There are some things that are never mentioned even by my parents or close friends. This is probably because they are considered as much a part of our lives as eating and breathing:
- Most days I am rejected by Kitten or have my things broken or destroyed by her. Seething resentment, fuelled by fear, sums it up nicely
- Many days Bunny has meltdowns and I am hit, kicked or spat at
- In our house we do not sleep and we are pretty tired
Some might think we would be miserable – yet we manage quite well and have our happy times. I’m honestly not sure if I parent therapeutically or not but I am trying to parent the girls calmly and respectfully; predicting, planning for and responding to their individual needs and behaviours. I wouldn’t say it’s easy – their needs are fairly complex but different and I’m very much on my own. Yet some simple things seem to help both girls.
Our number one success is being outside. My girls came to me with a shocking disdain for being outdoors and little Bunny at 2.5 years could only walk a few steps without falling down. It’s taken a lot of patience, hard work and daily physiotherapy at home to get us to the stage we are at now.
Whilst we enjoy our day trips to theme parks and discovery museums and so on I really believe being outside in the fresh air and amongst nature has an almost magical power. My girls seem to have a lot of sensory issues (though getting them seen by an occupational therapist feels akin to climbing Everest) and just being outside – exploring and adventuring – seems to have a positive impact.
I’ve recently been reading about peadiatric occupational therapist, Angela Hanscom, who is the founder of TimberNook, running nature-based developmental programmes in the US. Their philosophy is – Getting kids to think for themselves, challenge themselves, and explore nature unhindered by adult fears Isn’t that great – I love that! That’s exactly what I want for my girls.
I’m not one for hovering – I let the girls go for it and trust they will find their own limits. But I always have their backs if they need me.
So we scramble and climb…
We get wet and curious….
We balance and dangle…
We run and of course we get very very dirty…
I’ve been told by someone at Camhs that we are avoiding intimacy by being out and about so much. That’s it’s not a good thing. Maybe that is so – I don’t know. It doesn’t feel that way to me. And to be honest It often feels that whatever I do someone is always waiting to criticise me.
But can it be wrong if my girls are released from their crushing anxiety for a little while? Is it so bad if they stand joyfully on top of rock piles and share the triumph of reaching their summit with me? Or when they call me over to share in some wonder they have discovered? And is it really avoiding intimacy when we stand together high up on a hill looking out at the beauty of the view and sharing that quiet moment?
All I can say is that it feels right for us. That is all.
Ignore camhs, you know my view of them. YOU know your girls and what’s best for your family, they don’t, they can only give you their ‘opinion’.
I think your doing an amazing job, to be able to find the strength for ‘happiness’ amongst all that trauma and hurt is a colossal achievement for all 3 of you! Your already climbing mount everest and your making it look so easy! Well done you! 🙂
On paper we are a two parent family.When it comes to parenting we are most definitely a one parent family.My husband cannot deal with the attachment problems our two have and everything this entails . I love reading your blog.I can relate to a lot of the issues that you are working through and I find what you write about inspirational to read .Surely being out in the open when your girls are less anxious gives them a boost as well as you and makes those all important memories and positive ones at that . They are shared moments where you can all feel ‘at peace ‘ with each other.Your pictures are great and tell a lovely story of time spent together .Thank you for sharing them.
You know your girls, ignore CAMH’s! How can they say being in the fresh sue, exploring, building up trust, learning, feeling safe is not right?!?!?!
Spud is much better out of the house and lives going to the woods where he can run around with sticks and explore. It had helped our attachment and it us where we talk most as he feels unthreatened and able to iron up. He can set the distance between us when we talk which you can’t do in a house. I think you are going an amazing job and please don’t let anyone tell you different!
You are absolutely right that intimacy comes out of shared adventures outside and not necessarily from being cooped up indoors. So yes, definitely follow your instinct on this one. My son J had also hardly experienced the outside when he came to me aged nearly 7 and I felt at a very profound level that he got to know himself and me best when he was exploring the outdoors, testing his physical limits and learning to trust me. In the early days, we sometimes found ourselves in our local park at 7 or 8 am, burning off some of that anxious energy. He is 15 now, and we still enjoy getting out together and if you set up these habits now, I am sure you will too. Ignore advice to the contrary!
What dreadful advice. There is all sorts if evidence regarding the positive impacts of accessing the natural environment. Trust the knowledge and understanding of that you are developing of the needs of your girls!