and grateful.

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