Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sally Donovan teaches

On Monday  I went to an amazing workshop with Sally Donovan. Based on material from her upcoming book on adoption parenting, it was brilliantly refreshing, honest, real and useful. She delivered it all with ease, clarity and grace. Everyone should have a Sally D! If I can't, I'll buy her second book. Well... I'll buy that any way. Can't wait. 

I found Sally's workshop immensely reassuring. It confirmed many of my core beliefs and taught me many news things. It made me feel more confident about caring for my son in a way that is different and - on the face of it - softer than mainstream parenting. It is not laissez faire parenting. Just the opposite in fact. It's parenting with open eyes - respectfully, compassionately and gently.

But first and foremost I was reminded that without Digs, his sunny temperament and the boundless love he brought to our house there would be no involvement in adoption parenting and charity. He gives me the surplus energy to do and explore like never before. Parental isolation is a thing of the past for me. I feel supported. And loved. In my family.  And in my community. 

Admittedly I left with a feeling that I have it easy - Sally told us never apologise for not having it difficult. It may all change. My son is a bundle of joy. He was not well when I got back on Monday - another epic cold was announcing itself. But he was happy. Bubbly and chatty as ever. As Sally urged us to do, I told him straight away when I saw him how happy I was to see him and his face did light up. His curly hair even seemed to stand up a bit more too. I got a big hug and a giant lick on my face (he likes to pretend he is a baby cat at the moment). Some things are very simple in the world of bonding and attachment. If only we keep remembering to do them. 

I feel quite certain I'll f*#% up with reassuring frequency - outch and sorry in advance. I don't like the thought of that, yet I know it to be realistic. But I'll continue to do my best. Because you do<em></em> deserve nothing less. 

Thank you, little Mouse. 

Thank you, Sally. Bring on the book!

Sally Donovan's The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting will be published by JKP in November. http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/book/9781849055369

Friday, 12 September 2014

In his bed

Pierre has a little homemade verse that he likes to recite to Digger at night. He's been doing this for almost as long as Digs has been home with us. 

It's the last words of the day. Said just before Digger falls asleep. The last bit of our night time routine.  Before the final kiss of the day. 

In his bed
In his room
In his house
On his street
His daddy loves him 
His mummy loves him
He is safe and sound

Yesterday I said it as well when I put him to bed. With a little smile on his soft and sleepy face, eyes closed, he lisped it over his dummy and fell into a deep sleep almost immediately. 

As if those words were his night time anchor. Spoken out loud to help him let go of the day. Feeling safe and sound. I always thought falling a sleep is such a massive sign of trust, if not exhaustion. Letting go must be a quite feat for a little one. Especially if they are scared or feeling brittle. I imagine it is like setting off in the little boat, like Iggle Piggle in the Night Garden. Across the ocean, bobbing along alone on the sea til the morning. 

That takes a lot of faith to let go.

I've seen the power and magic of this little verse.
I'll use it now too. 

Thank you daddy. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

ode to a toddler's diaper

He pulls the diaper straps really tight. His little belly is bulging out over the top of it. He wants them to cross or touch at the very least. He succeeds.  We inspect his handy work. 

'Are you sure that's not too tight?' I ask 'It looks kinda tight.'

'Sure. Nice and cozee'. He answers.

We look up. Our eyes meet and we smile. 

Digger has been sort of potty training for months. Potty, loo or standing. Whatever. It comes and goes. I don't mind. I've been trying to be gentle about this whole thing, and to follow his lead. It's his body after all. I've learned Digger can get quite narked if I press the issue. 'No pee now!' 'Okay. Just let me know if you need help when you need to go.'

I heard a good trick to get little (and big) people to aim better: put a Ping Pong ball in the bowl. So I've popped in a bright yellow one. Thinking Digger might be intrigued and that he might be encouraged by it. He's not. He's mostly concerned that it may get flushed out. I think it might well be. I probably tried this trick too early. Like so many other things in parenthood. 

I'm not sure how much to press potty training. I even worry I am keeping him in diapers. So this week I've begun to offer underpants or diaper to him when I change him. He can go either way. Although truth be told:

Digger prefers naked. Anywhere. Anytime. He loves weeing in the garden. With his little arched back he looks like Mannickenpiss. Summer has been great for this. Naked gives him so much more feel for his body and what goes on inside. 

'Exiciting!' He exclaims when he sees what he has produced. A new and favourite word. 

His little bum soon get wrapped in a diaper again. Certainly for naps and nighttime. 

Getting it on can be a struggle. He's quick. It can be difficult to catch him. And catch him is what he wants me to do. It's a game. Currently I have most success asking him which animal he would prefer me or us to be while changing him. Miaow is his favourite.  

Respectful diaper changing and potty training takes on another level of signifance in the context of adoption I think. Few things are more intimate than wiping poo of another person - whatever age. It's private. And about personal boundaries to be acknowledged and respected. It's key for bonding too. I'll admit we hardly knew which side was up at first. Digger got hold off the bum cream at an early diaper change and ate some! In fact it was during introduction. The first day we had him alone in our house. We thought we'd killed him. Confessing guilty to Rosa his foster mum when we returned with him. She laughed in the kindest most understanding way. 

Some of our earliest and most precious bonding moments were during changing. Exchanging all important touch, eye contact and smiles in this preverbal world of his. Perfect to show attunement to use a technical term of something that can be quite magic. Now we sing and chat and take turns. He's quite involved and often pops the diaper in the bin himself. Yeah. 

But is he getting to big for diapers? 

There is a lot of external pressure - prestige even - about early potty training. Am I holding him back? Should I be pressing the issue more?

Thankfully a friend remindeded me that in Scandinavia the question isn't 'Is he potty trained yet?' But 'Has he dropped the diaper?' Much more empowering. And the power-to-the-kid isn't just linguistic. It's an approach. The believe is that it will happen in its own sweet time. On average in these northern parts of the world is 3+ for boys, notoriously later than girls. Digger is a few months short of this. I exhale. This approach sits so much better with me. 

We have become much better at changing diaper. All of us. From fumbling begins of  'sorry darling. Is that too tight?' we now manage quite quickly. At night I can even do it without waking him. Or rather - without him letting me wake him.  Yet diapers are often dry in the morning. Like this morning. Bone dry. Despite the full bottle of milk we still pour into him when we snuggle for milk and stories every night. 

Potty training is about psysiogomy. Maturity of body and mind. And Digger is definitely heading that way. With or without me rushing him. 

Days of diaper changing with Digger are numbered. 

I will miss them.