We knew it would be difficult. We knew we would have problems. And yet...when our social worker forgot about us on Wed (she is on annual leave this week) I had a crisis feeling. Had text conversation with her, and said we were okay - not easy but okay, and then on Thurs things imploded and I sent a text just after lunch to say 'please come this evening' which she said she could do.
It was the adults who were struggling with how to deal with behaviour. Boyo is very caring and always has been, and as such he is in Jelly's face a lot. He wants to help, but isn't showing it in the best way. He is constantly doing things that we are asking him not to, such as holding onto Jelly, and taking his cuddly off him and countless other things. He wants to show how much he cares.
But he is also very excited and is spending his whole time showing off. And because he's the way he is, he is also been very vigilant - because his world has changed, and he needs to find his new place in this new order.
We have been reassuring him, we have let him regress as he wants, he is been fed, he is having a bottle of milk at bedtime, we have tried all our usual tricks, ignoring the bad and praising the good, rewards, bribery and threats of early nights. Nothing was having any effect, as soon as you praised him, he stopped doing what he was been praised for. Ignoring the behaviour just escalated it. Sitting him with us on the sofa has given us both bruises. I think my low point was when I carried him upstairs, put him on his bed, and sat in his chair, refusing to engage until he calmed down... I had teddies thrown at me for that one, and there are a lot of teddies on his bed.
So we reached out... and asked for help, because we could not calm him. There was nothing that we could do, that would help him, and we wanted to help him, no needed to help him.
We talked things through. We explained that we felt WE were getting into a negative cycle. And that, is what was bothering us most, we are usually good at stopping that negative cycle, but we couldn't find a way forward.
It felt better to hear that it was normal. That virtually every older child struggles when a new child arrives, no matter how they arrive. That we were doing okay, it's not a disaster.
She agreed that we were doing the right thing going out for part of each day. That we were right about gradually starting to introduce people to Jelly, because Boy-o needs normality. That we could separate them if it was easier... it was okay that they didn't spend every minute together. I'd been resisting separating them, on the grounds they need to get used to each other, but she pointed out that they are spending time together, and that they don't have to spend every waking minute together.
And she gave us some ideas. Initially to start theraplay activities again - and if we were struggling with it, she's happy to give up some time to come and help us with it. And then some ideas to work on both his life story and Jelly's... to help him understand better his story and his place in the world. She has given us some super ideas, which I will probably blog about, once we've had a chance to do some of them. I've also ordered some more books...
So I went to bed last night calmer, and woke up feeling more refreshed. And today has been a better day - and when Jelly had his nap, I got out my mysterious box that Boy-o noticed first thing this morning, which I'd loaded with some things for theraplay activities last night. And we managed a 20 minute session with theraplay activities, and followed it up with some general silly playing. I gave him the total time that we had available, and when M came home from work before Jelly had finished his nap (M is working part time for at least another week yet), we planned our afternoon... divide and conquer.
And it worked, the boys went to bed much calmer, because things had been calmer. They both went early, as neither is sleeping especially well, but they have slept so far tonight.
So I'm hoping that we can continue to be calm, and do theraplay work. I'll start the life story work soon, when I've had time to get my head round it a bit!
12 hours ago