• Hello! Well January is finally over after what seems like at least six months, so we’re here in to February and I’ve got a new Linky for you! I hope things are settling down after Christmas now, and you’re starting to get back in to the swing of things. (Until the next disruption in routine, that is!)

    Scroll down for some shiny new blogs for you to read: please remember to comment on and share any blogs you like! Click on the blue ‘Click here to enter’ link at the bottom to add your own post.

    Don’t forget to tweet me when you’ve added a post, so I know there’s something new to read and share!

    I’ve just added my blog post [YOUR POST NAME GOES HERE] to @folkycat’s Adoption Blog link up. You can add yours too! Click to Tweet

  • Happy New Year! 

    I’m a bit late with the link up this month, and it all looks a bit different as I’ve moved my blog over from so that it’s all here in one place. However, it’s all the same underneath, I promise! This month’s linked blogs are below, but more will be added all the time so do pop back and check. 

    Please remember to comment on and share any blogs you like, and click on the blue ‘Click here to enter’ link at the bottom to add your own post.

    Don’t forget to tweet me when you’ve added a post, so I know there’s something new to read and share!

    I’ve just added my blog post [YOUR POST NAME GOES HERE] to @folkycat’s Adoption Blog link up. You can add yours too! Click to Tweet

  • I can’t quite believe we’re in March already... where did February go?! Our family has been making the most of the glorious (and slightly scary) weather with some lovely walks.

    I will admit got a bit distracted from the blog link up last month, what with the book launch and everything, but back on it this month and I will try to tweet out some more reminders to share your posts! Blog link ups can be a really useful resource for people who are discovering our online adoption community for the first time - it was how I ended up meeting a lot of my lovely Adoption Twitter friends. Blogging has been really cathartic for me over the years, I’d recommend giving it a try.

    Scroll down for some shiny new blogs for you to read: please remember to comment on and share any blogs you like! Click on the blue ‘Click here to enter’ link at the bottom to add your own post.

    Don’t forget to tweet me when you’ve added a post, so I know there’s something new to read and share!

    I’ve just added my blog post [YOUR POST NAME GOES HERE] to @folkycat’s Adoption Blog link up. You can add yours too! Click to Tweet

  • Tickle understands birthdays much more than he used to. We met him for the first time on my birthday; we'd brought cake, and we shared it, and he sang Happy Birthday to me. That's what birthdays were: cake and singing. Tickle moved in with us about a week before his sixth birthday. I still remember we had to practically drag him in to the toy shop to choose a present, and he literally pointed at the thing right in front of him. (He wasn't that interested in the presents on the day itself, but he did sing to his cake quite a lot.)

    It's my birthday tomorrow. Tickle is quite excited about that, because he knows there will be cake. I'm working early tomorrow, so as there won't be time for presents in the morning we decided to do them this evening instead. Tickle was *extremely* excited about this, so much so that the excitement tipped right over in to getting really cross that he wasn't allowed to open anything, and WHY NOT I GOT ANY PRESENTS??

  • Two sleeping catsWe had to have our cat put down yesterday. She was only two years old, so it came as a huge shock to all of us. We are all coping with it in our own ways; Fairy is distracting herself with books and writing stories, I am crying buckets and welded to my duvet, Husband is musing about getting a memorial wind chime for our apple tree. Tickle, however, has been the biggest surprise. Tickle, is demonstrably and unashamedly sad.

    Tickle doesn't spend much time interacting with the cats, but I know he does love them, and considers them part of the family - whenever we go on holiday he tells me he misses them, and he's still not quite sure why they don't come with us. But that's not why I am surprised by his grief. I'm surprised because it's a really big emotion, and he is allowing it to exist in his body without feeling the need to block it out or run away.

  • Half term has been generally quite good. Today specifically, not so much (wake up at 2.30am....) but in general, much better than the summer holidays.

    We have been out together as a family. We have gone for long walks. Tickle has expressed sadness at the loss of our cat, and the loss of his scooter bell (level of sadness remarkably similar for both). The expressions of sadness have been appropriate and non-violent.

    Tickle has been swimming every day. He's been to Gran's, and has had a day out with Grandad and Granny Sue. He's drunk hot chocolate, made funny faces, shared his crisps with a little boy he didn't know.

    It's been, dare I say it, almost... normal.

  • I've written a book. 

    "Me, the boy, and 'The Monster" is a book about what it's like to parent a traumatised child. It's a raw, honest account, and it's borne out of my own experiences as an adoptive mum. Living with trauma is HARD. It's hard for the kids, and it's hard for the parents. I'd like to stand by your side, and tell you that you are not alone, that there are things that can help make things better.

  • I know it's a bit early for the traditional 'looking back over the year' post, but I'm in a reflective sort of mood this evening, after randomly deciding to re-read a blog post which I wrote just after Christmas last year.

    Something strange and unprecedented happened this week in our therapy session; the therapist asked us to consider whether we could stop sessions for the moment, because we seem to be - touch wood - doing alright. Unfortunately Tickle hasn't managed therapy for some weeks now, and it seems that he really isn't ready for it at the moment, but as his behaviour at home is more or less OK our therapist seems to think that we should just get on with life for a bit, and then maybe come back later when he's ready. It's a strange idea, having fought SO hard to get in to therapy, and particularly because we both know that without it our family would have broken apart in a rather spectacular fashion... could we let go of this security blanket?

  • This morning, as usual, I was woken up by Tickle shouting at Husband. When I heard Husband start to shout back, I thought I'd better get out of bed. Tickle had thrown a toy at Husband's face (again) - though thankfully this time it was only a small one and didn't do any actual damage.

    Tickle came to sit with me in bed for a bit. He didn't like this much, which he chose to communicate to me by throwing his glasses on the floor, and then shouting at me because he couldn't see. I got back in to bed and ignored him until he'd calmed down a bit.

    We had a chat. We talked about what was worrying him - school, as it turned out, or more specifically, one boy at school who he is worried about. This particular boy actually left school at the end of the summer term, and I've spent the last few months trying to help Tickle understand that he isn't coming back 'for ever and ever'. However, it seems like it hasn't quite gone in yet, and he's still pretty anxious about whether this boy will hurt him.

    This flowed naturally in to a repeat of the conversation we usually have following an incident like this: "It's OK to be worried, but it's not OK to hurt people."

  • Today I want to talk about a thing called affect matching. It’s a really useful tool when it comes to helping children to regulate their emotions; it’s something we do instinctively with young babies, although it seems to drift away as our children get older. Learning about affect matching (pronounced with the stress on the ‘a’) has completely changed how I interact with Tickle, and his emotional literacy has come on in leaps and bounds. I’ve written about affect matching before, both on this blog and in my book, but today I want to break it down a bit to help you understand the science behind it, and how to put it in to practice.

    So what is ‘affect’?

    That’s a good question. Affect refers to the external presentation of an emotional state. It can encompass facial expression, body language, and tone of voice, all in one word. It’s also a way of talking about how someone is acting, without making assumptions on what they might be feeling, for example ‘he has a negative affect’ means ‘his body language and facial expression are quite negative’. Usually you would expect affect to be consistent with an internal emotional state, but that isn’t always the case.

  • The lake at Blenheim PalaceOver the Christmas holidays so far, I reckon our 'nice bits' to 'hard bits' ratio is probably about 70:30. Possibly slightly better, if you take in to account the fact that the hard bits are no where near as hard as they used to be. Last year's Christmas ratio was about 20:80 at best I reckon, and looking back at the blog from this time last year it seems T was going through a bitey phase as well. The worst we've had this holiday is hitting, and even then I think it's only been once or twice.

    Gosh, it's so weird writing that, when I think back to posts I've written in the past describing the CPV that was happening multiple times per DAY, for anything up to a couple of hours at a time.

    Some of this change can probably be put down to the simple passing of time, but there are a few quite clear things I can pick out that we have done, or are doing differently.

  • As you may know, if you’ve been knocking around this website a bit, I have a book coming out next month. The book has actually been written, and ready for about a year, and in that time I must have asked my husband about 200 times when he is going to read it. I mean, it’s about our family! It contains all the research and learning I have done on how to be the best parent I can for our son, all packaged up in one easy-to-read, not-even-that-long book! However, for one reason or another, Husband has been fairly resistant to the idea. Perhaps he feels like he already hears enough of my voice, I don’t know.

    Anyway, when the paperback proofs came through, I put my foot down. Not quite you-will-read-my-damn-book-or-I-will-divorce-you but not all that far off. I laid it on pretty thick. It is my life’s work, after all.

    Suffice it to say, he did start reading, and is currently about half way through. Whether he’ll ever finish it... well, I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess. However, I have very quickly become aware of a downside of this new enlightened-version-of-Husband.

  • The subject of ‘triggers’ has been on my mind a lot today. We all have triggers, things that just ‘push our buttons’, or ‘set us off’. I spend quite a lot of time trying to work out what has triggered certain behaviours in Tickle or Fairy, but unusually for me today, it’s not triggers for my children’s behaviour that I have been thinking about - it’s my own.

    When you’re a parent to a traumatised child, day to day life can be somewhat emotionally fraught. Some days I’m quite good at riding the wave, but other days less so and on those days there are a couple of things that will instantly flip my switch. Borrowing my husband for an example, one of his main triggers is when Tickle goes a bit loopy and starts to chase the cat.

© 2019 Cat McGill