I give you, the Poo Fairy!
No one warns you about constipation in your adoption training.
It should be obligatory.
Constipation, in our experience, has the ability to destroy your day, make you change all your plans, suck all happiness from the room. It can turn your day into a living hell of grumpiness. And that's just when it's happening to me!
When our son came to us we knew his diet pre being taken into care had been very poor, from what we understood, comprising mostly of snack food, fondant fancies and soft fizzy drinks.
It was clear that an attempt to get him to eat more healthily had been made by his first foster carer. This had been handled very badly however, having the effect of putting him off even trying healthy food. He was so traumatised when he reached his second foster family that they, understandably, didn't challenge his eating habits, preferring to concentrate on his emotional needs.
So, when he reached us, the foods he would consider eating comprised essentially sugar based carbohydrates. Roughage featured nowhere in his list of preferred meals.
No roughage, no output. Which is where, of course, constipation comes into our adoption story.
In the first couple of weeks of our son living with us we could not understand how he could change from being happy and contented into Linda Blair within minutes. It wasn't that he would then be unhappy for a while, this would last for 24 hours or more.
After two weeks it dawned on J (thank God I married a Dr) that we should perhaps start monitoring toilet habits to see if there was any link between them and our little boy's mood swings.
Bingo! We immediately found a correlation between finally using the toilet for number twos and an immediate improvement in our son's humour.
What to do about it? What could we do to encourage him to eat more roughage and go more regularly?
After some questioning we discovered that our son was 'holding on' to things, worried about the discomfort going eventually caused. I came up with the solution.
One of the real treats for our little boy was to be read a bedtime story. This was a new and unique experience for him and consequently he looked forward to it each evening.
We had purchased many of the Thomas the Tank Engine, Mr Men and Little Miss books. We were releasing them, one night at a time, as we read them to him. I thought we could link the two things, if he performed, then he got a new book. But how to do so? J came up with the solution. In the manner of the Tooth Fairy, we would have a Poo Fairy.
So, whenever our son performed the Poo Fairy visited, leaving a book under his pillow.
Of course, keeping track of which books he had received became a problem. After about six weeks, as we ran out of books and had to puchase new ones to add to the process, we found that occasionally we were providing a duplicate.
On those occasions a phone call to the Poo Fairy to obtain an explanation was required. Our son listened in, approving the explanation and agreeing the promise of swapping things back the following night. The Poo Fairy even suggested replacement stories to make up for her error.
We adopted our daughter at a much younger age to our son. Nappy changing was a new experience. An unpleasant one to be honest, when number twos were involved.
We had the solution at hand however. Once she had settled in to her new home, we introduced the concept of the Poo Fairy to our daughter. Slowly, surely, we potty trained our daughter with the help of the Poo Fairy and Little Miss books.
Our son now understands the Poo Fairy isn't real. He's begun to twig too that the Tooth Fairy is suspect. The Easter Bunny and Santa? They bring presents, so I think he'll hang on to them for another year or so.
They've all had their place. The one entity that's had the greatest impact though has been our friend the Poo Fairy. Long may she bring colonic harmony to our family!