Nick King's Blog

I've done some pretty cool things, but nothing's as cool as creating our family

Resilience

This morning's shower routine was a trying one.

I have a half written blog post which explains how important routine was, and is, to our children, particularly as they settled into our family.  Suffice it to say it's really, REALLY important.

Our school-day morning routine has therefore been the same for, well, forever.  Or at least it seems that way.  Certainly since our daughter came to live with us.

 

We get up.  The children have a drink.  J leaves for work.  They have their breakfast while I make packed lunches. We go upstairs.  Our son showers while our daughter chooses her clothes for the day and I get his school uniform ready.  

We then swap over, daughter gets in the shower, son gets dressed, I supervise both and subsequent hair brushing and teeth cleaning before letting them watch some tv while I get ready myself.

 

This morning, it just wasn't happening.  

Our three year old daughter didn't want to cooperate.  It wasn't that she just didn't want to cooperate.  It was that she wanted to put up resistance, not so passive resistance actually.

"Please get in the shower," I pleaded.

"DON'T WANT TO!" Was the most coherent response I could deduce from the range of wailing going on as I slowly encouraged our three year old into the bathroom.

Finally closeted in the shower cubicle she shouted, "I DON'T LIKE YOU!"

"Ah, but I love you and I always will," I replied.  For me this was a clincher.  Daughter wasn't impressed: "YOU'RE NOT MY FRIEND ANYMORE!" she screamed before launching in to deep, snotty sobbing.

I left her to get on with it in the bathroom.  By the time I had traversed the ten steps it takes to get to our son's bedroom our daughter was happily singing 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' to herself.

 

All of this, of course, has been as a result of the traumatic week we have all had.

It's exacerbated by Grandad having stayed with us for the last two nights as we transition from hospital back to his own home.

 

Getting our little girl to bed in the last two evenings has been equally as traumatic.  

You can see clearly the sense of injustice coursing through our daughter's veins.  That new big boy staying with us is allowed to stay up.  Why can't I?  Her brother understands, she doesn't.  She will do anything.  ANYTHING.  To stay up later.

We start with the being quiet and cuddly stage, hoping she's not noticed and can stay up past bedtime.  

Moving on we have stroppy denunciation of bedtime and everything associated with it.  Teeth cleaning is horrible.  Wailing is in.

Finally we enter throwing ourselves around in order to stay awake territory.  This seems to last an incredibly long time, particularly given the degree of tiredness she must be feeling as we pass the 'hour after bedtime' mark.

 

Having Grandad here is like having a third child.  His deafness means he cannot hear what the children are saying.  His voice though carries over theirs and he therefore often talks over them, demanding immediate attention, much to the children's chagrin.

Grandad's presence also means an additional level of vigilance is required when it comes to possession management.  

The children are subjected to constant nagging by both of us.  "Don't leave that on the floor/pick that up please/don't leave your shoes outside the shoe box  as Grandad might trip over it."

Grandad's ability to identify what is, and is not, an important material possession for the children also proves to be a problem.  Carefully crafted paintings, drawings, imaginary notes, are swept aside into the waste paper bin.  Lovingly constructed Lego models are crushed as he sits on them, and then moans about it.  

And the tv!  Oh, the tv, the axis of all conflict when Grandad is here.  The remote control becomes a holy grail to be hidden, fought over, prized.  CBeebies and CITV are dismissed with the press of a button in favour of BBC News Channel, Sky News or worse still the Parliament Channel.  Wailing ensues from all involved.  I feel in need of a blue helmet.

Then of course, as J and I sit dutifully watching the revolving news broadcasts for the third time that evening, we realise that the much heightened volume level is keeping the kids awake.  This, as a short break in the overwhelming sound, reveals more wailing from hideously over-tired three year old daughter.

At least if he insists on watching the snooker it's a bit quieter.

 

If I am honest though, these reactions are very mild.  I am amazed and incredibly proud of how our children have faced the last week.

They have, necessarily, been pushed from pillar to post.  We've used the good offices of lovely friends to take them both at very short notice.  

Our son has spent time at the village school's breakfast club and after school activities.  Our daughter has had additional time at play school.  She's spent time with one of the super helpful play school assistants.  

We've missed french classes, piano lessons, play dates, choir practice all as a result of our hospital visiting placing us all in locations and situation where continuation of normal routine was impossible.

And throughout the children have remained calm, friendly, relatively relaxed.  Perfectly behaved in the company of others.  Only showing slight irritation and becoming only a little uncooperative once they were in the familiar, safe, secure surroundings of our own home.

Even when they found their third, elderly, sibling staying for the last few days did they still show nothing but kindness, attentiveness and patience towards him.  

 

Would birth children manage as well?  

Watching those that surround our own children I suspect not.

An unintended.  Sad.  But somehow affirming and positive consequence of our children's uncertain and disrupted pasts is that they take so many things in their stride.  

This past week their resilience has astounded me.  I'm very very proud of them.  They have both been absolute stars. 

Which is why Grandad has had to go back to his own home today.  We need to get back to our normal, banal, boring routine.  For all our sakes.