Tea for Three

Just one more post before the blogathon begins.

It’s taken a while but I’m finally at a point with the kids where we can all sit at the table and have a meal together. L on a regular chair, N on a chair with a booster and J in the high chair. I sit in the master controller position where I can reach them all, reach behind me to get extra supplies, stop them from running off and re-focus their efforts on eating when necessary.

It’s what I call civilised chaos. It would be fun if I had wheels on my chair, but I seriously don’t need them, as the kitchen is not a big room.

It’s always been a challenge to get L to drink enough fluid each day. Unless there is ginger beer (non-alcoholic of course), which he absolutely loves and he also really enjoys drinking the bath water. Don’t ask me – I don’t get it, but he’ll drink it till he sloshes.

When L was about three he started drinking my left over slurps of tea when I wasn’t looking. I take mine white with no sugar and he just loved it. So I started asking him if he wanted a cup of tea and sure enough he did. Drinking from a cup is a skill he picked up quite early. So over the last couple of years it’s become a part of the routine that he would have a cup of tea with our breakfast and sometimes with our evening meal as well.

Well, guess who else likes tea? Mr N. He thought he was missing out. So I made him a little cup and as he drank it, he’s going ‘mmmmmmmmm…..teaaaaaaa!!!’ So now, we have a pot of tea going and it’s a very popular part of the menu. I don’t water it down, I don’t add sugar and I don’t put too much milk in (milky tea = yuk). If it’s too hot, they use their spoons and there’s a lot of very happy slurping.

Am I to blame for the spike in tea drinking around here? Well, I’m the parent and I buy, make and distribute the tea, so I guess I am but I’ve never tried to influence them. L will often ask for a cup of tea when he’s feeling thirsty. He’d actually drink coffee if I’d let him near it. The smell of coffee is intoxicating to him. So keeping it to tea at this point is a good thing.

I love a cup of tea. There are days when that cup will be the thing that helps me get through a challenging day. On a hot day it will cool you down, on a cold day it will warm you up. It’s not just a beverage, it’s herbal medicine.

scene of the crime

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The Quiet Before the Storm

I’ve been a bit quiet for the last week. Not because of anything in particular but because of life in general. Every day has been full of appointment making, appointments, some training, catching up with my lovely ‘in real life’ friends. Not that any of you aren’t ‘real’ or ‘alive’, but…you know what I mean. All this plus the regular three boys & a mum routine.

However, I’m about to make a bold statement. So prepare yourselves.

April, as many of you know is Autism Awareness month. Starting this Sunday 1st April, I’m going to focus my blogging/writing efforts on autism for the entire month AND I’m going to go for a daily blog (as opposed to a daily jog – something that would probably benefit me more…however…).

For those of you who don’t live with autism, don’t be put off. I’m hoping that I can keep the content relevant,  interesting, intriguing even, certainly mind expanding.

Watch out neurotypicals, neurodiversity is coming to your inbox.

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Ukulele Inspiration

Regular readers know that N received a red ukulele for his 2nd birthday recently. He is still going strong, playing his little heart out every day. I know that when you are learning an instrument it’s good to surround yourself with others who are better at it than you. That way you rise up as they support you and everyone has a good time.

I’ve been doing my bit by playing him a song every day – mostly songs that he already knows. You know, the regular playlist from the kindy crew. But I want to expand the repertoire to include a few classic folk songs and some fun items from the world of pop. So I’ve started looking for ukulele inspiration!

I found this little gem on Youtube. 53 million hits does not decrease it’s feel good factor. N is totally inspired and likes to watch him play whenever possible.

If you have any song suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Hands

A few months ago I read an incredibly moving and revealing post by Julia Bascom at Just Stimming. The post was called Quiet Hands. Reading that post was a revelation to me and it caused quite a stir in the autism community as it went viral. I took a copy of it in to the psychologist at my boy’s early intervention centre AEIOU – she needed to know.

This morning I revisited Julia’s blog and was really interested to read a follow up post that she had written about how she came to write Quiet Hands and the impact of going viral.

She has helped me to understand my boy in a way that no therapist or autism expert could. I’m a better parent because of Quiet Hands. I’m a better person.

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The Art & Science of Efficiency

Last Friday, with the boys distributed around to friends and family, I booked in nice and early at 6am. I did the requisite interview and answered all questions duly. Then I was taken in to get changed and shown a lounge where I could sit with the other patrons who were also waiting and together we quietly watched a bit of morning tv. I even fell asleep.

They called my name and I moved through to the next area where a few more details were checked and before long, I was asked to come through to a small room. I joked with the staff there about enjoying my time at the day spa while they went about their work. I said that I expected to wake up with nothing less than cucumbers on my eyes. Told them how much I was looking forward to having a very relaxing sleep during the day, something that very rarely happens in my world.

I woke up 3 hours later. No drama, just minus a conveniently dispensable organ in my body. I spent the night on the ward. Surgeons gave me the OK to go home at about 9am. Four tiny cuts and a bit sore, I hardly need to use painkillers. The miracles of modern medicine.

Removing Children

 

This week in Australia, a television program called Insight was screened on one of our free to air channels. Insight has a forum style format where a moderator/journalist directs the discussion of the invited live audience of about 50 people representing a diverse range of opinions and experience. It really is a great program that has been successful now for many years.

The format works well and each week topics relevant to what is happening in our world, our country and our communities are explored in what is usually a compelling and deftly handled conversation.

This week the topic was ‘Removing Children’ The format was changed slightly so that the four special guests were sitting on the podium with the presenter. They were two young adults who had been removed from their families during their childhood, a foster carer and a father (appearing anonymously) whose children had been removed and who had worked successfully to be reunited with them.

Of course this topic is one very close to my heart. So, along with my many foster carer colleagues, child protection workers and the many people who work in support of children and families, we were all glued to the screen. Finally the issue that dominates our personal or working life (or both), our hearts and our homes was being given some air time.

I came away from watching the program feeling quite disappointed. I realise that one hour is simply not enough time to explore such a complex issue in great depth. However there were gaping holes in the discussion that left the television audience no wiser as to the decision making process that leads to removal of children or even the key issues we face as a community when it comes to child protection.

There were no representatives from the ‘Dept’, not a single politician and though there may have been people who work to support families & children in care in the audience, they did not get the opportunity to speak.

The main discussion centered around the young people and their experiences of trauma and abuse from both their birth families and from the system that was supposed to be protecting them. It was painful to see the young woman being questioned when she was not comfortable or equipped. The young man was more worldly and at 30, was older and better able to discuss his experiences.

The dad was brave and honest. His acknowledgement that it was the right thing for the department to remove his kids at that time was telling. The foster carer did not get a chance to say anything of much value, though I’m certain he would have had a lot to say given the appropriate questioning.

I do believe there was enormous value in the discussion that took place. Most people are lucky enough to never need to darken the doorstep of the child protection system. For them, it’s mysterious, dangerous and unspoken. This program did shed some light for those people.

As a foster carer though, this is the world I inhabit. The department may be the ones during urine tests and going to court, but I’m the one (of many) working to help children live through and heal from their trauma, to build positive relationships with their bio families and the important people in their lives, to help mums & dads and extended family learn about good parenting and supporting them in their efforts to reunify.

When that is not an option we are the people in your communities who step up to raise your children, whether it’s for a week end or  a lifetime. Foster carers play a pivotal role in helping our communities. We’re volunteers who live our values out in real time. Kids are the product of our community values, not just of a mother and father. So what is that saying about us as Australians right now? What is that saying about you?

Insight: Removing Kids

2 years

A letter for your 2nd birthday

Dear N,

It was your birthday on the weekend. Another big milestone for you little man. You have been living with me for 18 months now – how lucky am I? At 2 you are a real little character: totally loveable, incredibly good looking, extremely intelligent, super musical and with a sweet and charming personality. What an amazing boy you are!!

You’ve had a very busy weekend. You had a sleep over with your cousins and a lovely birthday cake with them on Saturday (your actual birthday). After that you came back home and then on Sunday afternoon we had a birthday party here with your friends.

You had such a lot of fun even though it was a rainy day. There were 10 kids here all together and you made the most enormous mess. You drank lemonade and ate little sausages with sauce (your favourite!) and then we had the birthday cake. It was a chocolate monkey cake with chocolate doughnut ears and mint pattie eyes. Everyone stood around and sang ‘happy birthday to you’ while you ate the brown m&m nostrils and then they helped you to blow out the two candles.

It was so funny cutting the cake, some kids were saying ‘I want some eye’ or can I have some ear?’ and pretty soon there was just a few crumbs left on the plate.

We gave you a red ukelele for your birthday. You call it your ‘tah’, like guitar only easier to say. You were so happy to get it you sat down and played it for about 20 minutes non-stop – not bad for a 2yo boy! I sent a photo of you playing it to your mum and it made her so happy. You really love music and you are getting more and more interested in singing songs, dancing and playing any instrument you can get your hands on.

You have a few favourite shows. You love the Wiggles and anything they do will keep you entertained. You are just starting to join in and sing some of the songs and do the actions. You also love Fireman Sam. You often come up to me during the day to say ‘Wiggles’ or ‘Sam’ or ‘teeeveeeeee, teeeveeeeeee’ and hand me the remote control. I try to limit how much tv you watch, so we do lots of play downstairs in the garden. You love the sandpit, where there are lots of trucks and things to dig with.

You really love everything to do with cars and transport. Each morning as we wait for L’s school bus to come and pick him up, we all sit on the front step to watch the cars, trucks, bikes and people. Although our street isn’t too busy, we get enough traffic to keep it interesting. You name each vehicle as it goes by.

But your favourite day is rubbish day. When you hear the truck coming we must STOP EVERYTHING and run to the front door to watch the rubbish truck come to empty our bins. We wave at the driver and he waves back at you. We say ‘bye bye rubbish, don’t come back!’

What a wonderful little brother to L and big brother to J you are. They both love you so much. Sometimes L is hard to play with, but you don’t care and you just get in there and make him play with you as much as possible. Even though he often pushes you away, you love to give him a big cuddle and because you are a very clever little guy, you have worked out that if you cuddle him from behind, then he can’t push you away. So smart! You have a fun running game that you play together that involves running, screaming and giggling your heads off from one end of the house to the other. You also love to get in and have a good rough & tumble wrestle. Every, single time – you come out on the losing end. But that doesn’t stop you – oh no!

With little J you are very sweet and gentle. You stop to give him a kiss or to pat him on the head. You also enjoy sitting on him, which J doesn’t like at all, so it’s lucky you don’t do that too often. At the moment you are both enjoying playing in the ball pit. It’s a blow up contraption that holds a whole pile of balls. You guys have so much fun in there chuckling and rolling around, sticking your hand through the holes in the wall.

fun in the ball pit

Well beautiful, happy second birthday. Love you