I’m in a strange place right now.
Throughout May, since my last blog post about it, I fretted and worried about my future on the course. It got to the point where I was sure I was going to leave. However I went to France for 4 days with my parents and little brother, intending to keep my doubts to myself, but ended up spilling the beans. I spoke to both my parents, individually, for hours. I made a decision to stay, and felt better for having made a decision. I decided to try to do many of the volunteering things I hadn’t signed up for due to the unpredictable nature of the course. I put the doubts to bed, and continued on to my second placement.
I hated it, in summary. Again. It was in fact slightly worse than my previous placement. I just thought to myself, ‘well – I’m obviously not destined for a hospital. This is a stepping stone to whatever it is I want to do, which I have yet to discover (but isn’t nursing).’ My mental health remained good this time, and I was able to live a slightly more normal life whilst doing the shifts.
I then organised a routine compulsory meeting with my personal tutor. I filled out the form beforehand, quickly summarising that I had had doubts but was now staying on the course- and the volunteering things I’d recently signed up to do, as well as a brief bit about my home life and interests.
The meeting was yesterday, and it was not what I expected. She was so lovely. In a nutshell, she said ‘why are you doing this? If you’re going to stay, you need a very good reason- someone specifically saying that you need a child nursing degree to do what you want to do. No one is making you do this, and it sounds like you hate it. I want you to be happy. For most students, the placements are what get them through the hard times- but they are your hard times’. She had a point (understatement), and over the course of the almost 2 hour chat (!) I realised I’d started speaking about the course in the past tense.
Since May, I’d put the decision to the back of my mind because I was so relieved to have made a decision. I was too hasty. If my tutor thinks that, then I shouldn’t ‘just wait until the community placements… just wait until you can choose your own placement in 3rd year.. now you may as well finish’ which is the line I get from the other students on my course. In some ways, if I’m going to leave, it needs to be now- a dignified exit, not dropping out because my flimsy ‘decision’ doesn’t stand up to the pressures of constant placements and the academic work on top.
She also said that I should have children sooner rather than later, if that is what I want- there is nothing stopping me. And I should foster, if that’s what I want- again, there is nothing stopping me…Apart from my fears of what other people think; my parents, my boyfriend’s parents, my siblings, my friends from my school. She said I need to make decisions for myself, and for our future. I felt pretty empowered.
So I’m now in the curious position of still attending two tutorials today, but finding out the awesome local nannying job I applied for last night want to see my CV, and registering my interest with Barnardo’s to accept emergency teenager night placements, and with Leeds Council to begin the fostering process.
I can see this. 3 days a week nannying, which would be making more than my current allowance. The remaining 4 days a week filled with training with various organisations, occasionally hosting a teenager, and soon fostering; respite placements, arranged short breaks or support care.
Living my life- not just waiting. (sidenote- We could also arrange a wedding without me being a ball of stress..)
As my tutor said- staying would be the easy option, as it would mean no changes, but it’s an incredibly difficult ‘easy option’ to put myself through, and doesn’t make a lot of sense. So I guess I’m saying goodbye to the course.
But really, I have no idea what I’m doing.
Just writing this on my phone in our living room.
Boyfriend is away this weekend so I’ve had a thoughtful day, with 2 more days to go.
I’m watching a programme called ‘wanted: a family of my own’ about adopting, and therefore also fostering. I know it’s an idealised tv version of the truth. But. The doubts are back.
Should I be doing this course? I know I don’t want to do much nursing work once qualified but I also do enjoy the course, and I’m learning so much useful stuff. But. I just know that adoption and/or fostering is in my future, as well as children of my own if we can.
There was a tick box exercise where they had to say yes or no to certain problems and conditions and they’re (potential adopters) sitting there saying no and I’m saying yes and maybe. I’m thinking through my answers for the panel when they go there. I’m wondering what it would be like to go to one of the adoption activity days they go to. I’m thinking how there are so many little boys not placed purely on gender- and I’d love a little boy. I’m thinking about what age groups I’d consider.
These thoughts come in waves- sometimes I can’t stop thinking about it and sometimes I put it aside for a while.
This is coupled with the fact that although he is supportive of any choices, Boyfriend doubts I’ll want to go right the way through this course. That if his business is highly successful still by this time next year say, will I still want to keep writing pointless essays when we can have a family of our own- one of the few reasons I’m staying on, to learn more for them.
Sometimes I think of this, and my nannying experience, as a parenting internship.
I just know that I have no real idea what being a foster carer, or adoptive parent is like but then no one finds out if you’re suitable to be a birth mother either. There’s no test. I can do all the research I want but I’ll never truly know until it’s happening, and then I’ll learn on the job. I know it will some days feel impossible and some days feel the best and most important thing I’ve ever done. Or both, every minute.
I of course wish to parent alongside Boyfriend, but these feelings have been present from before he was in my life, and I don’t want to speak for his feelings. All I know is that he’d like a biological child first if we can, which is something I can happily agree to!
So hard to know. I guess I’ll put it aside for a little longer. But I don’t know what I’m waiting for.
Since the last week of June, I’ve been looking after the 9 year old boy on his own. His sisters remain in school until next Friday. By the end, that will be 4 weeks. Four weeks of hanging out with me, from 9 till 3, on his own. He doesn’t have any friends from his new private school that he wants to see- and his old friends are still at school all day.
This wouldn’t be an issue, if he was like his sisters- who love to spend time with me. Or like most other kids I know (outside of my volunteering). The problem is his negative attitude. If I suggest anything at all- it gets a firm ‘no’ in response. It doesn’t matter whether I’m offering a trip to the skatepark, a game of football outside, baking, drawing, creating or watching videos on http://www.thekidshouldseethis.com. (Which are all things he’s enjoyed in the past). The only things that get a yes are; lunch, battleships (only twice so far though), or anything with a screen. I therefore let him initiate his own activities, but this means that either he plays on the iPad for hours (something I’m not permitted to allow) or he is alone in his room for hours- then the rage builds up along with the boredom and the demands for a screen return.
Recently his parents have wiped the iPad of all the games and instituted a points system- the reward of which will be a game of his choice reinstalled. The trouble is that that kind of reward is too long-term for him I think. He also cannot control his anger and temperament in order to not lose points. Plain anger/upset would be ok but it’s destructive, violent, rude anger- for which I am supposed to dock points.
I am also supposed to ‘make’ him do piano practice, and maths worksheets each day. I can’t get this child to do a pleasant activity, or leave the house to get his sisters, let alone maths and piano! I have previously spent over an hour getting him to play the piano, and 20 minutes to leave the house as he refused to go. I’m ashamed to say I had to pick up his shoes, pull him over the threshold and lock the door behind me. It makes me feel like a bad person.
This kid needs someone bigger and better than me. Someone with a degree in child psychology. He needs help managing his anger, and expressing his emotions. He frequently has feelings of self-loathing, saying ‘I’m the worst, I’m so bad at that, I can’t do that’. He has perfection issues- his work must be neat and tidy at all times, and if he cannot do something it’s thrown to the ground and kicked, whilst he screams and shouts. The same response if something is denied to him. It is effectively a tantrum but on a different scale due to his age.
I recognise some of these feelings from my own childhood (such as loving your siblings so much that you squeeze them till they cry out) but these feelings are much more negative. He is also strong. He doesn’t like me, or want to be with me. I cannot hold him, help him through these feelings because I would be hit or kicked with his full capacity. He doesn’t often touch me voluntarily so I have to treat him with the same respect.
It’s hard. I don’t know how he came to be like this. Is it something his parents have done to him? They too have anger management issues, are physically violent, and are frequently inconsiderate and dismissive towards their children (but sometimes they are nice) Or is it genetics- he is adopted so we don’t know what his birth parents are like. Or is it brain wiring before he was moved at the age of 6 months- but that doesn’t seem long enough for long-term damage of this nature to set it. I don’t think the parents see the full extent of this child’s issues, and that he needs help.
I find myself dreading each day, and wishing away the remaining time I’m working for this family- the opposite of what I want to be doing which is savouring each moment. My time with the girls is now cut short- some days I don’t even see them if a parent finishes before they finish school for the day. I am beginning to miss them already- as our time together is now marred by their brothers behaviour, bringing out their worst natures.
I’ve written before about my work here.
P.S. We have had some good times but just.. not many. These have included; pretending he’s falling off a cliff while I give a running commentary (twice), pretending to be normans/germans/etc and knocking on the front door to steal gold/murder people (twice), playing battleships/draughts (3 games). That’s it, and it’s been 2.5 weeks!
To lighten things up; have a look at the world of a fantastic Irish children’s storybook writer