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Not until I felt your sunshine, Did I realize that I had been in the shade.

“Not until I felt your sunshine, Did I realize that I had been in the shade. Not until I saw all your colors, Did I realize that mine had faded. Not until I heard your dreams, Did I realize that I was still sleeping. And not until I experienced my life with you, Did I realize that I was barely breathing.”

Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Today has been an amazing day, in fact the last week has been bloody amazing.  I am so proud of our boys and all they are doing, how they settling in and more importantly how they are coping with all of this change and yet another move in their lives.

The sun has been shining gloriously today, with the warmth and heat that hasn’t been felt for several months. With a clear indication that spring is on it’s way and with it new growth, new experiences and life developing.   At the same time the love and warmth felt for our boys is only getting hotter and deeper and each day we are experiencing lots of firsts together.  They take it all in their stride mainly, with just a few wobbles, but if I sit back and think about how far we, and notably they, have come it is mind-blowing.

Only last week, our eldest stood up in front of about 80 people at school and spoke in his school assembly.  He been given a part from the class and it was one of the main parts, with six lines to learn in just a week, as well as spelling practice.  I went into the process naturally apprehensive and, shame on me, doubting him.  After all how could this little boy who has some key challenges to focus on anything learn all of these lines?  It was so sweet that the new classmates voted for him to have the part but at the same time I was thinking, ‘Crikey, this is not going to end well’.

As it turned out he blew us away.  He not only learnt his lines well and whilst wanting to, he practiced his spelling and on the walk to school each day wanted to repeat his lines.

The day came and we were at the back of the room wondering just how it would go.  He was amazing, as were all of the other children.  It’s only when I sit back and think about it just what a massive achievement this is.  A child with attachment challenges, who has been affected by his past, who has difficulty in focusing on anything and who flips into toddler mode at the drop of the hat stood up confidently in front of a group of people and with a smile on his face said his lines.  As he walked in and spotted us this little proud smile went from ear to ear and he waved whilst shouting, “There they are!.”  My heart melted and the developing love I have for this wonderful boy really grabbed me hard in the chest.  So proud of him.

He has also started football club at school and is really playing well with other children.

We have been busy doing lots of family outings and experiences; farm visits, Deer Park cycling, walks, zoo, parks, parks and more parks, snow centre, climbing walls, dinners out and feeding the ducks on the canal. Combined with lots of us time at home, baking, arts and crafts, sensory play and some theraplay activities to try and balance the fun of the outside world with attachment development.  All helping to drive a strong development of love, trust and building blocks for the future.

The stark shift in the boys in the last two weeks has been really poignant.  Yes we still have really bad days, yes we still have moments of madness and meltdowns, toddler outbursts and defiance but bit by bit, little by little, we are all learning to cope with them better, with each other and to work it out as a team.

Thanks to ‘A’, the empathy buddy I mentioned previously, I have been using the ‘Team’ idea she uses with our boys and it is really working.  The notion that we are a team who looks after each other, looks out for each other and that if sometimes someone in the team is sad, we can help them not to be sad, whilst realising it’s ok to feel sad etc.

In fact the boys have started to talk more about feelings, starting to talk more about their past.  Only this last week the eldest has talked about birth Dad on three occasions and this is amazing.  Amazing that he now feels safe enough to talk this way knowing we won’t judge or discourage his feelings and thoughts.  I can’t believe that now we are in only our fifth week of placement and this is happening.  We encourage it and are curious when he does, showing him that we are here to listen, learn and love. Not to judge.

The youngest has been going to young yoga and swimming with us and loves the interaction and showing off his yoga poses.  He is also doing so well at nursery and is settling in well.  He is a character alright and knows it.

The school where they both go have been amazing to date, helping with some initial transitional challenges as well as setting up inclusion worker assistance.  Next week we have PEP reviews for both boys and we hope to go deeper into their needs and our wishes on how to assist them further, how to use the Pupil Premium Plus and also to really hear just how the first three weeks have been.

We have been made to feel very welcomed by the other parents too and only today myself and the youngest were invited over to another parent’s house for a play date in the sun.  It was lovely, she is an amazing parent and I know I can learn so much from her as well as hopefully have our kids share so much together.  Being of similar age and in the same classes I can see them getting on.  For me as well it’s great to know that the sense of complete loneliness  and isolation, with the lows I experienced in week two, were only temporary. I can see a light and it’s shining bright right now!

I am still exhausted but am getting used to accepting the fact that is how life will be for a long, long time but equally the positives we are experiencing together each day, the little snippets that they are starting to realise we aren’t going anywhere, that this consistent love and being there for each other will not go away, totally smashes out of the park any and all woes around being exhausted.

So in stark contrast to my previous post I want to leave you on this positive.  I could go into detail about some of the tricky situations and behaviour of the last few weeks but I won’t.  Mainly because right now, sat here in my kitchen, with the boys in bed after a wonderful day, glass of Pinot Noir in my hand, I don’t want to detract from this great feeling.

I am proud of where we are, proud of where the boys have got to and know that we are by no means out of the woods, and probably never will be, but the sun is shining bright and let’s hold that thought for now.

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