Tuesday, 23 December 2008

L and the huskie!

L and the huskie...Tradar...at Bankside Winter Festival.

Went down with M in charge of Ix, which was just as well as he wasn't interested in huskies and had a wander while girls had a ride on the huskies-pulled chariot!

walked across (not-)wobbly bridge past St Paul's then home again.

Friday, 19 December 2008

rustling rodents...

last nite - 3.00 a.m. the scrabbling rustling sound of rodent.
get up, turn on light, check pet hamster safely in cage.
definitely the house mouse/mice...

day before - after zero success with humane traps, nicely designed baited traps, bought the sticky pads.

after being told in robert dyas - "we dont sell these the p/c brigade wont let us. they too effective. we had complaints"...bought three packs down the road in amy's ardware... success! two dead ones...

back to last nite...identified rustling from sainsburys bag near door containing chocolates for the teachers. whipped chocs from bag, carried rustling bag to sink, turned on tap full blast and drowned the thing; feeling like a mad lone mouse killler... ugh. needs must.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

the Nativity - by baby Annabel and friends

the girls banned me from their room then called me in to see the Christmas scene - lovely!

Christmas tree!

the tree! gold star made by G.

S7 report...

when you have a disabled child you get used to all kinds of acronymns, new terms and forms - SEN, SENCO, DLA, CA, blue badge, statement of needs, etc.

and you get used to seeing your child's problems laid out in black and white.
in the beginning it hurts, a lot....you re-read and re-read - is this correct? you dont want to know the truth...

as time goes by it hurts less, you know he has those "severe learning difficulties", "autism", "abnormal brain MRI", etc... certainly as time has gone by the reports on my son's needs are more about getting the right help than a damning blow and realization...I want and need them to say the reality.

the S7 (section 7) report sets out to the court the background to our case and the family history and recent incidents. this one hurts. i flinch when reading as i flinched at the time when he put his fist through the door, and reel at the bit where the girls run terrified into the garden, one pooing in her pants because she is scared to come in to the toilet.

with my son there was not much I could do to prevent the reports setting out his needs and difficulties....it was the truth.....in this case I can see opportunities where I could have done more, could have moved sooner, could have seen his lack of responsibility.

but in the same way that, given a child with special needs you "get on with it" and enjoy the good moments, glossing over the bad, there was an element of denial, of denying the bad times, because in classic "cycle of abuse" (see http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/Abuser/dynamics.htm )style they were previously matched by ok or good times or attempts to make amends.... or simply that I could not face up to the reality of what someone, a father, could do...or made excuses as he did, his depression, etc.

no child should ever be terrified of their parents' behaviour...whatever the "excuse" is.

how did we get to a point where his own children express doubts at seeing him and certainly want to be safe if they do?

This report - like other reports that have helped my son get the education and support he needs - will help to move forward and focus on the reality.

I am not prepared to expose my children to unnecessary risks...it is about agreeing to supervised contact in a proper contact centre staffed by trained professionals or none.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

the answer is to meditate.....

"I do hope for our children benefit that with time you can meditate and see things differently"

I am all for meditation - if only I had the time!

but I think he means mediation. he is asking me to go to mediation, which is wholly not recommended when there has been domestic violence/abuse.

"Things which are not recommended
If violence has been, and especially if it currently still is an issue in your relationship, then Couple Counselling is not recommended. Nor is Mediation if you are going through separation or divorce. Basically the abuse itself has to be dealt with BEFORE any form of joint counselling or mediation can be effective, and in the meantime can, at best, deflect from the actual problem and fudge responsibility issues."


clutching at straws...I went along to family therapy with him, Feb 2008 to July 2008, it failed totally, on occasions he walked out....I used the sessions to try and get the message across - we were separated. But I was willing to try and reach agreement on co-parenting for the children. But he was unwilling....in August 2008 he smashed my door and bin....

hey ho.

he continues...

"I wish I could change things round but I can not, sorry. I can only change today and tomorrow and that is what I am trying, but i will not be able to do until you change and behave differently"

very unclear what he actually wants me to change... he gives no specifics!
anyway, have passed onto my solicitor.

and the point is that we cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves.

we cannot change other's behaviour - we can only change our reaction to it.

I have changed my reaction - from years of trying to please, trying to help, avoiding doing things (buying the wrong washing up liquid, stacking the dishwasher the wrong way, etc etc) that would lead to outbursts - to putting back the responsibility onto his shoulders.

Meantime, have identified a local contact centre which has a very nice space, not so different from local library with books, toys and more. I will be happy for children to see him there and it is wholly supervised. staff seem very well trained and supportive.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

oh Christmas tree!

pic to follow.

busy weekend, Ix at respite Fri eve to Sunday. (he enjoys going there, asks to go when he has not been for a while), night in on Friday with some other mums; Saturday music class for girls then off to see Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith - a wonderful dark and gory version including the ugly sisters chopping off their heel and toe to get the foot into the slipper! then shopping at Primark - needed boots for L, got two bags of bargain purchases!

Sunday morning bought the Christmas tree from a frosty stall at the top end of Hampstead Heath. (after years of artificial trees on ex's insistence, now have chance to smell the pine...).

girls had fun decorating tree and making "false" presents to go under - Ix has tendency to open any presents in reach, so we using this as learning tool.

he seems to be getting it - brought me one "present" (empty tissue box) wrapped in Santa paper and pointed at Santa. "yes, Santa will come, don't open it now, wait til Christmas!"

Sunday midday - dropped girls off at their friend's house so the mum could take them all to a birthday party, off to get Ix (via Homebase), came back into London, quick visit to friends who live round the corner from birthday party venue (city farm), then picked up girls - we all went to see the cows and roaming chickens, goats and turkeys.

Monday evening - unexpected babysitters (medical students who take Ix out from time to time) so a nice bit of time off for me after work....watching frothy film in cinema then a quick trip to (mostly) window shop in Selfridges...

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

child care and the disabled child

was asked the other day how to combine working full time with child care for disabled child.... is difficult.

I had intended to work so did not see why that should change because of disability or special needs.

the first childminder, from five months old, was a disaster...as Ix's special needs became more apparent and the list of appointments with various -ologists and therapists grew, it became difficult. I would ring to say I would be late and to wait - she would go out and disappear with the other children. This was 11.5 years ago - no mobile phones!

changed to another childminder but it didn't work...found a great nanny share -the other child was older and at school so Ix had full attention during school hours, and K could take him to routine appointments and therapies, speech groups and so on.

when L was born I (not quite) managed for maternity leave with newborn and Ix - would sit him in frontt of TV, plus he was at nursery part time by then. (L picked up a lot from TV, the alphabet, etc - in fact her first clear word at nine months was "Bob" - as in Bob the Builder).

then through an agency got a fantastic nanny, T, who stayed with us for five years and thereafter did ad hoc child care. she was fantastic and helped so much with therapies and so on. the problem with nurseries, childminders - mainstream child care is they won't take time out to take your child to routine appointments. only a nanny can do that.... and there are only so many therapies/appointments that can or will take place at school.

At one time we had regular appointments with:
speech therapist
occupational therapist


and various others, appointments with nursery SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator) , home educators and so on...

when G was born, I kept the nanny (a fab temp replacement N, as T was in Australia) - I was paid full salary so it made sense.

as time went by, Ix settled into routine of school plus after school programme of educators/therapists (paid for by my work education grant) plus nanny for the two girls.

in early 2005, N (the now ex) left his work to ostensibly care for the children - i.e. picking up the girls as Ix was cared for by his home programme people. it seemed good - no nanny to be off sick, girls could be with their dad.

but as he sunk deeper and deeper into depression it worked less and less.

he would moan every day about the humdrum routine, travelling twice to school, cooking the "same old food" every day

"you are so lucky going to work"....

suggesting to him to utilise his day time hours productively, go to yoga, seek help, came to nothing... eventually there were days he was so anxious I had to take time off to care for the girls. He was seeing GP. homeopathic, autogenic training etc etc. but sometimes it was a case of him not getting or not asking for the right help, who knows...

fast forward....

now we live separately. me and the children.

today, Ix gets picked up by his school bus about 8.10. I then take girls to school, then go to work. Ix arrives back on bus at about 4.15 and is met by one of his three after school therapists. the gilrs are picked up by a carer and brought home. If I have a late evening either one of Ix's therapists or the girls carer will stay with them all.

school holidays largely covered by playschemes and extra hours worked by carers/therapists.

it is when a child gets sick that it all falls down...and if I get sick! or if the carer gets sick...

luckily have built up a few carers I can call on, and other parents from the girls' school.

it isn't easy... ideally I would work less hours, maybe 80 per cent..but now I am paying large rent on flat is difficult. when I can sort out financial arrangements with ex, it might be possible.

news from the group

my fellow traveller in the therapy group for people who are separated or divorced has decided to reconcile with her husband.... I wish her luck! Truly.....

it was a small group of two of us so I will hold my remaining sessions for when more groupies join....

Friday, 28 November 2008


regular wednesday drop off (indirect contact) this week.

girls very happy to get - peppa pig's house and littlest pet shop house.

they had written to their father the week before to request these after he had delivered peppa pig figurines. well, i had urged them to write, but in the end they said theywere "too busy" so I said - look dictate to me, and then sign. which they did. I do not discourage contact but they are not overly keen on writing/drawing for him. not without a push. which I try to strike a balance between urging them to do so (when they know that I do not keep contact myself? perhaps is confusing.)

L age 8 said:

"mummy, if you had not sep-a-rat-ed then we would not now be getting these nice presents, would we?"


she always says the word sep-a-rat-ed like that. sep-a-rat-ed.

wondering if her young mind recalls the times he used to say (shout, stamp and scream) "the children got too many Christmas presents"? (they were not overly spoilt compared to friends). "there are too many toys in this house".

or the time a few years ago when he decided they had too many toys, just after Christmas, and scooped up half of them - without consulting which were old or new! - and took them off to local hospital.

who were indeed grateful...

I have constant clear outs for charity/other friends' children (especially the more special needs oriented toys), but still reel from returning home to find the expensive baby doll bought by the (favourite) nanny had been given away with no consultation.

view from the office window...

pic copyright LA
when i get time to admire it....

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

tis the season to be sick

oldest child coughing all night. temperature in the morning and not cured by nurofen for kids immediately....so call school bus, no school today. yesterday i had to leave work to pick him up at lunchtime as he had fallen asleep at school and was quite flushed..... but had hoped it would be a 24 hour one.

is a pain as today he had dentist* at school and a social worker visit. make calls all round including to work; put I plus girls in car, drop girls at school, return home, put tv cbeebies on and computer. check work emails.

is working parent nightmare, with holiday leave days running out before year end and no day time carer to call on (I know one who is definitely busy today...). Not to mention the lack of sleep issue which makes going to work harder anyway.

oh well. hopefully he will be back to school tomorrow. and virus won't go round, cross fingers.

*I attends a wonderful specialist autism school, which besides everything else has a visiting dentist (special needs paeadiatric dentist) and dentist room with dentist chair etc.

the dentist works with the children and their one to one workers to develop the skills needed for a dental inspection - sitting on the chair, tolerating the lights, tolerating mouth inspection and - this one is hard for I - actually opening mouth wide for inspection. Each small step can be hard for a child with autism and extreme sensory issues.

a vital life skill.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

who snapped the aerial off my car?

hmpph. new (old) car and the aerial has been snapped off. the only one in the street to lose its aerial....

usually after dropping girls at school I get to listen to ten minutes of Radio 4. on the way to drop the car before the mad tube rush to work (grabbing my cafe- latte-no-sugar at the local coffee bar - they know me now which is nice :) .

until new aerial is fixed I have to just continue with the Mamma Mia! tape which is the girls' choice.....

Thursday, 13 November 2008

so sad

three children gone, in the space of as many weeks. lost to families on the forum I frequent for families of children and young people with special needs. Two two year olds and an eight year old. Two very sudden, one after a hospital stay.

life is just too short.

sherokee ilse says:
Forget Me Not ©1993
Our little ones whisper,
“Forget me not,”
As their specialness wraps
Around our aching hearts.

Their short little lives
Hold meaning and love.
Their spirits have touched us—
Each and everyone.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Do I cause his depression?

SoI got myself a new car.

And I also asked the ex to give me some of my belongings from the joint-owned flat to my and the childrens' rented home.

Which by the way we love, it is nicer than the old flat and has a lovely garden.

He did drop off a load of stuff. Lots of clothes going to charity - I lost weight, they too big! Yes, I did feel something, another sense of closure of the relationship. A sense of grieving at what could have been - but really wasn't.

Anyway, another text msg reads:

"You don’t know how much all of this is inadvertently hurting me. I feel you have been unfair, radical, brutal, unkind, unloving not only to me but chains me in my depression."

I hope he can bring these things up at his therapy sessions.

I am reading a new book:

It's My Life Now by Meg Kennedy Dugan (Author), Roger R. Hock (Author).

New car, new names?

I have a new car! it is the first ever car I own myself as opposed to being a named driver.

My aunt gave me her old car, it is a sedan automatic and great! more room for the children.

So I gave back the small city runner to my ex (OK i drove to his place and ran away, dropping the keys in the letterbox with a note - here is the car back, you free to sell it. slightly furtive, but I had to go to work and besides, I don't feel comfortable in his presence.).

he sent a text msg:

"what can I say the car is yours and kids as mine! .... If you wanted it to be in your name you only needed to ask. Are you going to change the names of our children next?"

Not sure I follow the logic there....

Thursday, 30 October 2008

So you must be happy now? You got what you wanted…

Well no.

I don’t think any mother would be happy that their children may only see their father on supervised contact visits. It is not an ideal situaiton for them....but it is the only way right now. If that is what it takes, so be it.

I don’t think any mother wishes to end up in a court room telling a judge they don’t think the father of their children is stable enough to have parental responsibility. But so be it.

When depression/mental illness has combined with – with what? – to result in a fist smashed through a door, and much else, then something has to give.

The safety of the children has to come first. It would be nice to be in an amicable separation situation where the only arguments are over petty arrangements, you turned up late last week....but that is not how it is.

If you google depression plus husband or wife you will find many forums and sites. You will find those who suggest that leaving a depressed spouse is outrageous, you should stand by and support them. After all you would not leave them f they had cancer….

But this one stood out recently:
…. I've been told by many spouses that it would be easier to be a single parent than to live with a spouse struggling with depression, because it's like having a special-needs child in addition to all the other responsibilities.

Ironic…a special needs child. Well, I have one of those already.

For many years I would say jokingly that I had four children - three plus my ex. When he voiced suicidal thoughts, became more and more depressed and anxious – but refused to be on meds – it became even more miserable for me. And for the children.

Eventually, the violence exploded.

As stated above, there is much on the web about caring for your depresssd spouse, dealing with mental illness in the family, becoming a carer (I was one of those already, for my disabled son). Only rarely do you find a hint that – if things get violent – leaving may be the only option.

His clinicians did say: “he is responsible for dealing with this, he is an adult,” many times.

At one point his psychiatrist told me, in response to a long list logging various behaviours which had upset or terrified me – “this is not mental illness, this is personality”.

His GP told me – “nothing to do with his depresion, this is a domestic violence issue”.

But mostly it was about recognising an abusive relationship for what it was.

Depression is no excuse.

Recommended reading:

How You Can Survive When They're Depressed : Living and Coping with Depression Fallout by Anne Sheffield

was helpful as it was more about the fallout sufferers than how to care for your depressed partner. It also talks about the effects of depression (of a parent) on children.

Website: http://www.depressionfallout.com/

But the following book was a revelation and is now much-thumbed:

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (Paperback)
Lundy Bancroft

Lundy Bancroft has a website http://www.lundybancroft.com/ and this article is particularly relevant in this post-separation time, as supervised visitation is established.

Assessing Abusers’ Risk to Children. 2004. With Jay G. Silverman, Ph.D. In P. Jaffe, L. Baker, & A. Cunningham (Eds.) Protecting Children from Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Monday, 27 October 2008

such is life

and time to blog it