Jubilee Hurricane of Trauma

Our family was hit by a hurricane of massive proportion this bank holiday weekend.  Rob and I were left wondering whether we should have recorded it on film because after the storm has passed, recollections are hazy and confused.

‘No one would ever believe how bad it is,’ said Rob as we sat slumped in front of the television watching the jubilee concert.

‘I know, Alfie Boe’s Elvis impersonation, it’s unforgivable.’

It was not the moment for humour.

‘”Did you have a lovely Jubilee weekend” people at work will ask me. “Wonderful thanks.  My son said he is going to murder me, you and Rose with an axe, laugh as he watches us bleed to death and then commit suicide, SO HE DOESN’T GET INTO TROUBLE.”  I can’t tell anyone what my weekend was really like, because it’s socially unacceptable and I can’t remember it that clearly because my brain has turned to jelly.’

He took another sip of Becks and his head dropped to his chest.

‘And while I’m holding Jamie to prevent him from smashing me in the face he’s shouting “I’m going to ring the police, I’m going to ring Childline because you are hurting me and you don’t care for me properly and they are going to put you in prison and I will be laughing”.  One day he is going to be six feet tall and angry and it scares me.  And no one will believe what it’s like.  And they all say “but he’s a gorgeous boy, so sociable and friendly” as though he couldn’t possibly be capable of anything so violent and aggressive, as though I’m making it all up.’

We watch the crowds going wild for Sir Cliff, who performs a strange arse-slapping move.

‘I just don’t know how I’m going to get over this.  I’m certainly never going to forget it.’

I resist the urge to make a joke at Sir Cliff’s expense.  Rob needs to be listened to and believed.  We heard some terrible things come out of the mouth of our son, some things so awful I will never be able to repeat them, let alone write about them.  Together Rob and I will have to somehow knit them into our experience and continue the task of therapeutic parenting.

We will carry the battle scars from this latest incident, along with the others, collected over the past years.  And they will fade.  The books say that the parents and carers of children who have suffered early neglect and trauma should, after an incident, move quickly to repair.  We’ve made a start, but sometimes it’s just not that easy.

18 thoughts on “Jubilee Hurricane of Trauma

  1. Scottish Mum

    There’s a world of difference between kids being resilient with parents breaking up and things like trauma, after effects of birth parents drugs, alcohol or depression. I think too many people mix those up.

    I’ve learned to separate the angry kids from the traumatised kids, but when middler blows, it needs a strong man to stop him hurting other people, and like your situation, he’s soon going to be too big to control. What then?

    We get the death threats too, but part of me is trying to convince myself that if he really meant it, he’d do it and not just tell us about it when he’s angry in the heat of the moment. Usually when the eyes change and you can’t see the person behind them. I would imagine you know what I mean, although most won’t.

    I suspect it’s more a result of brain damage, however it happened than anything else as we get the frustrations from elsewhere coming home to us. It’s completely rubbish to live with, and to be honest, most people are not going to believe us even if we do tell them. The few I’ve told how bad it can be tend to end up with glazed over eyes as they really don’t want to know, or they think we’re bad parents and not tough enough on our kids.

    1. admin Post author

      Are are right on the money with ‘the eyes’, there is a change that spells trouble. I hope that all the therapeutic stuff goes in on some level and that as you say, the death threats are of the moment outbursts. Most people don’t want to hear about what it is like, but those in politics and social policy need to know so that the myths get busted and some proper support is put in place for our children.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    2. Mat

      The eyes, you’re so very right! It’s taken a number of years but i’m actually getting more and more people in our lives to recognise the change in our sons eyes in order to determine their interaction with him.
      And most people don’t want to believe our children can display such extreme charactistics so the ‘la,la,la’ sounds in their heads start playing rather than listening and acknowledging the issues which they don’t understand!

  2. Jacqui

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I find it inspiring to read of your commitment to your family and your honesty in telling how it really is. I have just started work with a fostering and adoption team in my local authority as a support worker and although it’s early days I am hopeful that the needs of fosterers and adopters in our county will be better heard and addressed. I will keep reading you with great interest. Thanks for sharing your life so freely – I for one appreciate it greatly and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    1. admin Post author

      It sounds like you will be an excellent support worker! Thank you for reading my blog and I am most flattered that you find it so useful.

  3. blissful mum (@adoptionbliss)

    This is the first time I’ve read your blog and now can’t wait to go back through the archives and catch up with your life. Not for any morbid sense of curiosity but to just feel less alone. The honesty with which you have shared your life is brave and refreshing. I often try and play these sort of episodes down, if I ever tell, with a throw away see how hilarious and crazy my life is. But it hurts and it’s hard and moving forward is a constant struggle. Keep going, your going in the right direction and doing what sounds like an amazing job.

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you so much. I aim to be honest because there is so much dishonesty around children and trauma and particularly around adoption. I can recommend blogging as a way of processing these enormous incidents. Looking forward to keeping in touch via twitter.

  4. Miss D

    I just wanted to comment to say I lost all of yesterday afternoon and much of this morning (so far) to reading your blog.

    I spent two years working in a residential care home and school for 9 teenager boys who sound very much like Jamie, many of whom had been in adoptive families that had broken down. (The difference being after a 24hour shift I could go home to my own quiet house)

    Now I am a secondary school teacher. Reading your blog has filled in a lot of gaps for me and I think it is essential reading for any teacher. I have linked to your post on the ‘black cloud’ behaviour system on my own education blog. I hope that’s ok.

    This year I will enter in to a civil partnership and my fiancee and I have begun talking about adopting in the future, so now I have found you I will continue to visit as we make the decisions about our future.

    Thank you for writing this, I am sure it takes up valuable time in your already busy day, but your knowledge, commitment and honesty are much appreciated.

    1. admin Post author

      Your comment is exactly why I blog, so thank you for your words of support. I do not want to put others off adopting but want to increase the general understanding of long term issues around neglect and abuse so that these children are better understood and supported, in schools and elsewhere. Coming into teaching from working in a residential care home is an interesting career path and must give you some interesting perspectives on education and the care system. I will take a look at your blog.
      And congratulations on your civil partnership.

      1. Miss D

        Yes unusual career path I guess! But my PGCE is in English and SEN and I choose to work in more ‘challenging’ inner city schools, which I probably wouldn’t if I hadn’t worked in the care home first. To be honest, I like the range of students more in a school environment and of course the progress is easier to see. Working with 30 children rather than 9 is a big change and the techniques needed to manage a classroom are very different to those needed to manage three teenagers in the back of a car/ in Sports Direct etc.

        I’m trying to think what the biggest difference is… I guess that conflicts are shorter. Two boys fight in a playground and they both throw a punch and in 5 minutes one has run away/ their friends have broken it up/ staff have intervened, and it’s over. Likewise in a class a kid tells you to F off (not too often) storms out, you let them cool down, you rebuild, they have consequences, you move on. Like your Jubilee Weekend, conflicts could drag on for days in the home! Always the holidays hey? Christmas was the worst.

        The link on my blog to your ‘Black Cloud’ posts seems to have been quite popular. This American teacher posted a video response to it http://girlwithalessonplan.tumblr.com/post/24647450658/i-wanted-to-do-a-video-response-to-under-a-black

        1. admin Post author

          Thanks for linking to my blog. You have a very popular site judging by the spike in hit that I’m seeing. It is full of interesting stuff and I like the snap shots. I will take a look at the video too.

          You are right, the conflicts can spiral on and on for hours with barely a break between each event. Holidays are definitely the worst times with term time being a close second. The challenge for schools I think is to lower the anxieties that these children carry and not to make them feel as though they are naughty. It is difficult in a secondary school setting.

          Are you on twitter?

  5. Mat

    School holidays are all well and good, so are national celebrations but my God please lets go back to the routine of school life and everyday mundaneness! Pre-empting these celebrations and making plans for the week have sent our eldest,10, into total meltdown at several occassions today being the worse. Hitting, kicking, biting, swearing, screaming towards me and trying to distroy our house is one thing but i see red when he thumps his younger brother,8, straight in his spectacle framed face or when he thumps him so hard in his back that he lets out the most horrific scream. So I ‘allow’ him to lay into me as a better alternative, if i try and move away he follows even though within his screams are “f****ing leave me the f*** alone!” I reply (calmly)that if he wishes to be alone that is fine but not when he isn’t in contol of his emotions etc. This particular episode started when i told him he was to turn off the online game he was playing due to what I felt was a too agreesive theme.
    The other day was because we were going out as a family and he declared he wasn’t going. I told him that he was and he exploded into a rant. I take a positively hard line in this situation as he controls so much in our family so i remained insistant and put him into the car where we sat until he calmed. Once out, he was calm until his brother said something he didn’t like and off his rage went again. I ignored this but held his hand to prevent injury to others and ‘kept calm and carried on!’. However, things worsened so i walked him back to the car. At this point the rage worsened further with him saying he didn’t want to go. This is a common theme, him wanting to dictate and control what he and the family does and he tries to fight though any restistance to his commands. However, we always come out the other side with a discussion about his acceptance in how he dealt with things poorly and we mark it up as a lesson learnt.
    It’s all well and good to try to establish in our children that adults/parents are in charge and that we are not going to be dictated to but it’s a mystery to me the best way to follow through when our children are getting bigger and stronger and it gets increasingly scary the damage they could do to people should things not pan out in the way they desire or if they misunderstand a situation.
    We have a duty to teach our children rights and wrongs but golly it’s difficult seeing some situations through when your child is screaming blue murder and making claims that you are trying to hurt/kill them.
    We have always been in a situation where the majority of other people think our son is lovely, kind etc, which he certainly can be but they look at disbelief when we speak of his anger. In the past year or so we have acknowleged that we have made a rod for our own backs as we have always kept the negative stuff behind closed doors and removed him from public view where we have been able. However, we’ve realised that others have little chance of realising the extent of our issues should they not witness the displays of agrresion etc. Lately we’ve taken the step to allow others into our world a bit more and it has really helped to get empathy flowing and some good friends have been shocked with what they’ve seen/heard which has helped us to feel less isolated.
    6 weeks or so before the summer holidays, and for us the end of primary education, so i look at the coming months with an increasing feeling of dread.
    I appear to have waffled but i think i’ve needed to as a way of debriefing from the week! And bugger, the week aint over yet!

    1. admin Post author

      That was a high-quality waffle! Your experiences will I’m sure be recognised by many in the same situation. And you are not alone in dreading a) the school holidays and b) a tall, strong, teenage ball of anger in the house. Dare I say it sounds like you and your son could do with some high-quality support? Pity there is eff all around.
      Thanks for your comment.

  6. Victoria

    Your blog – and the comments and replies you receive, are a salutory lesson for those of us on the outside of adoption. We may have had our own deeply personal struggles in bringing children into the world as birth parents, or not have children at all, but your experiences, good and bad, are a reality that many more people should know about. It’s very easy for people in comfortable, middle-class homes to live life in a wisteria-clad bubble and because of that, make too many easy assumptions about their children’s fellow pupils and friends. I think your blog is amazing, and I’ve learnt an amazing amount about a world I knew little about. I think all teachers, and all parents for that matter, should read your blog.

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you so much for your comment, it is very much appreciated. I shall hire you as my publicist when my book is published.

  7. Claire

    The replies you have received to this post say everything. I continue to be in awe of you and when I read your experiences, you help me more than you could ever know. I hope the therapeutic parenting is going well. I continue to look for something in my neck of the woods to help, but as you’ve talked about before support is like the Holy Grail. We’ve had a good week here, so of course confidence is back up and I feel more balanced and ready to tackle the next meltdown. You’re amazing, Sally. As is your family.


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