Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Lull

It's been another busy week for us here. What shall I say? I could tell you about seeking urgent medical treatment for Birdy yet again, over her poorly wheezing lungs this time (thank you Community Children's Health Team - you are all heroes!), but I won't.

I could tell you about going to visit Twinkle in her new home, but I won't . . . well maybe I will just a little bit . . . she called me by her new carer's name throughout the visit. Interesting! She's her usual Twinkly self though.

I could tell you about the annoying thing Birdy's social worker said to me when she called round the other day. I definitely won't.

I'm not talking about any of these things because tomorrow is our English Christmas (in advance of our French Christmas which will take place with more conventional timing). The presents are wrapped and under the tree. The food is waiting in the fridge after some last-minute shopping today. I had planned low-key food but this morning, when I asked OB what he wanted, he asked for 'Christmas dinner'. So off to the supermarket we went and now we have a lot of turkey in the fridge! The kids are sleeping and I'm expecting an early morning present frenzy (punctuated only by another visit from the health team to check Birdy's SATs).

So, for us, Christmas starts now. I'm announcing the commencement of a Christmas Lull. Everything else can do one until I declare the festive season over (probably in about February!).

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Eventful Week

No deep thoughts this week - far too much action for that! We are rushing headlong towards Christmas along what seems like a never-ending obstacle course of events and happenings, with all their associated unsettling side effects.

Our week began with the departure of Twinkle. This was a planned move, albeit somewhat hastily decided, and precipitated no doubt by the fact that everybody finally admitted that there was no way a passport would be arriving in time for our Christmas trip abroad. It is sad as I'd hoped to take her (and indeed already booked and paid for her tickets!) but none of us wanted to contemplate having her in respite care over Christmas, so a move as early as possible was the only alternative really. From almost the start of Twink's time with us I have been telling any professional who would listen that she needed a home with no other children, or with only much older children. Various reasons have stopped her from being moved before, but once the move became inevitable, they were able to find her such a placement. I hope that, despite the timing and the stress of the move, it turns out to be good for her.

OB has proceeded to fill the sound-void left by Twinkle's departure with plenty of his own noise! It certainly has not been the quieter, calmer week I had hoped for! He is in a state of post-birthday, pre-Christmas excitement which I expect to go on for some time, not helped by the fact that we also celebrated Birdy's 1st birthday this week.

Before that milestone though, we had another, sadder one. Birdy's final contact with her birth mum took place this week. This is the fourth final contact I have taken a child to and I never get any more comfortable with it, which is probably a good thing. In the event, it passed without much incident. Everybody held it together and Birdy came home with another huge pile of gifts and keepsakes. I think she will need a memory cupboard rather than a box!

We had no less than two children's birthday parties to attend on Saturday and then, alarmed by the severity of Birdy's latest eczema flare up which wasn't responding to the hydrocortisone that usually works wonders, we all ended up at the walk-in centre. The tone of the visit was a bit accusatory I thought - maybe I'm sensitive or maybe there is a tone reserved for foster carers. I'm not sure. Anyway, I passed all the 'test questions' except for the one about "Has she had any Piriton?". My negative response elicited an incredulous, "Why not?!" from the doctor. Anyway, she has some now. And maybe there's a report winging its way to social services as we speak, complaining about how I haven't given a drug to an infant that isn't recommended for children under one. Or maybe the doctor has better things to do.

Today we had our Nativity performance at church. OB was Joseph. This is the second time he has played the role and on the way home he announced that he'd had enough of being Joseph now and would like to be a wise man next time. He did great though. He had a line to say which wasn't integral to the plot so if he bottled it nothing would fall apart. There was a bit of squirming when it came to his big moment, but he said it! Bravo OB!

So, yes, an eventful week. We have barely been home. My parents have been waiting to skype Birdy to sing Happy Birthday to her for several days now and I just haven't been able to get us all in front of the computer at a reasonable hour. Perhaps we'll manage it tomorrow and I'll take comfort in the fact that Birdy has no idea about birthdays at all and will just be thrilled by the smiley, familiar faces and the singing!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Twinkle, Obesity and Fat Shaming

Twinkle is not obese, by any means. If anything she is a wee little thing, possibly even slightly small for her age.

But my word, can she pack away the food. It's a standing joke that when I go to pick her up from nursery and they tell me what she's done that day, it's just a long list of everything that she's eaten. At home, she's obsessed by mealtimes, constantly asking if it's dinner time, or wondering when I'm making dinner. If someone mentions food or if she sees any food she immediately proclaims, "I'm hungry!" There's never any food left on her plate at the end of a meal.

I have heard enough parents worrying over their child's picky eating habits to know that many would consider me lucky to have a child that is so easy to feed. But it's not that simple.

Twinkle can't leave food. She just can't leave it. If she can see food, she has to have it. She has no sense of what her body is saying to her about hungry/not hungry, full/not full. If food is served buffet style, she will load her plate with as much as she can physically carry, and then work her way through it as though slogging through a marathon. Leftovers in the bin are fair game.

On the occasions when she has been sick, it has been immediately evident that she barely chews her food at all. She just inhales it.

After six months of rigid routine and predictability around the provision of meals, and the reassurances, and the availability of snacks, and the special plates and cups, she has finally begun to utter the words, "I've had enough." But it's a chimera of progress. The moment I approach her to remove the unemptied plate, she repents. "No, I want it!" Her brain is wired for food survival, never sure when, or if, the next meal is coming. "Eat up now!" it whispers to her. "You might go hungry later."

I wonder whether one day all of this will catch up with Twinkle, and she will join the statistics of the obesity crisis we hear so much about. And if that happens, will someone, Katie Hopkins style, one day call her lazy? Or stupid? Or say "How could you let yourself get like this?" Or hand her a cruel, cowardly 'fat-shaming' card while she's minding her own business on the bus?